Monday, 21 December 2009
KERRY O’BRIEN: Is it true that in principle – forget whether it’s Kevin Rudd’s ETS scheme or your ETS scheme or somebody else’s – but in principle do you support as the best way of tackling climate change, a cap and trade scheme that puts a price on carbon?
JOE HOCKEY: Well, we will see what comes out of Copenhagen. So much does – you know, for example, some of the strongest advocates previously for a global emissions trading scheme are saying it’s not going to work, we need to go with a carbon tax. So, let’s see what comes out of Copenhagen.
The 7.30 Report 17 December 2009
Much more to do in 2010. Foundations now laid in the Copenhagen climate change Accord. We need national & global action for our kids. KRudd
Twitter 20 December 2009
The perceived failure of Copenhagen is a problem for both sides of the political class.
For the Liberals, it takes away the excuse of waiting for the world to make a decision they cannot – choosing between standing up for core party values and being in line with the global political agenda. Abbott’s highly unconvincing attempt to be both, greenest of green while arguing climate change is not worth a Great Big Tax, is likely to be even more difficult after Copenhagen as the pressure increases from some to abandon climate change action altogether. For the pro-action groups in the party it gives an invitation to take on the old guard’s agenda directly rather than just claiming to want to keep in line with the rest of the world.
However, the more immediate problem is for the government and it is probably why Rudd is keen to argue that there is an international momentum where there is not. This first Labor government without any relations with unions to underpin its domestic program, has looked overseas to the international agenda of climate change to give it a sense of purpose that it otherwise does not have. In this sense, the political problem for Rudd now is not that he has raced ahead of the international agenda by introducing an ETS, but that he has relied on the international agenda too much.
As a political tactic against the opposition, Rudd’s taking of a ‘middle road’ on climate change looks sensible as it has forced the Coalition, caught up in a furious internal battle over ‘values’, to fall off the sceptic cliff from which its new leader is now desperate to scramble back.
The trouble is that beating the Coalition is not the only game in town. There is the more fundamental question of what the government itself stands for, and its credibility. For a government with an insecure social base, this is no more an easy question than it was for the last one and, like the last one, it has had to look overseas to find it.
However, unlike the War on Terror, Copenhagen showed that this time, there is no clear political direction to this international agenda. Whereas the War on Terror made a virtue of the US’s military strength, the climate change agenda makes a problem of the US’s economic dominance and so far harder for the US to assert leadership over. Obama’s behaviour at Copenhagen sums up what seems to be the US’s modus operandi at the moment, fly in and look to be in control, but don’t hang around long enough to show that it is not.
In essence Rudd had been looking for overseas governments to provide a direction that it has avoided sticking its neck out trying to generate at home. When it realised, too late, that its machinations had meant that it had no ETS to take to Copenhagen, it carried on as though it was no problem, when in fact politically it was. It highlighted to the world’s the lack of weight the government had to impose its will at home and push an agenda through. The irony was that when it arrived in Copenhagen, it found an international community, especially the most powerful one in it, with precisely the same problem.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Monday, 21 December 2009.Filed under International relations