Australian carbon tax plan expected to become law

October 19, 2011

On this blog we will regularly provide you with information on Canadian and international developments in the regulation of carbon and the creation of carbon trading and taxing regimes. We will of course watch with great interest to see if federal Canadian and further provincial initiatives develop in such spheres but we may find that the international arena moves ahead more swiftly in the near term in meeting the climate change challenge. In this blog entry we briefly consider Australia's proposed carbon tax rules.

Australia’s carbon tax plan has cleared its biggest hurdle to date. Last Wednesday, Australia's House of Representatives (the lower house of parliament) voted 74 to 72 in favour of the regime which will bring about a carbon tax and carbon trading scheme. The bills must still pass the Senate (the upper house of parliament), in a vote set to take place in November, but apparently the government and Green senators have enough votes to ensure the bills will become law. The carbon tax and trading regime is a main component of the Australian government’s plan to cut carbon emissions by 5 percent of 2000 levels by 2020.

In July 2012, the reforms will impose a carbon tax on approximately 500 of Australia’s biggest polluters. The tax will be levied at A$23 a ton (approximately $24 CAD) in 2012-13 and is designed to increase 2.5 percent each year, for the next three years. Provided there are no intervening events, in 2015, the country will move to a full blown carbon trading scheme. Currently, only the European Union and New Zealand have national emissions trading schemes.

The plan includes funding to promote clean energy and the development of renewable energy sources and includes special protections for export industries including aluminum and steel. Agriculture will be exempt from the carbon price but farmers will able to participate in the market for carbon offsets. Australia produces approximately 1.5 percent of global emissions, but is the developed world's highest per capita polluter due to a heavy reliance on coal for 80 percent of its electricity generation.

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