The political bomb is ticking again. Despite being slayed twice at Australian elections the ETS monster – the emissions trading scheme - has popped back out of the box. This time around, Turnbull and co will not paint it as a big deal grand scheme, nor give it a proper name. It will be eased in under the radar as much as possible (as I predicted) being forced on only the worst “polluters” as a cheaper way to offset carbon emissions.
There’s a strange rush on in Australian politics to force Australian companies (and consumers) to send money to struggling bankers in Europe.
It’s only a few credits…
The environment minister talks flexibility in emissions targets as Coalition backbenchers mock international deal reached at Paris climate conference.
The Turnbull government will “probably” allow emission reduction permits to be bought from overseas, giving Australia flexibility to increase the targets it pledged at the Paris climate conference, Greg Hunt has predicted.
Right now, to avoid lighting the same fires that got Turnbull ousted in 2009, Turnbull and Hunt are pretending an ETS was a part of the Abbott plan (it won’t work). But most political commentators don’t hear the ticking. Though surprisingly Annabel Crabb of the ABC sees the vacuum and asked “who will speak for the skeptics”.
Paul Kelly, Editor of the Australian is one of the most influential political commentators in Australia, yet he is utterly misreading and misremembering the climate battle. (Climate Change tends to do that to lots of people.) Kelly has this strange idea that the voters in Australia care about “climate change” despite all the polls that show more than half of Australians don’t believe its an issue, and most of the rest don’t want to pay. The only people who “vote” for climate extremism are never going to vote for the coalition. Pandering to the Green Machine is not a vote winner for conservatives.
Kelly buys the Turnbull-Hunt spin, and completely misses the big power-players in Australian climate politics in 2014 (Al Gore, and Clive Palmer):
Abbott’s policy left the door open from 2017, if needed, for resort to use of international credits.
Hunt had pushed hard early this year for this pivotal opening and finally persuaded Abbott.
This prompts two immediate points. Turnbull should thank Abbott from the bottom of his heart for this provision. Can you imagine the riot from the conservative wing of the Coalition parties if this were not established policy but was now being imposed by Turnbull? “Tony Abbott had opened this door and Malcolm Turnbull kept it open,” Hunt said. Second, international credits, while seen as essential by the business lobbies and a cost-effective mechanism for emission reduction, are a political and ideological red line for many conservative MPs. -- Paul Kelly
Kelly thinks Greg Hunt talked Abbott into keeping the ETS idea alive, but Environment Minister Hunt didn’t have any leverage at all. It was the Gore-Palmer combo that made it happen. Abbott needed Palmer to pass the Direct Action legislation and Palmer insisted on this bizarre clause. And if Paul Kelly (or Turnbull) think that the true conservatives or skeptics will go easy on the ETS just because Abbott’s arm was twisted by Clive Palmer and Al Gore they are in for a shock. Abbott’s bare endorsement of a review of an ETS is worth nothing — he wanted to rule it out entirely, but had to leave the door open in order to get “Direct Action” past the Senate. Worse, most skeptics didn’t want the Direct Action plan in the first place.
So a non-endorsement of a policy skeptics didn’t want is supposed to stop a riot?
Earlier, he [Hunt] told parliament in question time: “We oppose an ETS – lock, stock and barrel. We will not be bringing one back.”
Here’s Clive Palmer, the coal miner, who suddenly discovered his ETS crusade after Al Gore visited him:
[Palmer] said PUP had achieved what the Greens were unable to, in preserving the Climate Change Authority, retaining the renewable energy target and making “substantial progress towards delivering an ETS”.
“We would expect Green votes to flow to the Palmer United Party on the back of this achievement,” he said.
PUP has proposed an ETS that would only become effective when Australia’s major trading partners also took action.
“This new ETS for all Australians is not the Liberal way or the Labor way but the right way,” Palmer said.
Australian voters chose the Abbott “blood oath” plan to get rid of the carbon tax (it was one of the main themes of the election campaign). Turnbull, and the Liberals who voted him in, are selling out those voters.
Turnbull will want the crowd to believe he is sticking to Abbott’s plan (because he promised the Nats he would).
Turnbull and Hunt are using that as their excuse to talk about bringing an emissions trading scheme back in, despite voters throwing it out twice in the last two national elections. They are trying to maintain the illusion that Turnbull is not breaking the Abbott climate deal. But Abbott understood that carbon markets support big bankers, white collar crooks and third world mafiosi:
Abbott once likened buying international units to sending money offshore “into dodgy carbon farms in Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan”.
Can someone find us the fine print of the “Direct Action” legislation? If there are any clauses in there about an emissions trading scheme, or about the need for all other nations to be a part of a legally binding commitment, I would like to know.
h/t Eric Worrall, Tim Andrews ATA.