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Australia and the United States Finally Move Ahead on Climate

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

While Australia finally passes its 43% climate targets laws under the Albanese Labor Government with the help of the Australian Greens led by Adam Bandt and the Climate 200-backed Teals (10 seats), already the new federal government has strengthened the safeguard mechanism that the Coalition introduced after the repealing the original carbon price that Labor introduced while it was last in government for its final term a decade earlier during the Rudd/Gillard era (2010 – 2013). This scheme was replaced with the carbon credits scheme during the first term of the Coalition Abbott/Turnbull era (2014 – 2016). Already Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has announced 6 offshore windfarms with more investments in renewables underway which should secure Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower of the Pacific.

Meanwhile, in the United States (US) with the election of President Biden and re-election of the Democrats in the US Congress in 2020, it is looking more likely now to finally pass its 40% targets by 2030 after a year of tough negotiations with moderate US Senators. Biden’s and Chuck Schumer’s version of a Green New Deal that so many campaigned for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), is a big deal considering the US is the 2nd biggest polluter globally. This includes $369 billion which is the single biggest investment in climate change in U.S. history. This includes the following:

  • $60 billion for a clean energy manufacturing tax credit
  • $30 billion for a production tax credit for wind and solar
  • $4,000 tax credit for the purchase of used electric vehicles
  • $7,500 for the purchase of new electric vehicles
  • $9 billion in rebates for Americans to buy or retrofit their homes with energy-efficient appliances.

It also includes a methane fee in the legislation while also funding revenue from the scheme to back significant social programs in health and social policies while also taxing corporates 15%.

 

 

 

So why is this a big deal?

As the Paris Agreement goals set in with nations setting 2030 climate reduction targets and 2050 net zero targets and places like the European Union (EU) considers introducing the carbon adjustment tariff internationally which will penalise nations that refuse to act on climate change economically. As time is running out to decrease the 2-degree increase predicted by a majority of the scientific community which would be a climate disaster given that climate-related natural disasters are on the increase.

The US already has carbon emissions and pricing schemes in several states the most notable being California, Washington (state), and RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) in the US north-eastern states. Twelve US states currently have carbon pricing programs. That’s a 1/4th of the US population and 1/3 of US GDP (gross domestic product). The methane fee, while not perfect, widens goals and penalties for big polluters in the US. This is big news considering the lack of a national carbon price in the US which similarly saw two steps forward one step backwards progress on climate change action that mirrors our own in Australia as a consequence of conservative governments undermining progress by dismissing the science of climate change and corporate greed. It is little wonder why the Trump (GOP) administration withdrew the US from the international commitments via the Paris Agreement, the original US carbon pricing national plan died in the US Senate in 2009 and the Abbott LNP’s push for axing the so-called dreaded “carbon tax!?!” which he argued would be an attack on the very fabric of Australian life, based on pure speculation and misinformation… while it penalised only big polluters and compensated average taxpayers.

While everything looked upon Green New Deal initiatives and original proposals aren’t all in IRA legislative outcomes it is a good solid start for the coming years ahead and the future generations to work on. As it’s a floor, not a ceiling to work from as pointed out in Australia. More can be amended from each annual period forward to adjust economically forward. Both US Vermont Senator and former Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt who both have been critical of new investments in the coal and oil fossil fuel industry, were both supportive of the changes.

The new direction could also new investments in lithium, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, graphite, manganese, vanadium natural resources that could fuel the next mining boom albeit one in order to save the planet. One thing for sure is this is just as critical as legislation as universal healthcare was as pointed out by former Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Combet. Republicans and conservative Liberals in Australia may just well attempt to undermine the methane fee in the US in future or the stricter climate mechanisms just as they had to healthcare in recent decades. As the old 3 wise monkey saying goes “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” But given that “climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time” as said by former Prime Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd, time is running out on action that could very well secure a better future for all, and one that avoids total disaster on a scale that we once considered a science fiction. The choice is ours.

 

 

“Personally, as the new Labor Government backed by the Greens and Teal Independents proceeds with the 43% climate target laws and invests heavily in renewables. I hold out hope that the new Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek who has just rejected a new mega coal mine proposal for Clive Palmer in North Qld that horrendous developments like the Toondah Harbour PDA will also be rejected as well. I for see a better horizon forward on environmental policy making.”

 

Check out the links for more info:

https://www.actforbirds.org/savetoondah
https://www.acf.org.au/toondah-harbour

Callen Sorensen Karklis, Bachelor of Government and International Relations.

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University

 

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