Tony Abbott, Australia’s new climate-denying prime minister, is wasting no time in driving the country backwards on environmental policy — in a metaphorical diesel-chugging logging truck.
But his draconian climate policies don’t appear to be as popular with big business as he’d hoped, and a climate advisory body he tried to kill may come back even stronger, thanks to some of his more enlightened countrymen and women.
Within his first few weeks on the job, Abbott scrapped top-level ministerial jobs that separately oversaw science and climate change policy and dismantled a government climate change commission. He wants to remove some of the world’s tallest forests from the list of World Heritage areas, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of pristine acres for mining and logging. And he has promised to eradicate the country’s carbon tax.
Amid this carnage, horrified Aussies have begun donating to fund the Climate Commission to keep it operating as a nonprofit. From a story posted Wednesday on the online news site Crikey:
The commission has been reborn as the Climate Council and is now funded by public donations. It had raised $420,000 from 8500 donors as of 9am today (the website only opened to donations 33 hours previously). This should fund the Climate Council for at least six months, probably longer.
So it’s a goer financially.
The Crikey story argues that the commission might actually work better as a nonprofit since it will be freed from the shackles of rules that limited what it could say about government policy. Then again, it’s unlikely that Abbott’s government could give a toss what the group has to say about anything.
Meanwhile, Abbott is lacking the kind of support from big businesses that he might have counted on to help him ram anti-carbon tax legislation through a hostile senate. From Bloomberg:
While business groups such as the Minerals Council of Australia have criticized the carbon price as a “dead weight on the economy,” few individual companies have spoken up to endorse Tony Abbott’s plan to scrap what he calls a carbon tax, said Peter Castellas, chief executive officer for the Melbourne-based institute, which surveyed about 200 of the country’s largest emitters before the Sept. 7 election. It plans to publish a study later this year on the costs of repealing carbon trading in Australia.
“Those conversations are yet to be had by liable entities in Australia,” Castellas said yesterday at the Carbon Forum Asia in Bangkok. “Lots of money has already been invested. Those costs have already been sunk.”
As an arch conservative, Abbott’s mantra is predictably pro-business and anti-regulation. But the uncertainty that his rise to Australia’s top job has cast over carbon pricing is not the kind of thing that corporations like. “The longer this uncertainty lasts, the bigger the problem for Australian companies,” Ingo Tschach, head of market analysis for Tschach Solutions in Karlsruhe, Germany, told Bloomberg.