Welcome to what the media have dubbed “Carbon Sunday.” Today is the first day of the Gillard Government’s price on pollution.
This is the policy issue that has brought on a vicious campaign from the Opposition and seen a Government’s popularity plummet in the opinion polls. It is an issue that has divided a nation.
Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, who promise to get rid of the carbon tax if elected to Government, have today launched a major advertising campaign against the tax and the Prime Minister.
If you’re not in the mood for any carbon chatter today, then do not touch the remote control, do not browse the news websites, do not buy a newspaper and do not turn on the radio. Because with both sides out there making their case to the Australian people – media coverage today will be at election campaign saturation levels.
No matter where you stand on pricing carbon, we can all agree that no debate is worth having without the facts on the table.
So we’ve revived our carbon tax cheat sheet just for the occasion.
What is a carbon tax?
This is the crux of it. There is a price on carbon of $23 per tonne, which will be charged on some of the biggest 500 polluters in the country. This price per tonne of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere will increase by 2.5 per cent each year until the carbon tax becomes an emissions trading scheme on July 1, 2015. What this basically means is that for now, the Government sets a price on pollution. In three years, the market will decide what that price is worth and the Government will simply set a cap on how much pollution our economy is allowed to create.
What’s the aim here?
The carbon tax is supposed to – and only time will tell – cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 and by 20 per cent in 2050. It is hoped this will be achieved by the cost incentives to big industry, forcing them to get creative in ways to reduce their impact on emissions released in to the air. These targets are modest. Some would call them pretty small and weak. Many have called them ‘an important first step’ in transitioning to a low carbon economy. Basically, it’s not much but it’s a start.
The scheme will apparently reduce carbon emissions in the air by about 159 million tonnes by 2020. That’s the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road, the Government says..