Wayne Swan
Wayne Swan

Those who had hoped that the Rudd Government’s much publicised signing of the Kyoto Agreement indicated an awareness of the urgency of action on climate change can only be dismayed by the lack of a sense of urgency in  the allocation for climate change measures in the 2008 Budget brought down tonight by Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

The main initiatives are; 

  • $500 million to develop a low-emission car but no money will be available until 2011 – when Norway’s Th!nk electric car and America’s Tesla Roadster are already on the market; Toyota has announced plans to have a plug-in version of its Prius by 2010; Mitsubishi will have the electric i MiEV by 2010; General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid is scheduled for 2010, Renault-Nissan has announced plans for an electric vehicle by 2011 and Denmark and Israel are both developing extensive recharging networks and manufacturing facilities for electric vehicles – to say nothing of the many low-emission vehicle projects underway in China and India.
  • $500 million for a National Clean Coal Fund – when plans to build 59 coal-fired power stations in the United States have been abandoned and another 50 are in doubt because the industry does not believe that “clean coal” is possible – but only $150 million for research and development of all other clean energy technologies.
  • $480 million for schools to introduce energy and water saving measures but spread over 8 years.
  • $300 million (over 5 years) to allow banks to provide low interest “green loans” to up to 200,000 of Australia’s 8 million households to improve their energy and water efficiency. But the $8,000 rebate on solar power installation has been withdrawn for household with an annual income or over $100,000, (The same means test applies to the solar hot water rebate.)
  • A new 10-star energy rating system for household appliances to replace the current 6-star system.