Two years later, such an article would be improbable. Climate change sceptics are no longer shut out of debates, and their voices are louder than ever. The mood has changed significantly, not the least because Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a tax on carbon dioxide emissions (or a price on carbon). Business has started to fight back, saying the tax will be disastrous for Australian industry. The Business Council of Australia has this week entered the fray by asking whether a country that accounts for just 1.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions should be acting alone to develop a carbon pricing policy. And in recent weeks, Rio Tinto has described the tax as “disastrous”, Anglo American has announced the job impact will be “severe”, and BlueScope Steel’s Chairman Graham Kraehe said it would “condemn [the company] to a rusting museum”.
Prime minister Julia Gillard has pinned her political future on taxing carbon dioxide emissions, but a growing chorus of political commentators believe that the both the tax and her leadership are on the brink of collapse. Paul Kelly, a senior commentator writing for the national broadsheet, wrote today that “The omens are now unmistakable – the government’s effort to price carbon is a policy that is losing support in the community, within industry, inside the trade union movement and silently within [Gillard’s] Labor Party…”
But perhaps more importantly, the public debate over climate change and resulting policy is going badly for believers. Perhaps the most potent symbol of this is that Gillard’s personally appointed $180,000-a-year Climate Commissioner (Tim Flannery) has become the object of sustained criticism (and indeed ridicule) on the conservative side of politics. Journalists Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt have led the charge on this (Blair and Bolt are prolific and popular bloggers – with Bolt’s site receiving 2.5 million hits per month).
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Australia may very well become "a harbinger for change", but not the kind of change the climate alarmists imagined.