By Fiona Armstrong Published by the ABC on 28 Feb 2014 The Abbott government needs to shed its mindless opposition to carbon pricing and embrace a policy that actually has a chance of addressing climate change, unlike Direct Action. The Abbot Government's policy for addressing climate change, the Direct Action Plan, is currently undergoing public scrutiny via a Senate Inquiry into the policy. More specifically the Inquiry will look into whether the plan is a "failure to systematically address climate change". Sadly there is little that is 'direct' about the Direct Action Plan, as it is largely about using taxation revenue to funnel, through complicated administrative schemes, subsidies to polluting industries for emissions reductions they might make anyway. It reduces any incentives for long-term emissions cuts due to a short program time frame. Despite being touted as the cornerstone of national climate policy, the Direct Action Plan will not even achieve the wildly inadequate emissions reduction target of a five per cent cut on 1990 levels by 2020, let alone the Climate Change Authority's recommended 19 per cent cut. In the words of The Climate Institute: "No independent analysis to date has shown that the policy framework as outlined can achieve Australia's international obligations and emission commitments." (pdf) Bit of a worry, isn't it? A more 'direct' way of achieving emissions reductions might be to impose a financial penalty or disincentive to pollute. That would increase the costs of emission per tonne, raise the relative costs of emissions-intensive practices and create an incentive to find lower emissions alternatives. It would also make cleaner, lower emissions pathways relatively cheaper, compared to now. But, oh wait¦ that's what we already have in the form of a carbon price. It's the advice of leading economists, climate policy experts (pdf), the OECD and the World Bank to put a price on carbon. Yet the Abbott government is seeking to abolish it. Other elements of the (as yet poorly spelled out) Plan include the employment of masses of young people to plant trees. A laudable aim, both for youth employment and for revegetation projects, but as an emissions strategy, it's a bit like saying you're going to stop the warming of the ocean by picking up litter on the beach: nice idea but hopelessly inadequate in tackling the core problem. The core problem, as it stands, is our fossil-fuels intensive energy system, based as it is on coal, gas and oil. Until we begin to transition away from these energy sources and take advantage of our abundant, cost effective (because they carry few or none of the "externalities" of fossil fuels, like environmental harm and damage to people's health) renewable energy resources like wind and solar, we're basically spitting into the wind. Despite the rhetoric, the Direct Action Plan and its Emissions Reduction Fund will not fund lowest cost, effective emissions reductions with minimal administration. It seems more likely it will to do the opposite by supporting high polluters with large subsidies to make little or no emissions reductions, at the same time as creating a massive increase in paperwork with a project-by-project approach that will cost more and disproportionately burden smaller organisations.