AS Copenhagen looms just a week away, the future of Australia’s carbon trade scheme was thrown into confusion yesterday as several opposition lawmakers resigned their party positions in open revolt over the carbon laws.
The government expects the upper house Senate to vote on the scheme this afternoon, but the resignation of six opposition frontbenchers yesterday throws the Opposition’s support of leader Malcolm Turnbull’s backing for the scheme into question.
In a day of turmoil for the beleaguered Turnbull, his senior lawmaker Tony Abbott led a series of frontbench resignations, demanding the party does a policy u-turn on backing the carbon trade bills.
Turnbull, meanwhile, refused to budge, and he remains confident that enough of his lawmakers will support the package of 11 bills.
The government needs seven of the 32 opposition Liberal Party senators to support the bills in order for them to pass the Senate. Seventeen have already said they are likely to vote against the bills.
Rudd could call a snap election if the laws are rejected.
Questions are now being raised about how Australia will approach the upcoming talks in Copenhagen.
Grant Anderson, partner at Allens Arthur Robinson in Melbourne, told Boardroom Radio in an audio interview published on The New Lawyer site, that it is clear there will not be any comprehensive legally binding climate change agreement come out of the process.
“At best we will see a high level political contact, which probably will set out the process for negotiating some of the more contentious issues over the next 6 to 18 months.”
He said they are likely to include what targets the developed countries will accept, and what commitments the developing countries will make to restrain the growth of their emissions.
Anderson said talks will also cover what sort of financial and technical assistance the developed counties will give to the developing countries to assist in their climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Anderson, who specialises in energy and resources as well as climate change law, said this doesn’t mean Copenhagen will be a failure.
“There are a number of second order issues that could well be agreed at Copenhagen. Foremost among those the extension of the clean development mechanism and the joint implementation mechanism, which are a means by which the developing countries are able to generate emissions reductions, which can then be used by the developed countries to meet their own international and domestic emissions target commitments.
“And that is very important for countries like Australia, Japan and presumably the US if and when they get their own emissions trading scheme legislation through,” he said.