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Press conference for the release of Greenhouse 21C

I am pleased to announce the Federal Government's additional greenhouse response package: Greenhouse 21C.

Greenhouse 21C delivers a whole of Government approach to climate change. My colleagues Brian Howe and Peter Cook have joined me today because there are some important measures in this response package which directly relate to their portfolio responsibilities. They will detail these measures shortly.

One of the critical elements of Greenhouse 21C is the active involvement by all stakeholders to successfully tackle the greenhouse challenge. Governments alone cannot deliver on climate change.

The active partnership between Government and industry is a significant feature of 21C. We expect that voluntary agreements will achieve in the order of 15 million tonnes of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 - and more in the long term.

The Government welcomes the commitment industry has shown over the past few months. They have shown a willingness to make substantial and measurable reductions in emissions. I believe the community has an expectation that industry will play its role. And the Government expects industry to deliver.

But we are not asking industry to act alone. Greenhouse 21C includes $63 million dollars of new Commonwealth funding, as well as a significant re-focusing of existing resources across a number of Commonwealth departments to achieve enhanced greenhouse outcomes.

I want to highlight some of the key elements of the package for you.

The Federal Government will develop a White Paper on a National Sustainable Energy Policy. This reflects our commitment to providing clear strategic directions and signals for planning and investment in the energy sector.

21C recognises that Australian industry is at the cutting edge of renewable technologies - and this package will help to ensure we are part of the energy revolution. The Commonwealth will support the creation of a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) on renewable energy technology.

And we will support development of a dynamic renewable energy technology industry through a new Renewable Energy Industry Program. Its objective is to remove market impediments to the development of the renewable energy industry to ensure an integrated mainstream energy market. This will provide environmental benefits as well as supporting the development of a sunrise industry.

The Government will set up a task force to accelerate the process of gas market reform. Switching to gas from other fossil fuels offers significant greenhouse savings and will over the long term, increase the choices available to energy users and encourage competition between fuel sources. The Government has set a benchmark of achieving 20 per cent primary energy consumption from gas by the year 2000.

The Government is committed to developing strategies for delivering demand management and energy efficiency objectives from the commencement of the competitive electricity market.

The Government will work with industry to implement fuel efficiency labelling and advertising for new motor vehicles.

Recognising the major contribution that greenhouse gas emissions from the urban sector make- in the order of 50 per cent of total emissions - the Commonwealth will establish a national legislative framework for sustainable urban infrastructure investment (Building Better Cities).

Sustainable land management is essential to an effective greenhouse response. The Government will expand the One Billion Trees Program under 21C. We will also support a joint Commonwealth/ State project to develop a better database on land clearing in Australia. This will reduce a major uncertainty in estimating our national emission levels and assist in the development of further responses to land clearing.

The Commonwealth will investigate the potential of innovative financing strategies to increase the provision of loans for energy efficiency and other environmental investments by small and medium sized enterprises.

Importantly, Greenhouse 21C recognises that economic benefits flow from an effective greenhouse response. Benefits such as long term advantages in competitiveness growth in green jobs, technological advances, export industry development - the list goes on.

This package nurtures some of the qualities which are crucial to our successful transition into the 21st century - innovation, efficiency and opportunity. And importantly, it also puts in place long term strategies to deal with the massive and complex challenge of climate change.

I am sure there is interest in how close this package will take us to stabilising emissions by 2000. While a more accurate assessment can be made as the measures are implemented, we estimate that Greenhouse 21C will reduce our emissions growth to about 3 per cent above stabilisation.

It's important to put this result in context. Firstly, there are measures in the package where we can't yet quantify emission reductions, so of course they are not included. Secondly, this package delivers funding for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory to continue and this will provide an increasingly accurate monitor of our progress.

This package demonstrates our commitment to national action to combat climate change. Of course, climate change is a global problem and Australia is also committed to participating effectively in a global response through the Climate Change Convention.

In a few days, I will be leading Australia's delegation to the First Conference of the Parties in Berlin. I can assure you Australia will be an active participant in this forum.