- Prison inmates take up ‘Knockout’ game, target female officers
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- John Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal paved for April
- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
- Obama ‘birther’ theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
Carbon programs’ backlash in Australia, EU bode ill for U.S. efforts to fight climate change
Recent stumbles in Europe and Australia to implement ambitious climate change programs are providing a “cautionary tale” for the Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers as they consider how to fulfill President Obama’s drive to reduce U.S. greenhouse gases.
A popular backlash against a carbon tax in Australia and major implementation problems with the European Union’s “cap-and-trade” carbon emissions trading program are raising fresh doubts about the two main policy vehicles that climate change advocates have backed to curb greenhouse gas pollution in the industrial world, analysts say.
Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, vowed this week to kill the country’s hugely unpopular carbon tax, a move that is expected to save companies billions of dollars and translate into lower energy bills for the average household.
In his first major policy change since regaining control of the ruling Labor Party last month, Mr. Rudd announced that Australia would junk the direct tax on polluters and transition to the same cap-and-trade system that Europe uses to reduce emissions by next summer, which will lessen the impact on the economy.
But the European Union’s cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme, while more affordable than the carbon tax, has run into problems of its own, as the early “market” for polluting rights proved badly out of whack, sending designers back to the drawing board. Also, it may prove less effective at reducing emissions, critics say, and, ultimately, curbing climate change.
Around the world, politicians are finding it difficult to strike a balance between energy policies that effectively reduce emissions while not costing too much and irritating voters.
“Certainly, nothing about the failure of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme or the extremely unpopular Australian carbon tax is likely to encourage American politicians to want to go through the same experience here,” said Lee Lane, climate and energy policy specialist at the Hudson Institute.
Jeff Kueter, president of the George C. Marshall Institute, said such aggressive climate change agendas are proving to be “political suicide.”
“The Australian example is a cautionary tale for any policymaker in the U.S. who is thinking about a carbon tax,” he warned.
But environmentalists and some economists say the Rudd government’s plan to move forward with an EU-style emissions trading scheme does not indicate that the carbon tax was a failure or that the country is giving up on reducing its greenhouse gas output.
“They’re talking about whether they should use one type of climate policy or another, but I think the important thing is that the Rudd administration is continuing to have a climate policy in place,” Mr. Keohane said.
In fact, Mr. Keohane suggested the cap-and-trade system — in which industries and factories can buy and sell credits to pollute — may be even more effective at reducing emissions, because it sets a roof on how much carbon an entire industry can pollute, where a carbon tax allows for as much emissions as industry can afford.
“The thing about cap-and-trade is, you set the cap and you’re going to meet it,” he said. “There’s a strong advantage with cap-and-trade systems because they guarantee a reduction in emissions.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dysfunction, disarray at Homeland Security management cited in IG's report
- GM's Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- Treasury sells last shares in 'Government Motors'
- U.S. businesses reach out quickly to partners in Iran
- General Motors ending Chevrolet sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
Latest Blog Entries
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- U.S. Navy-China showdown: Chinese try to halt U.S. cruiser in international waters
- Obama birther theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House budget bargain faces Senate filibuster; Republicans line up to oppose
- Billy Graham near death, close to going home to be with the Lord
- PRUDEN: The last living witnesses; they wore the yellow star and remember the Nazi terror
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- North Korea's official report on Jang Song Thaek
- Dr. Ben Carson disavows efforts at presidential draft
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
John Glaser turns his pen toward foreign policy and international relations around the world
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow