Transcript of Radio Interview, World Today – Global Climate Change Policy
19 May 2006
Australia takes lead role in forging global climate policy
Reporter: Simon Lauder
ELEANOR HALL: Australia’s just been given a leadership role in talks to shape future global climate policy.
The Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, is determined the new plan won’t be restricted by what he sees as unfair requirements under the current Kyoto Protocol.
But the Labor Party and environment groups say the minister is kidding himself if he thinks Australia is a world leader on climate policy.
Simon Lauder has the story.
SIMON LAUDER: As the world’s climate heats up, arguments about whether global warming is caused by man-made pollution are melting away and being replaced with debate on what to do about it.
Meeting in Germany this week, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has the job of coming up with a new plan when the Kyoto protocol expires in six years, has appointed the head of Australia’s greenhouse office, Howard Bamsey to co-chair a working group.
The Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, says it will come up with ways of reducing emissions to compliment the system of pollution restrictions on individual countries.
IAN CAMPBELL: Well, I think the whole world has recognised that Kyoto is just not going to be as effective as is needed. There’ll in fact be a 40 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions under the first commitment period of Kyoto, when in fact the world needs a 50 to 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse.
So not only do we need to ensure that what comes after Kyoto is more effective than what we’ve got at the moment, we also need to find a way to engage the rapidly developing countries, the countries who are industrialising.
SIMON LAUDER: You’ve often said Kyoto is inadequate because it doesn’t include the world’s biggest polluters. Will you push for the new protocol to require developed countries, including Australia and the US to cut emissions regardless of what developing countries are doing?
IAN CAMPBELL: No, I think that’s entirely impractical. I think that’s been one of the failures in the past is that you have got to find ways to ensure that both developed and developing countries can continue to expand their economies, but to do so with a much lower greenhouse footprint.
SIMON LAUDER: Mr Campbell says he still doesn’t support the main principle of the Kyoto Protocol – short-term emission reduction targets for individual countries. Australia’s efforts will focus on measures like storing carbon emissions underground and getting other countries to do the same.
IAN CAMPBELL: The success of what we have embarked upon where Australia’s Howard Bamsey, the head of the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Office, will take the lead in this new dialogue will be measured by whether or not we can firstly see the world plateau its greenhouse emissions and turn them downwards towards achieving a 50 to 60 per cent reduction.
And the ultimate measure will be can we get these technological breakthroughs in terms of capturing carbon, stopping it going into the atmosphere and then deploying those sort of technologies across the entire globe? That is the only true measure.
SIMON LAUDER: Erwin Jackson from the Australian Conservation Foundation says Australia is ignoring the main game and that will undermine its recommendations.
ERWIN JACKSON: Unless the developed countries like Australia, like the United States, like Canada, like Europe, uless they actually start to significantly reduce their own greenhouse pollution, countries like China and India and Brazil and Mexico aren’t going to be prepared to set binding targets themselves.
SIMON LAUDER: The Federal Opposition’s Environment Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, scoffs at the suggestion Australia has been given a leading role in shaping the new climate change framework.
He says Mr Campbell has contradicted his own declaration after the last UN Climate meeting that "Kyoto is dead".
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m pleased that Australia has dropped its anti-Kyoto rhetoric, but their credibility in making a contribution is undermined by the fact that they haven’t committed to taking part in the international architecture which is there already. And commonsense tells you that they would have much more influence over the process if they ratified the protocol.
ELEANOR HALL: Labor’s Anthony Albanese, ending that report from Simon Lauder.