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Australian leader delays pollution tax plan

Australian leader delays pollution tax plan

Australia's government has postponed its proposal to tax polluting industries until 2011 _ a delay of one year _ because of the economic slowdown and concerns it would hurt business, the prime minister said Monday.
In a bid for support from the opposition Greens party, however, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would seek more dramatic emissions cuts when his proposal is presented to the Senate for a vote in June.
"The worst global recession since the Great Depression means we must adapt our climate change measures but not abandon them," Rudd told reporters.
Under the revised plan, Rudd said Australia would cut more deeply into its carbon emissions by 2020 if the United Nations reaches a new pact on cutting global pollution at a summit in December in Copenhagen.
Originally, the emissions-cutting target was set at up to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020. The new target announced Monday is 25 percent if the Copenhagen summit can agree on tough global targets.
Without the changes, Rudd's emissions trading scheme faced almost certain defeat by opposition lawmakers. The changes give him hope of negotiating an agreement with opposition parties in the Senate, where the ruling center-left Labor Party is outnumbered by the main opposition Liberal Party.
The Liberals have argued that the scheme should be delayed because of the economic slowdown. Industry groups want the scheme to be delayed for three years because of the slowing economy.
The small Greens party said Monday that it would accept a 25 percent carbon reduction target, after earlier calling for 40 percent. Netting the support of the Greens plus two independent lawmaker would give the Labor-led bloc a majority over the Liberals in the Senate.
Under changes proposed Monday, the government would fix the price of a ton of carbon pollution at 10 Australian dollars ($7.37) for a year after the scheme goes into effect in July 2011. The number of permits, which businesses would purchase in the form of a tax, would also be unlimited for the first year.
The original proposal called for the government to issue a limited number of permits to create a ton of carbon, which companies could buy and sell on a national market.


Updated : 2021-07-29 13:10 GMT+08:00