Last September, Australians gave their progressive Labor Party the boot after six years of national government dominance and instead ushered their conservative-lite Liberal Party into power. Their new prime minister, Tony Abbott, promised to reduce government expenditures and streamline the bureaucracy amidst a slowing economy and high taxes, with an especial emphasis on reducing the country’s green-energy commitments and unpopular carbon tax. Last week, Abbott released his budget proposal amidst a flurry of controversy, but he did take a pretty sizable axe to some of Australian green groups’ most treasured areas of government spending:
Australia’s conservative coalition is set to cut more than 90 percent of the funding related to global warming from their budget, from $5.75 billion this year to $500 million, over the next four years.
Environmentalists and leftist politicians in the country protested the move by conservative Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s governing coalition to slash funding for climate programs, arguing such funding for green energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions were necessary to stop global warming.
But Abbott’s government shot back, saying that the country needed to reduce the size of government and improve the economy.
“The coalition government acknowledges the role of renewable energy in Australia’s energy mix,” said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. “There is over $1 billion in funding for existing renewable projects to be completed over the coming years.”
The budget is coming under plenty of fire from the opposition, but the new Australian government has been more than up front with voters and with the United Nations about their disinclination to eagerly participate in the ever-elusive “global climate treaty,” a.k.a. mutual impoverishment pact, that the UN is trying to scrape together (especially not one that relies on “socialism masquerading as environmentalism” in which wealthier countries voluntarily shrink their own economies while redistributing funds that will supposedly be for climate-change mitigation to poorer countries). Abbott has proposed an alternative plan to the carbon tax that would provide taxpayer funded grants to companies and projects that reduce emissions, but that isn’t nearly enough for the international globalist-environmentalist set, which is getting pretty bent out of shape about the signals Australia’s budget proposal is sending. Via Bloomberg:
Australia’s program to rein in pollution is losing momentum, the latest in a series of setbacks for the international effort to tackle global warming. …
The shift in Australia comes just ahead of a series of global climate talks set for later this year. The UN is aiming to craft an agreement in 2015 that would include 190 nations. That pact would limit emissions in both industrialized and developing nations for the first time. Yet China and India have signaled their reluctance to join without broad participation from richer industrial nations, including Australia.
“It feels like a 180-degree turn for Australia,” said Jake Schmidt, director of international climate policy at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s the hardest thing for the international community to take.” …
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked world leaders to bring plans for action on climate to a summit in New York in September. The U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest polluters, have started diplomatic coordination on the issue, and Europe is expanding the world’s biggest carbon market.
“Australia risks being embarrassed by global leaders who are determined to take action, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama,” said Kobad Bhavnagri, the Sydney-based head for Australia research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
I’m sure they’ll be devastated.