Australia Rips Up Climate Policies & Green Bureaucracies
Australia’s landslide election result seems to be bad news for the climate. Following the election of a new government, Australia is to abolish its emissions trading scheme, disband a climate advisory body and institute a carbon reduction policy that experts say will fail to meet its meagre target.
It will also scale back the country’s embryonic National Broadband Network and direct funding away from research projects it deems “ridiculous”.
The conservative Liberal-National coalition, headed by incoming prime minister Tony Abbott, triumphed at the polls this weekend. It ran for election with a core idea of “scrapping the carbon tax”. In the last term of the Labor government, a price on carbon was introduced, under pressure from the Australian Greens party, with whom they shared power in a minority government. The carbon price – widely called a “carbon tax” – was set to increase gradually until 2015 when carbon credits would be opened for trading, allowing the market to set the price.
Abbott’s coalition also signalled that it would disband Australia’s Climate Commission – an independent scientific body that provides reliable information on climate change to the public. In response to a report the commission released, warning that extreme weather was made more likely by climate change, Abbott said: “When the carbon tax goes, all of those bureaucracies will go and I suspect we might find that the particular position you refer to goes with them.”
In 2009, Abbott said, when talking about climate change, that the “science is highly contentious, to say the least” and “the climate change argument is absolute crap”, but accepted that precautionary action against it was a good idea.
Australia’s carbon reduction policy currently has three key pillars: the emissions trading scheme, a renewable energy target of 20 per cent and government financing for clean energy projects. The renewable energy target is the only part of the policy that won’t be removed immediately, but Abbott has said that the government will conduct a “serious review” of it.
Replacing the current system, the coalition says it will institute a “direct action” plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 5 per cent below 1990 levels. This relies mostly on farmers voluntarily storing carbon in soils and planting trees, but will also finance lowering the emissions of power stations and create incentives for the uptake of renewable energy.