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Australia pledges 500m to fight global warming

by: Irish Examiner    23 October 2006

With Australia in the grip of its worst drought in a century, the government is set to announce an AUS$500m package aimed at preventing global
warming.

Australia, already one of the world's driest continents, has been suffering from below-average rainfall for the past several years, crippling farm production and raising concerns about the possibility of irreversible climate change.

However, Australia is one of only two industrialised nations worldwide, along with the United States, that have refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming which calls for dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide output, also known as greenhouse gas emissions.

John Howard's conservative government has repeatedly refused to support the 1997 agreement, saying it would unfairly hamper Australia's economy, which is heavily dependent on exporting coal, a major source of carbon emissions.

"We're all affected in some way by climate change," Howard said in his weekly radio address today. "We must respond on a number of fronts. There is no one single solution that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the years ahead."

Instead, Howard said Australia would invest in new technologies designed to use fossil fuels, such as coal, while producing lower emissions. Details of the investments were to be released this week.

Howard, who is attending a meeting of South Pacific leaders in Fiji, did not elaborate on which technologies might be used, but Australia has already made significant investments in carbon dioxide storage techniques - known as
carbon capture.

"Our country is the largest coal exporter in the world," Howard said. "It is therefore in our interest to find ways in which these fuels can be used with lower emissions."