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Australia begins plans to price carbon emissions

An aerial view of Sydney.

Jeremy Hobson: Today Australia's parliament introduced a plan to price greenhouse gas emissions. Critics are worried about what it'll do to the cost of living down under.

But as Stuart Cohen reports now from Sydney, it could get the ball rolling for other countries that want to limit carbon emissions.


Stuart Cohen: Australian prime minister Julia Gillard's ambitious plan would put a price of $23 per metric ton on greenhouse gas emissions. The country's 500 biggest polluting companies would foot the bill, and give much of the money to individuals to compensate for higher costs of energy and consumer goods. After three years, the plan would move to a cap-and-trade system, similar to the one that failed in the U.S. last year.

Professor Natalie Stoianoff of the University of Technology in Sydney says Australia's plan may spur other countries to limit carbon emissions.

Natalie Stoianoff: Well I certainly think it would have an impact. We do have a bit of clout in southeast Asia and the Pacific, generally. And I think we're already seeing nations thinking about what they can do to improve things.

The U.S. and Australia typically have close ties, but Professor Stoianoff says whether this will give a jump start to American efforts to price carbon emissions depends on who's living in the White House in two years' time.

In Sydney, I'm Stuart Cohen for Marketplace.

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