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Australia Votes Down Carbon Trading Scheme

aussie-co2-cutsOne of the world’s most ambitious carbon-trading proposals was defeated in Australian Parliament. It was not a partisan vote, either.

Conservatives voted against the proposal because they said it was unwise for Australia to commit before the December Copenhagen talks. Members of the Green party voted it down because they said it was not tough enough on polluters.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was to start in July of 2011. On a per-capita basis, Australia is the largest emitter among developed nations.

The nation’s climate change official remains committed to passing a resolution before Copenhagen, Reuters reports.

“We will bring this bill back before the end of the year because if we don’t this nation goes to Copenhagen with no means to deliver our targets,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told the Senate, according to the article.

Australian industry groups are growing fearful over the uncertainty caused by the bill, which is projected to cost $10 billion to implement. One of the nation’s largest utility groups said it is putting off investments in electric grid improvements because of uncertainty over costs and compliance, provided a bill goes forward.

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, is also highly reliant on coal for its electricity needs, using coal for 80 percent of power generated.

Under the proposal, more than 1,000 of Australia’s top polluting companies would have to buy CO2 permits, an amount equal to about 75 percent of national emissions. Australia’s carbon trading scheme is generally considered to be more stringent than the one in place in the European Union.

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