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Australia without climate policy

Carbon tax
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The carbon tax is gone, but with it goes the only policy Australia has in place for curbing carbon emissions.

This should be a concern for anybody who believes that climate change is real – which, for the record, includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by five per cent of 2000 levels by the end of the decade, a target many criticise as too weak but one the Abbott government considers our fair share.

Regardless, it’s unclear now how Australia is doing anything to address the problem.

Scroll down to see our interactive carbon tax timeline
Hubris and blood lust in the House of Reps

The government has promised to fill the policy void with direct action, its much-maligned alternative climate change strategy that pays companies that clean up their act.

But it’s not like the transition from one scheme to the next is some seamless process.

The legislation to set up the $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund – the centrepiece of direct action – hasn’t even run the gauntlet in the Senate yet.

Once there, it faces a hostile reception.

Labor, the Greens and, crucially, the Palmer United Party have rejected it outright as a waste of money and an inadequate response to the problem at hand.

Clive Palmer is looming large as the biggest obstacle.

Palmer drama adds to political uncertainty

The PUP leader is demanding an emissions trading scheme be established in case Australia’s trading partners adopt similar action, an almost unthinkable concession from a government that just abolished carbon pricing.

Hunt is optimistic the government will chart a course through this impending storm and before long his policy will be up and running.

But until then there’s nothing but limbo.

No carbon tax requiring polluters to pay for their emissions, no fund encouraging companies to deliver genuine carbon abatement and help Australia meet its target.

Not even a dormant ETS waiting in the wings.


But the prime minister has rejected suggestions Australia is a ship without a rudder, insisting he is running a “conservationist government”.

Actions will need to speak louder than words when Australia attends a major summit in Paris next year to try to hammer out a strong, legally-binding treaty to tackle climate change for years to come.

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