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Australia

Australia

Mixed reaction to new Prime Minister's budget

Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has pleased the wind industry with his first national budget. "Climate change requires a whole-of-government approach and the Rudd team has delivered," says Rosemary Warnock, the new CEO of the Clean Energy Council (CEC), the main representative body for the wind industry in Australia. "The budget tackles climate change at its major source, stationary energy, through a number of substantial initiatives." A A$2.3 billion climate change package includes A$37 million for an emissions trading program to be introduced by 2010, a 20% by 2020 renewable energy target, requiring 45,000 GWh of renewable electricity, and over half a billion dollars for renewable energy research and development and innovation funding over the next six years. Warnock calls it a comprehensive framework of policies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Others environmental groups, however, do not share CEC's optimism. "It is blinkered budgeting," says Australian Greens leader Bob Brown. "In implementing, commercialising and demonstrating new energy forms, in the coming year A$35 million goes to clean coal, which does not exist, and nothing at all for commercialising large scale renewable energy technologies, which are ready to roll out now." A total of A$500 million over eight years has been allocated for clean coal development. Greenpeace agrees with Brown, saying Rudd has failed to invest in solutions like wind power, which "we have at our fingertips." Prior to the budget, Greenpeace delivered a Perspex wind turbine to the Treasury filled with postcards signed by 30,000 Australians asking the government to invest in renewable energy rather than carbon capture storage.

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