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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn