The single thing that could possiby lower emissions in the long term is apparently off the table at present. Assuming that it really matters to lower emissions. It is possible to be skeptical about that and still be in favour of cleaner energy sources.
One of the opportunity costs of the carbon tax (in addition to the deadweight costs of the bureaucracy and regulation involved) is the crowding out of the nuclear debate.
And not just the nuclear power debate, but the critical and imaginative thinking that we should be devoting to other really important issues, like the health system and the ongoing debacle of the outback Aboriginal communities. The re-regulation of the labour market, and indeed the general advance of regulation.
Reply to comments on Friday morning.
On the hazards of thinking aloud. I don’t want to get personally involved in a time-consuming debate on a topic where I have no comparative advantage, and I don’t want to spend all day blogging:)
There are at least three angles on the nuclear power issue and I think there is scope for debate on all of them. However it is impossible to do justice to all the major issues at the same time and that is why I think it is unfortunate that so much political capital is being invested in a policy that will make no measurable difference to the global climate.
The three issues that I have in mind are (1) mining and export of uranium (2) storing nuclear waste from other nations and (3) domestic nuclear power.
In the bigger picture I see nuclear power as the main hope for the many billions of people in the world who presumably would like to enjoy our standard of living.
We can help in that process and also earn magabucks by exporting uranium and storing nuclear waste.
As for nuclear power plants in Australia, I don’t know the economics but I do know that the technology is advancing rapidly, so it will become safer and cheaper.
Given that the world will need hundreds of nuclear power plants, maybe if we get started we could match the Canadians and make some more megabucks by building some of them.
I am out for most of the day so don’t expect a reply to comments before the evening!