Big polluters trying hard to improve: Australia, USA


Australia intends to establish legislation to deal with global warming. Coal generates about 83% of the country’s electricity. Australia’s first coal was mined in 1797 and Australians have had cheap power from this dirty source of carbon-dioxide since then.

Australia aims to cut emissions by at least 5% of 2000 levels by 2020, and possibly 25%, depending on global action. Free permits will go to big polluting industries: concrete, steel and aluminium, not coal. A handout will help coal go along, including capturing methane released from coal mines.

By 2020 the government wants solar, wind and other renewable sources to generate 20% of Australia’s power.

The politics of this is difficult. Will the industry disappear? How worrying is climate change – ref. recent bushfires and floods? What about election promises that were  made?

The House of Representatives are expected to pass a climate change bill soon. On May 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill requiring reductions of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases of 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. The climate change bill is top priority of President Barack Obama.

The legislation would mark a major change in U.S. policy, and a victory for activists seeking to put the brakes on global warming. Obama must weigh the environmental benefits against the expected costs new legislation would bring to consumers and businesses in recession.

Farm-state lawmakers are concerned over a related Environmental Protection Agency proposal on ethanol and other biofuels. It is also being discussed creating a federal climate control agency to improve knowledge of the problem and provide forecasts and warnings to the public about changes in weather and climate. Protecting the coal industry is also a factor.

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