Australia's Parliament defeats global warming bill

Dec 02, 2009 By ROHAN SULLIVAN , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Australia's plans for an emissions trading system to combat global warming were scuttled Wednesday in Parliament, handing a defeat to a government that had hoped to set an example at international climate change talks next week.

The Senate, where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government does not hold a majority, rejected his administration's proposal for Australia to become one of the first countries to install a so-called cap-and-trade system to slash the amount of heat-trapping that industries pump into the air.

The 41-33 vote followed a tumultuous debate in which the conservative main opposition party at first agreed to support a version of the government's bill, then dramatically dumped its leader and switched sides after bitter divisions erupted within the party.

The new leader, Tony Abbott, said Australia should not adopt an emissions trading system before the rest of the world.

"The right time, if ever, to have an ETS is if and when it becomes part of the international trading system and that is not going to happen prior to its adoption in America," he told reporters after the vote.

Rudd had wanted the legislation passed before he attends next week's U.N. summit on in Copenhagen so he could portray Australia as a world leader on the issue. He discussed the issue with President this week during a visit to the White House from which he was still returning Wednesday.

The defeat of the Australian plan could influence the views of some delegates to the meetings, adding weight to the argument that developed nations should curb their emissions before poorer nations are required to tackle theirs, said Frank Jotzo, an Australian National University expert on international climate change negotiations.

"It's not like the talks will stall because of the lack of an Australian emissions trading scheme in place," he said. "But if the legislation had been passed that would have sent a very positive signal internationally and in particular to developing countries."

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government would reintroduce the bill in February to give the opposition a last chance to overcome its divisions and support the plan.

If the bill is defeated again, Rudd could use that as a reason to call early elections. Elections are due by late 2010 anyway.

Australia is a small greenhouse gas polluter in global terms, but one of the worst per capita because it relies heavily for its electricity on its abundant reserves of coal. As the driest continent after Antarctica, it is also considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

The European Union has a carbon trading system, as do some U.S. states. Canada and New Zealand are among countries considering or in the process of implementing them.

Under the government's plan, an annual limit would be placed on the amount of greenhouse gases allowed to be pumped into the atmosphere and permits would be issued to regulate that ceiling. The permits could be bought and sold, setting up a market system that would make reducing emissions potentially profitable for polluting companies.

Opponents of the legislation say it amounts to a huge new tax on polluting industries such as power generators, which would put a crimp on the economy and lead to higher prices for consumers.

Climate Change Minister Sen. Penny Wong accused the opposition members who voted the bill down of being climate change deniers out of step with the world.

"This is about doing our bit as part of a global agreement, this is about responding to what is a global challenge," Wong said.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: US plans widespread seismic testing of sea floor

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia targets 20 pct renewable energy by 2020

Aug 18, 2009

Australia on Thursday passed a clean energy law requiring the country to produce 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020 in move that could draw billions of dollars of green investment.

Emissions trading could misfire, economists warn

May 30, 2007

With the report of the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Emissions Trading due to be handed to Prime Minister John Howard tomorrow, environmental economists from The Australian National University have warned that an emissions ...

UN signals delay in new climate change treaty

Oct 27, 2009

(AP) -- Just weeks before an international conference on climate change, the United Nations signaled it was scaling back expectations of reaching agreement on a new treaty to slow global warning.

Leaders say momentum building on climate change

Nov 29, 2009

(AP) -- Leaders of the Commonwealth countries called Saturday for a legally binding international agreement on climate change and a global fund with billions of dollars to help poor countries meet its mandates.

EU backs climate change measures

Mar 05, 2008

The European Union has voted to support climate change proposals to cut emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Recommended for you

US plans widespread seismic testing of sea floor

10 hours ago

(AP)—The U.S. government is planning to use sound blasting to conduct research on the ocean floor along most of the East Coast, using technology similar to that which led to a court battle by environmentalists in New Jersey.

Fire ecology manipulation by California native cultures

10 hours ago

Before the colonial era, 100,000s of people lived on the land now called California, and many of their cultures manipulated fire to control the availability of plants they used for food, fuel, tools, and ritual. Contemporary ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

sams
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2009
Trust me when I say that most Australians a really very embarrassed by this. Sorry .. sorry.
Velanarris
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2009
Trust me when I say that most Australians a really very embarrassed by this. Sorry .. sorry.

Trust me when I say you're completely wrong.
omatumr
2.7 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2009
Reports from Large Research Groups: Inherently Flawed

Governments fund large research groups because bureaucrats know this will silence dissent and give politicians "consensus" support for any nonsense they want, e.g., CO2-induced global warming.

How many climatologists were on the UN's IPCC team of scientists that shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
croghan27
2 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2009
Trust me when I say that most Australians a really very embarrassed by this. Sorry .. sorry.


sams .. as a Canadian, and despite what it says in the story, all countries have retrogressive thinkers. At least Rudd tried. Our good PM did not believe in any kind of climate change until a year ago. See George Monbiot in the Guardian.

defunctdiety
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2009
Congratulations to Australia for taking a lead role in acknowledging not only the complete inefficacy of cap-and-trade systems but also the myth of Manmade climate change!

Don't be ashamed sams, your nation's leaders are indeed watching out for your, and the environment's, best interest. You see, it's not carbon legislation the world needs, but actual progressive environmental policy controlling actual pollution, backing renewable energies directly and reducing consumption. Cap and trade does literally nothing for the environment, it won't reduce carbon emissions, it will just cost the People money.

Here's how Cap-and-Trade (DOESN'T) work:

Every company is given carbon credits (Cap), whether they produce that much carbon or not. The companies that DON'T produce that much carbon sell (Trade) their "carbon-credits" to the companies that DO.

Those companies (Utilities) NEVER REDUCE their emissions (no enviromental good), they just pay a new fee, which is handed down to you, consumer.
RJB26
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2009
go aussies! the crippling of your economy has been averted.......for now. keep up the pressure. i agree with defunctdiety, cap and tax schemes will only cost money and not address any concerns people have about the environment.
Helio
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2009
Trust me when I say that most Australians a really very embarrassed by this. Sorry .. sorry.


Not true at all. The scheme was so full of compensation that the supposed market mechanism had no hope of working. You could only be sorry to see it fail if you didn't understand how emissions trading is supposed to work.

Don't confuse a failure to pass the Bill with inaction on climate change. That is just the political spin. On the contrary, if this Bill was passed it would have guaranteed inaction!