The whole point of introducing an emissions trading scheme is to make sure that polluting industries phase out and are replaced with cleaner alternatives, renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes. 
While the Australian Federal opposition dithers on passing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation which would enable carbon trading, Australia’s weather gets hotter and hotter.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Australian Climate Statement for 2009 noted last year was Australia’s second warmest year since high-quality records began in 1910 and the past decade was the warmest on record.
In Australia, each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the preceding decade. In contrast, decadal temperature variations during the first few decades of Australia’s climate record do not display any specific trend. This suggests an apparent shift in Australia’s climate from one characterised by natural variability to one increasingly characterised by a trend to warmer temperatures.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stated 2009 was the globe’s fifth warmest year on record.
Increasing global mean temperatures derived from instrumental measurements are consistent with other independent indicators of climate change, such as reductions in sea-ice and snow cover, and record high global sea levels.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett says this means the opposition is wrong about climate change, thus they should pass the CPRS legislation. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott disagrees,
The Bureau is entitled to say what is happening with the weather, but that does not mean an emissions trading scheme is the best way to combat climate change. My argument is against the Government’s great big new tax. If we are going to tackle climate change, let’s take direct action, let’s not raise the price of ordinary daily life. That’s why I think the Government is dead wrong on this. 
While I’m not aware what direct action Abbott has in mind (I doubt even he knows) the CPRS is dismal in its potential to actually reduce carbon emissions. Last year I blogged about Guy Pearse’s Quarry Vision in which he outlined the reasons the current Federal Labor government, like its predecessor, is enthralled by
the deep pockets of the Australian carbon lobby. 
Both major political parties have bound themselves to the fossil fuel lobby and preserving a brown economy, so it is hard to imagine an effective carbon-pricing scheme that would close down the coal industry and provide the investment incentives to build a clean-energy economy being passed by parliament in the next period. 
Spratt wrote this before the leadership change of the Federal opposition caused by the legislation, but he was prescient in his views. While the politicians bicker, Spratt outlined approaches which could be effective in reducing carbon emissions:
- A gross feed-in tariff for renewable energy produced at all scales
- Mandatory renewable energy targets
- Energy efficiency targets
- Education and behavioural change programs
In California and Germany carbon emissions were reduced using such methods, without any recourse to carbon pricing or trading . Spratt mentions two strategies which would be far more effective than the CPRS:
- Plan B: An Agenda for Immediate Action on Climate Change by a coalition of environment and climate organisations (Simon Butler provided a summary in Green Left Weekly)
- The Emerging Climate Consensus: Global Warming Policy in a Post-Environmental World by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger
It’s the greatest challenge we have ever faced, and requires innovation, careful planning and coordination. 
- Hepburn, John (2008) “Emissions trading jobs” Rooted blog, 12 October
- ABC News (2010) Warmest decade proves Abbott ‘got it wrong’, 5 January
- Pearse, Guy (2009) “Quarry Vision: Coal, Climate Change and the End of the Resources Boom” Quarterly Essay, no.32, p.37
- Spratt, David (2009) “Time for a Plan B on climate?” Dissent, no.30, p.34-39