Australian Prime Minister’s Energy Package Pushes Oil and Gas

Australian Prime Minister John Howard released a major white paper on energy policy this week, outlining a series of proposals that, while nodding in the direction of renewables, keeps the country’s fortunes squarely tied to oil and gas. “The reality is that the older fuels, of which we have large supplies, are going to contribute the bulk of our energy needs,” he said, “and what we have to do is to make them cleaner.” While the paper proposes subsidy programs for residential solar panels and renewable-energy research, the bulk of investment money will go to Australia’s coal- and oil-based energy and resources sector, and Howard has refused to raise the nation’s renewable energy target, which mandates levels of renewable energy, from 1 percent. The opposition Labor Party, which hopes to oust Howard’s government in elections later this year, promises that it would raise the target.