News / Asia

Australia to Catch Up With Europe as Carbon Tax Details Emerge

Protesters show their anger during a demonstration against the Australian Labor Governments proposed carbon tax outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia (File Photo - March 23, 2011)
Protesters show their anger during a demonstration against the Australian Labor Governments proposed carbon tax outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia (File Photo - March 23, 2011)
Phil Mercer

Australian businesses are reacting to the details of a new carbon tax which has been lauded by environmentalists as historic but condemned as economic madness by critics. Despite the criticism, analysts say Australia lags behind parts of the developed world when it comes to efforts to reduce the country’s soaring carbon emissions.  

Critics of Australia’s proposed pollution tax have argued that the government in Canberra should wait until other countries move to price carbon. The conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott said that a “unilateral carbon tax” would be an act of “economic self-harm.”

The proposed measure, which would take effect next July, forces the country’s 500 worst polluters to pay $25 for each metric ton of carbon dioxide that they emit.

However, environmental researchers insist that Australia needs to act now because its coal-dependent economy is more carbon intensive than many others.

Ben McNeil, a senior fellow at the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, says that Australia is, in fact, well behind other Western countries.

“In the U.K. for example they've had about three different price signals, they have had a climate change levy 10 years ago," said McNeil. "They are also part of the EU trading scheme and they've also had a number of other carbon levies along the way in particular sectors. In Europe, they are really well ahead. In the U.S. they are still trying to formulate and trying to get through a carbon price in Congress.”

In the United States, there is a non-binding Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which covers the electricity in 10 states in the country’s northeast. California is expected to experiment with an emissions trading scheme in the next few years.

New Zealand also has set a price on carbon. Australia plans to introduce a similar mechanism in a year’s time before moving on to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.

Canberra’s experience dealing with such a complex and contentious system will be carefully watched, especially across Asia. Japan and South Korea have plans to bring in emissions trading schemes and China is considering a pilot system in some of its provinces.

Australia is one of the world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases that many scientists blame for warming temperatures.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the carbon tax will cut Australia’s emissions by 160 million tons within a decade - or the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road. The government says it has just enough votes in parliament to pass the legislation.

The levy is Australia’s biggest economic reform in a generation. Gillard says the country’s 500 worst polluters will innovate and change as they strive to reduce their emissions and cut their tax bills.

Steelmakers, coal mines and electricity generators will receive compensation to ensure they stay in business, while other tax cuts will sweeten the deal for millions of Australians. Critics, though, believe the carbon scheme will damage the nation’s economy that is dependent on cheap supplies of coal.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More