Australia kicks off carbon tax, PM future in doubt

By REUTERS
July 1, 2012 02:49

 
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Australia on Sunday joins a growing number of nations to impose a price on carbon emissions across its $1.4 trillion economy in a bitterly contested reform that offers trading opportunities for banks and polluters but may cost the prime minister her job.

Australia's biggest polluters, from coal-fired power stations to smelters, will initially pay A$23 ($23) per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, more than twice the cost of carbon pollution in the European Union, currently trading around 8.15 euros ($10) a tonne.

The economic pain will be dulled by billions of dollars in sweeteners for businesses and voters to minimize the impact on costs, with the consumer price index forecast to rise by an extra 0.7 percentage point in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The scheme allows emissions trading from 2015, when polluters and investors will be able to buy overseas carbon offsets, or ultimately trade with schemes in Europe, New Zealand and possibly those planned in South Korea and China.

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