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Updated: April 27, 2010 09:27 IST

Australia dumps carbon trading scheme

DPA
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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during a business meeting in New Delhi. File photo. AP.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during a business meeting in New Delhi. File photo. AP.

Australia’s Labour government on Tuesday dumped plans for carbon trading as it gears up for an election later this year it wants to fight on local issues like health and education.

The Opposition Liberal Party has risen in the opinion polls by portraying Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s cap—and—trade scheme as a “great big new tax” and had the support of the Greens in blocking enabling legislation passing through Parliament.

The Greens opposed the scheme because they considered its emissions—reduction targets too small.

The failure of December’s Copenhagen conference dampened the enthusiasm of many Australians to take unilateral action on climate change.

Just a week ago, Mr. Rudd was denying that carbon trading would be the latest of a raft of environmental policies to be ditched in time for the election.

“Our policy hasn’t changed,” he said. “We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and the most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with least cost to the economy.” Last week a programme for free roof—cavity insulation was abandoned and a scheme in which householders could get free advice on energy—saving measures was scaled back.

Greens leader Bob Brown said Mr. Rudd had gone back on his pledge to tackle climate change, which the prime minister famously called “the great moral challenge of our time.” The shelving of the scheme, he said, “signifies a climate change collapse by the government in the face of the right—wing criticism from the opposition and others that it is a great big tax.”

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