Budget increase on climate change programs but no money for MRET

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The Australian government's recent national budget confirms it is to increase spending on climate change programs, including support for the Office of the Renewable Regulator (ORER) to ensure the continued administration of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). There is still no firm indication, however, whether the all important MRET-pivotal in boosting demand for wind power in the country-will be extended beyond its current 2010 target. In total, A$463.6 million is to be invested in a strengthening climate change program over the next four years. Emissions management is seen as the major focus, taking the bulk of the funding: A$334 million will be spent on reducing Australia's greenhouse signature, with A$130.8 million of the sum for new measures and A$203.6 million for existing programs. Specifically, the Australian Greenhouse Office is allocated A$116.6 million this year, an increase of A$19.5 million on 2003-04, while A$28.5 million is to "advance whole of government action on domestic greenhouse policy issues." A budget of A$10.6 million is earmarked for ORER over the next four years, with A$2.5 million of that allocated to the current financial year. This, however, only means funding is guaranteed up to 2010 for administration of the MRET, which currently sets a goal for 9500 GWh of additional electricity from renewable energy by 2010. The target is currently under review. "While the government's ongoing support for the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator is welcome and is a strong signal of the ongoing commitment to the MRET measure, there is little else of comfort for the Australian wind industry within the recent budget," comments Ian Lloyd-Besson of the Australian wind energy association. "There is little obvious support for the renewables sector and the intent and impact of the A$334 million for emissions management is unclear." He suggests some of the A$28.5 million allocated to advance whole of government climate change policy making should "be spent in determining that Australia has a strong and vibrant wind energy industry."

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