Australia has passed a series of landmark anti-pollution laws, imposing a tax on carbon emissions in one of the biggest reforms in a decade.
The country still relies heavily on coal to generate electricity, and is the world’s highest emitter per head, although it accounts for just 1.5 percent of global emissions.
The final vote in the Senate paves the way for the most comprehensive carbon price scheme outside Europe. It is a triumph for the Prime Minister Julia Gillard; the hotly-contested issue prompted the fall of two of her predecessors.
“Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land.” she said “This comes after a quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries, and years of bitter debate and division. Today, our nation has got this done,” she said after the vote.
The laws will have a widespread impact across the country. They are aimed at making firms more energy-efficient and encouraging more use of gas and renewables.
But the outlook is uncertain: the government has a majority of just one. Many voters are hostile to the laws and the opposition has vowed to repeal them.