from the let-the-taxpayer-pay dept.
Australia's Senate has voted to repeal the carbon tax, a levy on the biggest polluters passed by the previous Labor government. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition beat Labor in an election last year, had made the repeal a central aim of his government.
Politicians have been locked in a fierce row about the tax for years. Labor says it helps to combat climate change, but the Liberals claim it penalises legitimate businesses. The Australian Senate voted by 39 to 32 votes to repeal the tax. Introduced in July 2012, it charges the 348 highest polluters A$ 23 (Â£ 13; US$ 22.60) for every tonne of greenhouse gases they produce.
The Climate Institute think-tank said in a statement that the move left Australia "bereft of credible climate policy".
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said the carbon tax had been "useless and destructive". He says he plans to replace it with a A$2.55bn taxpayer-funded plan under which industries will be paid to reduce emissions and use cleaner energy.
It has long been known that biomass burning -- burning forests to create agricultural lands, burning savannah as a ritual , slash-and-burn agriculture and wildfires -- figures into both climate change and public health.
But until the release of a new study by Stanford University Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, the degree of that contribution had never been comprehensively quantified.
Jacobson's research, detailed in a paper published July 30 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, is based on a three-dimensional computer model simulation of the impacts of biomass burning. His findings indicate that burning biomass is playing a much bigger role in climate change and human health issues than previously thought.
"We calculate that 5 to 10 percent of worldwide air pollution mortalities are due to biomass burning," Jacobson said. "That means that it causes the premature deaths of about 250,000 people each year."
Carbon, of course, is associated with global warming. Most carbon emissions linked to human activity are in the form of carbon dioxide gas (CO2), but other forms of carbon include the methane gas (CH4) and the particles generated by such fires -- the tiny bits of soot, called black carbon, and motes of associated substances known as brown carbon.