Lawrence Solomon: Australia may wait forever on climate change

In her first speech as Australia’s new prime minister, Julia Gillard assured her nation that she will not be rushing in any climate change policies, and certainly not carbon taxes, because there is no consensus on the need for carbon taxes. Gillard is known for her strong support of unions and tepid support of action on climate change.

Gillard replaces Kevin Rudd, a fellow Labour party member and sitting prime minister who was unceremoniously bounced by his party, in part for his global warming position. The ruling Labour Party is staring at defeat against the opposition Liberal Party under Tony Abbott, who last year led a revolt against his own pro-global warming leader. As has the Australian public, the Liberal Party has turned against the conventional wisdom on global warming.

While affirming her support for renewable energy and other emerging technologies, and her belief that man contributes to climate change, Gillard shelved any notion that Australia would be seeing carbon taxes any time soon. Instead, she implied that Australia wouldn’t even argue for  carbon taxes until the global economy recovered and until Australia’s economy could afford them. At that point, she implied, her advocacy of carbon taxes would be global in scope, implying that Australia wouldn’t go it alone by adopting its own carbon scheme:

“If elected as Prime Minister, I will re-prosecute the case for a carbon price at home and abroad. I will do that as global economic conditions improve and as our economy continues to strengthen,” she explained.

How long is she prepared to wait before implementing carbon taxes? Maybe forever.

“First, we will need to establish a community consensus for action,” Gillard told reporters after her election as Labor leader. Then, she explained, she would take “as long as I need to” to win over the community.

Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, June 24, 2010

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