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Australian PM Dismisses Business Calls For Climate Action

Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Aug 28, 2006
Prime Minister John Howard Monday resisted calls in a report sponsored by big business for Australia to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050 to fight the effects of global warming.

Howard said the suggestions, made in a report commissioned by the Business Roundtable on Climate Change, would have a damaging effect on the Australian economy and raise petrol prices further.

The roundtable includes major business groups such as BP Australia, IAG Insurance and Westpac Bank.

The report, compiled by government scientific research body CSIRO, warns that important contributors to Australia's 32 billion dollar (24 billion US) tourism industry, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Kakadu wetlands, will be lost if Australia does not cut emissions by more than half.

But Howard told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners current affairs program that he wants to see compelling evidence to support the report's findings.

"That sort of scenario, 60 percent for Australia, would have enormously damaging impacts on our economy, on the price of petrol, on a whole lot of things," he said.

"It would have a very big impact on ... our GDP (gross domestic product) because to achieve that you have to impose a carbon tax," the ABC quoted him as saying in a preview of the program to be broadcast Monday night.

However, the report says the suggested cuts do not preclude strong economic growth, with GDP expected to grow at 2.1 percent annually to 2050, compared with an average of 2.2 percent without the cuts.

Westpac Bank Group general manager Noel Purcell told ABC no one was debating the science behind the report.

"No one is contesting, at least no one at any major government level nor at any major business level nor the coal lobby, that we ultimately have to get serious -- a 60 percent reduction in emissions by around 2050 -- if we're ever going to stabilise the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," he said.

Australia has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing emissions and is a major exporter of fossil fuels, the burning of which is blamed for the production of greenhouse gases believed responsible for rising temperatures worldwide.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change

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