Saturday, October 15, 2011

Australian Carbon Tax

Australia is getting ready to pass a national carbon tax that would start in July 2012 with a cap and trade program starting in 2015. Right now Australia is the biggest carbon emitter per capita in the world because 80% of its electricity is produced by coal. To start, polluters would be taxed about $23 per ton of carbon emitted. However, some of the highest carbon emitters like aluminum and steel manufacturers would receive free carbon permits. Industries like coal and steel would receive government subsidies to reduce their remissions and find cleaner technologies. A fund of $10 billion would be set up to encourage investment in renewable energies. Companies would be able to buy carbon permits from the Carbon Farming Initiative, which would give carbon permits to farmers that offset carbon emissions by doing things like planting trees, cutting methane emissions in livestock, and reducing fertilizer use.

I think that is unfair that some of the highest carbon emitting industries are receiving free carbon permits or being subsidized by the government. There is therefore less incentive for them to develop cleaner technologies because they are not paying the true cost of their carbon emissions. However with Australia relying so heavily on coal for power, the government has to start somewhere. I believe that they are off to a good start and because of initiatives like the Carbon Farming Initiative the government may be able to reduce the subsidies they provide to industry in the future.
--Lauren Davidson

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