Jan 27, 2005

PM – Climate Change

PM – Climate Change

Thursday 27 January 2005

Environment Minister states that US is focused on reducing global warming; shadow minister disagrees with minister

TANYA NOLAN: The Federal Government has defended the actions of the Bush administration in tackling climate change.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has urged the United States to cooperate more with the rest of the world to slow the pace of global warming.

But Australia says it’s unfair to accuse the US of not being closely engaged with other nations in finding solutions to the environmental threat.

The debate’s been reignited as British researchers more than double current predictions on how far temperatures might rise.

Marie Scoutas has more.

MARIE SCOUTAS: At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has warned if the international community’s going to succeed in tackling climate change, the United States needs to become more of a team player.

TONY BLAIR: If America wants the rest of the world to be part of the agenda it has set, it must be part of their agenda, too.

MARIE SCOUTAS: But the Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, says the US is pulling its weight.

IAN CAMPBELL: I disagree with him to the extent that I think America is closely engaged. Clearly they haven’t signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and nor have Australia. We understand their reasons. I don’t think it’s fair to say the Americans are anything other than quite focused.

MARIE SCOUTAS: Senator Campbell is upbeat about global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

IAN CAMPBELL: I’m very sort of optimistic about the future. I think the technologies are there, the governments are focused and the world is working on a process of further meetings.

We’ll be having a ministerial meeting around the G8 in London in March and further meetings throughout the year, so I think the international efforts and our domestic efforts will lead to good outcomes beyond Kyoto.

MARIE SCOUTAS: The Shadow Environment Minister, Anthony Albanese, says that’s a convenient view.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  He clearly, and the Howard Government had got itself in a position where they’re isolated, along with the Bush administration, on the need to take global action on climate change.

You had Tony Blair’s speech today. Two days ago you had the release of the International Climate Change Taskforce Report that reported that the global community has less than a decade.

MARIE SCOUTAS: Further scientific evidence has been released today on just how dramatic the changes in climate might be.

A study by British researchers predicts temperatures could rise by between two and 11.5 degrees, more than doubling the range predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The study led by researchers at Oxford University drew on modelling by 95,000 computers around the world.

An Australian scientist who participated in the project, Dr Nick Hoffman from the University of Melbourne, says the findings should be taken seriously.

NICK HOFFMAN: The project is very credible because we’ve run these simulations. Now the exact model may not be perfect, but it’s shown us a wide range of outcomes. The model runs have shown us what the range of outcomes is. One of those outcomes is going to be what’s going to happen to the Earth, and most of the outcomes are not very pretty.

MARIE SCOUTAS: The British researchers say they’ll try and reduce that uncertainty by improving their computer models.

The broader issue of international political action is expected to be revisited by Mr Blair, given he’s vowed to use his leadership of the G8 group of nations and the European Union this year to push for more urgent action.

TANYA NOLAN: Marie Scoutas reporting.