October 12 News: Australian Carbon Tax “All But Assured of Passage,” Opposition Makes “Pledge in Blood” to Repeal

Other Big Stories Below:  Pakistan Floods Show Asia’s Vulnerability to Climate Change; Insiders Say Obama Will OK Keystone Pipeline Soon; China’s Wind Market to Reach 158 GW by 2016
Carbon cut-out

PM Julia Gillard and Former PM Kevin Rudd.

Australia moves closer to law establishing carbon tax

The Australian government’s goal of implementing a carbon tax passed its toughest test today as the lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a package of bills that institutes a phased-in carbon tax, to be followed by a carbon-trading system.The 18 bills now go to the Senate, where the law is all but assured of passage in mid-November.

According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the system will reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by 159 million tons by 2020. Australia is the largest per-capita carbon polluter, with an economy deeply dependent on coal.

The first phase of the law will tax carbon at $22.90 a ton beginning in the middle of next year. The surcharge will rise modestly until mid-2015, when the carbon-trading system will take effect. Other bills call for a national emissions caps, exempting farming and other agricultural sectors.

The tax will not extend to the price of gas for consumers, although rail, shipping and large trucking businesses will pay the tax indirectly on fuels such as diesel.

Australia’s biggest carbon emitters — power companies, mining companies and industrial manufacturers — immediately attacked the legislation, and the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, vowed a “pledge in blood” to repeal the law should he become prime minister.

The Australian law would go well beyond what the California Air Resources Board is considering. The board voted in August to reaffirm its cap-and-trade plan, which put the nation’s first state carbon-trading program back on track.

JR:  Some good political analysis here:

Tony Abbott will have to stomach more carbon in his political diet

TONY Abbott may have made a “pledge in blood” to repeal the carbon laws passed yesterday but it is a promise that he will struggle to uphold in the face of significant barriers.He may be hoping to make these changes history but instead they threaten to be historic, regardless of personal views about carbon pricing and global warming.

With only half of the Senate up for re-election in two years, the odds of the upper house agreeing to reverse the tax this side of 2015 seem remote.

And by then the tax will be integrated into a world emissions trading system and businesses and householders alike will all be accustomed to paying for carbon emissions.

That means that the current partial business opposition to the tax which later morphs into an emissions trading scheme could melt away, particularly if the impact is smaller than the most vocal critics fear and is masked by more significant pricing factors such as swings in the Australian dollar.

That has been the experience in New Zealand, which, unlike Australia, applied its carbon tax to petrol, with the carbon price changes quickly becoming secondary to movements in the currency and oil prices.

Pakistan Floods Show Asia’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

It is more than a year since the devastating July and August 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected about 20 million people and killed an estimated 2,000. Many believe that the disaster was partially fuelled by global warming, and that there is a real danger that Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent in general, could become the focus of much more regular catastrophic flooding.

Indeed, right now Pakistan is again experiencing massive flooding.  The UN asserts that, already, more than 5.5 million people have been affected and almost 4300 are officially reported dead, 100 of them children.

Last year’s calamity, in particular, highlights the  vulnerability of much of Asia to climate change, and has helped elevate this into one of the most important and pressing political and social issues in the region. Indeed, an increasingly prevailing view is that the impact of climate change could be worse in the region than all previous social, health and conflict disasters of the past.

Insiders: Obama Will Approve Keystone XL Pipeline This Year

Despite intense lobbying from environmentalists and opposition from many in President Obama’s own party, virtually all National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders say that Obama’s State Department will approve a controversial 1,700-mile pipeline project to bring carbon-heavy tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Environmental groups have been working in Congress and the courts to delay or block a decision, citing environmental concerns and, more recently, questions about the impartiality of some State Department officials.

But more than 70 percent of Insiders said they think the State Department will approve the Keystone XL project by year’s end. Another 21 percent said the administration would approve the project eventually, just not by the end of this year. Only 9 percent of those responding think the project will not get final administration approval. Because the project crosses international boundaries, the State Department is tasked with determining whether building the pipeline is in the national interest.

China’s Wind Market to Reach 158 GW by 2016

China outpaced the US and emerged as the biggest market for wind power capacity in 2010. China has approximately 44.7 GW of installed wind farm capacity and intends to reach 230 GW by 2020.

Various factors are expected to drive the wind epower market in China. Government backing and generation-based incentives for renewable energy sources, rising electricity demand, and Clean Development Mechanism support from the UN all are expected to boost China’s wind market.

China outpaced the US and emerged as the biggest market for wind power capacity in 2010. China has approximately 44.7 GW of installed wind farm capacity and intends to reach 230 GW by 2020.

Wind turbine blades are mostly made of composites because of the excellent mechanical properties and ease of designing. Composites consumption in the Chinese wind market was approximately 488 million pounds in 2010. Lucintel estimates that composites consumption is will reach 542 million pounds by 2016.

