LONDON - The benchmark contract for European Union carbon emissions futures were steady on Tuesday, ignoring the threat of a blocks to an Australian emissions trading scheme, traders said.

The Dec-09 contract for EU Allowances (EUAs) inched up 2 cents to 13.16 euros ($19.79) a tonne at 1003 GMT, after opening strongly at 13.27 euros.

Traders said news of opposition's plans to block an Australian carbon scheme was not a surprise and was not affecting carbon prices on Tuesday.

Australia's plans to cut carbon emissions headed for defeat in a hostile Senate after the elevation of a new opposition leader against carbon trade laws set a trigger for an early 2010 election.

New Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott said conservative senators, many of them climate change skeptics, would reject Rudd's emissions trading laws if they were not deferred until early 2010.

Meanwhile, OTC contracts are due for expiry on Tuesday, which could mean that traders will take less new positions on the EUA market.

We expect a range-bound week a bit lower than present levels, Societe Generale/orbeo analyst Emmanuel Fages said in a research note.

The benchmark EUA contract should trade around 13 euros a tonne this week, and certified emissions reductions (CERs) around 12 euros, he said.

Coal prices should stabilize and UK natural gas will stay around 30 pence per therm due to mild temperatures expected over central and Eastern Europe this week.

Carbon prices have shown a strong correlation with German power prices, which is likely to continue in the coming week.

U.S. oil climbed toward $78 a barrel on Tuesday, adding to the previous session's advance, as concern eased that Dubai's debt problems would set back the global economic recovery.

German Calendar 2010 baseload power on the EEX was up 0.59 percent at 43.59 euros per megawatt hour.

CERs were down 2 cents or 0.16 percent at 12.18 euros a tonne.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by xxx)