Edited by Mona Hymel, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 4: Beyond Thunderdome? The prospects of federal greenhouse gas cap-and-trade in Australia
In Australia political battles about carbon pricing have been almost as fiercely fought as the duels in the 1985 Mad Max movie. While a ‘life beyond the Thunderdome’ could be facilitated by the Paris Agreement, political barriers in Australia, one of the biggest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases and the world’s leading coal exporter, remain high. Australia’s political stakeholders still struggle with this legacy of several only temporarily successful attempts to implement carbon pricing. Against this background, we evaluate Australia’s former carbon pricing initiatives based on ambitious sustainability economics criteria. Using Public Choice theory and empirical data from spring 2017, we then analyse the reasons for the political failure of earlier carbon pricing schemes, before exploring current chances of reviving the idea. We mainly argue that a growing openness of the business community and policy learning could make ‘life beyond the Thunderdome’ possible for carbon pricing in Australia.
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