Australia repeals carbon tax

Australia’s Senate passed a repeal of the country’s carbon emissions tax Thursday, making it the first country to establish a carbon tax and later abolish it.

The Senate voted 39 to 32 to repeal the tax, which since 2012 charged polluting companies a fee for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emitted, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The repeal was a top priority for conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott in this legislative session, which began July 1, and became a major part of the campaign platform for the Liberal Party, of which Abbott is the leader. 

“Today the Parliament finally listened,” Abbott said, according to the Herald. “Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone.”

Abbott wants to replace the tax with a system that would pay polluters as an incentive for them to reduce carbon emissions. He did not completely rule out other carbon pricing systems, such as a cap-and-trade approach that the Labor Party favors.

Proponents of the carbon tax charged that repealing it would make Australia a global pariah or the “laughing stock of the world” as other developed countries are acting to reduce carbon to fight climate change.

The vote Thursday ended two weeks of intense negotiations and a failed vote in the Senate.