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Australia Says UN Climate Report Nothing New

Prime Minister John Howard has frequently expressed scepticism about global warming but recently softened his stance as an election looms later this year and opinion polls show widespread public concern about the issue.

'so we will continue to ignore it'
by Neil Sands
Sydney (AFP) Feb 03, 2007
The Australian government dismissed a UN report blaming human activities for global warming as "nothing new" Saturday and defended its climate change polices from attacks by top scientists. Australia, the only developed country to join the United States in refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, said the report emphasised the need for an effective global response to climate change.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the report but said the Australian government had long accepted that the country must prepare for hotter and drier conditions in the future.

"The science in this report is important but it is not new," he said.

"The Australian Government's response to climate change has been fast and decisive ... the past 10 years has seen us reduce the growth in our greenhouse gas emissions to meet our international target and continually push for an effective global climate change agreement.

"But this is a global challenge and for the world to cut emissions, we need all the major emitting countries to join in global action."

Australia's conservative government has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, arguing it is unfair as its only caps emissions from industrialised nations and not developing countries.

Prime Minister John Howard has frequently expressed scepticism about global warming but recently softened his stance as an election looms later this year and opinion polls show widespread public concern about the issue.

In response, Howard has called on industry to fast track so-called geosequestration technology, which traps carbon emissions in subterranean rock beds, and advocated nuclear-fired power plants, currently unknown in Australia.

Turnbull reiterated the government's position that Australia would only sign up to emission limits that were "economically realistic" and did not hand a competitive advantage to other countries.

He said it was unrealistic to think Australia could unilaterally slow the pace of global warming.

"If we were the only country in the world to reduce our carbon emissions by 60 percent, we may well have a warm inner glow of virtue, but we would still have a warm outer glow from global warming, because the fact is it wouldn't make any difference," he said.

But the normally staid Australian Academy of Science launched a rare attack on the government, accusing it of being too slow to take climate change seriously.

"The government and policymakers haven't taken much interest in the climate change issue until very recently, and in that sense we've lost time," academy president professor Kurt Lambeck told Melbourne's Age newspaper.

"Other parts of the world have taken different positions and started doing remedial things, so it has been frustrating.

"But I think the message has finally got through. The evidence has become such that it can't be ignored any longer."

The opposition Labor Party accused Howard of being "asleep at the wheel" on the issue of climate change during more than a decade in power.

"This is a national challenge, a national crisis, an international crisis and Mr. Howard has spent 10 years denying it exists," Labor leader Kevin Rudd said.

The UN report warns fossil fuel pollution will raise temperatures this century, worsen floods, droughts and hurricanes, melt polar sea ice and damage the climate system for 1,000 years to come.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Global Warming Report Sparks Calls For Global Action
Paris (AFP) Feb 03, 2007
The stark report on global warming issued by United Nations scientists on Friday drew calls for concerted worldwide action, with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon urging a rapid and determined response. In the United States, the world's biggest polluter, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the report confirmed President George W. Bush's comments on "the nature of climate change and ... reaffirms the need for continued US leadership in addressing global climate issues".

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