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Climate Policy Made ‘Down Under’: The Political Economy of a New Carbon Market in Australia

Elena Aydos, Sven Rudolph


In the early 2000s fierce battles were fought over carbon pricing in Australian politics. And while the Paris Agreement might facilitate a new push in this direction, stakeholders still struggle with the political legacy of these early debates. Against this background, we evaluate Australia’s former carbon pricing initiatives based on ambitious sustainability criteria. Referring to ‘Public Choice’ arguments, we then use empirical data from a 2017 interview study to analyse the reasons for the eventual political failure of the schemes and for predicting the chances of a new carbon market in Australia. We mainly argue that the former Australian pricing schemes were overly ambitious, and while political barriers remain high, an already visible growing openness in the business community, combined with a possible change in government after the 2019 general election, might lead to a gradual implementation of a new scheme after 2019.

Elena Aydos, Lecturer, University of Newcastle Law School, Australia; Sven Rudolph, Associate Professor, Hakubi Center and Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. For Correspondence: <>. This contribution is the result of a research project, which was generously supported by the University of Newcastle 2017 International Research Visiting Fellowship (IRVF). Special thanks of the authors also goes to interview partners and Mashifu Noguchi for helping with the data processing.


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