Carbon policy in Australia – a political history

Edward Elgar Publishing
Publication Type:
Green Fiscal Reform for a Sustainable Future Reform, Innovation and Renewable Energy, 2016, 1, XVII pp. 31 - 52
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Australia had actively participated in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, endorsing the Summit goals which were formed by the desire for sustainable development. Australia also joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and much later signed the Kyoto Protocol enthusiastically supporting greenhouse gas reduction. A range of measures aimed to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have been on the agenda at the Federal and State level for the last two decades. Until recently, successive Australian governments have been committed to the introduction of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme designed to mitigate climate change. This paper examines the historical progress of Australian climate change policy including the implementation of the present Australian Government’s Direct Action Plan. The article in particular observes several interesting and significant aspects of Australian climate law highlighting governmental approaches and processes leading to the introduction of those laws. The historical perspective is necessary to identify most common features of the climate law implementation procedures and to identify what political factors influence these processes in Australia. Examination of the Australian climate change regime indicates how different actors influence policy proposals to achieve their own goals, rather than to cooperate in a process of generating the best overall legal option. This paper concludes that the development of climate law in Australia required some innovative and responsive law initiatives. However, the practical implementation of various climate change laws had been constantly impacted by various economic and political factors.
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