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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15472

Mr JOHNSON (2:56 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Would the minister advise the House of measures being taken by the Howard government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Would the minister also inform the House of any new developments?

Dr KEMP (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —I thank the honourable member for Ryan for his question. I also take this opportunity to thank him for representing me recently when launching the excellent book on Australian grasses which has been produced by the Australian biological resources survey. Australia is very vulnerable to climate change. This is why the government shares international concern about climate change and the challenge that it poses to our natural environment and to our economy. This government established the first greenhouse specific agency in the world, the Australian Greenhouse Office, and, through a mixture of mandatory and voluntary incentives and grants, has encouraged action which has meant that Australia has been a leader in greenhouse gas abatement. In fact, the measures that the government has taken so far are estimated to deliver some 60 million tonnes per annum of CO2 equivalent abatement each year until 2010. That is equivalent to taking all Australia's passenger cars off the roads. Through the impact of new technology and improved standards, Australia is now successfully decoupling its economic growth from greenhouse emissions growth. Emissions per dollar of GDP were 24 per cent lower in 2000 than they were in 1990.

Today I announced that applications are now being sought for round 3 of the $400 million Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program. As a result of the first two application rounds, 15 projects have already been offered a total of almost $145 million to abate more than 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas from 2008 to 2012. Examples of these projects include funding of up to $26 million for combined heat and power cogeneration facilities to abate 3.25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and funding of more than $40 million for several projects in New South Wales and Queensland to capture and use waste coalmine gas to abate over seven million tonnes of greenhouse gases. This government is committed to meeting the target that we negotiated at Kyoto of 108 per cent of 1990 levels. We are also developing a climate change forward agenda to cover the next 20 to 30 years that will lead a strong contribution to global climate control without sacrificing the competitive advantages that we have as a resource-rich nation.