Australia ‘back on the map’ with Kyoto decision

December 4, 2007 (ABC) – Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says Australia’s decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol puts the nation back on the map in the fight against climate change.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday signed the instrument of ratification of the Protocol in the first official act of his new Government.

Australia will now become a full member of the Kyoto Protocol early next year.

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During the United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) conference in Bali, delegates broke into spontaneous applause when news of Australia’s decision was announced yesterday.

Some delegates of the 12-day conference gave the Australian delegation a standing ovation.

Senator Wong says the decision sets Australia up for a leadership role at the conference.

“Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol puts Australia back on the map,” she said.

“The world now knows that this nation is prepared to do its bit and be part of the global solution to climate change. This gives us an impetus to go into the Bali conference to set that leadership role.

“The purpose of the Bali conference is to set out the road map for what happens post the Kyoto period.

“We want to ensure that what we agree in Bali gives Australia and the world the best chance to moving towards a solution on climate change.”

Mr Rudd, Senator Wong, Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Treasurer Wayne Swan are preparing to go to the Bali summit next week.

Emissions trading

Dominique La Fontaine, the chief executive of the Clean Energy Council – the peak body representing the clean energy industry – says Australian business can now benefit from the trading that surrounds the Kyoto Protocol.

Ms La Fontaine is part of the official Australian delegation at the Bali conference and told ABC TV’s Lateline Business program that the decision opens up international markets for Australian companies in emissions trading.

“At the moment [that] is worth around $US55 billion per annum,” she said.

“It opens up opportunities in the clean development mechanism initiative. It opens up opportunities for Australian companies, through joint implementation, to work with other companies in developed countries to also participate in the Kyoto frameworks.”

Meanwhile, Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne says the new Federal Government will need to tackle old growth logging if it is to meet its Kyoto targets.

Senator Milne has welcomed the move to ratify Kyoto, but says Australia will struggle to meet its targets.

“The only reason we had any hope of coming in at the target was because of a one-off benefit from avoided land clearance,” she said.

“Now we’re really going to have Mr Rudd focus his mind on the fact that we have deforestation in Australia really on a big scale in Tasmania, Victoria and in New South Wales – this is going to be a major issue.”

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