Australia Engages in 'Intergenerational Theft,' Axes Carbon Tax

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Common Dreams

Australia Engages in 'Intergenerational Theft,' Axes Carbon Tax

Climate Institute calls move "a monumentally reckless backward leap."

Australia's move to scrap its carbon tax is being widely denounced as a step backward. (Photo:  Takver)

Australia on Thursday scrapped its carbon tax, a move denounced by critics as a monumental step backwards on climate action that amounts to "inter-generational theft."

After lengthy debate, the Senate voted Thursday 39-32 to repeal it following its passage in the House of Representatives earlier this week.

The charge of roughly 25 Australian dollars per ton of carbon dioxide was put into effect under the previous administration of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. A report this month from the Australian National University found that the tax worked, helping to reduce between 11 and 17 million tons of CO2 cumulatively.

While Abbott cheered the vote scrapping the tax as "great news," and said it fulfills a campaign promise, critics of his climate policy decried the decision as a path towards further climate catastrophe at the community's expense.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard expressed "regret" for repeal of the tax which was working. "The EU is convinced that pricing carbon is not only the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, but also THE tool to make the economic paradigm shift the world needs," she stated Thursday.

Addressing the Senate on Tuesday, Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the move was a "pyrrhic victory because it is the community who will be paying with their lives, their farms, their futures, so that the big polluters can get off scot-free in Australia."

Milne also stressed that it represented a failure to act on climate, which would ultimately "impos[e] on our children a harder life."

"The Prime Minister and every single member who votes for the abolition of the energy bills are engaging in intergenerational theft," Milne said.

The Australia-based Climate Institute denounced the repeal, which makes the nation the first to axe a functioning carbon market, as "a monumentally reckless backward leap" away from climate action.

Like Milne, John Connor, CEO of the organization, criticized how the repeal of the tax shifts "responsibility of emission reductions shift from major polluters to the taxpayer."

"The result of repeal today is that Australia is bereft of credible climate policy just as the international community focuses on deeper reduction targets for 2025 and 2030, and even the heads of organizations like the International Monetary Fund, OECD and World Bank talk of the need to completely decarbonize the global economy by the second half of this century," Connor stated.

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