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Kevin Rudd, Australia's New Prime Minister
Craig Neilson, 27 Nov 07
Article Photo

Who is Kevin Rudd and what are the details of his new government's plan? From what we've heard so far, his shade of green is decidedly bright.

The Australian Labor Party has won the Australian 2007 Federal Election, a change of government for the first time since John Howard took office in early 1996.

Saturday's election win for Labor leader Kevin Rudd was the final day of a six week campaign in which climate change and environmental policy played a significant part.

Kyoto Protocol
Perhaps the most notable environmental facet of Australia's new leadership is that Rudd has pledged full support for the Kyoto Protocol and promised to ratify as one of his first actions. The Kyoto Protocol requires signatory nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a party-specific value compared to the year 1990 by 2012. For Australia, the target is their 1990 levels +8 percent, but between 1990 and 2004 the country's emission levels grew by 25 percent.

Having Australia join 137 other countries as a signatory will be a massive step towards setting global targets for response and put pressure on other developed nations like the United States to commit to climate change goals.

Renewable Energy
Rudd's incoming government has set a declared goal of using 20 percent renewable energy by the year 2020.

While this is similar to many parts of Europe, China, and some American states, Australia faces unique challenges in delivering clean energy to its 21 million residents. According to the recent CARMA report, Australia's energy program has the heaviest carbon emissions by head of population in the world, but Labor states a reductions target of 60 percent by 2050. Can it be done?

To kick-start the reforms, the new government will announce a $500 million ($440 million USD) renewable energy fund to "develop, commercialise and deploy renewable energy in Australia". With Australia's current performance on clean energy, this money can't come soon enough.

Encouragingly, the plan also includes a $150 million clean energy innovation fund for further research in to renewable energy. The country is often cited as a perfect candidate for solar collection due to its long, hot sunny days, so watch this space for developments.

There is action on solar already under the Howard government with the $75 million Solar Cities project. The first so called Solar City, Adelaide, will have 1700 solar panels and 7000 smart meters installed. These solar panels are set to double South Australia's current solar collection wattage. The Labor Party has declared to extend this with rebates for residents and businesses from the total $500 million renewables budget.

$8000 rebates for solar power, $1000 rebates for solar hot water systems, $500 rebates for grey water piping and rainwater tanks, $500 rebates for landlords to install insulation and $10,000 in low interest Green loans for solar systems and water and energy savings measures.

Clean Coal
For its land area, Australia has an enormous amount of coal. The country has an estimated 8.6 percent share of the world's coal reserves, 78,500 million tonnes at the end of 2006. In 2003 and 2004, Australia was the world's heaviest exporter of coal, shipping over 235 million tonnes each year.

Since coal fires rapidly emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide and has other nasty side effects, developing a clean way to extract its energy is one of those ideas whose time, some say, has come. The in-coming Rudd government has pledged $500 million for the development of clean coal technology. This joins the Australian coal industry's $1 billion fund announced in May this year. For now, the expected method will be capture and bury the out-put carbon, a technique that needs more work, to say the least.

Broadband
The in-coming government has promised to spend up to 4.7 billion dollars in partnership with the private sector over the next five years to establish a national broadband network.

The massive plan aims to connect 98 percent of Australians to a 12mb physical network. That kind of speed and ubiquity could lead to all kinds of long-promised and exciting residential computing opportunities - high bandwidth telecommuting, video-conferencing, a true revolution in interpersonal communications and an industry for new devices that make use of the network's capabilities.


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The new government after an Australian election is customarily sworn in a fortnight after their win, which will be the 8th of December, 2007.


Image credit: thanks Flickr/asnightfollowsday!

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Comments

Thanks for spreading the word Craig.

To say the least we worldchanger's in Australia are over the moon with the victory. There's still loads to be done on our way to becoming the Sweden or Austria of Asia on cleantech. Well that's the hope anyway :)

A couple of things you didn't mention: we are a wind hotspot down south and could produce anywhere from 20-60% of our energy needs with wind. A Rudd government will invest heavily in wind to meet the 20% renewable energy target. The Labour party is also putting $50 million into hot rock technology.

The king is dead. Long live the cleantech revolution!


Posted by: Nicholas on 27 Nov 07

This is really interesting site where it talks about whats Kevin rudds plans. XD


Posted by: Cristina on 27 Nov 07

Ushering in a new government that actually realizes the importance of immediate action on climate change -- 2 weeks before international dialog on the next phase of Kyoto -- is a large dose of optimism. Turning that optimism to realism is just a matter of ensuring the Rudd government sticks to its commitments...


Posted by: Angus McLauchlan on 28 Nov 07



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