Saturday, August 8, 2009

Australia: Sale of Carbon Permits Should Contribute to Rural Health and Environment

By Rich Bowden

Img: Country-style ute, Adelaide. Credit: BeauGiles/flickr

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) have joined forces to call on the government to spend at least a fifth of the revenue raised by the sale of carbon permits on rural health and environment.

The two organisations have proposed the establishment of two funds - the National Biodiversity and Climate Change Fund and a National Rural Public Health Fund - to ensure country communities have access to funding to help them weather expected change through climate change.

“Some of our great natural areas, like the Great Barrier Reef, the wet tropical rainforests and Kakadu, are at high risk from climate change,” said ACF executive director Don Henry in a news release.

“Investing in better protection and management of Australia’s natural areas will also help protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs and the billions of dollars they generate through tourism.”

NRHA Chair, Jenny May said such funding would help provide necessary resources for remote rural communities.

“It would provide resources for training, infrastructure, services and programs that promote healthy activities and illness prevention. The combination of environmental and health benefits that would flow from these efforts is what has brought our two organisations together on this critical current issue,” Dr May said.

The two organisations have said the twin funds could be set up along similar lines to that of the Clean Energy and Security Act 2009 recently passed by the US House of Representatives.

The submission comes as Pacific leaders used the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting held in Cairns, northern Queensland this week, to call on the world's rich nations to cut carbon emissions by at least 50 percent as part of the vital climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

"We call upon world leaders to urgently increase their level of ambition and to give their negotiators fresh mandates to secure a truly effective global agreement," the group said.

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen to agree to a replacement for the Kyoto Treaty.

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