Australian state to fine for greenhouse gas emissions

Companies in New South Wales that are not sufficiently cutting their greenhouse gas emissions will be fined under a new plan launched by Premier Bob Carr, who accuses power companies are not doing enough to reduce their emissions.

The programme replaces a failed voluntary emissions reduction scheme, under which greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased, reportedly to 10% above 1989/90 levels. The government intends to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1989/90 levels.

Under the plan, energy companies will have to develop strategies to reduce emissions, including the adoption of renewable technologies and planting trees as carbon sinks. Because of this Carr admits that households will face increased electricity bills, but only by an average of about AU$3.60 per year.

“It will mean new opportunities for wind, solar, hydro and gas power generation as well as forest plantations,” Minister for Energy Kim Yeadon is reported as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The move has been widely welcomed. “The announcement is good for the environment, good for the economy and good for jobs,” said Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre. “It is an appropriate response to the continued failure of electricity retailers to meet the voluntary greenhouse benchmarks.”

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