An Australian professor of obstetrics has proposed both a $5,000 “baby levy” to be imposed on parents upon the birth of their children and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 per child, The Advertiser reports.
The professor’s scheme especially targets large families.
Barry Walters, a clinical associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, outlined his proposals in Monday’s Medical Journal of Australia. Professor Walters said every couple with more than two children should be taxed to offset carbon emissions each child would generate over his or her lifetime.
"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," he wrote.
"Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a 'baby levy' in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the 'polluter pays' principle," Professor Walters continued.
Professor Walters, who is also affiliated with King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, implied that the $4,133 “baby bonus” now granted to new parents by the Australian government should be abandoned. He also implied population control programs like those in India and China should be considered. Under his plan, condom purchases and sterilization procedures would earn people “carbon credits,” which are part of an informal exchange system that encourages polluters to pay for environmentalist programs.
Australian Family Association spokeswoman Angela Conway derided the proposal.
"I think self-important professors with silly ideas should have to pay carbon tax for all the hot air they create," she said. "There's masses of evidence to say that child-rich families have much lower resource consumption per head than other styles of households.”
Garry Egger, a high-profile doctor in Australia, favored the proposal. "One must wonder why population control is spoken of today only in whispers," he wrote in a response article for the Medical Journal of Australia.