The future of carbon policy in Australia — direct action or ETS lite?

By Allison Warburton

It is just possible that solving global poverty may prove easier than securing a global response to climate change.

Australia, like many first-world nations, has grappled with its policy response to climate change for well more than a decade. The issue is a particularly difficult one for this country, with its relatively low population base, an economy that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and a range of industries that compete in a global marketplace. Political parties of both persuasions have struggled to develop carbon policies that deliver real reductions in emissions but do not place too high an economic burden on industry.

Businesses, for their part, have since the mid-2000s been largely accepting of the need for emissions-reduction measures. The fairly constant message from industry groups has been that they are willing to accept a carbon price provided they get certainty of policy, to allow them to plan investments going forward. What businesses actually got was a carbon price, but no certainty…

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