Oct 7, 2005

ABC Radio National Breakfast AM – Postponement of Adelaide Climate Pact meeting



7 October 2005

Subject: Postponement of Adelaide Climate Pact meeting

PETER CAVE: The federal government is still trying to arrange the date it will hold a major meeting on climate change in Adelaide with leading Asia-Pacific nations—this despite announcing two months ago that the meeting would be held in November. Labor and the Greens say the government has failed to keep its word on when it will hold the meeting, a point they say makes a mockery of plans to present an alternative to the Kyoto protocol.

As Nick McKenzie reports from Canberra, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, told parliament in early August that the high-level representations from the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea would meet in Adelaide next month.

NICK McKENZIE: Two months ago the Foreign Minister announced that the newly-formed Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate would hold its first inaugural meeting in Adelaide in November. Alexander Downer called it the most significant international meeting to ever be held in Adelaide. He also described it as the most heavy-weight delegation and event that he’d been able to attract.

Senior ministers from the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea, countries which account for almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, would discuss ways to tackle climate change, using technology and voluntary partnerships. The government says the initiative is no less than a massive breakthrough in the world’s efforts to solve its biggest environmental challenge.

But now it seems the government’s plan to hold the meeting next month may not be so certain. A BBC report yesterday said the meeting had been postponed. The report said the earliest the meeting would be held was next year. The Environment Minister is Senator Ian Campbell.

IAN CAMPBELL: We’re working very hard to set a date. We had discussions, as I said, in Ottawa 10 days ago.

NICK McKENZIE: Was the federal government a little eager in saying the meeting would be held in November, now that it seems that the date is still unclear?

IAN CAMPBELL: No, all the … there’s the federal government … the governments of Japan, Australia, Korea, India, China and America. The Australian government is committed to solving the problem of climate change as are the other five governments.

NICK McKENZIE: If they’re so committed why can’t they come up with a date and lock in a date?

IAN CAMPBELL: We’re seeking to get six governments to get together with very senior level ministers from each government to make an historic breakthrough on saving the climate and saving the planet. The particular date will be announced as soon as we’ve got that date.

NICK McKENZIE: So why was there a date announced some months ago?

IAN CAMPBELL: Because six governments agreed that November is the earliest possible date that we could bring the ministers together.

NICK McKENZIE: But Alexander Downer didn’t say November would be the earliest possible date for the meeting. He said the meeting will be held in November.

IAN CAMPBELL: Well, we are committed to bringing the partnership together and making it an historic agreement to deliver real practical projects to address clean development and climate change, and the date of the meeting of the high-level ministerial segment for that partnership will be announced.

NICK McKENZIE: The opposition’s environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, says having not signed the Kyoto protocol the government is struggling to come up with an alternative plan.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Quite clearly the dates were important. The government had to appear to be doing something, so it, with great fanfare, announced this meeting, and it would appear that this is a meeting without an agenda and now without a venue or any attendees.

NICK McKENZIE: Labor’s also angry about a comment attributed to a spokesman for Alexander Downer in an Adelaide newspaper which says that locking in the meeting has been complicated because of security concerns from ‘leftist protest groups threatening to stage demonstrations’. Labor says that’s a smoke screen. AM asked Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, about whether he was aware of any security concerns posed by protestors.

IAN CAMPBELL: Well, it’s not something I’ve turned my mind to.

PETER CAVE: The Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, ending that report by Nick McKenzie in Canberra.