The Australian government has unveiled a proposal to tax its heaviest carbon dioxide emitters as of July 2012, a plan that would make Australia the first nation to put a price on carbon. The plan, which is expected to pass both houses of parliament before the end of the year, would require the nation’s 500 biggest CO2 emitters to pay $24.60 (AU$23) per ton of carbon dioxide, with that price increasing by 2.5 percent annually until July, 2015. At that point, an emissions trading scheme will be introduced. By 2020, government officials say, the carbon tax would reduce Australia’s carbon emissions 5 percent below 2000 levels; by 2050, the plan will reduce emissions by 80 percent, officials said. About AU$10 billion of the anticipated revenue will be funneled into energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. “Failing to do so means that we would be passing on lower living standards to our children and grandchildren,”said Prime Minister Julia Gillard. With a population of about 22.6 million, Australia produces about 1.3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.