Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Parliament this week that the new U.S. carbon limits are “sensible,” even though his government is trying to end an Australian law that essentially uses similar tactics to cut emissions. “There is no emissions trading scheme in the United States,” he told parliament. But that’s not entirely true.
While the EPA rule doesn’t set up a federal carbon pricing or emissions trading system, those are available and encouraged options for states, and they’re already being used successfully. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been going strong for several years in Northeastern states, making money for state governments while cutting carbon. California’s cap-and-trade system, set up in 2006, will likely also provide a model for states looking to comply with EPA regulations. More states are expected to join or create cap-and-trade systems to meet EPA limits.
Abbott says he likes U.S. climate policy, but his real model seems to be Canada, where oil money has stifled recognition of climate change, climate policy, and activism. In Australia, the law and private spying have been used to make protest harder, and climate denial has become common in Abbot’s government.
It’s unclear at this point whether Abbott will be able to repeal the Clean Energy Future laws that establish a price on carbon and emissions trading program in Australia. But there’s no question that his Liberal Party government has been hostile to climate action and clean energy, and quite committed to helping the coal industry. Meanwhile, Australia is dealing with significant climate change impacts, including record-breaking heat waves and droughts.