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Al Gore, the former beloved leader-but-one of you Americans, is in Australia. And, boy, did he get played. He stood on a platform with an interesting new entrant to Australian politics, and got to witness Clive Palmer announce the abolition of Australia’s carbon tax. It will be replaced with… well, nothing really.
Clive Palmer is a new member of the Australia Parliament. He has a seat in the lower house, but thanks to his generous personal funding of candidates, he has a block of four newly elected Senators, who will be seated for six years from next week. He largely controls the balance of power in the Senate, so what he wants has suddenly become important here. But he’s not just an MP, he’s also the owner of coal mines, nickel refineries and assorted other goodies. A natural enemy of Al Gore, you’d think. Yet he got Gore to support (with some reluctance) his plan.
The new Australian government, under Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has promised to repeal a carbon tax introduced by the previous Labor government. Of course, this move is being opposed by Labor and the Greens in the Senate. With the new Senate (50 percent face election every three years) Palmer can break the deadlock and give Abbott what he wants. And that also benefits Palmer, given his business interests.
In return for supporting the repeal, Palmer has insisted that legislation be passed to make sure energy suppliers pass on the reduced costs to consumers. Silly idea, but relatively painless. Everything else he promised is pretty much negotiable.
Most delicious of all: the carbon tax is to be replaced, possibly, with an emissions trading scheme. In this plan, all the permits are free and a price will be applied only if Australia’s major trading partners also implement an economy-wide emissions trading scheme. Those partners include China, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.
In other words, it’s never going to happen.
Happy visit down under, Mr. Gore!