Is Australian decision another nail in carbon control coffin?

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 11 October 2017


Politicians are dependent on the support of their electorates for their jobs and that is something that is beginning to have an effect upon the global consensus for CO2 control that looks increasingly as though it reached a high watermark in the Paris Climate Agreement. Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to pull the US out of the agreement and that reversal of support for action on climate change has already been put in progress. Nominally the US is still a signatory but President Trump has said that the Paris agreement needs renegotiating if the US is to remain on board because of its detrimental effect on the US economy and employment situation. Earlier this week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants. Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Kentucky., casting the previous policy as unfair. Now it seems that the Australian government is also rowing back on climate commitments. So far Australia has not pulled out of Paris but this week the Turnbull Government has prevented a backbench revolt by moving to ditch the Clean Energy Target proposed by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has given the strongest indication yet the Federal Government would not adopt the policy, saying a freefall in the cost of renewables meant there was no point in more subsidies. Speaking in London recently, Tony Abbot Australia’s former PM and still a member of the ruling coalition described the likely backdown on a CET as a “belated” gesture and warned that the Coalition is courting a “political death wish” if it fails to put cost of living and protection of jobs ahead of reducing emissions. In the UK, the increasing cost of energy – due in a large part to climate change policies and subsidising renewables – has also become a priority for the government with PM Theresa May pledging to reduce the cost to consumers. Politicians are notoriously fickle but when it comes to threats to their own jobs they can usually be relied upon to follow public opinion and if it seems that there is more support to be gained from measures that go against supporting renewables rather than cutting the cost of energy, then it would seem that forcing shipping and other industries to reduce their carbon footprint is rapidly sliding down the agenda.
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