The politics of carbon in Australia have been seriously difficult and claimed a number of scalps along the way. Before the last election Julia Gillard had promised there would be no carbon tax after she herself rolled Kevin Rudd after his seriously changed stance on carbon.
Then, as elections can and do, she was left with a minority government and needed the support of the Greens and an Independent MP to retain power. And that's a powerful incentive. One of the Greens’ conditions for their support was that she set up a multi-party parliamentary committee to create a new climate plan. And so a carbon tax or some form of ETS was on the table again. What a difference a few Greens can make!If you ever doubted the power of a few people to change a country here is a real life example.
She must have been relieved to have come to an agreement that gives her the support to get this through, because it will remain a highly inflammatory subject and Tony Abbott, as leader of the Opposition will lead a highly charged campaign against it.In her words “I’ve knocked the brick wall down. This is going through, this is done. Full stop.”
And it's well past time that brick wall came down.
Australia generates about 80% of its electricity from coal, which is one of the dirtiest forms of energy there is. Australia emits just 1.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases, but if we look at where Australia is in the world emissions rankings it is actually the biggest carbon emitter per person of any Western country. And no matter how you measure it greenhouse gas emissions have been Australia's dirty little secret.
Interestingly the package actually eases Australia's target to cut its carbon emissions . Its now 80% of its 2000 levels. Previously it was proposed to cut it to 60%.
But the investment in renewables is impressive. $A10 billion will be invested over five years on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and on energy-efficiency technologies.
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