To make the move from the carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme (ETS) a year earlier than planned, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced nearly $4 billion worth of cuts or deferrals to government spending.

Among the cuts are slashes of environment programs and cuts to the public service sector.

Rudd said he wants to end the fixed price on carbon emissions a year early on 30 June 2014 and to bring forward a switch to a European-style emissions trading scheme. A floating price of carbon would reduce prices from the fixed level of A$25.40 per tonne to about A$6 a tonne.

The plan can only be legislated after the general election is held.

The carbon tax, which was introduced in 2012, forces the largest polluters to pay a levy for every tonne of greenhouse gases they emit. Australia is the worst polluter per head of population in the developed world.

“The nation’s 370 biggest polluters will continue to pay for their carbon pollution but the cost will be reduced, meaning less pressure on consumers,” ┬áRudd said.