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Published by the ABC, Australia’s national broadcaster.

Australia needs a Plan B for climate policy. We need a nation-building project on the scale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme to invest in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. This is the fresh approach needed to drive Australia’s transition towards a clean economy and protect the nation from dangerous climate change.

The Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that the government will delay its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme until 2013 is a tacit admission that pricing carbon is not viable in the current political environment.

Labor and proponents of emissions trading have been living a fantasy for too long. They have ignored the realities of politics to pursue a policy that had no reasonable chance of being implemented at a time when climate change experts agree we must act. Now, Australia is set for yet more inaction.

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Cross posted at US climate and energy blog, WattHead.

It’s official: “cap-and-trade is dead” in the United States. The frank declaration was made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham during a private meeting with environmental leaders at the weekend. The Washington Post report that the Senators spearheading national climate legislation have rejected an economy-wide cap-and-trade scheme. Senators Lindsey Graham, John Kerry (Democrat), and Joe Lieberman (Independent) are “engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation” and are “preparing to jettison the broad ‘cap-and-trade’ approach that has defined the legislative debate for close to a decade.”

The collapse of cap-and-trade in the United States has implications for Australian climate policy, making the Rudd Government’s mission to pass a cap-and-trade scheme even more difficult. The Australian Senate has twice rejected Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and is set to reject the bill for a third time in May. Unlike the previous rejections, the stakes are higher this time around. A third strike for the proposal just months out from a national election would be a demoralising blow for the Labor Party.

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Published by the Breakthrough Institute and WattHead.

fuji_off_kanagawaA joint London School of Economics / University of Oxford report published today presents a new approach to post-Kyoto climate change policy. The report, How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course, coincides with this week’s G8 summit and Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and calls on policy makers to abandon the failed Kyoto-style framework and instead focus directly on decarbonizing global energy systems.

The new report builds on Professor Gwyn Prins’ and Professor Steve Rayner’s influential critique of the Kyoto Protocol, The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy, and adds further weight to calls to scrap Kyoto.

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Co-authored with Johanna Peace and Devon Swezey and published by the Breakthrough Institute and the Energy Collective.

It’s official: India won’t accept binding caps on its emissions of greenhouse gases. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh made the case clear last Thursday:

“India will not accept any emission-reduction target–period,” Ramesh said. “This is a non-negotiable stand.”

India’s announcement is the latest frustrating news for those following the efforts of climate negotiators as they struggle to eke out an international agreement by this December’s UN summit in Copenhagen. It’s frustrating because the fundamental dissonance between what developed countries demand and what developing countries are willing to give appears to be the single most intractable roadblock standing in the way of a successful treaty. In fact, this very problem has impeded progress on international climate negotiations for decades.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

As the Rudd Government’s proposed cap-and-trade scheme looks to be defeated in the Australian Senate, the Australian climate change debate has shifted: Cap-and-trade policies are now a political liability.

At the weekend, public demonstrations were held in opposition to the Rudd Government’s ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’, which according to Damien Lawson of Friends of the Earth Australia, ‘called on the Federal Government to drop its carbon pollution legislation and start large-scale investment in renewable energy.’ This display of discontent with emissions trading coincided with the release of ‘Plan B’—a report advancing alternative climate policy proposals.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

Climate change can be framed in many ways. It could be framed as a problem of democracy—how can the short-term feedback mechanisms of democracy, namely election cycles, cope with emergent long-term problems? It could be framed as a problem of international governance—how can the anarchy of nation-states deal with challenges that transcend their national borders? And it might also be framed as a problem of perception—how can ‘we’ as individuals, citizens, and consumers, deal with problems that are disembodied and imperceptible in our daily lives? Even though these framings are relevant to climate change policy debates, one particular framing features prominently: climate change as a pollution problem.

Australian politicians, climate change advocates, and policy makers currently frame climate change in this way, and is illustrated well by the title of the Australian Government’s climate policy—the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ (CPRS). While the pollution framing is obvious in the title, the influence of this framing is much deeper. The pollution frame appears to have influenced the Australian Government’s approach to climate policy—its aims and instruments—as proponents a carbon cap-and-trade view the implementation of such a scheme as the best way to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution.

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Leigh Ewbank

Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.




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