Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Australia: Banking on Rain

From Australia's news.com.au: "The Federal Government is banking on a break in the weather - literally. Treasurer Peter Costello has forecast that Australia's once-in-a-century drought will ease this financial year and lead to an improvement in the nation's economic outlook. But the Treasurer has warned about the impact of climate change on the nation's economic growth.

"Gross domestic product was predicted to climb by 3.75 per cent in 2007-2008, with drought recovery accounting for half of a per cent. But Mr Costello was not so optimistic about the impact of climate change. "Our responsibility is to manage the environment for future generations," Mr Costello said in his Budget speech. "One of the serious long-term threats is global warming."

"The Government has set aside $4.3 billion for the environment in this Budget, with the priorities being climate change, water supply and conservation. And Australian households have been challenged to lead the way in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Households that install solar panels can receive double the existing rebate, getting back $8000. The five-year, $150 million scheme hopes to get solar panels on 40,000 homes.

"Another $53.3 million over five years will fund the climate change small business and household action initiative, to provide tips about being energy efficient. As families cut emissions, scientists will work with business to reduce climate change impacts, with an extra $126 million for the CSIRO to establish an Australian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation. Communities and farmers will be challenged to take on environmental conservation projects, with a new $112 million commitment to the national Landcare program over three years.

"The Natural Heritage Trust has been extended, with $2 billion until 2013 to improve water quality and reduce land degradation. More big investments have gone to climate change research and development, including $23.6 million to encourage big business to offset greenhouse gas emissions. The funds, over four years, offer tax deductions to encourage businesses to plant carbon sink forests."

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