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Australia Unveils 500-Million-Dollar Climate Change Drive

Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Oct 23, 2006
Australia is to launch a 500-million-dollar drive to tackle global warming, Prime Minister John Howard announced Monday, as the country battles its worst drought in more than a century. It comes as his government, which like the United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, scrambles to contain the political impact of the effects of the protracted drought on Australia's farming community.

As he unveiled the initiative, a group of academics and experts meanwhile launched a public advertising blitz urging Howard's government to press for reduced greenhouse gas emissions to combat the global scourge.

"The government has established a special 500 million dollar (379 million US) fund to be used in partnership with companies and state governments to invest in new technologies designed to produce cleaner fossil energy and also renewable energy," Howard said in his weekly radio address.

"Starting this week, the government will announce the first projects to be supported out of this fund."

Canberra will invest at least 230 million dollars into the project in a bid to develop ways of producing cleaner energy from renewable power sources, Howard said.

Speeding up the development of these new technologies, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels, was a key element of Canberra's climate change drive, he said.

"We must respond on a number of fronts. There is no one single solution that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the years ahead," the prime minister added.

A group of academics launched a nationwide advertising campaign Monday calling on Howard's government to do more to combat greenhouse gas emissions that are widely believed cause to cause a rise in the Earth's temperature.

"An effective and credible response requires Australia's national greenhouse gas emissions go down, not up," said Corin Millais, chief executive of Climate Institute, which is running the ad capaign.

"The Australian government's current policy has already increased emissions by 10 percent over the last decade and is set to increase them by a further 17 percent by 2020," he said in a statement.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, Australia was given a target of a 108 percent increase on 1990 emission levels, a target the government insists it is on track to meet.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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