Several information and telecommunications companies could be among the top 500 polluters to be hit by the Federal Government's carbon tax.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday unveiled the full details of the Federal Government's plan to introduce a carbon tax starting at $23 per tonne to be paid by the top 500 polluters in Australia from 1 July 2012.
The Department of Climate Change declined to provide a list of companies that would be hit with the government's carbon tax, telling ZDNet Australia that the information collected under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act is confidential.
However, ZDNet Australia understands that when the government determined the estimate for the companies that release more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon pollution a year into the atmosphere, it was in part based on information gathered under the National Greenhouse Reporting Act (2007).
The department keeps a list (PDF) of 777 organisations (dated December 2010) that are required to report their emissions and energy consumption under the Act as their emissions or energy consumption passes the government's threshold.
While many mining, energy and traditional polluting companies appear on the list, technology companies are also among those over the emissions threshold. Telstra, Singapore Telecom (Optus), Vodafone, IBM and Fujitsu are all currently required to report their emissions and energy consumption to the government.
However, being on this list does not necessarily mean that these companies will be amongst the top 500 polluters to be targeted by the tax.
Fujitsu Australia's director of sustainability Chris Seale said Fujitsu wasn't on the 500 polluters list.
"Fujitsu's worldwide environmental activities and solutions have placed the group on target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 million tonnes by 2012," he said.
Vodafone told ZDNet Australia that it was currently reviewing the government's carbon tax plan, but did not say whether it expected to be among the top 500 companies.
Telstra declined to comment on whether it was counted amongst Australia's top 500 polluters or not.
Optus said it would not be on the list of 500 polluters.
ZDNet Australia contacted IBM for comment, but no responses had been received at the time of writing.
The Opposition has called for the list to be released by 5pm today, with Shadow Minister for Climate Action Greg Hunt telling News.com.au that the information was public data.
Gillard told ABC Radio National this morning that with a year to plan, the companies would now work to reduce their carbon emissions before the tax is rolled out.
"For businesses now, for around 500 big polluters, the first shot has been fired, they've heard the starter's gun, they know on 1 July next year they start paying, so right from today they will be saying to themselves 'What changes can we make that reduce our carbon pollution?'," she said.
Luke Hopewell contributed to this article.
Updated at 4:59pm, 11 July 2011: added comment from Optus and Vodafone.