Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s move to repeal his country’s carbon tax provides an international boost for the Harper government, which has regularly attacked opponents who propose putting a price on emissions in Canada.
Australia’s reversal on carbon pricing comes at a critical time, just two months prior to a United Nations climate summit to be hosted by secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who is looking for countries to commit to post-2020 emission reductions and new policies to achieve those targets.
And it comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces continued pressure to impose some form of carbon pricing in Canada, particularly in the booming oil sands where rising emissions threaten to swamp the government’s commitment to rein in carbon pollution.
Mr. Abbott visited Canada last month, and Mr. Harper commended him for ending the “job-killing carbon tax” as the Australian had pledged during last year’s general election in which he defeated the Labor Party-led coalition government. With their resource-based economies and relatively small populations occupying large land masses, Australia and Canada are among the world’s top per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
“Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone, a useless destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living and which didn’t actually help the environment is finally gone,” Mr. Abbott told Australians after the Senate voted 39-32 to repeal the levy.
“Canada applauds the decision by Prime Minister Abbott to repeal Australia’s carbon tax,” said PMO director of communications Jason MacDonald in an email. “Our government knows that carbon taxes raise the price of everything, including gas, groceries, and electricity.”
Environmental advocates fear the two prime ministers will team up to block progress at international climate talks, while the Conservative government in Ottawa sees an ally that will speak up for energy-exporting developed countries.