Australia’s new prime minister Julia Gillard has signalled for the first time that she will move away from her predecessor’s climate change policy and find a new way of pricing carbon emissions across the country.
Speaking late yesterday in her first interview since securing the support necessary to form a minority Labor government, Gillard revealed she was keen to scrap controversial plans for an emissions cap-and-trade scheme in favour of a new approach to curbing carbon emissions.
“I’m not going to pre judge how quickly it can be done,” she told ABC News. “But I believe there’s a determination to approach this in a different spirit to the way the carbon pollution reduction scheme ultimately ended up being approached where consensus was shattered and it was a matter of high partisanship between the major political parties.”
Gillard’s predecessor Kevin Rudd took a decision to shelve Labor’s planned carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) until at least 2013 after twice failing to get it through parliament.
The Greens and some business groups ended up opposing the scheme, saying it had been watered down and would fail to adequately curb greenhouse gas emissions.
During the election campaign, Gillard stuck to the line that she would try and re-introduce the scheme in 2013, but yesterday she acknowledged that the policy was likely to undergo a major revamp.
Last week, as part of the deal that secured support from the Green Party, Gillard agreed to create an independent climate change committee to recommend how best to put a price of carbon.
Speaking yesterday, she admitted that the new committee was likely to recommend a different approach to pricing carbon emissions to the controversial cap-and-trade mechanism put forward by Rudd.
“What I would like to see from that committee is that we can genuinely includ e from across parliament people who believe climate change is real and who believe we will only reduce carbon pollution and meet our 2020 targets if we price carbon,” she said. “And then with all of those people in the room we work through to look
for the points of agreement.”
Options likely to be considered include a revamped carbon pollution reduction scheme, a new emission trading scheme altogether, or an interim carbon tax.
Proposals for a carbon tax are favoured by the Greens, who could threaten to destabilise Gillard’s government by withdrawing support in parliament if their demands are not met.