Australia passes landmark carbon price laws

Putting a price on emissions is one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving impetus to global climate talks.

    The vote is a major victory for Prime Minister Julia Gillard who staked her government's future on the scheme [Reuters]

    Australia's parliament has passed landmark laws to impose a price on carbon emissions in one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving new impetus to December's global climate talks in South Africa.

    The scheme's impact will be felt right across the economy, from miners to LNG producers, airlines and steel makers and is aimed at making firms more energy efficient and push power generation towards gas and renewables.

    Australia accounts for just 1.5 per cent of global emissions, but is the developed world's highest emitter per capita due to a reliance on coal to generate electricity.

    Tuesday's vote is a major victory for embattled Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who staked her government's future on what will be the most comprehensive carbon price scheme outside of Europe despite deep hostility from voters and the political opposition.

    The scheme is a central plank in the government's fight against climate change and aims to halt the growth of the country's growing greenhouse gas emissions from a resources-led boom and age-old reliance on coal for power generation.

    It sets a fixed carbon tax of A$23 ($23.78) a tonne on the top 500 polluters from July 2012, then moves to an emissions trading scheme from July 2015. Companies involved will need a permit for every tonne of carbon they emit.

    "Today marks the beginning of Australia's clean energy future. This is an historic moment, this is an historic reform, a reform that is long overdue," Finance Minister Penny Wong told the upper house Senate as she wrapped up the marathon debate.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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