Australia plans to close some of the country’s biggest polluters and has pledged billions of dollars for renewable-energy projects as the government seeks to roll out one of the worlds largest national carbon-pricing plans.
Australia is one of the world’s largest polluters per capita due to its heavy use of coal-fired power, which accounts for some 75% of electricity output. The plan to price carbon comes less than two years after a global push to tackle climate change stalled in the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Only the European Union’s emissions-trading scheme will be of comparable size, and industry has criticized Canberra for pursuing the policy in the absence of similar action from the country’s biggest trading partners, such as China and the U.S.
Unveiling details of the carbon policy on Sunday, the government said it would set a price of 23 Australian dollars ($24.74) per carbon ton emitted by the country’s 500 biggest polluters starting in mid-2012, and then raise the price 2.5% a year until 2015. From then, the price would float, though the government would set a floor and ceiling and control the quantity of permits released annually. Emitters would then be able to buy permits from international carbon markets.