SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia is set to approve measures giving polluters financial incentives to reduce emissions blamed for climate change, in a move critics described as ineffective environmental policy.
The so-called “direct action” plan, which will see the government pay companies to increase energy efficiency, passed through the upper house Senate early Friday following a marathon debate.
The bill is expected to be approved next month by the lower House of Representatives where the conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a majority.
It comes after Abbott axed a tax on greenhouse gas emissions introduced by the previous Labor administration, fulfilling a central pledge from last year’s elections.
“We have delivered on our promise to implement an emissions reduction fund to ensure that there is real and practical action to achieve our emissions goals and targets without a carbon tax,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
China and the United States are the biggest greenhouse gas polluters, according to a report by international scientists issued last month, but Australia’s output is considered high per capita.