Carbon Pricing: Domestic legislation, global ramifications?

Image courtesy Say yes

Watching Sunday’s announcement of the carbon price legislation, I felt relieved that Australia is finally taking action on climate change.

After backing down from Rudd’s CPRS, blowing vast amounts of hot air throughout the 2010 election campaign and battling the current scare campaign by the opposition, the Gillard minority government looks set to pass legislation for a price on carbon in late November.

Whilst there is much debate about the benefits of the proposed legislation – the move to a clean energy future, the new Climate Change Authority and the commitment to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution by 80% by 2050 – there is little discussion of the global ramifications of Australia putting a price on pollution.

Firstly, as the world’s biggest per-person polluter, Australia is taking an important first step in reducing its carbon pollution. However, Oxfam research released last month revealed that developing countries are making more of an effort to cut their greenhouse gas emissions than developed countries. So Australia still has responsibility to do more. In particular Australia needs to provide more support for poorer countries that have done the least to cause climate change and are already feeling the impacts through increases in droughts, floods, hunger and disease.

Secondly, in the lead-up to the UN Climate Summit in Durban later this year, the world is watching to see what Australia will do. If the parliament passes legislation in November, Australia will go to Durban and be able to pressure other big-polluters like Canada, US and China to take further action.

Thirdly, with the $10 billion investment in renewable energy, Australia is beginning to catch-up with the European Union, China and UK in the race to embrace a clean energy future.

Later this week, I’m meeting with Australia’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Louise Hand in Canberra and will be compiling a list of comments and questions from you and other climate trackers. So please add your comments to this post and send a message to Australia’s lead negotiator, Louise Hand.

You can become a fellow climate tracker and ensure the Australian Government works towards a global deal on climate change at the negotiations in 2011.

Clancy Moore is Australia’s UN Climate Tracker for 2011