Australia targets firms in radical climate plan
Australia has unveiled one of the world's most ambitious plans to tackle climate change by placing a carbon tax on the country's 500 worst-polluting companies.
The scheme, which is likely to decide the future of the beleaguered government, imposes a tax of $A23 (€17.35) per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from next July and will be the world's biggest carbon reduction scheme outside Europe.
Australia relies heavily on coal-fired power and has the highest carbon emissions per person in the developed world. The plan includes a $A15bn (€10.5bn) compensation scheme that would offset extra costs to consumers and leave millions better off.
Julia Gillard, the prime minister, said the plan would cut 159 million tonnes of carbon pollution by 2020 -- the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road. The tax would rise by 2.5pc a year and shift to a market-based trading scheme in 2015.
But opposition leader Tony Abbott said: "What's the point of all of this? This is a redistribution pretending to be compensation. It's a tax increase pretending to be an environmental policy." (© Daily Telegraph, London)