South Africa: Our Burning Planet - As the Sun Sets On Carbon, Mining Can Still Rise

Photo: The Elders
Former president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos.
opinion

Mining houses and other industrial sectors heavily invested in coal and carbon-heavy activities are pushing back against the carbon tax. But, if you crunch the numbers, low-carbon investments make good business sense.

As the Minerals Council SA's Integrated Annual Review 2018 makes clear, the mining industry makes a large contribution to the economy and to our balance of payments, and is a large employer in a country in which many people are mired in poverty.

So, we had better take seriously what they say about the impact of the carbon tax on the industry and the economy, notwithstanding that the sector is dominated by large multinationals that repatriate significant profits to other countries.

We have no reason to question the bona fides of their numbers, noting of course that, like good lobbyists, they will cherry-pick the assumptions, figures and messaging that best serve their interests and manage shareholder perceptions.

And no-one likes any tax, right?

Nevertheless, the carbon tax is an instrument designed to re-orientate the economy by making lower-carbon operations, goods and services relatively more attractive than higher carbon ones to investors and customers all along value chains. If we do not re-orientate ourselves now, we risk finding ourselves...

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