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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 On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

Recently, the Australian Greens challenged the Rudd Government to “break the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) deadlock” by implementing an interim price on carbon. The move no doubt stunned many with its pragmatism and has since won the backing of the government’s former chief climate change adviser Ross Garnaut. While the move may give the Greens a PR boost, the proposal will work to strengthen the Coalition’s recent framing of carbon pricing as a “great big tax”. This of course has implications for Labor’s climate policy agenda in an election year.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

CompassThe Senate’s rejection of the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in August presents the Australian climate community with the opportunity to reassess and recalibrate their messaging and advance an effective policy agenda. Regardless of whether the Senate approves the bill when it is reintroduced this November, the climate movement must be prepared for the next stage of climate and energy advocacy – one that will focus on renewable energy deployment.

A new and improved policy agenda must do several things: it must unite the nation’s climate movement that has been split by Labor’s flawed CRPS; it must be politically palatable for both the government and the public; it must exclude powerful fossil fuel interests intent on thwarting progress; it must be politically feasible to pass the senate; and all importantly, it must have a positive climate impact.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate, and The Wheeler Centre for books, writing and ideas.

Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the momentous Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act – the first step in a 25-year journey to modernise our nation. Unrivalled in its ambition, the Snowy Mountains Scheme would meet the dual objectives of providing reliable electricity for our cities and towns, and water supplies to sustain food production along the Murray River.

Australia’s largest-ever engineering project would spur social and economic development and benefit the cities and rural communities of Australia’s southeast for generations. Without fanfare or media attention, Australia forgot to acknowledge a significant moment in our nation’s history.

Today Australia faces new challenges: our climate is changing. And we must quickly transition to a clean energy economy to avoid the worst-case scenarios predicted by climate scientists. Alongside this comes the continued global economic change that is putting increased pressure on established industries. Our parliament must act to encourage the expansion of new industries and secure jobs for the future.

A new nation-building project on the scale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme is needed.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

Did you know that FDR and Eisenhower used market-based approaches to implement policies that advanced America? Well, at least this is case in a series of thought experiments Michael Lind presents in ‘Obama’s Timid Liberalism’. In the piece, Lind discusses how the Obama Administration’s approach to key policy areas like climate change/energy and health care constitutes a ‘timid liberalism’. ‘Rather than fight back,’ Lind argues, ‘most Democrats in the last generation adapted to this hostile conservative political climate by jettisoning “big government” liberalism for “market-friendly” neo-liberalism.’

I’m interested in exploring this point. What will it take for progressives to transcend the ‘timid liberalism’ that we have seen over the last thirty years—a politics that constrains progressive governance? What will it take to ‘fight back’?

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Leigh Ewbank

Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.




Creative Commons License All blogs presented on this site,, by Leigh Ewbank are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License

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