Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Climate sensitivity over jobs shows double-standard

Two letter-writers in yesterday's edition of The Age wrote about the "invisibility" of workers affected by a carbon price, despite many projections - including by the ACTU - of projected gains in green jobs in the shift to a low-emissions economy.

Today's edition carries my letter in reply, which questions why those opposing a carbon price are so concerned about selective estimates of job losses claimed as likely to result from action on climate, while they are less so to the business-as-usual job losses in the marketplace in pursuit of "efficiencies" and profit. Here's the unedited version:
It is unrealistic to suggest that the transition to a low-emissions economy will be without disruptions that will certainly impact on individuals and families. That's why a principled approach to implementing an environmentally necessary carbon price must take care of those in our communities who will be most affected - workers in the Latrobe Valley, but also in other areas where employment is currently carbon-intensive.

What Damien Cremean and Ben Dziekan fail to acknowledge is that we are routinely impacted by large-scale job losses through the quest of powerful corporates for cost-cutting and market efficiencies that in general have no climate benefits as their goal. It is perverse that many of those corporations, including the big polluters, now project undoubtedly exaggerated job losses from a carbon tax when their usual approach is to strive to cut their workforce to the bone.

Those who will be affected by job losses through pricing carbon should never be "invisible" as these writers claim, but the right to fair compensation would never be denied by the highly visible thousands who demonstrated for a strong carbon price on Sunday. We also know that if we do not act on climate the impacts will be felt by billions.
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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.