Australia’s ambitious plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions appeared doomed when a crucial senator said Monday he would not vote for the government’s proposed laws.
Sen. Steve Fielding is one of two independents in the Senate the government needs this week to pass its blueprint to curb Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions, one of the greenhouse gasses blamed for dangerous climate change.
But Fielding said the government had failed to convince him that man-made carbon dioxide emissions were elevating global temperatures.
“I don’t know how any parliamentarian could vote for this legislation,” Fielding told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Fielding’s doubt remains despite the findings of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization of more than 2,000 scientists, that climate change is “very likely” man-made.
Fielding believes that solar flares might be driving climate change instead.
The government wants the Senate to pass its carbon dioxide reduction laws this week, but it has yet to secure the support of any senator outside the ruling Labor Party. Labor holds only 32 of the 76 Senate seats.
The government hopes it can pass the legislation with the support of Fielding, fellow independent Nick Xenophon and the five Australian Greens party senators.
The government plans to tax polluting industries for the amount of carbon dioxide they produce from 2011 and to limit the pollution that Australia is allowed to emit.
The government plans to slash Australia’s emissions by up to 25 percent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the United Nations can agree on tough global targets at a Copenhagen summit in December.
The opposition Liberal Party has ruled out supporting the package, arguing that Australia should wait to see what climate change laws emerge from the U.S. Congress before legislating.
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