Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd has announced a $500 million renewable energy fund and measures to tackle the urban water crisis.
The fund would be used to develop, commercialise and deploy renewable energy technologies, Mr Rudd told Labor’s election campaign launch.
“We need to harness our enormous potential in solar, wind, geothermal and wave power,” he said.
“This fund will support projects that take renewable energy technology from the lab to the grid.”
A Labor government would also establish a national desalination and urban water recycling fund.
“It’s irresponsible for any national government of Australia to stand idly by while our major cities are threatened by the insecurity of long-term national supply,” Mr Rudd said.
“This national fund is designed to deliver new desalination and water recycling projects right across Australia … (to help) with the long-term security of water supply.”
The Australian Greens said the renewable energy fund is a “me-too lite” version of their Sun Fund, which proposes taking $3 billion in fossil fuel subsidies over 10 years and spending it on renewable energy.
“The ALP’s renewable energy investment policy would be dwarfed by their decision to increase existing fossil fuel funding with another $500 million commitment to the oxymoronic ‘clean coal’,” Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said in a statement.
“The timeline, still absent, is crucial. Are we talking $50 million a year over 10 years? If so, this is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.”
The Climate Institute said Mr Rudd’s announcement took Labor’s rating under the institute’s climate change report card up to 60 per cent, compared with the coalition’s 27 per cent.
“This commitment more than balances out the funding allocated for research and development to dramatically reduce emissions from fossil fuels,” institute chief executive John Connor said.
“(It) will provide much needed funding for Australian researchers to come up with more solutions that will underpin our clean energy economy.”
The natural gas industry said it had been left out again in Labor’s policy, even though both major parties acknowledged privately the resource’s benefits.
“No matter how much money governments throw at the renewable energy sector, it will not be ready in the short or medium term to generate base-load power for major manufacturing or electricity generation,” Australian Pipeline Industry Association chief executive Cheryl Cartwright said.
By Peter Williams
14 November 2007
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