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Sunday, 30th October 2011

Australia's carbon-tax drama

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies (UK)

From: Modest Scheme's Rocky Start

One of the driest countries on the planet, Australia is especially vulnerable to climate change, but its 22 million people are the developed world's highest per-capita polluters, in part because some 80% of the country's electricity is generated from coal, one of the 'dirtiest' or most-polluting fuels. The government's carbon-tax policy is designed to reduce Australia's carbon emissions by 5% by 2020 (from 2000 levels), in line with its commitment at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, and upwardly revised target of 80% by 2050. It will charge the country's 500 worst polluters a fixed price for every tonne of carbon they release from 1 July 2012, before moving to a full emissions-trading scheme in 2015. 

During the first three years, the plan will be administered via permits, with the government selling an unlimited number of carbon units to energy producers, mining firms, major manufacturers, heavy-vehicle transportation companies and other heavy polluters at a fixed price – starting from A$23 (US$23) and increasing incrementally. Carbon-intensive industries that trade internationally will receive free permits to cover a percentage of their output, particularly key manufacturers of steel, aluminium and cement. 

Permit sales are estimated to raise $24bn in the first three years, around $15bn of which will be 'recycled' to householders, via a tripling of the tax-free threshold for income tax to $18,000 and rises in social-security payments to offset consumers' fears about rises in energy and other household bills. With the move to a trading system in 2015, only a limited number of Australian permits will be available at a market price – although companies will be able to purchase permits overseas to cover up to 50% of their requirements. 

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

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