Australia’s Carbon-Pricing Payoff

This month, Australia joins a growing number of countries to introduce a price on carbon emissions. But rampant misinformation has convinced the majority of Australians that they will suffer, and the lack of bipartisan support for the policy leaves many dubious about whether it will survive the next election.

CANBERRA – This month, Australia joins a growing number of countries to introduce a price on carbon emissions, at a level twice as high as Europe’s. For Australia – a land not only of endless sunny beaches, but also of endless supplies of fossil fuels – this is a remarkable development.

Australia is among the world’s highest per capita emitters of CO2, owing to its reliance on coal – the most carbon-intensive fuel. Coal is also a massive export earner, bringing in roughly $2,000 per citizen annually.

Hardly a week passes without climate policy making headlines in Australia. It already has brought down two prime ministers and one opposition leader. Although bipartisan support for an emissions-trading scheme briefly appeared to be within reach, the deal fell apart, and the new opposition leader, Tony Abbott, has made a “pledge in blood” to repeal the legislation if he comes to power.

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