Having tidily dispatched his nemesis Julia Gillard in a labor party leadership struggle last month, Kevin Rudd is setting his sights on winning the next Australian elections scheduled for September 14. Step one: slash a politically toxic carbon tax, and make up for the lost revenue by cutting several green programs. NY Times:
“The government has decided to terminate the carbon tax, to help cost-of-living pressures for families and to reduce costs for small business,” Mr. Rudd said at a news conference.Mr. Rudd, who signed onto the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act as leader in 2007 and once famously called combating climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our time,” framed Tuesday’s announcement in terms more economic than environmental.
Australians are clearly spooked by the prospect of the end of the long China boom and the attendant slump in commodities purchases. It looks like the easy times are over for them, and so there’s much more anxiety about the future and more skepticism about expensive green policy soufflés. As we’ve seen over and over again, when a country is forced to choose between ensuring its prosperity and falling on its sword in order to preserve climate change policies of dubious efficacy, it turns out it’s not much of a choice at all.