Australia expected to pass strict carbon tax law
Australia expected to pass strict carbon tax lawThe country could become a world leader in tight regulation of carbon emissions, but some fear the economy will suffer.
Last week Australia’s lower house of parliament voted on a controversial law that would impose a tax on about 500 of the country's worst carbon polluters. The bill narrowly passed the lower house, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Labor Party argued in favour of the bill while conservative politicians and business lobby groups strongly opposed it.
The bill would also provide tax incentives to encourage investment in clean and renewable energy and, beginning in 2015, set up a carbon credits market. If the measure passes the upper house of parliament, the country will be on track to cut its carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050.
Prime Minister Gillard’s support for the bill raised controversy because she had made a campaign promise that her government would not pass any carbon taxes. She has since called that election promise a “misstep.”
Opponents of the measure say it will have a devastating effect on the Australian economy which has been slow to recover from the global recession.
Pro-business supporters of the carbon tax say the bill will give businesses better certainty for future investments, and environmentalists say the measure will dramatically cut carbon emissions. The Australian Treasury predicts the bill, if passed, will have minimal impact on Australian businesses.
Australia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal but accounts for only 1.5 per cent of global carbon emissions. Per capita, Australians are the world’s worst polluters; 80 per cent of the country’s electricity is coal-powered.
In today’s episode of The Stream, we speak to Nathan Richardson, a resent scholar from Resources for the Future; Tim Andrews, managing editor of Menzies House, an Australian online community for conservative and libertarian thinkers; and Jeremy Moss, director of the Social Justice Initiative at the University of Melbourne.
What do you think about Australia's new tax? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.
These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.