Australia to split green energy from carbon laws

SYDNEY Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:29am EDT

Steam and other emissions are emitted from funnels at a chemical manufacturing facility in Melbourne August 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

Steam and other emissions are emitted from funnels at a chemical manufacturing facility in Melbourne August 13, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mick Tsikas

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's government said on Sunday it would split planned legislation to promote renewable energy from its controversial proposal for carbon trading, giving in to a key demand by the conservative opposition.

"We are safeguarding our Renewable Energy Target legislation, so it can come into effect even if the Liberal party continues to block the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme," Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told Channel Nine.

The emissions trading scheme was voted down on Thursday in the upper house Senate where the conservative Liberal-National coalition hold the largest block of votes. They joined with Greens and independents to oppose the legislation.

The government has vowed to present the scheme again ahead of a U.N. meeting on climate change in Copenhagen in December. Two defeats could provide a trigger for an early election.

By contrast, the renewable energy legislation -- targeting a 20 percent renewable energy target -- has widespread support. The opposition has been calling for it to be treated separately.

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the decision as "a victory for common sense." A vote on the legislation is expected within days.

If voted through, it would unlock a potential $22 billion in planned renewable investment.

(Editing by Bill Tarrant)

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