10 December 2007

Baby tax to save the planet?

Australia should slap a lifelong baby tax on parents with more than two children to offset the additional carbon dioxide emissions, says a medical expert.

Australia should slap a lifelong baby tax on parents with more than two children to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced by their additional offspring, a medical expert said Monday.

Parents should have to pay a 5 000 Australian dollar (Roughly R30 000) levy for each child after their first two, along with an annual tax of up to A$800 (about R4 800) to plant enough trees to offset the emissions generated over each child's lifetime, according to Barry Walters, an obstetrics professor with the government-funded University of Western Australia.

Carbon credits for sterilisation
In a letter to the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia published Monday, Walters also recommended that citizens who use contraceptives or undergo sterilisation should be entitled to reduce their annual income tax using carbon credits.

"Greenhouse gases constitute the largest source of pollution, with by far the greatest contribution from humans in the developed world," Walters wrote. "Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society." In a supporting letter, Garry Egger, the director of the New South Wales state Centre for Health Promotion and Research, said population control "remains crucial" to preserving the environment and called on doctors to counsel their patients on the ecological consequences of their family planning decisions.

Critics, including the Australian Family Association, dismissed the recommendation, saying that multi-child households use less energy per person than smaller households.

Far from penalising large families, the government currently awards a A$4 000 (about R24 000) "baby bonus" to the parents of each child born in Australia, part of a plan to reverse falling birthrates. – (Sapa-AP)

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Enviro health Centre

December 2007


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