October 31, 2007 (News.com.au) – AUSTRALIA needs to adopt a strong negotiating position for fresh Kyoto talks which balance carbon emission reductions while protecting jobs and economic growth, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.
Mr Downer said the Government signed the Kyoto Protocol but refused to ratify it because the obligations imposed on developed countries to stabilise and reduce emissions didn’t apply to developing countries.
The old Kyoto agreement had pretty much come to the end of its life, he said.
“The challenge for the future is what sort of a new agreement will we be able to negotiate,” Mr Downer told ABC radio today.
“We have been working all year on a new agreement. What we want is … a new agreement which include obligations by developing as well as developed countries.
“That, of course, is a point of big difference between us and the Labor Party.
“We need to focus on the future. We need to focus on what a new protocol is going to look like and make sure we have a strong negotiating position.”
Mr Downer said negotiations could last the next two years.
“Over those two years, (we need to) make sure we get an outcome that gets the right balance between preserving our economic growth and jobs and allowing us to continue to create jobs in Australia on the one hand but that the world stabilises and eventually reduces greenhouse emissions.”
Mr Downer said if everyone makes a reasonably equitable contribution to reducing emissions then it should be possible to achieve balance.
The Government has promised an emissions trading scheme from 2011 but with targets yet to be announced.
Mr Downer said he doubts whether developing countries will sign up to such a scheme.
“What we have been able to do during the course of 2007 is to get the developing countries to a point where they are prepared to make some sort of commitment to stabilising and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
Mr Downer said getting the developing countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last month to accept that they need to take action was a step forward.
That was crucial as more than half the current emissions came from developing nations, with the expectation that they would produce two-thirds by 2030, he said.
“There will no doubt be differentiated approaches,” he said.
“The challenge is to get them to make a contribution, not only in terms of dealing with the overall issue of climate change but in order for us to protect as best we can our economic competitiveness.”