Australian Emissions Trading Scheme Looks Doomed

  • Date: 25/12/09

The Australian: Tony Abbott almost singlehandedly put the Emissions Trading Scheme on life support. Now Copenhagen has killed it stone cold, motherless dead.

Climate change minister Penny Wong, who is too emotionally committed to it to accept that truth, will carry it into the new year.

A responsible prime minister would give the ETS a decent Christian burial. And it has to be a formal state funeral.

A Treasury that was not so absolutely compromised by a bizarre combination of religious zeal, institutional pomposity and basic incompetence would be gently but persistently and emphatically advising the government that the ETS was no longer a good idea. If indeed it ever was.

While an argument could have been mounted before Copenhagen for moving towards an ETS, that is not possible after the chaos in doleful Hamlet’s hometown that produced the “China solution”.

There will be no global agreement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide.

Formally, it was “Chindia” — China and India. But China is the elephant in that pairing. And in any event, nothing that President Barack Obama might have promised in Copenhagen was ever going to be endorsed by the US Senate, as it has to be.

While we wouldn’t have quite seen a replay of the 95-0 vote that rejected the Kyoto Treaty in 1997, there is zero prospect of the US adopting either binding CO2 emission targets or a cap-and-trade policy, their name for an ETS.

So we have a situation post-Copenhagen, where the two countries that between them are responsible for nearly half of all global emissions of CO2 are not committed to cutting emissions, far less binding targets. And more pointedly, they won’t have an ETS.

It is the latter that makes any move by Australia to have an ETS even more senseless than before. We would become ground zero for every spiv and main-chancer that would have an emission permit or million in their pocket to sell us. … Without the US, an Australian ETS is an invitation to chaos.

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