Julia Gillard went to the election vowing never to introduce a carbon tax. Now she’s set up a committee to look into it, although we’ve been here before with Labor and climate change committees. Remember Ross Garnaut? He’s on the new committee too.

Tax has become a toxic term in modern politics. Gillard still can’t quite bring herself to call a spade a spade, calling it a “climate levy”. But support for a carbon tax is growing.
It will cost us to act on climate change, but it will cost more if we don’t act. Most analysts agree a price on carbon is key to effective action. And. a carbon tax is better than carbon trading scheme because it’s simpler, less open to rorting and more transparent.

What’s more, it doesn’t put a ceiling on emissions cuts. The reason the Greens wouldn’t back Kevin Rudd’s CPRS was that its arcane workings would have prevented Australia from going beyond 5 per cent emissions reductions in future.

So let’s hear it for taxation. Tax isn’t bad. Tax doesn’t suck money out of the economy, as conservatives such as Tony Abbott would have us believe. It raises revenue for ventures of benefit to all society, such as hospitals and schools, and it redistributes income within the economy.

Traditionally that’s from rich to poor. A carbon tax represents a subtle but important shift in redistribution, based not on what you earn but on how much pollution you generate.
Now a report by the Australia Institute claims a carbon tax would leave a typical Australian family $1000 better off.

The report says, if the Government can resist lobbying for exemption and concessions from big polluters (and that’s a big if), then a carbon tax of $25/tonne on energy generators would raise $13 billion. That’s enough to pay a carbon dividend of $2100 to a family of four. Meanwhile, Treasury calculates the tax would increase electricity and other prices by $18.50 for the average family – under $1000 a year.

Of course, in real life this will depend on how much energy you use.

But that’s the whole point of a carbon price; to encourage us to be more energy efficient, to drive less and to switch to less fossil-fuel intensive products. Reduce your “carbon footprint” and you’ll be better off under a carbon tax.

Of course, if there are winners there must be losers. Shareholders of big polluting industries will see their dividends drop. And that might affect the level of your Super. So maybe it will all even out in the end on the tax money-go-round.

But if the net result is we reduce our use of fossil fuels and finally get on the road to tackling climate change, we’ll all be winners in the long run.

Source: Eco Directory.

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