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08 Nov 2011: Australian Parliament Passes
Landmark Tax on Carbon Emissions

The Australian government has passed the world’s first tax on carbon emissions, a landmark reform proponents say will promote better energy efficiency and increased reliance on renewable sources of energy, while also significantly cutting air pollution. The legislation, which was passed by the Senate in a
Julia Gillard
Getty Images
Julia Gillard
36-32 vote, will require the nation’s 500 biggest carbon emitters to pay a price of 23 Australian dollars ($23.78 U.S.) per ton of carbon beginning in July 2012. It then will shift to an emissions trading scheme beginning in 2015. Those companies — most of which are electricity generators, heavy industry manufacturers, and mining companies — will need to obtain a permit for each ton of carbon they emit. According to government officials, the new tax will reduce carbon emissions by at least 160 million tons annually by 2020 — or the equivalent of taking 45 million vehicles off the road. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who staked her political career on the controversial legislation, called it a significant victory for the environment and for the emerging green energy economy. “It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “It’s the most effective way we can cut carbon pollution and create a clean energy future.”


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