Sunday, 10 July 2011

Australia's carbon tax -- go get 'em, Julia, we're right behind you....

Is it possible to feel sorry for a prime minister who, by most accounts, stabbed her colleague Kevin Rudd in the back to get her job? Well, yes, if you have a soft spot for anyone outside of Europe who proposes a carbon tax, which she has. The fact that she has run out of almost all other political options does detract a bit from the political courage of posting a carbon tax. She, after all, has promised the Green Party something on climate change, and cap-and-trade has already died a Kerry-Lieberman death in Australia.

Australia's A$23 per ton carbon tax is expected to generate about A$28 billion in revenue, about A$9 billion of which has already been earmarked for high-emitting and trade-exposed such as aluminum smelting, steel, and pulpmaking. Coal mining companies will get about A$1.3 billion. The tax level, already higher than historical trading prices in the European Union Emissions Trading System, is planned to rise by 2.5 percent per year, plus inflation, and switch into a cap-and-trade program in 2015 (I guess nobody is talking about that because too much can happen before then).

The volcanic politics of carbon taxes always makes for great politico-watching. A group called the Energy Collective reports that 8000 in Sydney and 10,000 people in Melbourne rallied in favour of the carbon tax, which is more than opposition leader Tony Abbott can claim. Actually, the world should thank Tony Abbott for being such an implausible leader, which is needed for Julia Gillard's move. Sound familiar? It was the then-nonexistence of a British Columbia NDP that gave then-Premier Gordon Campbell the room to maneuver to put in the BC carbon tax. Doesn't that tell us something? That children at both the extreme left and right have opposed the two significant carbon tax programs in the last three years.

Good luck, Julia. We're right behind you....


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