Australian Parliament Delays Vote on Carbon Trade Plan

Dec 1 2009 | 12:12am ET

The Australian parliament on Monday again delayed a vote on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s carbon trade plan, putting the future of his climate change policy in doubt and sparking talk of a snap election.

Rudd’s carbon trading scheme is key to his government’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions between 5% and 25% from 2000 levels by 2020.

The upper house of Australia’s parliament, the Senate, failed to vote on the carbon trade plan by the end of its Friday session. It continued to debate the 11-bill package on Monday, but opposition was flummuxed as to whether to support it.

“We are committed to this scheme. I believe the Australian public [is] very strongly committed to action on climate change,” Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters on Friday.

If the proposed laws are defeated again in the Senate, following a first defeat in August, Rudd could call a snap election in early 2010 and opinion polls suggest he would win with an increased majority.

Rudd hopes to have the legislation passed in time for the climate talks in Copenhagen, at which he is expected to be a key negotiator.

Australia derives 90% of its electricity from fossil fuels, mainly coal.

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