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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2230E
Robert Jonasson

Beyond U.S., Climate Politics Stir Parallel Battles October 23, 2012, 9:32 pm ET by Jason M. Breslow 2 E-Mail This Last autumn should have been a high point in the career of Julia Gillard. Instead, Australia’s prime minister found herself trapped in a script familiar to many in the United States. In February 2011, Gillard proposed an ambitious plan (PDF) to establish a market-based trading program for carbon emissions. Just as health care reform fueled Tea Party outrage in the U.S., the proposal similarly incensed a conservative opposition in Australia. Minority Leader Tony Abbott — who has dismissed climate science as “crap” — called for a “people’s revolt” against the measure. After the legislation narrowly cleared parliament in November, conservatives turned the plan into a rallying cry, embracing repeal as a central plank of their 2013 platform. One year later, Australia’s bruising fight over cap-and-trade stands as a reminder that despite broad scientific consensus on global warming, an unsettled political debate over the issue is not unique to the U.S. The conservative backlash in Australia has led to a shift in public opinion. In June, a poll from the country’s Lowy Institute for International Policy found that 63 percent of Australians now oppose the new climate change law, with 57 percent of respondents in favor of eliminating the cap-and-trade plan. The same poll (PDF) found that little more than a third of the population, 36 percent, now support “the most aggressive form of action” to fight global warming, down from 68 percent in 2006. Fueling the debate in Australia, where 80 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from coal, are groups that share many of the same doubts about climate science as do critics in America. One such organization, the Galileo Movement, says its mission is “to expose misrepresentations of global warming,” and even counts a leading American contrarian on the issue, Fred Singer, as an independent adviser. Australia is hardly alone. In Canada, home to the world’s third largest oil reserves, the debate over climate politics is similarly split along partisan lines. While 91 percent of self-identified liberals believe global warming is occurring, just 64 percent of conservatives held the same view, according to a 2011 survey from the Brookings Institution (pdf). That divide has contributed to a standoff over climate policy, as well as ongoing feuds between scientists and the government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In May, for example, the nation’s environment minister accused several environmental groups of money
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