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The time for a climate trigger in Australia has hopefully, finally, belatedly come | Adam

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New Orleans was still awash in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the then prime minister, John Howard, was in climate doubt and delay mode when Anthony Albanese got to his feet in the Australian parliament to argue for a better way ahead.

Then a mid-ranking opposition frontbencher, the future PM gave a nod to the carnage in Louisiana before running through the “profound risks’’ that Australia would face if greenhouse gas emissions kept rising – a now-familiar list including worsening heatwaves, less rain in the south, more rain in the north, more severe bushfires, cyclones, storms and ocean surges.

Declaring that a “suite of policies” was needed, he called for a national emissions trading scheme, an ambitious renewable energy target and “establishing a climate change trigger in federal environmental law”.

That was in September 2005. In the nearly 18 years since, two of those policies have come and gone as Australian politics waged war on itself to avoid sensible climate action. An emissions trading scheme – mislabelled a carbon tax – was passed in 2011 but…

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