Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia. She took over power when her predecessor, Kevin Rudd stepped aside. Ms. Gillard belongs to the Labour Party in Australia, but had to strike a political deal with the Green Party in order to form a coalition government following the last national election. Perhaps this union has led to her government’s green tint. Ms. Gillard unveiled a plan to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions 5% by the year 2020. It is part of a more comprehensive plan with the aim of reducing human impact on the environment.
There are just two major problems.
First, coal is big business in Australia. And Australia has seen the highest growth rate of any OECD country over the past year or so. Not wanting to hamper economic growth by placing carbon taxes on coal and other mining companies; companies that are largely responsible for Australia’s economic growth, Ms. Gillard has unveiled a plan to purchase carbon offsets from other countries around the world. This has angered many Australians. The plan is seen as nothing more than subsidizing industries that emit the most greenhouse gasses by sending money overseas.
Second, there is a disconnect with the message Ms. Gillard is trying to put forth. She and her government are increasingly unpopular with approval ratings hovering in the 20%-30% range, and yet the Green voters, those who helped her to power in the first place, do not associate her or her government with the effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
For a brief rundown of the story from a local perspective, here’s a column about it in the Sydney Morning Herald.