July 10, 2011
Australia unveiled its most sweeping economic reform in decades on Sunday with a plan to tax carbon emissions from the nation’s worst polluters, reviving hopes of stronger global climate action with the largest emissions trade scheme outside Europe.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said 500 companies including steel and aluminum manufacturers would pay a A$23 ($24.70) per tonne carbon tax from next year, rising by 2.5 percent a year, moving to a market-based trading scheme in 2015.
“It’s time to get on with this, we are going to get this done,” said Gillard after a bruising battle to win political support for the scheme, which has polarized voters and business. A parliamentary vote on the scheme is expected before year-end.
Australia is the developed world’s worst per-capita greenhouse gas emitter because of its heavy reliance on cheap coal for power generation. Emissions are set to rise in the booming economy without a carbon cost, the government says.