Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Climate change: Australia fails again

Last year, the Australian Senate voted down the government's timid, weak, subsidy-ridden Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (an ETS by another name). This year, the government has a chance to fix that - an election means they will have a new Senate, and one more likely to pass the scheme. Instead, they've chickened out completely, delaying it until 2013:

It was once a centrepiece of the Federal Government's election strategy, but now the emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been relegated to the shelf until at least 2013.

Delaying the scheme means the Government could save $2.5 billion from its budget over the next three years, because it would not be paying compensation to households and industries.

Not having to pay subsidies to polluters is good - and the CPRS was a bad policy which deserved to fail. The problem is that any replacement in 2013 is likely to be even weaker, and have even more subsidies. Meanwhile, there will not even be weak controls on Australian emissions for the whole of CP1. As in NZ, a bad ETS is better than no ETS at all, and once it is in place, it can be strengthened later as political conditions permit. Thanks to Kevin Rudd's cowardice, Australia won't be able to do that.

[Hat-tip: Larvatus Prodeo]