When we think of countries with terrible carbon emissions we tend to think of China and developing nations. You may be surprised to read that Australia has a terrible track record. In relation to its population head count Australia is the worst carbon emitter in the world. The current Australian government has acted to limit the country's carbon emissions but this has received a mixed response.
Some claim that the newly implemented carbon tax is a necessary evil but it seems far more Australians believe the tax is flawed and will cost Australian industry dearly. It could also cost Aussie PM Gillard dearly as many see the implementation of this tax as the final nail in her political coffin.
Industries in Australia highlighted as the worst offenders currently, are set to pay a huge carbon tax which is much higher than that paid in Europe. "The law forces about 300 of the worst-polluting firms to pay a A$23 (£15; $24) levy for every tonne of greenhouse gases they produce."
Reuters has reported,
"The scheme allows emissions trading from 2015, when polluters and investors will be able to buy overseas carbon offsets, or ultimately trade with schemes in Europe, New Zealand and possibly those planned in South Korea and China.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard's minority government says the plan is needed to fight climate change and curb greenhouse gas pollution. Australia has amongst the world's highest per capita CO2 emissions due to its reliance on coal-fired power stations.
Yet even as it starts, the scheme's future is in doubt. The conservative opposition has vowed to repeal it if they win power in elections due by late next year and have whipped up a scare campaign saying the tax will cost jobs and hurt the economy.
Gillard, her poll ratings near record lows and her Labor party heading for a heavy election defeat, hopes that the campaign will quickly run out of steam once the scheme starts.
"Cats will still purr, dogs will still bark," Gillard said after Opposition leader Tony Abbott's visit to an animal shelter to warn of higher electricity prices on charities. "The leader of the opposition's fear campaign will collide with the truth.""
The Australian carbon tax has been in the planning some time. It has been resisted by the government's opposition. Gillard claims that people will not hurt financially, as they might, due to protections put in place for those on low incomes. The opposition continue to maintain the new tax will be too costly and result in increased energy bills and more.
Any new taxes are always controversial. In time many are simply taken for granted. The problem with taxes supposedly aimed at helping the environment is do they do so? Western efforts are like a drop of rain in a huge ocean unless all countries play the same game. The Global environment is not selective. If a country abuses the environment other countries suffer. That is a fact.
Certainly there may be some instances when a pollution problem hits only a single country initially but in the long run most damage our beloved planet. In the end Australians, like the rest of the World's population, will have to decide between money and the environment.
The UK in the fifties had chimneys such as those shown above pumping poison into the air. They have long gone. The ones above are Australian. Environmental change is costly, there is no doubt. Ignoring the damage we do to our environment will be more costly in real terms.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog