The stick and the carrot- an urban marketing tale of carbon

Have you asked yourself why are we need carbon tax? Whilst I know that this web site and my business are aimed at marketing, I felt it important to talk about the current discussion going on in Australia regarding this carbon tax.

Firstly, why do we market our product or service? So that others will find out about us and subsequently take up the offer we make to them.

Marketing is about communication and helping those we talk to see how we can supply something that will solve a problem they have. Generally, we work on the carrot principle- we give something to encourage others to do what we want them to do- that is, we give them information about our solution, about our value, customer service or whatever we believe we are good at.

Life and politics are similar, however, lately I have noticed a stick being the preferred method of communication. I am on the side of the planet, and believe that if I can control my behaviour to make it a better place, I will do so, because I want to, not because a stick is being wielded. I understand not all people and businesses operate that way, but still feel it is preferable to have a positive consequence for doing the right thing, rather than a negative consequence for doing the wrong thing.

How many of you, when faced with turning off your air conditioner on a freezing June night, or not having that curry takeaway on Friday because you can’t afford the electricity bill next week, will choose the freezing in bed option over home cooking?

What I am saying is that the current carbon tax offering, is working the big stick. The proponents are saying that if carbon producing acts and uses, mainly electricity, are made more expensive, we will use less of it, thereby, reducing our nation’s carbon footprint. I cannot personally see how that works. I believe, and have seen economic modelling to support this, that rather than stop using electricity, we will merely funnel money away from other (less essential) activities to continue to pay for the existing carbon usages our current government wish to stop.

The carbon tax supporters are saying the only way to reduce carbon emissions is to hit us over the head with a carbon tax stick. I believe we will merely stop spending money on other activities to continue to pay for our electricity or petrol or whatever 21st century Australians think is essential to modern life. The money will come from deleting those things (that more often than not are supplied by small business) like hair cuts, takeaways, garden products, etc which are not essential to life, but their production gives many people their livelihood.

I am greatly in favour or a global economy, but unlike our most economically prolific competitors, China, India and the USA, we will have a carbon tax and they will not- that means, we are not truly being allowed to compete on a global stage. If that continues, we will have to go back to the bad old days of tariffs and protectionism. Not to mention, the minimal positive effect Australia’s reduction in carbon emissions will have if these other nations are not reducing theirs.

Australian small businesses have been suffering for over two years now, a carbon tax will ensure that there is no work for marketers either, there will be nothing left to market- so what will I do with all my carrots?