Labor supports Howard’s anti-Kyoto stance

The Australian

January 13, 2006

Mr Ferguson, who also
reiterated his support for nuclear power, opened a split in the party and the
Left after acting Labor leader Jenny Macklin yesterday criticised the
six-nation Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate talks in
Sydney.

Ms Macklin attacked the
conference’s failure to set emission reduction targets and called for
Australia to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol of 1997, under which industrial nations agreed to reduce their
collective greenhouse gases by at least 5 per cent, compared with 1990 levels,
by 2012.

As of last September, 156
countries, representing more than 61 per cent of global emissions, had
ratified the agreement. Notable exceptions include the US and Australia.

The Asia-Pacific climate
partnership concluded its inaugural meeting yesterday, hailing the agreement
for clean energy as a new model for how to battle climate change without
damaging economic growth.

John Howard told the
meeting that research prepared by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and
Resource Economics suggested the new pact could reduce global greenhouse gases
by 23 per cent by 2050.

The US and Australia also pledged to develop a
multi-million-dollar fund to pursue clean technology designed to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.

China, India, South Korea,
Japan, the US and Australia emerged from the two-day meeting with a commitment
to develop eight taskforces designed to pursue public-private partnerships on
issues such as cleaner fossil-fuel energy, renewable energy and aluminium
production. The Prime Minister said the AP6 meeting had redefined the way
climate change, energy security and air pollution would be addressed in order
to encourage economic development.

“The purpose of this
meeting is to ensure that we address issues of climate change in a way that is
consistent with economic growth and poverty reduction,” Mr Howard said.

“It’s the very strong view
of the Australian Government that we view those three objectives as ones that
should be achieved in harmony and in partnership, and they should not be goals
that are in a state of perpetual antagonism.”

Labor environment spokesman
Anthony Albanese joined green groups yesterday in warning that the AP6 was no
substitute for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

But after attending the
talks, Mr Ferguson hailed the AP6 as “vital” to delivering cleaner, greener
technologies and warned nothing could be achieved without getting business on
board.

“This is essential to
overcome the problem of simply shifting emissions from one country to another
and at the same time shifting Australian manufacturing jobs and prosperity
offshore,” Mr Ferguson said. “If the environmental movement got their way
they’d close down the coal industry. It’s time to abandon the political
correctness espoused by the Green movement.”

Mr Howard formally
committed $100million over five years to the partnership, with $25 million of
that to be directed towards renewable energy projects.

The US Government yesterday
added a further $US52million ($69million) to that out of its 2007 budget,
subject to approval by Congress. Over five years the funding is expected to
grow to $US260 million.

US Energy Secretary Sam
Bodman said the partnership would serve as a model for simultaneously
enhancing economic growth and promoting sustainable development.

“It will be the private
sector that develops and commercialises new technologies, that will make the
investment, that will deliver practical results,” Mr Bodman said.

“All countries were very
enthusiastic, not just that there would be some commercial, business fallout
from these endeavours but that it would also help the world. It would help
improve the state of both pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.”

Mr Howard also told the
conference “the idea that we can address climate-change matters successfully
at the expense of economic growth is not only unrealistic, but also
unacceptable”. That sentiment was reflected in the AP6 communique, which
acknowledged the growing role of renewables and nuclear power, but said fossil
fuels underpinned their economies and would be “an enduring reality for our
lifetimes and beyond”.

“It is therefore critical that we work
together to develop, demonstrate and implement cleaner and lower emissions
technologies that allow for the continued economic use of fossil fuels while
addressing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” the AP6 said.

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