Australian Senate Rejects Cap-and-Trade For Second Time

  • Date: 02/12/09

Bloomberg: Australia’s Senate rejected the government’s climate-change bill a second time, creating a possible election trigger and leaving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd empty-handed when he travels to Copenhagen this month.

Senators voted 41 to 33 against the law, which included plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe. The failure concluded days of debate in the upper house and follows a revolt in the opposition Liberal Party that saw a new leader take charge vowing to scuttle the Rudd plan.

The legislation’s second failure — the Senate originally rejected the bill in August — gives Rudd, 52, the power to dissolve parliament and call early elections. Rudd would face off against new Liberal leader Tony Abbott, who says the prime minister’s plan amounts to a A$120 billion ($112 billion) tax on Australians without doing much to mitigate climate change.

“There is no danger of this country rushing ahead, but as a result of the actions of the opposition, there is a risk this country is left behind,” Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said during today’s Senate debate. “In the heat and fury of today’s fight it is often easy to lose perspective and too many opposite have lost that perspective.”

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, was proposing to reduce greenhouse gases by 5 percent to 15 percent of 2000 levels in the next decade.

Leadership Change

Rudd’s failure highlights the difficulty in achieving legislated action on climate change. Rudd and U.S. President Barack Obama have both encountered hurdles in their respective Senates to enacting legislation they can showcase at the global climate-change conference in Copenhagen.

The fate of Rudd’s bill was entwined with that of former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, 55, who was ousted yesterday by his party partly for backing the legislation. Abbott has said he’s prepared to fight an election over climate change.

“We reject these bills as being too complex, too confusing and too costly,” Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said today in the Senate. “We reject these bills because there is no conservation dividend.”

Full Story

see also:

WSJ: The Global Warming Revolt

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