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Energy policies - Nov 10

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Japan energy: Goodbye Iran, hello Iraq

Hisane Masaki, Asia Times
Fresh from a serious setback in Iran, where it lost its controlling stake in the huge Azadegan oilfield, Japan has launched diplomatic efforts in earnest to secure petroleum in neighboring Iraq.

Recently, Tokyo invited Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani to Japan and they issued a joint communique pledging Japanese assistance for improvements to the oil and gas infrastructure in the war-torn country. Japan specifically pledged to provide loans of about 20 billion yen (US$170 million) to Iraq as part of the $3.5 billion aid package already committed.
(7 Nov 2006)

Iran smart cards a step to petrol rationing

Reuters via IOL
Iran, Opec's second largest oil producer, is launching a system of "smart cards" for purchasing gasoline, a newspaper reported, a move which analysts said paved the way for possible fuel rationing in 2007.

"The distribution of smart cards has started, in order to check the consumption of motorists," Mohammad Reza Nematzadehh, a deputy oil minister, was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper Iran.

He did not explain how the smart card would be used to curb consumption but such a method has been mooted in the past as part of a possible plan to ration fuel. The newspaper said motorists would use the cards from March 2007.
(9 Nov 2006)

Energy insecurity tops G20 agenda

John Garnaut, Sydney Morning Herald
THE world's top finance ministers and central bankers will meet in Melbourne next week to discuss attracting $US8 trillion ($10.4 trillion) in energy investments to avoid production shortfalls.

The startling forecast of the 30-year investment funding needed to bolster inadequate oil and gas capacity - which implies that the oil price could soar far above yesterday's $US59 a barrel - is in an International Energy Agency report commissioned by the G20, which is to meet on November 18 and 19.

The meeting, to be hosted by the Treasurer, Peter Costello, and the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, will draw together the most powerful political and economic cabal ever assembled in Australia.

The agenda is yet to be finalised but the finance and central bank chiefs are certain to raise concerns about nationalisation of petroleum production across vast swathes of South America, Africa and Russia.
(9 Nov 2006)

Aust Govt rules out carbon tax

The Federal Government says it is not about to impose a carbon tax on business.

Speaking at an energy conference in Hobart today, Greg Hunt, the parliamentary secretary to the Environment Minister, said a carbon tax would drive up electricity costs with no discernible change in consumer use.

Mr Hunt says the way to tackle climate change is to invest in technology "and to go straight to the source of cleaning up the power source.

"The wrong way is to take Mr Beazley's option of imposing petrol and heating taxes so that's pensioners, low income families who'll suffer.
(9 Nov 2006)
A carbon tax can be designed to protect low-income individuals and to be revenue-netural. It would provide incentives to implement the new low-carbon technologies of which Mr. Hunt speaks. -BA

An interview with Renate Künast, Germany's Green Party chair

Michael Levitin, Grist
As the U.N. climate-change conference heats up this week in Nairobi, Kenya, strategies to promote clean energy and slow global warming top the agenda for many nations -- not least of all Germany, which is Europe's biggest economy, a global leader in green technology, and the country set to take over the 12-month presidency of the G8 industrialized nations and the six-month European Union presidency in January.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed in recent months to use Germany's upcoming leadership stints to tackle climate change afresh, with bold new policies. Some inside the German government, though, are skeptical that her Christian Democratic Union will make good on those promises. A leading voice of dissent -- and the one calling loudest for urgent action on climate change -- is Renate Künast, a former agriculture minister and the current chair of the Green Party.

Künast, a 50-year-old lawyer and social worker who has written books on ecology and health, has been a pioneer in consumer-protection rights and a voice for the organic movement. She also helped usher in 2000's Renewable Energy Sources Act, which led to Germany's current role as the world's leading wind-power producer and its second-largest in solar power. Grist recently caught up with Künast and asked Berlin's most powerful Green what it's going to take to lead us all toward a more climate-safe future.
(9 Nov 2006)
Much of the interview is taken up with energy issues. -BA

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