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Tougher standards for new coal-fired power stations: Gillard

Malaysia
The New Straits Times
23/07/2010

All new coal-fired power stations will have to meet greener standards before they can be built, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.

Tougher emissions standards will be implemented to ensure energy generation is "cleaner and greener".

"This means that we would never allow a highly inefficient and dirty power station to be built again in Australia," Ms Gillard said in a speech at the University of Queensland in Brisbane today.

There are 15 coal-fired power stations already on the drawing board around Australia and the new rules will not apply retrospectively to these.

Labor would also spend $1 billion over 10 years to make it easier to connect renewable energy projects to the electricity grid, she said.

Many solar, wind and geothermal projects were in remote regions, and were not connected to the national grid.

Another $100 million will be provided to work with financial institutions to develop new renewable energy projects.

Ms Gillard confirmed Labor would create a citizens' assembly to examine the evidence on climate change, the case for action and a market-based approach to reducing pollution.

"It must be a real debate," she said, adding the assembly would consider the issues over 12 months.

Participants would be representative of the wider community.
They would be voluntary and would be selected through the census or electoral roll.

"The role of the citizens' assembly will not be to become the final arbiter or judge of consensus but to provide and indicate back to the nation the progress of community consensus," Ms Gillard said.

The Prime Minister also committed to the creation of a climate change commission to explain the science of climate change.

The commission would report on international progress on climate change.
Ms Gillard said the assembly would be drawn from all age groups, parts of the country and walks of life.

She warned what would happen if the group could not be persuaded by the case for change.

"That would be a clear warning bell that our community has not been persuaded as deeply as required about the need for transformational change," she said.

The government would use Labor's dumped carbon pollution reduction scheme as the basis for the assembly and community consultation on reducing carbon pollution through a market mechanism.

Ms Gillard recommitted to the need for a market mechanism to meet emissions reduction targets.

She also reiterated Labor's commitment to review progress in 2012 near the end of the current Kyoto period.

"This means I will act when the Australian  economy is ready and when the Australian people are ready."

Ms Gillard did not indicate whether the government would shift from its timeline of reviewing the need for a carbon price in 2012, to start some time from 2013.

Labor will also reward early action from business and industry to reduce their emissions.

To do that, the government would keep emissions baselines frozen in time, regardless of when an emissions trading scheme might start.

That is a plus for companies that restrain or cut emissions in the meantime, before the ETS starts.

"Retaining these baselines will ensure that any efforts undertaken by a business now to cut pollution will be rewarded," Ms Gillard said.

On coal-fired power stations, Ms Gillard explained the tougher system would apply only to new projects, not to existing ones or proposed ones, which already have environmental approval.

"We also need to avoid locking in technologies that might be in operation for 30 or 40 years and cause unacceptable levels of pollution," she said.

The standards would be "best practice", and would mean power stations would have to be built so they could have green technology - called carbon capture and storage - retrofitted.

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

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has dismissed Labor's plan for a citizens' assembly to examine the evidence on climate change, saying it is is nothing more than camouflage ahead of introducing a carbon tax.

"We will get a carbon tax if this government is re-elected," he told the Fairfax Radio Network today, following Ms Gillard's speech.

Mr Abbott is campaigning in Perth.
"There is a hell of a lot to worry about because sooner or later even a government as decision-challenged as this one will actually get something done," he said.

"This 150-person deliberative assembly, don't know why they need that," Mr Abbott said.

"We've got 150 people elected by the people in the Parliament. This is a camouflage for the coming carbon tax."

Mr Abbott reasserted his opposition to a carbon tax, pointing out the leadership of the Coalition had changed because of the issue.

"We've got a policy. It basically involves going to the market and buying better soil, more trees, more solar panels on people's roofs."

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.

    

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