Jan 16, 2005

One month to Kyoto


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 16 January 2005

In just one month from now, on 16 February, the first international treaty to combat global warming – the Kyoto Protocol – will finally come into force.

Of developed nations only Australia and the United States will not part of this unprecedented global effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is grossly irresponsible that Australia, the world’s largest polluter per capita, refuses to engage in international efforts to deal with global warming.

The Boxing Day tsunami demonstrated how fragile our planet’s environment is.

Human-induced global warming is the greatest threat to the health of the planet and the long term security of all nations. Continuing increases in average temperatures will lead to rising sea levels, shifting rainfall patterns and a greater incidence of extreme weather conditions such as droughts and tropical storms. It is worth noting:

• Rising sea levels threaten to displace more than 100 million people globally and wipe-out many of our South Pacific neighbours.

• The world insurance industry has estimated that in the next 10 years the financial costs of global warming could double to $US150 billion annually.

• According to the CSIRO some parts of Australia could become uninhabitable within the next 70 years and in a worst-case scenario, droughts could increase by 70% and the number of days above 35-degrees could double by 2030.

• A leaked 2004 Pentagon report titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for the United States National Security, outlined a ‘plausible’ scenario of constant warfare over diminishing resources as well as mass migration and famine from persistent crop failures in the developing world.

This global catastrophe can be avoided but it will require international action.

Ratifying Kyoto is not only good environmental management; it is also good economic management. Companies in the 132 ratifying countries will engage in emission trading and trade in the development of alternative energy – an emerging and very lucrative market.

Action is needed to safeguard the environment for future generations. The Kyoto Protocol coming into force is a positive first step and Australia should be on board.

Labor believes Australia must immediately sign onto the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not simply to restore our position as a good international citizen but because of the economic benefits it will deliver.