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Australian PM Agrees To Collaborate Over Climate

Reuters in Canberra – Updated on Apr 12, 2008

Australia and China have agreed to hold annual ministerial talks on climate change and work together to clean up carbon pollution from coal-fired power stations.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement in Beijing after talks a day earlier with Premier Wen Jiabao , saying both countries needed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and the mainland is the world’s biggest generator of coal-fired electricity.

Mr Rudd said that meant both had an interest in finding ways to clean up carbon emissions from coal-fired power.

“We in Australia must collaborate absolutely closely with China on the climate change challenge,” said Mr Rudd, who had offered to act as a bridge between China and the west on climate change.

“What we want to do is work with China to produce a better outcome globally on climate change, which is critical for the planet.”

Mr Rudd has made the climate change issue one of his priorities since his centre-left Labor government won power last November. His first act was to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The former conservative government led by John Howard refused to ratify the UN pact, which sets binding greenhouse gas curbs for developed nations.

Mr Howard had joined US President George W. Bush in rejecting the pact because the mainland and India, which are both major polluters, were not obliged to tackle their rapidly growing emissions under Kyoto’s first phase, which ends in 2012.

The mainland is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and studies suggest it might have overtaken the United States last year.

Under the new deal, Australia will provide A$20 million (HK$145.1 million) to a joint clean coal project to help fund research projects on clean coal technology.

Mr Rudd and Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong visited the Gaobeidian coal-fired power station in Beijing, where Australia is spending A$4 million on a carbon capture and storage project.

Mr Rudd said the plant was to be running by August and, if successful, would store around 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

He said the mainland and Australia had agreed to hold annual ministerial talks on climate change, with the first meeting to be hosted in Australia in the second half of this year.

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