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One-Word Missive From Australian Minister Stirs Up Climate Fight

(Bloomberg) -- “Hypocrites.”

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That was the one-word response by Australia’s Energy Minister Chris Bowen to the main opposition party’s decision to vote against an overhaul of a system to curb emissions from some of the nation’s biggest polluters. Climate change has long been a divisive political debate in Australia, with Bowen’s Labor Party in May winning power after elections focused on the issue.

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Labor is trying to push through legislation that would enforce tougher targets on the biggest emitters via an overhaul of the so-called safeguard mechanism, which has become a key plank in the government’s climate policy. The nation is one of the world’s biggest per-capita polluters because of its massive coal and liquefied natural gas export industries.

Bowen said the Liberal Party was rejecting a policy that it had first proposed when in government. The lack of support from the major opposition party now leaves the future of the policy hanging in the air, with the minor Greens Party indicating it will block Labor’s proposals unless they go even further.

--With assistance from James Fernyhough.

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