Australian carbon tax passes into law
Australia's carbon tax has finally received approval from the country's Senate after years of bitter political wrangling. The Australian prime minister Julia Gillard called it one of the most important environmental and economic reforms in Australia's history.
From 1 July 2012, the country's top 500 polluters will have to pay a tax on their carbon emissions of AU$23 (£15) for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. This will change to a flexible price after three years when a market-based trading scheme kicks in.
The scheme aims to cut emissions by at least 5 per cent of 2000 levels - 159 million tonnes - by 2020. Australia produces about 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, accounting for 1.5 per cent of the world's emissions and making it one of the top 20 world polluters. However, it is the developed world's highest CO2 producer per head thanks to its relatively small population. Aside from the European Union, only New Zealand currently imposes a levy on CO2 production.