Australia carbon laws in doubt, election possible

  • Date: 01/12/09

Reuters: The Australian government’s plans to cut carbon emissions were headed for defeat in a hostile Senate after the elevation of a new opposition leader opposed to carbon trade laws, setting a trigger for an early 2010 election.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who met President Barack Obama on Monday in Washington, wants to take a lead role at next week’s Copenhagen climate change summit by enacting a “cap-and-trade” scheme requiring polluters to buy permits for their emissions.

However, new Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott said after his party-room election on Tuesday conservative senators, many of them climate change skeptics, would reject Rudd’s emissions trading laws if they were not deferred until early 2010.

Abbott said he believed in climate change but told reporters he was opposed to the government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) model, the biggest economic policy change in modern Australian history, and was not afraid to fight an election on the issue.

“This is going to be a tough fight. But it will be a fight. You cannot win an election without a fight,” said Abbott, a boxer in his university days who once studied for the priesthood.

Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the government would still push for its carbon trade laws to be passed this week, and said he hoped some opposition lawmakers would side with the government and defy Abbott.

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