Report: Mercury levels mostly down in Great Lakes

A newly released report says mercury levels in the Great Lakes region generally have dropped over the past four decades, although concentrations in some fish and bird species have increased more recently.

The report was being released Tuesday at a news conference in Detroit. It sums up the findings of 35 recently completed scientific papers.

Scientists credit reduced air emissions in the Great Lakes region and nationwide for the drop in mercury levels in the lakes.

The report comes about a month before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to release tougher rules for emissions from coal-fired power plants, a leading source of mercury.

But despite the drop-off, the report says mercury pollution exceed thresholds for posing health risks to humans and the environment in many areas, especially inland waterways.

12 Responses to October 12 News: Australian Carbon Tax “All But Assured of Passage,” Opposition Makes “Pledge in Blood” to Repeal

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    As for the Tar Sands pipeline approval, Obama is so afraid of the oil companies that he is willing to sacrifice his reelection.
    He can’t win without environmental voters, and we will stay home in disgust, even if it means Rick Perry. What’s the difference?

    We can’t even tell where Obama actually stands on these issues. Apparently his political advisors told him that if he wants to win in Florida and North Carolina that he will have to open up the oil floodgates. Well, he won’t win those states, either. Americans are not as dumb as his bankster and corporate friends appear to believe. It may finally be time for a Third Party candidate, since BO is stinking up the Democrats.

  2. Zach says:

    Well, the opposition can go [snip] themselves.

  3. Zach says:

    @Mike I agree that Obama has been pretty disappointing as far as the environment goes. Even if right now he can’t get a climate bill passed due to congress, he could have at least used his platform as president to defend the science and the scientists when Fox News was spreading their manufactured “climategate” bullshit. Not a peep from Obama. And now he’s approving drilling in the arctic? Could he be any more of a corporate tool than he is now? He’s only pursuing “safe” policies and trying to please everybody, and it’s not going to work. In order for a green energy revolution to happen, some major inconveniences will have to occur for CO2 intensive industries, and Obama seems dead set on tackling this problem so slow and incrementally as to not piss off anybody that he may as well not do anything at all. I know that, if his administration approves this pipeline, I will not be voting for this asshole. He’s there to protect OUR best interests, not cave to corporate assholes demands like every other corrupt politician occupying our congress.

  4. Joe Romm says:

    Language, please.

  5. Question says:

    I know it is frustrating and infuriating… but I find it hard to take a statement like “… even if it means Rick Perry. What’s the difference?” with a straight face.

    A Rick Perry Presidency would be an complete and unmitigated disaster. This is a man who believes we should have no EPA, doesn’t understand even the concept of science, and would lead us down the road to absolute Hell and High Water.

    Don’t fool oneself. If Perry, or frankly pretty much any of the current Republican candidates gets elected we would not only see any small progress halted, but massive backtracking. And we couldn’t even take the battle to the states, because despite the ideology the republican agenda would extend to blocking state renewable standards and regulations. And we just don’t have time to wait out the next 8 years and hope that the next president will undo the damage.

    Obama in contrast is simply not nearly as effective as we would like and seems to not understand the urgency. He has let us down profoundly with rationales that we can’t understand.

    They say there are no more bitter enemies than those who have been let down, but to cut off our nose to spite our face is at best counterproductive.

    If the choice was between Obama and a truly moderate Republican who really recognized climate change as a serious problem then I might agree with you. Perry is not such a person.

  6. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals shared a link.

    Perry Officials Censored Climate Change Report
    The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality doesn’t want you to know that climate change is causing sea level rise in Galveston Bay.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama was always intended, by his controllers, to be a one-term President. He is designed to so antagonise the patsies who voted for ‘Change’ and ‘Hope’ that they stay at home, hopefully for years, if not forever. Antagonising environmentalists while serving his Big Business masters is straight out of the plan.

  8. Mitch says:

    If Obama approves Keystone XL, I for one will not be voting for him. For me it is the deciding issue. I cannot bring myself to vote for the man who approved the “game over” pipeline. If it gets turned down, then I will support him and work for his reelection.

    I believe Mitt Romney for one actually believes in his heart of hearts that climate change is an issue. He is just such a flip-flopping weasel that he won’t say it during the primaries.

    Given Obama’s fecklessness on all these environmental issues, it make take a Republican in the White House to actually get something done. He might be able to bring enough of his party with him to actually do something. Anyway it’s a hope.

    If Obama approves Keystone XL, hope is one thing that’ll be in very short supply.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    Good news about the Great Lakes.

  10. Paul magnus says:

    Climate Portals

    What Web Searches Reveal About Global Warming — And Us | The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Medi
    Readily available research tools from Google and Yahoo! help paint a picture of peoples’ interests in climate change … or is it, ‘global warming’? … providing valuable insights for climate communicators.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    NASA to Launch New Satellite to Track Earth’s Weather, Climate