Australia’s 500 largest polluters will pay AU$23 ($24.60) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted beginning July 2012 under a plan announced by Australian prime minister Julia Gilliard.
The carbon tax is expected to curb emissions 5 percent relative to 2000 levels by 2020, a target well below goals set by European countries. However the Australian government has pledged to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Australia has some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, ranking only behind the United States among major economies.
Funds generated by the tax will go toward energy efficiency and renewable energy investments as well as pollution controls. The Gilliard government says the tax will have a limited impact on the cost of living for Australians due to redistribution of the funds generated by the tax.
“Almost 6 million households will get tax cuts or increases in payments that cover the entire average price impact,” said the Gilliard government in a statement.
“On average, the carbon price will cost households $9.90 per week but they get $10.10 per week in assistance.”
The tax is expected to bring in AU$10 billion.