It’s crucial to reduce carbon emissions. But the real issue is how to go about doing so without harming the economy and the livelihoods of millions of people.
The price of electricity in this country has risen considerably over the past decade or more. These enormous revenues are being partly used to fund, amongst other things, the unreliable electricity infrastructure. This is not sustainable.
Livelihoods is the loser
I think everyone would agree that it’s important to reduce carbon emissions. But the real issue is how to go about doing so.
Various stakeholders in society have different interests and agendas. This makes reducing carbon emissions problematic.
But let’s state at the outset that energy, in whatever form, is vital for economic growth. It really boils down to livelihoods and, in many cases, economic survival.
The government has interests and agendas that often conflict with those of businesses and society.
The situation is complicated, but let’s simplify it by saying that because of the unreliable supply of electricity in this country, businesses, whether large or small, have been forced to invest in back-up power generation.
This back-up power generation has mainly been in the form of diesel generation. Owners of these generators above a certain threshold have to declare their emissions to the government. The diesel purchased at point of sale is already taxed. But recording of all emissions is required for the government’s obligations to international bodies for incentives.
Now, it’s difficult to talk about how the government has been subsidising its electricity power generation through consumers of electricity. This might be a surprising statement. But let’s briefly examine it.
The price of electricity in this country has risen considerably over the past decade or more. These enormous revenues are being partly used to fund, amongst other things, the unreliable electricity infrastructure (and electricity supply to several neighbouring countries)
In fact, electricity revenues have become a gigantic cash cow for the government.
A similar situation has grown with the cost of petrol and diesel. The government is now a beneficiary of huge revenues from petroleum fuels.
The tragic downside to this is that the cost of fossil fuels in this country is increasingly putting a handbrake on economic growth.
Back to the carbon tax. It is viewed by many as punitive. It is a stick. But where is the carrot?
As we have seen, other countries are providing incentives for the purchase of energy-efficient and renewable energy products and equipment. Do we have anything like this in this country?
As I said upfront, it’s a complicated issue with various interests and agendas. Carbon emissions must be reduced. But the means by which it should be done should not be captured by special interest groups with the government as a prime beneficiary, but to the people of this country and society at large.