Australia unveils biggest carbon-reduction scheme outside Europe

CANBERRA - Australia unveiled plans on Sunday to slap a carbon tax of A$23 a ton on its 500 worst polluters from 2012, sweetened by tax cuts for voters fearing higher power bills, and paved the way to adopt the largest emissions-trading scheme outside Europe.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the worst polluting companies would have to pay a A$23 price that would rise by 2.5 percent a year, before the minority government moved to a controversial market-based emissions scheme in mid-2015.
"Australians want to do the right thing by the environment," said Gillard, whose country is the rich world's worst per capita greenhouse gas emitter due to a heavy reliance on ageing coal-fired power stations for electricity generation.