This mildly optimistic article in the Sydney Morning Herald shows just how much an outrage Australian petrol prices are. It proves that even a modest decrease in the volume of petrol a dollar buys will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. If Australia was serious about having the carbon emissions its ecology dictates - approximately four percent per capita those of Eurasia, the Americas or New Zealand - it would need to contribute about fifty percent of the total fuel tax of OECD nations rather than less the one percent. The fact that our people are unaware of the climate we are headed for with out current emissions levels of 400 to 500 percent those of the EU means they are willing to accept petrol that, in terms of ecological impact, is practically free.
Worse still, the way the Rudd Government is going it will give the mining companies who are a prime cause of Australia's exceptionally bad greenhouse emissions levels unwanted concessions. The only way Australia can control their political power, which constitutes a granite block against emissions reductions is, for all its inefficiencies, probably outright nationalisation.
The technology certainly exists for Australia to cut the fuel consumption of its cars to around one litre per 100 kilometres, which ought to be a standard required of all private vehicles in a sensitive environment like Australia. The need for innovation, a trait which Australia can afford to lack because of its monopoly on essential metal ores, would greatly alter the country’s culture to something that might approach sustainability.
The way in which this requires an activist government is unique in the world. Free markets give virtually no incentive to conserve Australia's coal and land reserves: supply exceeds demand to an extent never found in any previous human culture. The problem is that people in Australia know that their extremely free markets give a level of prosperity and wealth that has - adjusting for living costs - been consistently the highest in the world ever since Australia was settled. They are unwilling to lose this even if there is no other means of creating incentives to be massively more energy-efficient than countries in Europe, Asia, the America or New Zealand. Yet Tim Flannery has for over fifteen years consistently shown this as exactly what Australian wildlife has always had to be. Australian people should too try to be the most efficient in the world!