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Page last updated at 04:50 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Australia PM presses revised carbon emissions scheme

Kevin Rudd (file image)
Kevin Rudd wants a deal before he leaves for Copenhagen

The Australian government has struck a deal with opposition leaders on a revised carbon trading scheme.

The emissions trading scheme (ETS), aimed at reducing Australia's carbon footprint, is the centrepiece of the government's environmental strategy.

Opposition parties must give the new deal their backing on Tuesday ahead of a parliamentary vote due this week.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wants the scheme passed before next month's UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

However, as members of the opposition coalition gathered to debate the new package on Tuesday, Australian media reported strong hostility from some senior party figures.

Correspondents say that if the ETS is defeated in Australia's upper house, where the government does not have a majority, it would provide a trigger for an early election.

Earlier, Mr Rudd and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong outlined details of the deal.

To win opposition support, the government has agreed to additional compensation for heavy-polluting sectors such as the coal mines and the electricity industry.

'Good package'

"I think we have an exceptional package. It's a deal that will protect jobs and the environment in Australia," said Ian Macfarlane, of the opposition Liberal Party.

He said he was confident the deal would be accepted by opposition parties, but added: "I will wait for the party room to see who is going to decide to vote for this."

Mr Rudd wants to cut Australia's carbon emissions by up to 25% from 2000 levels by 2020.

The BBC's Nick Bryant, in Sydney, says the scheme is still unpopular among many opposition politicians, who question the scientific case for global warming.

Since most of Australia's prosperity is based on its resources sector - and coal in particular - the energy lobby has argued it would damage the economy, he adds.

Australia has the highest per capita carbon emissions among developed nations and coal is its biggest export.

Mr Rudd told the BBC that he believed a framework agreement on carbon emissions could be struck in Copenhagen that could be turned into a legally binding treaty in 2010.



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