Mar 14, 2006

Inaction on climate change undermines whale campaign

Inaction on climate change undermines whale campaign

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

14 March 2006

Australia’s international isolation on climate change is damaging our ability to win on other environmental issues, such as saving whales.

Pro-whaling nations such as Japan and Norway are quite blunt at international environmental conferences.

If Australia won’t join 158 other nations and commit to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change – the most significant environmental issue facing the planet – why should they take Australia seriously in its campaign to save whales?

The Howard Government’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change is not only leaving Australian unprepared to deal with this major issue, it is ruining Australia’s chances of saving whales from slaughter.

The June 2006 International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in the Caribbean is a critical point in the fight to stop the slaughter of whales.

The Australian Government has recently acknowledged that Japan is on the brink of winning the right to resume commercial whaling at that IWC meeting.

The Environment Minister was wrong on 22 June 2005 to claim a “massive victory” in the struggle to stop the slaughter of whales.

Unfortunately, most Pacific Island nations will probably vote with Japan to resume commercial whaling at the upcoming IWC meeting.

Australia’s failure to ratify Kyoto and take action to help Pacific Island nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati deal with the immediate threat of climate change has damaged our credibility to argue for international action on other environmental issues, such as the need to stop the slaughter of whales.

Australia must send the message that whaling is barbaric through diplomacy and the courts.

The Howard Government must take Japan to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to stop the slaughter of whales once and for all.

Legal advice by Professor Rothwell, prepared for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, shows that Australia could successfully challenge Japanese whaling at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.