Australia passes controversial carbon pollution tax

Nov 08, 2011 by Amy Coopes
File photo of the Hazelwood power station east of Melbourne. A new pollution tax will require Australia's coal-fired power stations and other major emitters to "pay to pollute" from July 1 next year.

Australia passed its controversial pollution tax Tuesday in a sweeping and historic reform aimed at lowering carbon emissions blamed for climate change, after years of fierce debate.

Cheers and applause broke out as the Senate approved the Clean Energy Act by 36 votes to 32, requiring Australia's coal-fired power stations and other major emitters to "pay to pollute" from July 1 next year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was the culmination of a "quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries and years of bitter debate and division."

"Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land," she said.

"Today we have made history -- after all of these days of debate and division, our nation has got the job done."

Gillard said the scheme -- which will levy a price of Aus$23 (US$23.80) per tonne on before moving to an in 2015 -- would begin to address "the devastating ".

In this file photo, anti-carbon tax protest, known as The Convoy of No Confidence is seen encircling the Parliament House ring road in Canberra, in August. Australia's upper house passed a controversial pollution tax on Tuesday in what the government called an "historic day" after years of bitter debate which felled a sitting prime minister.

Australia was hit by floods and cyclones earlier this year, a cruel twist for areas which have just emerged from epic drought, and scientists have warned will likely make more frequent.

Gillard said the reforms, which include investments in , would result in Australia cutting its carbon emissions by 160 million tonnes in 2020 -- equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road.

Only New Zealand and the European Union have taken comparable economy-wide action by introducing cap-and-trade schemes, and the tax will put mining-driven Australia at the forefront of efforts in the Asia-Pacific.

Australia passed its controversial pollution tax Tuesday in a sweeping and historic reform aimed at lowering carbon emissions blamed for climate change, after years of fierce debate. Prime Minister Julia Gillard (pictured) said it was the culmination of a "quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries and years of bitter debate and division."

Tuesday's vote caps a tumultuous period in Australian politics, largely centred on how the vast nation, which is among the world's worst per capita polluters, should tackle linked to global warming.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd harnessed an unprecedented wave of popular support for climate change action in 2007, winning election in a landslide after campaigning to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take other green measures.

But his plans were frustrated by entrenched conservative opposition which led to him shelving a proposed emissions trading scheme, damaging his credibility. He was ousted by Gillard in a Labor party-room coup in 2010.

Gillard went to the subsequent election promising there would be no carbon tax, but later backflipped, saying it was a necessary first step towards a flexible carbon pricing scheme.

Australia is heavily reliant on its coal exports, and thousands have rallied against the levy which they argue will raise living costs, cut jobs and, ultimately, be ineffective.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is pursuing a "cap without trade" scheme involving some 450 companies from next year in preparation for a full scheme (ETS) from January 2015, but Japan shelved national ETS plans late last year.

China is considering a pilot ETS programme in some provinces and while there are sub-national schemes in some parts of North America no broad-scale action has been taken in the United States.

The timing of the vote is significant, representing a firm commitment ahead of high-level UN climate talks in South Africa later this month that are being called a "make or break" meeting for legally binding emission reduction targets.

Explore further: CO2 emissions set to reach new 40 billion ton record high in 2014

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CapitalismPrevails
2 / 5 (12) Nov 08, 2011
Whopeee!!! Now they can look forward to stagnate economic growth in their future and therefore less jobs! Just like the retarded Europeans!

In a different thought, maybe they can build hybrid solar thermal/coal plants because they receive a lot of sun. But of course that's going to cost them.
Sinister1811
2.2 / 5 (13) Nov 08, 2011
I don't understand why WE need a bloody Carbon tax, when we produce only a small portion of the world's emissions.
antialias_physorg
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 08, 2011
Australia produces more grenhouse gas emissions per capita than almost every other country (only beaten out by Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Kuwait and Qatar...for obvious reasons)

It seems reasonable that those who pollute most start curbing back. I hope this will serve as a model for all other countries.
The 'carbon credits' aren't working. Mostly because companies got more than they needed (for free by their governments) and are now either hoarding them for when stricter emission laws are put in place or are just selling them for profit.

