Australia Drops Uranium Sales to India: One of the First Steps of the New Rudd Government Was to Inform India It Would Be Reversing Autralia's Commitment to Sell Uranium to India. This Has Not Gone Down Well with Some Australians, and the Current Opposition in Australia Has Been Outspoken in Its Stance against the Decision

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In an address to the Sydney Institute in March, Australia's Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Robb, outlined his party's opposition to the decision by the Rudd Government to reverse Australia's commitment to sell uranium to India--made in August 2007 by the Howard Government.

During the speech, some insightful comments were made of India, its strategic importance with Australia, and its growing influence upon the world's economy.

India's energy needs

Robb said India's rapid population and economic growth will see "a rapid rise" in India's energy needs.

"As India grows it will rank third behind the US and China in terms of global energy usage," he said.

"Power generation will account for much of the increase in primary energy demand, given surging electricity demand in industry and in residential and commercial buildings. Most of the new electricity generating capacity will be fuelled by coal.

"Among end users, energy demand for transport sees the fastest rate of growth, as rising household incomes drive accelerating demand for motor vehicles.

"In the absence of strong alternative policy action, galloping energy demand will see major increases in imports of coal, oil and gas, and in the generation of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Over the next 25 years, for logistical and quality reasons, much of India's coal needs will need to be met by imports.

"The trend is evidenced by the growth in Australia's coal exports to India since 2000. Until 1990, Australia exported no coal to India. In 2000/2001 Australia exported just over $800 million worth of coal to India; last year our coal trade reached $2.5 billion, an extraordinary 300 per cent growth in six years.

"Again, over the next 25 year period primary energy demand in India is expected to double, with India overtaking Japan before 2025 to become the world's third largest net importer of oil after the United States and China."

India's greenhouse gas emissions

"Air of this adds up to India becoming the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide by 2015, after ranking fifth in 2005," Robb said.

"Two-thirds of India's emissions come from burning coal, mainly in power stations. Without a change in the method of base-load power generation, this share of emissions from coal fired power stations will increase through to 2030, and beyond.

"India will not sacrifice development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will only occur by employing less carbon-intensive energy--nuclear, gas or clean coal.

"This has been strongly emphasised by Prime Minister Singh who has said, 'Nuclear energy offers a way out by providing clean energy for development. So I see enormous opportunities for members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and India with regard to supply of raw materials, technology and reactors'.

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"The greenhouse impact of nuclear power generation is brought home by the fact that the export of Australian uranium ore concentrates in 2006-07 was sufficient to power 50 reactors, producing about 40 per cent more than Australia's total electricity production.

"Countries using Australian uranium avoid carbon dioxide emissions roughly equivalent to our entire annual CO2 emissions from all sources.

"Around the world nuclear power today reduces global emissions by more than two billion tonnes a year.

"If the uranium deal succeeds, and the existing restrictions on the import of nuclear technology and uranium for peaceful power sources are removed, it is estimated that by 2050 as much as 35 per cent of India's total energy needs could be met by clean nuclear power plants."

Strategic Importance to Australia

Robb explained that the Rudd Government's decision was wrong, and why he was very vocal about the issue, was because of the strategic importance India has to Australia. …