Nov 17, 2006

Climate change needs political commitment, not political spin

Climate change needs political commitment, not political spin


17 November 2006

John Howard is out of touch, out of step and out of time on climate change.

For the past fortnight, 165 countries have been meeting at the United Nations climate change conference in Kenya, making decisions about the practical implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the future of international efforts to tackle climate change.

John Howard’s stubborn refusal to ratify Kyoto meant Australia unable to improve the world’s main climate change agreement. No say, no vote, no influence.

Australia was a spectator, not a player, at the main part of the Conference.

Australia did not have a vote on practical measures to avoid dangerous climate change, including the operation of the Clean Development Mechanism which plans over $133 billion of clean and renewable energy projects in developing countries by 2012.

Australia did not have a vote on the shape of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period, which will extend beyond 2012. Regardless of the Bush/Howard position, the world is moving forward and Australia is on the outside looking in.

The Kyoto Protocol, while not perfect, is moving forward.

Australia’s isolation is damaging our international reputation and the Howard Government is scrambling for relevance on climate change.

The Prime Minister ignores the inconvenient truth that Kyoto already has an international emissions trading scheme. The carbon market is worth US$30B in 2006, and the Clean Development Mechanism will be worth $133 billion by 2012.

Our isolation has given the world a massive head start in what is emerging as the world’s biggest market. There is an opportunity cost of time.

10 years ago, Australia had 10% of the world’s solar energy market – now we have 2%. Australia is being left behind on climate change and, as a result, we are missing out on job and investment opportunities.

Climate change requires immediate action and a consistent, systematic policy framework where the science is respected, the economic advice heeded and the environment protected.

Political commitment, not political spin, is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.