Another excellent article from Tom on the changing attitudes to cap-and-trade:
Nowhere is the changing climate more evident than in Australia. Last month, the Senate voted down the Labor Government’s legislation to implement an emissions-trading scheme. Polls show most Aussies oppose the complicated cap-and-trade system if China and India continue to chug along the smoky path to prosperity. The center-right Liberal-led opposition, moreover, is now led by Tony Abbott, a culture warrior who has described man-made global warming in language unfit to print in a family newspaper and cap-and-trade as “a great big tax to create a great big slush fund to provide politicized handouts, run by a giant bureaucracy.”
Until Mr. Abbott’s election as opposition leader last month, the climate debate in Australia had been conducted in a heretic-hunting, anti-intellectual atmosphere. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claimed that climate change is the “greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time.” In clear breach of the great liberal anti-communist Sidney Hook’s rule of controversy—”Before impugning an opponent’s motives, answer his arguments”—Mr. Rudd linked “world government conspiracy theorists” and “climate-change deniers” to “vested interests.” Much of the media, business and scientific establishment deemed it blasphemy that anyone dare question his Labor Party’s grand ambitions.
Australians had heard a lot of science, much of it poorly explained. But the “dismal science” had been conspicuously absent from the climate debate. There was very little serious analysis of the economic consequences of climate change: What choices did we have to mitigate its effects, and how much would these choices cost us? Labor ministers had emitted a lot of hot air about global warming and the urgency with which resource-rich Australia (which accounts for only 1.4% of global emissions) must act.
All of this has now utterly changed: Australia’s debate has entered a new phase, one that goes beyond the religious fervor and feel-good gestures that had held sway all too often. Suddenly, political strategists are thinking the unthinkable: far from presaging an electoral debacle that was inevitable under Mr. Abbott’s green predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, the issue could be a godsend for conservatives Down Under.
Read it here.