Given the nonsense served up by Julia Gillard on climate change during the election campaign — a citizens’ assembly, “bans” on new coal-fired power stations that won’t stop them being built and a vague commitment to a carbon price some years hence — and the risible Direct Action policy of Tony “climate science is crap” Abbott, it’s apt that, suddenly, serious action on climate change is forcing its way onto the political agenda.

While Marius Kloppers, the foreign head of the foreign mining giant BHP, hardly has a proud record of supporting genuine reform in Australia, his call for a carbon price sooner rather than later — albeit one laden with the sorts of handouts that crippled Labor’s CPRS — will provide more momentum for political action. This afternoon, Greens Senator Christine Milne will meet with new Climate Change Minister Greg Combet (given Penny Wong’s refusal to countenance discussions with the Greens on the CPRS, that in itself speaks volumes) to discuss the establishment of a parliamentary-expert committee to drive a consensus on a carbon price.

The independents Oakeshott, Windsor and Wilkie have all pushed the issue back onto the political agenda as well.

It is important that business be engaged in the new Parliamentary committee process.  Australian business is expert at issuing demands for reforms, but fairly poor at providing any support for politicians who take their calls seriously, and involvement in the committee process will lock in at least some buy-in beyond the usual rhetoric from our corporate leaders.

The committee will only serve its purpose, however, if it is able to work quickly and achieve a broad consensus, perhaps around a carbon tax model that can evolve into an emissions trading scheme in the event — seemingly remote at this point — that we and the rest of the world grow up enough to put in place an international framework for capping emissions.

And Julia Gillard should understand that whatever the outcome of the committee, at some point she will need to show some guts on climate change, for as long as the Opposition is led by a man who thinks the planet is cooling.