The political economy of Australia’s climate change and clean energy legislation: lessons learned
Un article consacré à l'adoption fin 2011 par l'Australie d'une politique ambitieuse de lutte contre le changement climatique, le Clean Energy Legislative Package (CELP). Malgré un soutien public décroissant, cet outil législatif a pu être adopté à la faveur d'un système électoral spécifique, à la fois préférentiel et proportionnel.
Points clés [en anglais] :
THE AUSTRALIAN CONTEXT
In November 2011, Australia adopted a highly innovative, ambitious and comprehensive climate change policy, the Clean Energy Legislative Package (CELP). This outcome was not self-evident. Australia is a small, high growth, open, emissions intensive economy; and resource extraction and industry play an important economic and political role. At the same time, among developed countries, Australia’s wealth and particular exposure to climate change should create a context conducive to action.
BARRIERS AND DRIVERS TO ADOPTION
From roughly 2006 to late 2009, the Australian public was highly supportive of climate change policy. Climate change policy seems to have been an important factor in the last two federal elections. From late 2009, public support for climate change policy started to wane on the back of the disappointing outcome of Copenhagen, the global financial crisis, the breaking of the so-called Millennium drought in Australia in 2009-2012, and the increasingly divided partisan discourse on climate change. However, in the August 2010 federal election, Australia’s hybrid electoral system in the House of Representatives (preferential voting) contributed to an unusual outcome, making it possible for a multiparty climate change policy package to be developed between the minority Labour Government, the Green Party and the three Independents.
APPROACH TO ENSURING POLICY SUSTAINABILITY AND IMPROVING ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY
The CELP embeds an innovative carbon pricing mechanism in a comprehensive and highly generous package of complementary measures designed to increase its public acceptability, and environmental and economic efficiency. It is combined with progressive income tax cuts, increases in government transfer payments, and measures to shield emissions and trade-intensive industry and promote investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and R&D. In addition, the package contains innovative governance mechanisms to shield it from the vagaries of the political cycle, and increase the political and administrative costs of dismantling it. In all, these measures increase the CELP’s chances of survival and provide an example of policy innovation for other countries to follow, keeping in mind their particular national circumstances.