Friday, October 14, 2011
Over the last decade Australia has dealt with similar political wrangling over carbon legislation as we have seen in the U.S. Yet, as I have posted about before, the country has finally taken a step to address carbon emissions. Passage of legislation that would place a $23 per ton tax on carbon on Australia's 500 largest emitters is expected soon. The compromise is that corresponding changes to the income tax code will relieve 1 million Australians from paying any income tax at all.
Would such an approach be viable in the U.S.? Certainly the current economic climate complicates any such measure, but Australia faces the same uncertain economic challenges as the rest of the world. While in the U.S. we debate green energy, carbon regulation through the Clean Air Act, and other climate change related policies on the one hand, and job losses and tax burden impasses on the other, might some compromise be reached to tackle both issues? Of course further reducing tax burdens from income taxes will do little to directly affect the U.S.'s deficit woes, not to mention that those who would receive reduced income tax burdens would be the people who already have jobs. But it does seem that some creative compromise is in order, rather than continued ideological bickering. Australia, after all, also has a predominantly two-party system (though other parties do have a greater presence in national politics). So it seems we have little excuse here in the U.S., aside from our apparent fascination with extreme politics. To use a metaphor from the classic "Crocodile Dundee," when it comes to serious legislative efforts to cut carbon emissions, the U.S. has brought a much smaller knife to the conflict than has Australia.
- Blake Hudson