PUP does a deal on Direct Action

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If we didn’t know before, we know now that Clive Palmer will do a deal with the devil. He’s going to vote for a scheme that he comprehensively rubbished, said was a complete waste of money and he would never vote for it.

His price?

Clive Palmer won a Government commitment to salvage the Climate Change Authority and to ask it to conduct an 18-month review of the PUP plan to legislate an emissions trading scheme (ETS) at a zero rate.

This is of course a good thing. I understand that the Climate Change Authority will have something to say about targets before we have to make commitments in Paris next December. And the review can take into account Paris outcomes. The review and the work of the CCA may provide a road to redemption for the backsliders in the LNP. Bernie Fraser sees his task in this light, as he was quoted on PM:

What you’ve heard today is perhaps the beginning, the beginnings of an emerging broad, broader political consensus on climate change and the need to take effective action. Because that’s what this country needs more than anything else – the development of a broad political consensus.

Of course, the Government needs six votes from the cross bench.

Victorian senators Ricky Muir and John Madigan and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon have also given their vote to the Government after negotiations.

Xenephon was said to have won four out of five of his requirements. Included was his penalties for big emitters proposal.

To win the necessary support, the government has accepted a proposal by Senator Xenophon to put in place a “safeguard mechanism” to ensure companies comply with the scheme’s requirements.

Details of the safeguard mechanism will be mapped out later. Observers expect it to include some form of penalty for companies that fail to meet government-set benchmarks, although it remains uncertain what the penalties would be.

Uncertain too what the benchmarks will be.

Not included was Xenephon’s proposal to set aside $500 million to buy carbon offsets from abroad to ensure the target is met. No doubt that would be too much like carbon trading for the LNP to stomach.

Christine Milne slammed the direct action policy as “embarrassing”. She reminded us that Palmer helped the Government tear down the ETS. Here’s their Facebook entry.

Bill Shorten:

“Tony Abbott has once again sold his soul to Clive Palmer and Australia will pay the price,” he said.

“This is a dirty deal that will send our country backwards.”

The Climate Institute welcomed the preservation of the independent Climate Change Authority but wanted to see more details about the review.

“Moreover, we are deeply concerned that the amendments to the CFI Bill fail to establish a climate policy that gives a reasonable chance of achieving even the lowest level of Australia’s 5-25 per cent 2020 target range, let along the deeper decarbonisation of the economy that will be needed beyond 2020. The Climate Change Authority has recommended Australia adopt a 2030 emission reduction target of 40-60 per cent below 2000 levels.”

“Without access to international carbon permits, stronger domestic regulations will be needed to meet Australia’s emission goals. The ‘safeguard mechanisms’ in the legislation—the emission limits that companies will have to adhere to—will need to be very strong and get more stringent over time, and regulations to limit emissions and tighten energy efficiency standards across the economy will also be needed.”

Greg Jericho made the excellent point that the Abbott Government “has been extremely successful in making climate change policy more about electricity prices than about climate change.” Maybe Bernie Fraser and the CCA can gently nudge it in a different direction!

There’s more at The Conversation.

Update: Bret Harper and Hugh Grossman give the detail of the agreement on Direct Action. They include:

The government will also withdraw its Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2014 and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014 during the Spring 2014 parliamentary sittings.

The CCA will produce three reports, going into targets for Copenhagen as well as emissions trading schemes.