Climate sense from Alan Wood

Writing in The Australian, Alan Wood lays bare the sham that is Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong’s insistence that the ETS be passed into law before Copenhagen. Are you reading this Malcolm Turnbull?

The looming failure at Copenhagen is a powerful argument against Australia rushing to pass the Rudd government’s flawed emissions trading scheme, which isn’t even proposed to start operating until 2011. For Australia, with an economic structure heavily dependent on cheap, carbon-based energy, to move ahead of the rest of the world is foolish.

Rudd and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong see things differently. In their view, getting the legislation through the Senate in November is essential for Australia’s negotiating position at Copenhagen. According to Wong the eyes of the world are on us, waiting to see if the government succeeds.

Nonsense, of course, as Rudd gave away in an interview with CNN in New York. Asked whether the US negotiating position had been weakened by the Obama administration’s inability to get emissions trading legislation through the US Senate, Rudd replied that his own legislation had been recently blocked by Australia’s Senate.

He continued: “That doesn’t impede me from being active in these negotiations and my observation of President Obama is that it doesn’t impede him either.” So much for the importance of passing legislation before Copenhagen and, in any case, the UN knows what Australia’s position is on targets and emissions trading.

The government’s attempts to create a sense of urgency and set a timetable that demands its legislation be passed in November are a stunt. The issue is whether Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has the courage to do what he says is the only sensible course of action, to wait until after we know the outcome in Copenhagen.

However, having said this, Turnbull, who is in a complete funk over the possibility of a double-dissolution election on the issue, left the door open to negotiate with the government to pass its legislation, with amendments, in November. A clear majority of his back bench and probably at least half his front bench don’t agree with this policy.

Both former Labor prime minister and treasurer Paul Keating and former Liberal deputy leader and treasurer Peter Costello have warned a double dissolution is not without risks for Rudd because the electorate likes governments to run their full term.

Rudd has said more than once he doesn’t want a double dissolution and also believes governments should run their full term.

Turnbull should take him at his word and have the guts to stand by what he says he believes is the right policy, and is indeed the sensible policy: wait until after Copenhagen.

Read it here.

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