Poor show down under

One week before the Kyoto meeting, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, announced a range of new measures designed to quell criticism of his weak stance on greenhouse gas emissions. Howard's four year, A$180 million dollar programme will still see Australia's greenhouse gas emissions increase by 18% over 1990 levels -- a substantially different "target" than the US, Europe or Japan. The funding will be spent on several initiatives including: A$27 million to expand the Greenhouse Challenge Program, which allows companies to sign voluntary agreements to reduce emissions; $21 million for an innovation investment fund to assist clean energy technologies; $10.5 million for "showcase" renewable energy projects. No details have been released on any of the initiatives. As part of his plan, Howard also announced that electricity utilities will be required to increase by 2% the energy supplied from renewables by the year 2010.

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