Dec 6, 2004

AM – Kyoto Protocol

AM – Kyoto Protocol

Monday 6 December 2004

TONY EASTLEY: Pressure is building on Australia to embrace the Kyoto pollution protocols.

Parties to the Kyoto agreement are meeting in Buenos Aires, the first time that leaders have met since Russia ratified the treaty and the last before it comes into effect in 2005.

So far Australia and the United States have refused to ratify the deal.

The Federal Government says even though it won’t sign up, figures released today show that Australia is on track to meet the Kyoto greenhouse targets.

Environment Reporter Sarah Clarke.

SARAH CLARKE: Seven years after it was first discussed, the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gases is now just two months away from coming into effect.

Today, those countries who signed up will return to the table in Buenos Aires for the UN’s 10th convention on Climate change.

Crucial to this meeting will be taking the treaty to the next phase, negotiating a new round of international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

Australia never signed up but will attend the meeting. Representing the Federal Government is Environment Minister Ian Campbell.

IAN CAMPBELL: Kyoto was a start, it’s got the world focussed on it, but we are going to have to do a lot better if we’re to address climate change.

What we do need to do at the conference in Argentina is work out how is the world going to address the Beyond Kyoto task, and Australia will be deeply engaged in that.

SARAH CLARKE: The international campaign to cut back on emissions recently gained political momentum when Russia ratified the deal, making the treaty legally binding.

Under the deal, those countries who signed up will participate in the international carbon-trading market.

Green groups argue that Australia’s now locked out of this opportunity, but say it’s not too late to return to the negotiating table

Catherine Fitzpatrick is from Greenpeace. She too is attending the UN convention in Argentina.

CATHERINE FITZPATRICK: There’s enough evidence out there that in fact the Australian Government and Australian industry will lose out if they’re not part of Kyoto. If you’re not in the game you will have no influence over the second commitment period.

SARAH CLARKE: But Australia says while it’s not signing up, it is being a good global citizen.

New figures being released by the Government today show it’s on track to meet the targets anyway.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell.

IAN CAMPBELL: In the last accounting process that we did it showed we were on track to hit 110 per cent of our 1990 emissions within the Kyoto period, we’ve now reeled that back to 108 per cent.

SARAH CLARKE: But Labor says the Government’s missing the point – if it’s on track to meet the targets, why doesn’t it ratify the treaty and reap the financial rewards.

The Opposition’s Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, this is a no brainer from the Government. They say they’re meeting the target, but in effect they’re locking themselves out of the economic opportunities that are available. It’s an absurd position that the Government’s got, it’s all about politics rather than good environmental policy and good economic policy.

TONY EASTLEY: Anthony Albanese, ending that report from Sarah Clarke.