Sunday, 21 December 2008

Ecological hell in "petrol paradise"

In a Tasmanian newspaper today, there is talk of wonderful reactions to petrol's cheapness rising to 1,110 millilitres per dollar.

The problem is that such high cheapness of petrol is awfully destructive to a country that refuses to set anything like a reasonable date for the elimination of carbon-producing fossil fuels - well, if you don't realise that a "reasonable date" for Australia to eliminate all private vehicle registration and coal-fired power would have been more like 1988 (with a balanced report rather than the car company sponsored Lonie Report) than 2020.

If Australia had common sense it would, regardless of public opposition, use the declines in pre-tax price of fuel and possible inflation to re-index excise on all fuel starting at a minimum of seventy cents a litre - still very low compared to ecological requirements but much better than the dirt-cheap thirty-eight cents a litre we have now. The inclusion of such discounted fuels as aviation fuel will eliminate the subsidies to air transport that encourage the production of titanium, which is the most greenhouse-intensive of all metals to produce and which should always be a target in greenhouse reductions. Titanium metal is primarily produced for aircraft and if some air routes that would be uneconomic without heavy subsidies then the reduction in greenhouse emissions would be much greater than merely from the aviation fuel no longer used.

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