Australia unveiled plans on Sunday to tax the carbon emissions of the nation’s worst pollutors.
From next year, 500 companies will pay the equivalent of more than 17 euros per tonne of carbon.
The country, which still relies heavily on cheap locally-mined coal for power generation, expects emissions to continue to rise as an export-led economic boom continues.
At a news conference in Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters, “We generate more carbon pollution per head than any other people in the developed world.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to hold our place in the race that the world is running” she said.
The scheme aims to cut Australian emissions by five percent of 2000 levels by 2020.
That would mean a reduction of about 160 million tonnes.
But the scheme is unpopular. Gillard’s approval ratings have hit record lows over the plans.
The government has offered tax cuts as well as increased pension and welfare payments to help soothe voter’s concerns.