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Australia Senate rejects carbon pollution reduction bill

[JURIST] The Australian Senate [official website] on Wednesday voted against [daily summary, PDF] legislation aimed at reducing carbon pollution. The Senate voted 41-33 [official proceedings] against the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No.2] [materials] and ten related bills that would have established a cap-and-trade system. The scheme, similar to the current European system, would have been implemented by July 2011 and aimed to increase emissions reductions from 5 percent to 15 percent by the year 2020. Detractors of the bills alleged that Australian consumers would face higher energy prices and that it would be meaningless for Australia to adopt a cap-and-trade system if the US does not also adopt one. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd [official website], backed by the Labor Party [party website], had intended to present the carbon reduction scheme to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) [official website] in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard [official profile] has said that government will not pursue early parliamentary elections under Section 57 of the Australian Constitution [text, PDF] and intends to re-submit the legislation [Reuters report] a third time in February. Australia derives most of its electricity from coal and accounts for 1.5 percent of the world's CO2 emissions, but has the highest emissions per capita [ABC report] among developed nations.

US President Barack Obama acknowledged [press release; JURIST report] in November that it is unlikely that the COP15 will produce a legally binding agreement addressing global climate change. Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman said that it is impractical to expect that a final, legally binding agreement could be negotiated in time for the summit. In early November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] attempted [remarks; JURIST report] to temper expectations for the climate change conference, saying that it might not result in a treaty. The meeting of world leaders is an effort to replace the controversial Kyoto Protocol [JURIST news archive] that several nations, including the US, did not sign.

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