Australia 'lags behind' China on climate policies

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Australia lags far behind China and Europe in forcing industry to pay for its greenhouse gas emissions, an independent report showed on Tuesday.

Global research commissioned by the Climate Institute showed countries including Britain, China and the US already have higher direct and indirect carbon pricing.

Conducted by the environmental economics firm Vivid Economics, the report compared the direct and indirect price tags on pollution, and discovered key competitors had a price 17 times that of Australia's.

According to the research, the highest price went to the United Kingdom ($29.30), China ($14.20), US north-east ($9.50), US overall ($5.10), Japan ($3.10), Australia ($1.70) and South Korea ($0.7).

Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson said the research showed Australia has no chance of being isolated by putting a price on carbon.

"There is no risk of Australia leading the world in making businesses responsible for the pollution they cause - we have already been overtaken by competitors including the United Kingdom, China and the US," Jackson told the Australia Associated Press on Tuesday.

The report also suggested a direct carbon price through a trading scheme or tax is the cheapest way to reduce emissions, and warned that Australia risks losing competitiveness if it is late in embracing clean technology.

According to economist and government adviser Ross Garnaut, convincing Australians how much other countries have been doing to tackle climate change, was one of the most important challenges facing the government.

"I am frankly shocked at how persistent the ignorance in Australia is of that," Professor Garnaut told Herald on Tuesday. " It is as if a lead veil had been inserted around the brains of most Australians and made them impervious to information that is not secret, about what is going on in other countries."

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