Today was a good day for the climate, but not such a good day for John Key’s counterpart across the Tasman.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s controversial attempt to repeal Australia’s carbon tax failed in a 37 to 35 vote in the Senate.
This is a carbon tax that’s working. It has helped reduce emissions in Australia’s electricity sector, is driving low carbon investment, and seems to be having an undetectable impact on the nation’s overall economic performance.
I personally know Kiwi entrepreneurs who’ve benefited from Australian companies’ moves to reduce emissions under the policy (whereas demand for this sort of expertise under New Zealand’s ETS is almost nil).
British Columbia’s carbon tax is enjoying equal success.
Experts are clear a carbon tax is the most credible and transparent way to price carbon.The OECD says a carbon tax should be the cornerstone of every Government’s actions to tackle climate change.
Perhaps that’s why Abbott’s attempt to get rid of the tax has met with such high-level and blunt criticism.
The head of UK Climate Change Committee and one of the UK’s leading Conservative politicians this week accused Abbott of “recklessly endangering” the future of the world.
Lord Deben issued a statement saying the Abbott Government “appears to be more concerned with advancing its own short-term political interests” than dealing with global warming. “We are all in this together and Mr Abbott is recklessly endangering our future, as he is Australia’s,” the statement said.
Abbott’s position on the tax appears to be based more on ideology than such things as science and evidence. Certainly it was clear from his recent attempts to build an international alliance to thwart action on emission reduction that he is opposed to playing a constructive role in global efforts to tackle climate change.
The Abbott Government is expected to try again to get its repeal legislation through the upper house. But he stands warned: this is a regressive move that will leave Australia out-of-step with the rest of the world on climate
Whether in China or the US, Europe or Africa or Latin America, momentum is building for global action to reduce emissions.
US President Barack Obama last month proposed cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 per cent by 2030, from 2005 levels. China is piloting regional emissions trading schemes. Both seem dedicated to achieving a global deal to curb emissions at next year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.
If Abbott gets his repeal, Australia will be 10 steps back on climate, just as the rest of the world moves forward.
The Green Party recently announced our Climate Tax Cut policy, which is a tax on pollution, all the revenue from which goes back to households and businesses.