Australian PM outlines new approach to climate action

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, July 23, 2010
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All new coal-fired power stations in Australia will have to meet greener standards if Australian federal Labor is re-elected on Aug. 21, Prime Minister Julia Gillard  announced on Friday.

The prime minister adopted a cautious approach in her speech, emphasizing that climate change was a big challenge and people had the right to be concerned about the risk of electricity prices rising.

She announced tougher emissions standards for new coal-fired power stations, and said Labor would invest 1 billion dollars (0.9 billion U.S. dollars) in the national electricity grid to make it more friendly to renewable energy.

"Labor also would reward businesses which restrain or cut their emissions by freezing baselines to be used in an emissions trading scheme, when it starts," Gillard told Australian Associated Press in a speech at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

On coal-fired power stations, Gillard said a tougher system would apply only to new projects, not to existing ones or those being proposed which already had environmental approval.

The standards would be "best practice" and would mean power stations would have to be built so they could have green technology retrofitted.

The new standards would be written after consultation with industry, experts and environmental groups.

Gillard said she wanted to ensure that during her search for a national consensus on climate change action that the nation did not "lock in" new power stations or energy sources that would last 30 years and continue to contribute to pollution.

She also said that the next phase of her policy, to be announced within days, would involve new ways in which average Australians could make their own contributions to reducing emissions.

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