IMF Concerned for Australia's Carbon Tax Repeal; Greg Hunt Defends Abbott's Direct Action Policy

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By Reissa Su | February 17, 2014 7:17 PM EST

Australia has been urged by International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde to continue being the "pioneer" in the ongoing climate change debate. Ms Lagarde spoke ahead of the G20 meetings and acknowledged Australia's effort in being at the "forefront" of climate change issues. She expressed concern about the country scrapping the carbon tax policy.

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
An environmental activist places his hand on a giant globe in a rally demanding more action to battle climate change during the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw November 16, 2013

The IMF managing director said climate change issues are critical and should be considered "real."  However, Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt defended the government by saying climate change is an issue the country takes seriously and declared Australia is "on track" to reduce emission targets by 5 per cent in 2020.

Mr Hunt, who also supports carbon tax repeal, said Australia will hit its emission targets "easily."  He once again criticised Labour's carbon tax for hitting factories, farms and factories. He declared it the policy simply does not do its job.

The Australian government has previously said it will repeal carbon tax in July following a statement based on new data on greenhouse gas emissions. The Coalition claimed that Labour's carbon tax was only causing "plenty of pain, with no environmental gain." Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to scrap carbon tax and revisit renewable energy targets, according to an ABC report. 

Despite Mr Hunt's declarations, the Department of Environment released a report revealing a decline in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 0.3 per cent in the year ending in September. The report prompted environmental advocates to accuse Mr Hunt of intentionally misreading figures. They claimed that based on the report, the carbon tax policy is working.

However, most economists and environment groups believe the Direct Action plan will not work. The prime minister might have suggested a strong and effective action, but critics say abolishing the current climate change policy might not be the right solution.

According to reports, Australia has the highest pollution per capita among developed nations with greenhouse gas emissions gradually rising to 30 per cent since 1990. The increase has been attributed to its booming economy.

During the elections in September 2013, Tony Abbott has promised to repeal carbon tax if he becomes Prime Minister to boost the economy.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel / )
An environmental activist places his hand on a giant globe in a rally demanding more action to battle climate change during the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw November 16, 2013
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