The Australian government announced yesterday that it would help to build the largest solar power plant in the world as part of a new strategy to combat global warming.
The government, under fire for refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will contribute A$75 million (US$57 million) to the A$420 million project to build a 154-megawatt solar power plant in Victoria state which will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun's rays, Treasurer Peter Costello said.
"The project aims to build the biggest photovoltaic project in the world," Costello told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
The government also announced A$50 million funding toward a A$360 million project to reduce carbon emissions from an existing coal-fired power station in Victoria.
The project aims to reduce pollution in part by capturing and storing emissions from the burning of coal.
"This will make a major contribution to emission reduction in Australia and it just shows practical, considered, financially viable, workable technologies which will help us on our way to reduce global warming," Costello said.
The two projects are the first to be funded under a A$500 million package announced this week to prevent global warming.
Environmental groups and opposition lawmakers said that the government needed to do more to address Australia's reputation as the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluter.
Greenpeace spokesman Danny Kennedy said he suspected the announcements could be a strategy to neutralize concern about climate change in the lead up to elections late next year.
"If the federal government's strategy is to lay out a series of ... announcements from now to the election, it is a thinly disguised attempt to avoid the real action that is needed -- moving Australia away from polluting coal," Kennedy said.