Australian global warming activist Tim Flannery has slammed the Senate’s decision to scrap the carbon tax, suggesting that it is a retrograde measure that moves against the rest of the world’s efforts.
“The rest of the world – countries like China, South Korea and Brazil – is moving swiftly towards carbon pricing and we are the first country to move away from it,” Mr Flannery told The New Daily. “Carbon pricing is known to be a very effective mechanism for reducing carbon pollution.”
Mr Abbott has reassured Australians that the ACCC “will be on hand and vigilant to ensure that the reductions in the price of power are passed on through our economy to communities and families.”
“The carbon tax is gone but it seems it hasn’t entirely been forgotten,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
“Surely it’s time to accept that the Australian people don’t want the carbon tax. Whatever it’s called, it’s still a tax and the Australian people don’t want it.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten criticised Tony Abbott for the decision, labelling him “out of step” with the rest of the world.
“Tony Abbott will do and say anything to avoid the signs of climate change,” Mr Shorten told Sky News.
“Australians now know who Tony Abbott is…he’s lied when he says he’s fair dinkum about climate change.”
“Today he has taken Australia backwards.”
Meanwhile, Greens senator Christine Milne said the decision marked a “tragic day” in Australian politics.
“It’s a monumental blunder under a climate-denying Prime Minister,” Ms Milne told Sky News. “It has made Australia a pariah in the community and it’s a huge opportunity cost to the nation to put us to one side instead of joining as everyone moves towards the renewable energy-powered future.”
“To all those people that are feeling despair at the complete lack of leadership, don’t despair. This is going to be a shortlived moment for the Abbott government. Global warming is not going away. The Greens will lead to the future.”
It’s a monumental blunder under a climate-denying Prime Minister
BHP Billiton has welcomed the repeal of the carbon tax, saying Australia’s competitiveness suffered under the scheme introduced by the Gillard government.
However, the mining giant on Thursday also acknowledged that a price on carbon would be necessary to address climate change and the “human influence” on global warming.
“BHP Billiton believes that the recently repealed carbon tax did not represent an optimal approach to reducing emissions and had a detrimental impact on Australia’s competitiveness,” a BHP spokesperson said in a statement provided to AAP.
BHP said it supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate change science “which has found that warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and physical impacts are unavoidable”.
Other commentators fear that axing the tax will lead to an increase in carbon pollution, preventing Australia from fulfilling its international obligations.
“Repealing the carbon price means fossil fuel companies can now pollute for free,” World Wildlife Fund Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said.
“This will see carbon pollution go up, not down.
“Without an effective mechanism to cut carbon pollution, Australia is unlikely to meet its international commitments to cut pollution by 5-25% by 2020 and tackle global warming.”
“Prime Minister Abbott now has the opportunity to step back and work with the Senate to move to an emissions trading scheme and to set a firm date for its commencement.”
“This would be a fair and responsible step. It keeps a polluter pays scheme and provides certainty Australia can meet its international obligations.
Mr O’Gorman also added that recent polling found four in five Australians believe it is important for the Government to keep its promise to cut carbon pollution and they would support a shift to an emissions trading scheme.
“The Australian community wants the Abbott Government to act and wants polluters to pay,” he said.
The carbon tax was a dead weight on the Australian economy
However, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Inudstry Chief Executive Kate Carnell believes Australians should breathe a sigh of relief.
“The carbon tax was a dead weight on the Australian economy and abolishing it is a win for consumers, a win for energy users and a win for business,” Ms Carnell said.
“Australia’s carbon tax was one of the highest in the world, making our key industries less competitive and providing very little by way of environmental benefit.”
“Abolishing the carbon tax should help to stimulate business and economic growth and help restore all-important investment confidence.”
Australian Retailers Association boss Russell Zimmerman echoed Ms Carnell’s sentiments: “There is no doubt this boost to retailer’s bottom lines and the pockets of consumers will assist the sector to overcome pressures from excessive costs and be a boost to current low consumer confidence.”