The federal opposition argues Labor’s carbon tax will squeeze the life out of the economy but the Australian Greens insist pricing pollution will actually help create new industries and jobs.
Greens leader Christine Milne says growth in the United States and Europe is being driven by the need to move away from oil to renewable energy and the carbon tax will ensure Australia isn’t left behind.
The “zero-carbon economy” will provide “big opportunities”, she told AAP.
Renewable energy includes wind, solar, thermal and wave power.
The Climate Institute estimates the carbon tax could create up to 32,000 clean-energy jobs by 2030.
Senator Milne said the carbon price wouldn’t have become a reality without the minor party.
“The Greens made it a key component of an agreement with the Gillard government in order to give it confidence and supply,” she said.
The Greens sank Kevin Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme in the Senate in 2009.
Later they extracted an additional $10 billion “green bank” for renewable and low-emissions technologies under the 2011 clean energy future package and a much tougher 80 per cent reduction target by 2050.
Senator Milne insist serious action is needed because the International Energy Agency has warned the world is on track for a six-degree increase in global temperatures.
“That’s planetary wipe-out,” the Tasmania senator said ahead of the carbon tax starting on July 1.
“So the sooner we can get going on this the cheaper it will be, the more innovative it will be and the more exciting it will be.”
Big business has argued the $23-a-tonne starting price is too high and $10 would be more in line with permits in the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).
But Senator Milne argues EU governments are looking at ways to increase the price and Australia’s proposed $25 in mid-2015 when the carbon tax transforms into an ETS may not be too far off the mark.
“Let’s just see where the European prices end up then,” she said.
The Greens have vowed to try and block a coalition government from axing the tax.
But Senator Milne believes when push comes to shove Tony Abbott won’t actually move to wind it back.
“He thought he could destabilise the (Gillard) government and stop carbon pricing,” she said.
“But he hasn’t been able to do that … and does anyone seriously believe a government gets rid of a tax once it’s in?”