Australia says 294 polluters to pay carbon tax

By the Associated Press | June 15, 2012 | 12:46 AM EDT

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The government has announced that 294 of Australia's biggest polluters will pay a carbon tax when it comes into force next month in a bid to curb the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Opinion polls show that the carbon tax is already deeply unpopular among Australians. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard maintains it is essential to achieving her 2020 target of slashing greenhouses gas emissions to 5 percent below 2000 levels.

Only organizations that annually produce more than 25,000 metric tons (28,000 tons) of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent in other carbon gases, must pay.

The agricultural industry, Australia's third worst carbon polluter, is exempt because of difficulties in measuring emissions on farms.