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MrSimonTaylor Joined: 25th February 2011
Last seen: 28th September 2012

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Carbon Punishment

Lucy slams her bedroom door. It’s just not fair. She didn’t clean her room and now her mum is taking money out of her allowance. HER allowance. Lucy can’t be bothered cleaning, it’s easier to play with her dolls when they’re already out. Maybe she could just take some of her brother’s allowance for letting him use her computer. Or maybe she can get out of cleaning because she already did all her homework. Instead of making the house a nicer place to live in, Lucy brainstorms ways to shirk her responsibility.

Yes, big carbon polluting industries can be like six-year-olds. When the carbon tax hits, companies don’t have to be mature and responsible about it. For one, they can decide to cover the new cost by adding it to their customers’ bill. In Europe, where similar systems have been put in place, some industries even formed lobby groups to become exempt from the tax. Now that Australia plans to tax naughty polluting behaviour, there’ll be much enquiry into how effective it is. It’s worth noting that despite the carbon punishment, industries will be receiving financial compensation from the Government. It’s kind of like Lucy’s mother taking money out of her allowance, only to buy her chocolate cake with it later.
 
Despite these concerns, many see the carbon tax as a good start for Mother Nature’s detox. It sends an official message to Aussy industries that consumers want a more responsible approach to the environment. Whether this carbon punishment strategy works, I think, will in part depend on how much it inspires the public. The initiative has the potential to create a culture of environmental savvy.
 
The reason this is important is because we have to assume that economic systems have no intrinsic morality. Industries are designed to function based on what makes money. Thus, the desire for more ethical practice has to come from us, the consumers. If we only support industries that appear to be doing what’s best for the environment, then the market will adapt its practices. This also includes supporting other initiatives and businesses that push forward with clean energy alternatives.
 
As exciting as the carbon tax is for many, it won’t do all the work. If consumers become complacent about ethics then the initiative is all in vain.  It’s still on all of us to decide how our own moral choices will change the shape of the economy.
 
Looks like it’s already started to happen.

Check back weekly for Moral Melbourne with @MrSimonTaylor (Twitter).