A week ago we thought that a non-political, reasonable discussion about a carbon tax was possible. BUT that may not be so in Australia, where a carbon tax is a “hot-button” issue!
Canadians voters rejected a Federal carbon tax in the 2008 Federal Election. New Zealand considered a carbon tax in 2005, but instead opted for an emissions trading scheme that imposed minimum financial burdens on industry. Two days ago Australian voters rejected a carbon tax that had been in effect for several years.
The voters elected a Liberal-National Party Coalition, whose principal promise was the repeal of a carbon tax implemented by the previous Labour Government.
Tony Abbot, the Prime Minister elect, summed up the sentiment of the Coalition: “From today I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business.”
Not surprisingly, the Liberal victory was cheered by business interests.
- Spokespersons for the mining industry, coal companies and Australian businesses immediately supported the change.
- A Minerals Council of Australia executive said the carbon tax was costing the economy more than $100 million a week.
- The Deputy Executive of the Business Council stated that “Australian businesses will be paying “the highest price for carbon reduction across the major emitting countries.”
- The Chairman of a large Australia coal company had a similar opinion: “[the change would not be] highly desirable from the point of view of the coal mining industry, which is suffering from being increasingly uncompetitive in a world now reasonably well supplied with thermal coal in particular”.
The Liberal Government does have a climate change policy of sorts. In the election campaign it stated that it would spend $2.8 billon to cut carbon emissions. Perhaps that was enough to mollify Australian voters concerned about climate change. But the policy is little more than a statement of intent at this stage. Whether Australians adopt a “wait and see” mood remains to be seen.
The Canadian Scene
One of the subjects to be discussed in our October 18th Guelph Climate Change Forum (“Energizing Carbon Reduction”) will be the appropriateness of a carbon tax for Canadian jurisdictions.
British Columbia and Quebec both have a carbon tax. In Quebec the monies raised go into a Green Fund that will help the Province meet its future GHG emissions target. In BC, the monies are directed into credits for individuals reducing their tax burden. For a more general discussion of carbon tax issues follow this link: Carbon Tax Facts.
And if you are in the Guelph area drop in to our Forum on October 18th.