Thumbs down under: Australia’s repeal of the carbon tax is a retrograde step

 

Share

In his run for office, Tony Abbott proffered a blood oath to the Australian public that he would repeal the carbon tax. Yesterday the Prime Minister – who once referred to climate science as “crap” – made good on his word. The conservative wing of his Liberal party rejoiced, as did those businesses that, over the law’s two-year history, never ceased to resent the compulsion to pay a fee of $25.40 for every tonne of carbon they burned. “A terrible day in Australia’s history” was the verdict of the Green Party leader. Gloom is more than merited.

Carbon taxes – alongside cap-and-trade schemes, which allow businesses to trade pollution permits – are perhaps the simplest method of bringing down CO2 levels. Economists for the most part adore them. They correct a market failure: forcing polluters to face up to the damage they inflict on the planet, and by extension, the generations of future children who will have to inhabit it after we are gone.

Australia’s jump from pioneer to laggard leaves it without a credible policy of achieving the bare minimum of its own climate targets: it scuppers a successful scheme (a 0.8 per cent emissions reduction was recorded in its first year) at a time when climate change is bleaching the Aussie reefs at unprecedented speed.

What criticism there has been from UK and EU leaders came at low volume. Perhaps they have in mind the old adage about throwing stones in glass houses. On a much smaller scale, David Cameron offered British voters a similar choice – cheap on the one hand, environmentally friendly on the other – when he scrapped green levies on energy bills last year (apparently terming them “green crap”). Moreover, had it continued, Australia’s carbon price would have soon been linked to Europe’s pusillanimous Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – bringing its value down from $25 to the rock-bottom levels on the Continent.

There can be no question that Australia has taken a retrograde step. Its decision may slow the spread of carbon pricing. But Mr Abbott is not the only man to blame: too many world leaders, and too many voters, still favour cash now over a habitable planet later.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat