The Carbon Tax Is Gone

Shame, Australia.

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At 11:14AM today, the Senate passed the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill and associated legislation by 39 votes to 32 after the Coalition again gagged debate and forced the Senate to a vote.

Speaking over heckling from Coalition Senators, Greens Leader Christine Milne urged the crossbench to consider “the legacy of their political career” and called the repeal of the bill “intergenerational theft”.

“We will be a global pariah as the rest of the world moves…to give people on this planet a chance of survival in the face of this climate emergency”, Milne said.

“This is an appalling day for Australia.”

In response, Coalition Senator Ian Macdonald “congratulated” the Senate and “the Australian public” and reminded the chamber that “in Brisbane on Saturday morning, we had the coldest day in 113 years.”

The House of Representatives voted in favour of the repeal for the third time on Monday after the government announced it had secured the support of Palmer and the three PUP Senators in exchange for amendments that will compel energy providers to pass on savings from the tax’s repeal to consumers.

Palmer United Party Senators unexpectedly voted against the bill last week, but their changing votes now give the government the numbers it needs in the Upper House to abolish the carbon tax for good.

While Clive Palmer has promised to replace the tax with an emissions trading scheme that will kick in when Australia’s major trading partners do likewise, such a scheme is unlikely to ever come into effect because nations like India are a long way off from implementing a nation-wide ETS of their own. With Labor now opposing the Palmer amendments for that reason, it’s possible Australia will be left without carbon-reduction laws of any kind.

Here’s Tony Abbott, with his thoughts on climate change.

The news comes as US President Barack Obama announced a series of initiatives aimed at tackling climate change, including planning to protect electricity supplies from increased flooding, storms and landslides, as part of a larger effort to build support for a bolder climate agenda. During the announcement Obama called climate change “a direct threat to the infrastructure of America”.

Last month China announced that it will be setting an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions from 2016, and plans to introduce a national carbon market by 2018. Seven major Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, have city-wide schemes in place already that cover about 18 percent of the country’s pollution.

Here’s Senator Ian Macdonald calling climate change a fraud “similar to Y2K”.

Data from the Climate Council indicates that the average temperature across Australia in APril was 1.1 degrees above the long-term average, and that the two-year period immediately prior to April was the hottest on record. In recent weeks studies have linked declining rainfall in south-west Australia, more severe coastal winds along North America’s west coast, and fast-melting glaciers in the Antarctic to climate change.

Looking long-term, scientists are predicting rainfall in southern Australia could decline by up to 40 percent by the end of the century, potentially rendering large parts of the continent uninhabitable. When asked about the impact of his findings, UNSW Climate Change Research Centre oceanographer Paul Spence said : “If you were buying land in Australia and wanting to pass it down to your kids or your grandchildren, I suggest it’s a couple of metres above sea-level”.

Here’s footage of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who raised the issue of climate change a total of four times between being appointed Minister in September and March of this year.

In related developments, the Palmer United Party and Australian Motoring enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir voted with the government to strip the Australian Renewable Energy Agency of its funding.

More to come.

Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.