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Aust.: Coal & uranium wrong focus for climate pact

Coal and uranium wrong focus for climate pact

The first meeting of the Asia-Pacific climate pact will test whether Prime Minister John Howard and his government are committed to make the difficult decisions needed to address climate change, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said today.

"The world will be watching what the United States and Australia come up with in Sydney this week," Senator Milne said in Hobart.

"The onus is on Mr Howard to move beyond vision statements, photo opportunities, memoranda, signals of intent and commit to real greenhouse gas reduction targets and a plan of action and the funding to achieve them.

"The $100 million suggested from Australia is far too little too late, and seems destined to be another corporate welfare payment to the coal and uranium industries.

"After months of posturing about what Australia will do to address climate change, Mr Howard will need to prove that the Asia-Pacific climate pact is more than another resource export deal promoting coal and uranium.

"Dressing up the export of uranium for 'civilian nuclear power' tries to hide the very real danger that uranium exported to China will be directed to nuclear weapons.

"Nuclear power is not an answer to climate change as it is expensive, dangerous and slow to implement.

"Nor should the government continue to entrench Australia as a fossil-fuel dependant economy by promoting coal exports and coal technologies.

"We need a strategy to make Australia a low-carbon economy, and that requires government action, not simply hoping the market will somehow make this change.

"Australia should be doing for renewable energy what Japan and Germany have done with solar. They have focussed on the huge expansion in solar technology, reducing their own greenhouse gases, at the same time creating thousands of jobs and cornering export markets.

"Whilst talking up technology transfer, Environment Minister Ian Campbell ignores the fact that the Kyoto Protocol already provides the opportunity for such action through the clean development mechanism. This is one more reason Australia should ratify the protocol."

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