The rise of the rightwing 'Liberal-National Coalition' in Australia's elections Saturday does not bode well for the country's efforts to curb global warming.
Newly elected prime minister Tony Abbott, who has called the climate change argument "absolute crap" and campaigned on the promise to 'axe' global warming protections, is already taking steps to completely throw out a carbon tax, introduced in the latest term of the Labor government and initially set to expand by the year 2015.
This comes as Australia's climate crisis reaches new urgency, as the country faces the hottest 12-month period in its recorded history, and a recent study in a leading academic journal finds that greenhouse emissions helped make summer of 2013 Australia's warmest yet.
Though he won't be sworn into office until next week, Abbott's spokesperson Greg Hunt asserts that slashing the carbon tax program is the government's "first order of business," declaring, "We want to set out now to do what we said we would do."
The conservative coalition Abbott heads makes no secret of its intentions to bring down the axe on the full spectrum of carbon reduction policies Australia has in place, which includes ending an emissions trading scheme, dissolving a climate advisory body, and going after government spending on environmental issues.
While emissions trading schemes have been slammed as flawed 'solutions' that allow wealthy companies and countries to buy passes to destroy the planet, it is nonetheless significant that the government is eradicating this and other programs, however limited, in one fell swoop.
The conservative coalition has thrown its weight behind what it calls a 'Direct Action Plan' to cut emissions—a voluntary approach that does not dole out real penalties to corporations that fail to meet their targets and allows greater emissions if they are a product of 'economic growth.'
This so-called alternative has been slammed as a farce likely to make emissions skyrocket.
"[T]he Coalition’s policy is simply a handout for big industry," writes Neil Perry from the University of Western Sydney. "Yet, they seem to be suggesting they have political courage by stating they will repeal the carbon price if elected. Instead, real political courage requires a government that will stand up to business and face the moral obligation to reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions."
Australia's powerful coal and gas industries are celebrating at the conservative coalition's triumph, which was helped by massive corporate donations, as well as the backing of magnate Rupert Murdoch and his Australian media empire.
Yet, the conservative coalition is not the only party that is too cozy with big business: the Labor Party has been slammed for being too friendly with oil and gas industries that play a large role in the country's climbing contribution to global warming.