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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Australia launches 'green' scheme
Mount Isa, Australia (archive)
Australia is one of the world's major fossil fuel exporters
The Australian Government has launched a multi-million dollar scheme to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, widely blamed as a cause of global warming.

Prime Minister John Howard said the aim was to provide sustainability and security in the energy sector.

But opposition politicians dismissed the scheme as vote-buying ahead of a general election due this autumn.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the measures would increase Australia's dependence on fossil fuels.

The centrepiece of the scheme is a A$500m (US$350m) fund for investment and research into low-carbon emission technologies.

A A$75m "Solar Cities" programme would encourage householders to use alternative energy sources, such as solar panels.

The scheme's announcement came just days after the opposition Labour party recruited high-profile environmental activist and former rock singer Peter Garrett as a candidate in the forthcoming elections.

Australia has not ratified the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Mr Howard said his country would nevertheless meet targets set out under the treaty by 2010.

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