Australian Senate Rejects Climate Bill

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"The government will send the legislation to the Senate for a third time when parliament resumes in February."

Australia's Senate rejected the government's climate-change bill, frustrating Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's ambition of taking landmark legislation to global warming talks with world leaders in Copenhagen.

The government will send the legislation to the Senate for a third time when parliament resumes in February, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters in Canberra today. Senators voted 41 to 33 against the bill, which included plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe.

"There is no danger of this country rushing ahead, but as a result of the actions of the opposition, there is a risk this country is left behind," Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said during today's Senate debate.

The bill's rejection would provide the opportunity to get the design right, Mitchell Hooke, chief executive officer of the Minerals Council of Australia, said in a statement today. The legislation would have cost the economy at least A$120 billion to 2020 and resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs, without "materially" reducing greenhouse gas levels, he said.

Rudd, 52, had wanted the climate bill approved before he travels to Copenhagen this month to attend a meeting of more than 190 countries seeking terms for a new treaty to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Today's rejection may give Rudd an election trigger through a double dissolution, a procedure under the Australian constitution to resolve deadlocks between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The house has already approved the bill.

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