Climate Change News: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Australia has repealed the controversial carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions, fulfilling a key campaign promise by Tony Abbott.

Abbot, the leader of the center-right "liberal" coalition, was elected in a landslide last September as the country's prime minister. The repeal, which had previously passed the Australian lower house, was approved the Australian Senate on Thursday by a vote of 39-32 after Abbott's coalition (which lacks a majority in that chamber) finally reached an agreement with a group of independent senators.

Said Abbott after the vote, "Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone, a useless destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families' cost of living, and which didn't actually help the environment is finally gone."

The carbon tax was implemented by the leftist Labor Party, which Abbott soundly defeated in the nationwide election, and was one of the elements in the Labor Party's defeat. "Australian voters turned against climate laws -- recognized by the International Energy Agency as model legislation for developed countries -- blaming them for rising energy bills and living costs." The carbon tax reportedly cost each Australian household about $550 per year.

Labor and the Green Party denounced the repeal effort and vowed to reinstate the carbon tax if they get into power again. In place of the carbon tax, the Abbott government plans to set up an expensive taxpayer-funded plan to provide incentives for industry to use cleaner energy.

According to the BBC, "Politicians have been locked in a fierce row about the tax for years. Labor says it helps to combat climate change, but the Liberals claim it penalizes legitimate businesses... Australia is the developed world's worst polluter per head of population. But critics, including Mr. Abbott, said that the tax cost jobs and forced energy prices up."

Note that in Australian politics, conservatives form the "liberal" coalition.

The prime minister said in June that he takes climate change very seriously, although previously he reportedly referred to man-made climate change as "crap." In 2013, he declared that the carbon tax "was socialism masquerading as environmentalism."

Apart from loopholes that favor certain constituencies and voting blocks, Breitbart London notes that domestic carbon taxation has a fundamental flaw in that it doesn't apply to all energy producing nations: "Unless it is instituted on a universal global level both big energy users and ordinary consumers will always have the option of moving elsewhere where the costs of energy have not been driven unaffordably high by well-meaning but pointless eco legislation."

Do you think the carbon tax repeal in Australia is a significant setback for the climate change movement?

[image credit: Wknight94]