Pity the baby born in Australia today, the day federal Parliament voted to end effective action on climate change.

The Senate has voted down the carbon tax, leaving Australia with no central policy mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pollution is free once more.

Faced with a difficult, serious policy problem in climate change, policy-makers have squibbed it. They have voted to ignore the scientists and the economists who warn of unchecked climate change.

That’s why you should pity the baby born today. The Parliament has voted to leave the problem of climate change to them. That problem will get much worse, and more expensive to address, in the interim. Today’s children never voted for Tony Abbott and his band of climate deniers but they will bear the fallout.

Abbott is not solely to blame for this profound failure of policy-making. Labor stuffed around and some now think the Greens should have taken the chance to pass an earlier ETS.

But Abbott’s Liberals are primarily responsible for the fact that Australia now has no climate policy. In the decades to come, as the droughts and bushfires worsen, and the heatwaves rage, and the tram tracks buckle, and the coral reefs die, future generations will look back at July 17, 2014, and ask why politicians didn’t even try to address the problem.

And it will be very hard to come up with an answer.