AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduced her government’s controversial carbon tax plans to parliament yesterday, despite heated opposition from the country’s conservatives.
The deeply divisive levy, due to be voted on next month, will force around 500 of Australia’s most polluting companies to pay A$23 (£15) for each tonne of carbon they emit from July 2012. It would then move to cap and trade emissions scheme in 2015.
Australia, one of the world’s worst per capita polluters and a major exporter of coal, has long wrestled with how to tackle climate change.
But previous efforts to introduce emissions trading schemes have been met with fierce resistance and failed to win the support of parliament.
Gillard has the support of the Greens and independents to get her Clean Energy Bill 2011 but the conservative opposition have vowed to vote against it, arguing that it will be ineffective in tackling global warming and will impact on jobs.
London-listed mining giants BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata are likely to be hit by the tax.
The carbon tax is pivotal to the government’s plan to cut carbon emissions by five per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 to help slow global warming.
But Jonathan Grant, director of carbon markets at PwC, warned that “at these prices, we are unlikely to see a major shift to renewables”.