Howard’s carbon conversion

AusssiesmallThere’s an Australian federal election on the way, and – bless his cotton socks – John Howard has discovered there are votes in carbon policy. Over the last few days Howard has announced a national cap and trade programme for greenhouse gases as part of a new A$627 million climate change initiative, coupled with subsidies for solar hot water systems in schools, and an A$1,000 rebate for domestic installations. The carbon trading mechanism will not begin until 2011, covers only 55% of Australian emissions, and the administration has not announced how big the cap will be. Unsurprisingly, this has been criticised by environmental campaigners, as New Scientist reports:

Caroline Fitzpatrick, of Greenpeace Australia accuses Howard of yielding to pressure from another group – Australia’s powerful coal industry – by announcing what amounts to a delaying tactic in carbon trading, rather than an effective new carbon-reduction scheme.

No doubt NZ’s Greenhouse Policy Coalition will renew its calls for the government on this side of the Tasman to match Howard’s cautious approach. Meanwhile, the Australia Institute has released a paper (press release, full paper [both PDF]), that calculates Australia’s emissions budget for the 21st century based on a “contract and converge

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