Recent raucous debate on climate change In the Australian parliament resulted in the Greens, a minor party with environmental leanings, voting twice with the opposition against a Climate Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) policy proposed by the government.

The CPRS legislation was an emissions trading scheme that would leverage market forces to drive behaviours of consumers and investors to cleaner more efficient energy options to lower emissions. I say ‘was’ because the policy option has just been shelved. This decision means that climate change will not be a central item in either government or opposition campaigns in the upcoming election, handy for both major parties.

And why did the Greens oppose the legislation? Because, they said, it did not go far enough. It was too weak and too kind to the heavy polluters. The reduction targets were a joke, so the rhetoric went.

This is a curious position for green politicians to take. The CPRS was an attempt to restructure the way we generate our energy and a mechanism that would money would be made from climate change adaptation measures. In other words legislation that would push more funds towards environmental benefit than any previous conservation measures in the country’s history. Instead there is no climate change policy and no serious debate on climate change legislation likely for at least another two years, possibly longer. And without a policy there is no emissions target at all.

Someone once said that the perfect can get in the way of the good. After the excesses that brought us anthropogenic climate change, it would be irony indeed if the desire for excess in redress scuppered the good.

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