Australia belongs to the world's worst polluters due to its reliance on coal

Australia cancels controversial carbon tax

The Australian parliament has voted to repeal a carbon tax on the country’s worst greenhouse gas polluters, introduced by a previous Labor government.

In a 39 to 32 vote, the Senate decided the 24.15 Australian dollar (£13.30) tax per tonne of carbon dioxide introduced in July 2012 will no longer apply.

The conservative Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who led the campaign to scrap the tax, plans instead to introduce a taxpayer-financed 2.55 billion-dollar fund to pay industry incentives to use cleaner energy.

Australia is one of the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita, largely because of its heavy reliance on the nation's vast reserves of cheap coal for electricity.

The carbon tax, charged to about 350 of Australia's biggest carbon polluters, was controversial from the start. It was pushed through by former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard as she sought support from the Green Party. However, the measure infuriated the public as many blamed the tax for an increase in electricity prices. As a result, popularity of the Labor Party suffered immensely.

In a reaction to the result of the vote, current opposition leader Bill Shorten said: "Today Tony Abbott has made Australia the first country in the world to reverse action on climate change. History will judge Tony Abbott very harshly for refusing to believe in genuine action on climate change. Tony Abbott is sleepwalking Australia to an environmental and economic disaster."

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