Even before the Copenhagen Climate Change conference the Australian Opposition parties had dumped their support for a Cap and Trade scheme and their leader Malcolm Turnbull. Last week new Liberal party leader and global warming sceptic Tony Abbott released an alternative carbon emissions plan.
Meanwhile Kevin Rudd’s government has reintroduced its Emissions Trading Scheme to the House of Representatives where Turnbull crossed the floor to vote against his own party. Last year the ETS was blocked twice by the Senate after the Opposition dumped a negotiated deal. Turnbull argued that:
This legislation is the only policy on offer which can credibly enable us to meet our commitment to a five per cent cut to emissions by 2020 and it also has the flexibility to enable us to move to higher cuts when they are warranted.
Speech In The House Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
At Club Troppo Ken parish is concerned that Turnbull is the only politician effectively countering the sceptic and minimalist positions:
Tony Abbott, who thinks man-made global warming is “crap”, nevertheless promises to spend billions of taxpayers’ dollars in dealing with it, even though his predecessor rightly labels the Mad Monk’s policy as “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale” that would increase taxes and fail to reduce emissions.
…Only Turnbull bothers to present a considered, analytical case for the ETS, but no-one listens because he’s yesterday’s man and neither policy nor principle nor even intelligent discussion are of the slightest interest to the reptiles of Australia’s political media.
The bemused person’s guide to global warming
The Piping Strike is a regular commentator on Oz politics with several posts this week. A key concern is how the ETS has been spun into a “new big tax”, similar to the Goods and Services Tax controversy of the 1990s:
Coalition politicians talking about the price of ice cream in supermarkets and Ministers rote-learning the prices of household goods makes it all seem as though we are having a re-run of the GST debate.
… As Abbott keeps reminding Rudd, after Copenhagen things have changed. While it reaffirmed that nearly all the world’s governments now feel the need to pay lip service to climate change action, coordinating to look as though they will do something about it is another matter.
How the ETS became the GST
Leo Shanahan, staffer at The Punch and perhaps one of Parish’s target media reptiles, is preoccupied more with the messengers than the message:
The head of the UN’s climate change panel (the IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri has released a novel that combines lessons on climate change with sexy story lines.
… Following last week’s visit from the Skeptic Dark Lord Mockton (who looks and sounds like an evil mastermind from a new climate themed Bond film) I can’t help but wonder if some of the increasing confusion about climate change stems from the eccentric oddballs who we’re told to believe.
No wonder we’re confused about climate change . . .
Meanwhile at self-styled ‘libertarian and centre-right blog’ Catallaxy files, Samuel J was unforgiving:
In one of the great betrayals in Australia’s history, Malcolm Turnbull today abandoned any pretense of support of small government and liberalism by throwing his weight behind the considerably corrupted Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
He is not worried about the political costs of a new tax, arguing instead for a carbon tax:
… In theory an emissions trading scheme can provide a sound market-based means of capping carbon emissions. But a necessary condition is for a world-wide trading scheme. It is clear that there is no such scheme. And it is clear that there is no possibility of such over the next decade.
Under these circumstances, for Australia to introduce a perfect ETS would be silly. But to pass the amended CPRS would be lunacy. It would be considerably superior to introduce an appropriate carbon tax, which would be more efficient and less prone to corruption and rent seeking.
Malcolm Bligh Turnbull – Australia’s Don Quixote?
Veteran political journalist Mungo MacCallum did not spare Tony Abbott a lick of his sarcasm at online journal Crikey:
To call Tony Abbott’s long-awaited policy on climate change an anti-climax is to heap it with undeserved praise.
Indeed, to call it a policy at all is to overstate the reality: it is closer to something you might find scrawled on the back of a beer mat after a long night on the turps.
Ever the optimist, Mungo finds a bright side for future public debate:
Still, even Abbott’s severest critics have to admit that there has been one useful spin-off already: Rudd has started to speak clearly about his own plan. His ETS has now been reduced from several pages of jargon and waffle to a simple grab: we put a cap on emissions; the polluters pay; and households get compensated for any price rises. Abbott’s policy does none of the above. End of story. Actually, of course, it’s rather more complicated and less ideal than that, but at least Rudd is now making it sound comprehensible.
Abbott meticulous about his jockstrap, no so on climate change
Like global warming, it's a debate that is not likely to cool for some time. Even the Federal election due by the end of the year is unlikely to bring the parties together.