Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Marrickville Festival, Marrickville
17 September 2006
Subject: Minister Campbell’s comments regarding Kyoto Protocol and Climate Change
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Howard Government is increasingly confused and isolated over climate change. This morning Senator Campbell again criticised the Kyoto Protocol in spite of the fact that he is just back from a conference discussing the extension of the protocol beyond 2012. He has again acknowledged the need for a price signal for carbon if we are going to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.
Everyone supports new technology. The challenge is to increase its application and to do that you need economic incentives such as those provided in the Kyoto mechanisms.
Senator Campbell’s statement that the science in Al Gores’ documentary is sound is a direct contradiction of the dismissive and offensive comments of John Howard and Ian McFarlane this week. Reports of the impact of rising sea levels on Perth beaches is yet another reminder of the dramatic impact climate change will have on Australia with rising sea levels, lower rainfall in Southern Australia and increased number and intensity of cyclones in northern Australia and the potential loss of iconic areas including the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu.
Australia, along with the United States, are the only two countries in the world which have refused to be part of the global effort by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Australia emissions have grown by 25.1% between 1990 and 2004 if you exclude land use changes.
JOURNALIST: Isn’t action by Australia pointless because growth in China would replace Australian emissions and they aren’t a part of the Kyoto agreement?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is an inconvenient truth for Senator Campbell that China is a part of the Kyoto Protocol. It was always envisaged that the developed countries would take the lead in reducing their emissions as they had created the problem. As Al Gore pointed out this week Australia’s withdrawal from Kyoto makes us international outlaws and undermines the prospect of all countries agreeing to targets in the future. This is particularly outrageous given that Australia will meet our generous target and hence there cannot possibly be any economic disadvantage in us ratifying Kyoto. China has a renewable energy target of fifteen percent, ours is two percent and we are seeing renewable energy move offshore as a result.
JOURNALIST: Have you seen Al Gore’s movie and what difference, if any, do you think it will have?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I, unlike John Howard and other senior Ministers who have commented on the documentary, have seen it a number of times. As I understand it there have now been tens of thousands of Australians who have already seen An Inconvenient Truth in the past few days. For all of these Australians it defies belief that we have a Federal Environment Minister who states that the science in the documentary is sound, but who then refuses to take serious action to avoid the consequences that climate change will bring.
History will judge climate sceptics such as Howard and McFarlane very harshly but will save its greatest condemnation for those like Senator Campbell who know what needs to be done but don’t have the courage to act.
As politicians we have a responsibility to remember that the future is borrowed from our children.
JOURNALIST: What do you say in response to Senator Campbell’s claim that Kyoto is a slogan not a solution?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Kyoto has been ratified by 158 countries including every developed nation except for Australia and the United States. Kyoto’s first period of implementation is from 2008 until 2012 and last year all 158 countries decided that the international agreement would be extended beyond 2012. Prior to that agreement at the Montreal Climate Change Conference Senator Campbell stated that Kyoto would end in 2012. Prior to Kyoto coming into effect on 16 February 20, the Howard Government stated Kyoto would never happen. These statements are quite frankly embarrassing Australia’s international reputation. Does anyone seriously think that if the United States ratified Kyoto tomorrow we would not join them the very next day?
Australia needs to end our isolationist position and become the 159th country to ratify Kyoto. Remember that in 1997 when the Howard Government signed the Kyoto Protocol, John Howard said it was, “a win for the environment and a win for Australian jobs”. He was right then but he is wrong now.