Estimates are that in germany alone 800 million Euros worth in surplus carbon credits wer handed out.
Ober
2 / 5 (8) Nov 09, 2011
@Antialias... the whole per Capita thing is a red herring.
Australia represents apx 22 million people out of the planets 7000 million people. Ok, that fraction again.... 22 out of 7000. So if we go to the extreme and Australia emits NO POLLUTION from tomorrow onwards, how will the reduction of pollution of 22 from 7000 change the worlds climate??? Also, the TAX is so WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLDS CLIMATE, but how long will this take?? No one has answered that one. This TAX will only retard Australia's economy, and for no discernible change to the climate. At least we can all sit back now and watch Australia get TAXed to the hilt, with NO CHANGE TO THE CLIMATE for the positive. Gillards government will only show itself up as a bunch of SCAM artists, grabbing cash at a time when the worlds economies are shaky!!! Good on ya Government for looking after our best interests yet again by filling your cophers with more tax payers money!!! Good on ya!!!!
Time will reveal all!!!!!
Vendicar_Decarian
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 09, 2011
I don't understand how you be allowed to vote when you produce only a small portion of the votes in your nation's elections.

"I don't understand why WE need a bloody Carbon tax, when we produce only a small portion of the world's emissions." - Sinister
Howhot
1.9 / 5 (9) Nov 09, 2011
This TAX will only retard Australia's economy

MORE BULL S... FROM AN IDIOT
Vendicar_Decarian
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 09, 2011
Sorry Tard Boy, but the tax is to force YOU to consume less carbon based fuels, and price them in a manner that begins to represent their true, un-subsidized cost.

"Also, the TAX is so WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLDS CLIMATE," - OberTard
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (8) Nov 09, 2011
"This TAX will only retard Australia's economy." - OberTard

Can you explain to us how burning Coal and Oil needlessly accelerates the Australian economy?

Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (9) Nov 09, 2011
"I don't understand why WE need a bloody Carbon tax." - Sinistar

As a people you have failed to act rationally.

You will now be compelled to do so through economic means.

You have only yourselves to blame.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (8) Nov 09, 2011
Providing their children with a future is what the action to mitigate Global Warming is all about.

"Now they can look forward to stagnate economic growth in their future" - Capitalism Fails
Sinister1811
2.3 / 5 (10) Nov 09, 2011
I don't understand how you be allowed to vote when you produce only a small portion of the votes in your nation's elections.

"I don't understand why WE need a bloody Carbon tax, when we produce only a small portion of the world's emissions." - Sinister


Ok then, so why are we the ONLY nation paying the price for Carbon emissions?
sherriffwoody
4.7 / 5 (3) Nov 09, 2011

Ok then, so why are we the ONLY nation paying the price for Carbon emissions?


But you are not the only nation paying the price for carbon emissions. You should reserch the facts before making an assumption.

New Zealand is paying tax on carbon. It was estimated to cost each NZer approx $7000 per year in carbon taxes directly and indirectly.

I agree something has to be done about carbon and other emissions but disagree with the means the whole thing is being implemented. It smells of a one world order tax bill, one world government etc.

A start to the problem would be to re-localise. We need to start living within our communities again, produce locally etc. For example in NZ dairy/beef farming is becoming common in areas previously used for other agriculture, why, not because NZer's need the beef and dairy, because they can ship if off around the world and make 100's of millions. And in the process they are polluting air, waterways and the earth.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (5) Nov 09, 2011
Who cares about the climate change. The greatest threat to modern civilisation in 21st century will be to survive in post-cheap oil world. Tax on carbon may be useful for this purpose, too.
Sinister1811
2.2 / 5 (10) Nov 09, 2011
Someone should ban that downvoting sockpuppet "orac". I just visited his profile, and I've seen that he hasn't made a single post yet.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Nov 09, 2011
the whole per Capita thing is a red herring.
Australia represents apx 22 million people out of the planets 7000 million people.

The point is fairness. If those that pollute most (per capita) can't be asked to curb back then those that are polluting less (per capita) will ask themselves: why should we?

Telling India to curb back when every person there only produces a small fraction of the CO2 seems a tad unfair until those that are most wasteful start doing so, too.

It's like paying taxes: raising taxes on the wealthy doesn't amount to much in total numbers (because there aren't that many of them). Raising the taxes on the middle class and poor amounts to a lot more because - even though there is less to be taken - there are a lot more of them.

But is it fair to let the rich go and fleece the poor? No.
Only after the rich pay their fair share is it OK to tell the poor to chip in, too.

What I meant was: This should be a signal for other countries to start taxing CO2
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Nov 09, 2011
It's like paying taxes: raising taxes on the wealthy doesn't amount to much in total numbers (because there aren't that many of them).


Youd be surprised how much it amounts to. Top 1 % pays 37 % of taxes.
Otherwise I agree with your post.
axemaster
not rated yet Nov 13, 2011
One ray of light in an otherwise dark future...
effort
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2011
Whopeee!!! Now they can look forward to stagnate economic growth in their future and therefore less jobs!


I guess that sounds more convincing than: "That's going to hurt our profits."