With 39 votes in favour and 32 against, the Senate adopted the law proposed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was fulfilling one of his core election pledges. He claimed that the tax introduced by his predecessor, Julia Gillard, had led to job losses and pushed up electricity prices. The 348 largest polluters were required to pay a levy equivalent to EUR16.50 per tonne of CO2 emissions – three times as much as that demanded under the EU’s emissions trading scheme.
The law had always been highly controversial. Climate campaigners and the opposition see this as a severe setback in the battle against climate change. The per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are roughly the same as in the United States – among the highest in the world. The country generates more than 70 percent of its electricity from coal. Revenue from the carbon tax was intended to drive forward the expansion of renewables.