Australia rejects carbon trading plans

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Fri 14 Aug 2009 11:16, Last updated: 2009-08-14
The Australian senate rejected the plans

The chances of an agreement on carbon emissions at the crucial Copenhagen meeting in December took a blow yesterday after Australia’s Senate rejected an ambitious carbon trading scheme.

The law was rejected by 42-30 votes and it could lead to the Labour Party calling for an early election if it is rejected again in three months' time.

The proposed law aimed to cut greenhouse gases by 15 percent over the next 10 years and hinged on carbon credits to cap the quantity of polluting gases released into the atmosphere.

The Australian government would monitor companies’ energy use and emissions. It will then issue permits allowing a certain quantity of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said: “This bill may be going down today, but this is not the end.

“It's not smart to pretend this won't leave us isolated from the rest of the world, and it's not smart to undermine our transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Wong concluded: “We will bring these bills back before the end of the year because we on this side understand we have to start the economic transformation we need. We will bring these bills back before the end of the year because, if we do not, this nation goes to Copenhagen with no means to deliver our targets.

“If we do not, the message to Copenhagen would be that Australia is once again going backwards on climate change.”

Australia is the highest per capita carbon emitter in the world and relies on coal power for 80 percent of its energy. The plan was rejected because of the impact on the struggling Australian economy.

Dr Ben McNeil is Senior Research Fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales and author of the book The Clean Industrial Revolution. He said: "It's a very sad indictment of the state of Australian politics given three parties can't negotiate to pass such important legislation, which intends to transform the Australian economy to a low-carbon future before the inevitable global transition. Delaying means we miss the global opportunities in new clean low-carbon industry."

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