This Sunday, Australia announced its carbon tax plan in an effort to help fight climate change. AFP reports that the plan is to tax carbon pollution at $24.74 (USD) per ton, in a move similar to Europe's emissions trading scheme.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said at a news conference that there would be a fixed price on carbon pollution until a full trading scheme is introduced in 2015. She said, "As a nation, we need to put a price on carbon and create a clean energy future... This has been a difficult debate that has brought us to this moment. But we are here now and now is the time to get this done."
Reuters reports that, according to Gillard, by 2020 the carbon tax plan would reduce emissions by five percent over 2000 levels, and would cut 159 million tons of carbon pollution.
Under the scheme to begin on July 1, 2012, about 500 of Australia's top polluters will pay a fixed price, starting at Aus$23 per tonne, for their carbon dioxide emissions for the first three years.
The mechanism would then shift into an emissions trading scheme, with a floating price set by the market. The government will set a floor price and an upper limit for at least the first three years to avoid price shocks.
If introduced, Tony Wood, of the Grattan Institute at Melbourne University, told AFP that Australia's plans would be the biggest outside Europe. According to Al Jazeera, global efforts to cut down on carbon pollution stalled last year after President Obama ruled out a federal climate bill for this term.
The carbon tax has been hotly debated in Australia -- scientists even faced death threats earlier this year. Reuters reports, "To sooth belligerent voters, who polls show are 60 percent opposed to a carbon price, the government has offered tax cuts to low and middle-income households, as well as increased state pension and welfare payments."