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Climate change funding criticised -

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Climate change funding criticised

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TONY JONES: It seems that both sides of politics in Australia believe that the environmental vote
is up for grabs in a year's time. Just a day after suggesting Australia would join a new Kyoto
protocol if it included heavy-polluting developing countries, John Howard has unveiled the
country's latest plan to tackle global warming. $60 million has been allocated to clean up fossil
fuel emissions and develop renewable energy. The funding is the first announced under the
Asia-Pacific partnership on climate but not everyone is convinced of its merits. Dana Robertson
reports from Canberra.

DANA ROBERTSON: For John Howard it's about all about practicality.

JOHN HOWARD: Symbolism will not clean up the air. Symbolism will not reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. Practical methods will, and that's what I'm interested in.

DANA ROBERTSON: And, he says, that's what the Asia-Pacific climate partnership is all about. Today
the Prime Minister unveiled the first of Australia's commitments down the 6-nation pact. The 42
projects have a price tag of $60 million. $5 million is earmarked for bidding solar power stations
in China, and $80 million will be spent testing a carbon catching system developed by the CSIRO,
which will collect emissions from coal-powered stations for burial underground.

JOHN HOWARD: I don't think there is any doubt, in order to make progress in reducing green house
gas emissions, we need to make progress in cleaning up the use of fossil fuels.

DANA ROBERTSON: But even the CSIRO says it will be at least 10 years before the technology is
viable.

BOB BROWN: It is pathetic - when you see what ought to have been done and the fact that the
Government has taken much more money than that out of the solar industry, which is world's best
technology, which can be implemented now.

DANA ROBERTSON: Labor is not so dismissive. Kim Beazley remains adamant the answer to climate
change is the Kyoto protocol, but still he acknowledges the latest projects are worthy, if
insufficient.

KIM BEAZLEY: The technologies that are developed or commercialised from those inventions really
require the existence of an emissions trading regime and emissions control targets if they are
going to be effectively commercialised.

DON HENRY: As long as it remains free to pollute our atmosphere, we are not going to see the
private sector, whether it is coal or gas or solar, invest at the scale we need to properly tackle
the climate change issue.

JOHN HOWARD: There's debate over the past few weeks that has given the impression all you've got to
do is put a signature on a bit of paper and, hey presto, the world stops getting warm. It's not
quite as simple as that.

DANA ROBERTSON: Even as the Government talks up it commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
it's been revealed that the occupants of Parliament itself have failed to meet their own
environmental targets.

Greenhouse emissions from Parliament House were supposed to fall by 1.5 per cent last year. Instead
they went up by 4.6. In the grip of drought, water consumption went up by 16 per cent against a
target of a 5 per cent reduction.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I know that those opposite are terribly opposed to targets, but targets about
these environmental considerations -

DANA ROBERTSON: Labor says the Parliament should be showing leadership on environmental sustain
ability. The Speaker says he'll investigate. Dana Robertson, Lateline.

(c) 2006 ABC