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Why Australia must stay with the Kyoto Protocol process
of global climate change negotiations
and not follow the US

  • It has taken 10 years to reach this point - the process began in Rio at the Earth Summit in 1992 - and if this is abandoned now it will, arguably, take another decade to get to where we are now. Even then, many of the same difficult issues will arise and will have to be negotiated. In fact, the targets will be greater because, without the controls being sought through the Kyoto Protocol, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions will have increased.
  • The problem is a global one and must be addressed with the support of the global community. It is not sufficient to make the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions voluntary as this would weaken the effectiveness of any action. By far, the best way to get a strong and credible global strategy to address climate change is to make action binding on countries via an enforceable international Kyoto Protocol.
  • The science of climate change is highly reputable despite the questions raised by George W Bush and others about this. The UN's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consists of the world's most reputable climatologists and others who would not place their reputations at risk by producing 'dodgy' scientific research. As recently as 7 June 2001, a panel of top US scientists declared that global warming was a real problem and was getting worse. Here, in Australia, the CSIRO has recently predicted a six percent increase in average temperatures by 2070.

    If there is even a slight doubt about the science, the overwhelming evidence would suggest that we invoke the "precautionary" principle and take action until such time as we can be absolutely certain that the growth in greenhouse gas emissions is no long-term risk to the Earth community. This means that Australia should stay with the Kyoto process until, if ever, the current science is found to be wanting.

11 July 2001

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