In a major setback to effort to combat climate change, Australia’s Abbott government has secured a repeal of the carbon tax. It is the first major country to rollback on the basic environmental protection. Abbott’s government is suggesting that it will pay corporations not to pollute — a proposal that would cost a huge amount and environmentalists insist is unlikely to be successful.
We have previously discussed the radically anti-environmental policies of the Abbott government, which has turned a country that was once a leader in environmentalism into the leader of the countermovement.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt rejoiced in the repeal, which was held up by determined opposition in the legislature. It ultimately passed the Senate by 39 votes to 32.
Carbon tax programs force companies to internalize part of the costs that they externalize in production and gives an incentive to companies to find ways to cut back on such emissions. The Abbott government insists that it can achieve the same reductions by direct payments to corporations – a position that environmentalists do accept and others believe would be too costly if it were to be used to achieve real reductions.
This is an area where I agree with President Obama and admire his continued efforts internationally to create a united position of major nations. Our own country continues to lag behind efforts to curtail these pollutants. However, the position of Australia has already been a rally point for countries like China with appalling environmental records.