Australia blows climate legislation for second time in Senate vote

Publish date: December 1, 2009

Australia’s Senate rejected the government’s climate-change bill a second time, leaving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd empty-handed when he travels to Copenhagen this month, new agencies reported.

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, was proposing to reduce greenhouse gases by 5 percent to 15 percent below 2000 levels in the next decade.

Senators voted 41 to 33 against the law, which included plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe, according to the Bloomberg newswire.

The legislation’s second failure – the Senate originally rejected the bill in August – gives Rudd, 52, the power to dissolve parliament and call early elections. Rudd would face off against new Liberal leader Tony Abbott, who says the prime minister’s plan amounts to a A$120 billion ($112 billion) tax on Australians without doing much to mitigate climate change, said the ageny.

“There is no danger of this country rushing ahead, but as a result of the actions of the opposition, there is a risk this country is left behind,” Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said during yesterday’s Senate debate, according to Bloomberg. “In the heat and fury of today’s fight it is often easy to lose perspective and too many opposite have lost that perspective.”

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