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October 26, 2006

Climate change is now on the policy agenda and is seen to represent a "critical threat" to Australia's interests over the next decade. During the last decade conservatives have spent a lot of energy trying to dismiss global warming as an elite preoccupation by irrational hemp-wearing eco-warriors and the loathed inner city latte set. It had nothing to do with mainstream Australia.

How times change. There has been buckets of money to subsidize farmers on the bones of their backsides in desert like conditions without any obligation to shift to sustainable farming:


Yesterday, there was money for solar power networked power station and to clean up Victoria's Hazelwood power station from the Low Emmissions Techology Demonstration Fund without any mention of greenhouse targets. The Howard Government is still talking in terms of pilot projects as the renewable industry moves offshore and has refused to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) and steadfastly refusing to consider either emissions targets or carbon pricing signals. A demonstration fund cannot drive the development of technologies that wiill be price competitive with those now available. That requires a price on emissions.

Whilst its $2 billion being spent on drought relief its only $125 million being spent on climate change (a solar plant) that can create power for 45,000 homes even as the states are going to face power shortages over the next few years, due to the rising demand for electricity to run the airconditioners to cope with the scorching summers. This will happen in SA in 2007, Victoria in 2008, Queensland in 2009 and NSW in 2010. Australia is going to need 20%more power in 20200 to meet demand. Does that mean more coal-fired power stations to meet base-load power? Do the power companies get a free pass on any future carbon charge?

It is not clear that the Howard Government has a long term plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is the reductions in land clearing by farmers that has been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emission reductions in Australia to date. What now?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:15 AM | | Comments (0)