Labor’s failure on climate, Rudd moves on to bigger and better things

Stephen Minas has written an interesting article in the New Statesman on Labor’s fumbling of the climate change issue:

Setbacks for advocates of strong action on climate change have come in quick succession in the months since Copenhagen. If the demise of the US climate bill was the most important, the turnaround in Australia — which boasts some of the highest per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world — may be the most striking.

Australian Labor fought and won the 2007 election pledging an emissions trading scheme (ETS) by 2010. It will face the people later this month promising to defer a final decision on whether to introduce an ETS to 2012.

This dwindling of political will has raised fundamental questions about the government. Climate change was the totemic issue for the “new leadership” offered by Kevin Rudd in 2007. In addition to his off-the-cuff welcome to Hu Jintao in excellent Mandarin, Rudd’s climate activism was crucial to his self-presentation as a modern, forward-thinking leader. Back then, Rudd called climate change “the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation”. He condemned the inaction and climate scepticism of his predecessor, the conservative John Howard.

Labor’s advertising campaign even depicted Howard asleep in his bed, famously bushy eyebrows visible above the duvet, with a framed photo with George W Bush on the bedside table. While an alarm clock blared away in vain, the voice-over pronounced Howard “asleep on climate change”.

But the “greatest moral challenge” does not feature in Labor’s ad campaign this time around.

However Kevin Rudd is moving on to bigger and better things:

FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd will join a United Nations panel on global sustainability, the UN confirmed today.

The former prime minister has been appointed to a new 21-member panel on global sustainability a decision announced by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon in New York overnight.

Mr Rudd will not be paid for his work with the panel, which will be co-chaired by Finland’s President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.  Mr Ban has said he is asking the panel to “think big”.

Its first meeting will be held in about one month’s time, which is likely to be only meeting this year, while there should be another two in 2011.

Having failed Down Under, one wonders what success Rudd will enjoy at the global level.

Let’s hope our Kevin has learnt some valuable lessons.

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