The Australian senate has endorsed a controversial pollution tax as part of policy adjustments aimed at reducing the country’s carbon emissions.
On Tuesday, the senate passed the Clean Energy Act, which requires Australia’s coal-fired power stations as well as other major emitters to “pay to pollute” from July 1 next year.
The move was the culmination of a “quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries and years of bitter debate and division,” AFP quoted Prime Minister Julia Gillard as saying.
“Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land,” she added.
Many have opposed the new plan, saying the tax will drive up the costs of energy production and raise the overall cost of living as Australia is heavily reliant on its coal production and export.
Based on the legislation, a tax of USD 23.80 per ton will be levied on carbon emissions, as Australia gears up to move to yet another larger emission reform scheme in 2015.
The set of reforms will result in reduction of Australia’s carbon emissions by 160 million tons in 2020 — equal to removing 45 million cars off the streets — Gillard said.
Australia is one of the world’s worst per capita polluters, and scientists have warned the country is susceptible of being hit by extreme consequences of climate change resulting from pollution.
Eelier this year, heavy floods and cyclones, triggered by the effects of climate change, devastated vast parts of Australia.
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