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Australia unveils carbon tax aimed at HFCs

Plans have been unveiled by the Australian government for a carbon tax, to include HFCs, on the country’s highest polluters

Set to be introduced from 2012 it will cover some 500 companies, with a market-based trading scheme to be introduced in 2015.Prime Minister Julia Gillard said CO2 emissions would be initially taxed at A$23 ($25; £15) per tonne from 2012.

Households are expected to see consumer prices rise by nearly 1 per cent following its introduction, and the move has been criticised by the opposition. Australia is currently one of the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases per head of population. Under the new scheme set to begin on 1 July 2012, the government plans to include any company that produces at least 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The biggest polluters will be paying the fixed price per tonne of CO2 until 2015, when a market-based trading scheme is expected to be introduced. The government will then set a floor price and an upper limit for at least the first three years to avoid excessive price fluctuations. The energy industry and the political opposition have mounted a vociferous campaign against the carbon tax, with protests in all of Australia’s major cities earlier in the year.

Critics argue a levy would damage economic competitiveness. Opinion polls show roughly 60 per cent of voters against the policy. Key features include:

  • The carbon price for synthetic greenhouse gases will be based on the CO2 equivalence of these gases;
  • The carbon price will be indexed to the fixed price of carbon permits during the fixed price period, and the benchmark average auction price for carbonpermits during the flexible price period (from 1 July 2015);
  • Liability for the carbon price will accrue at the time of import or manufacture;
  • Provision to exempt some equipment where it is impractical to apply the carbon price;
  • Provision for importers and manufacturers to offset synthetic gases exported, including where the synthetic greenhouse gases are used by companies those
    that are neither importers nor manufacturers.

Outside of Europe, only New Zealand currently imposes a national carbon tax.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Essentially correct except for a couple of things.
    Refrigerants will be taxed outside the carbon pricing scheme.
    Because the minimum emission level for taxing is set at 25000 tons of CO2e, this would only affect around 50 of the over 600 refrigerant importers in Australia, if refrigerants were to be added to the new scheme.
    As this tax is to be placed on a new product that is yet to be used (as opposed to the waste gas of CO2 emissions) those 50 would be effectively priced out of the gas market by the smaller importers. Unfair competition.
    So the federal gov said we will keep the refrigerants under the Ozone Protection Act (not the new scheme) but charge you the carbon price on each refrigerants GWP(same as the new scheme). Therefore a kg of R134a will have a tax of around AU$32 added while a kg of R404A will have AU$88 added. Both at point of import.
    Proponents say it will force behaviour change all through the ref chain. Opponents say this is unfair as it is assuming that all the gas will be vented, when Aust already has a world-acclaimed product stewardship scheme running.
    Stay tuned!

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