Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday confirmed the nation will be going to the polls on July 2, but a report by an advisory body to the government thought to recommend setting up an emissions trading scheme has been delayed until after the election.
The Climate Change Authority was due to release two reports in late June – one on how Australia can best decarbonise its electricity sector and one on which policy measures should be put in place to make sure the country meets its target under the Paris Agreement.
But both reports have now been postponed until after the election at the request of the Climate Change Authority itself, it said on its website.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott tried and failed to abolish the authority. Instead, the government last year appointed five new members to its board who now dominate it.
The Climate Change Authority has refused to comment further on the content of the reports, but sources speaking to Fairfax Media said they would recommend putting in place an ETS.
“The overall message is that an emissions trading scheme, even with serious caps or baselines, is not going to have big impacts on the economy, both immediately, and in the long term,” one source said.
Climate change looks to yet again play a prominent role in an Australian election campaign after the opposition Labor party late last month released its new climate policy package, which included two carbon trading systems.
The government, which opposes an ETS although a carbon market may emerge under its watch anyway , has attacked Labor’s proposal, calling it an “electricity tax”.
Opposition parties criticised the postponement, accusing the government of trying to withhold information about climate policy on the eve of the election.
“Voters deserve to know if the Turnbull Government is silencing its own expert climate body to save face before the election,” said Greens leader Richard Di Natale.
“Serious questions need to be answered as to why the Climate Change Authority, which has a government-appointed board, decided to withhold this critical report until after the election,” he added.
“The Govt is holding back a Climate Change Authority report. They know their Direct Action policy is the wrong policy,” Labor climate spokesman Mark Butler said on Twitter.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org