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Australia Spurns Kyoto Despite Warming Warning

Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Oct 31, 2006
Australia said Tuesday it would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change despite a major new report warning of catastrophe unless urgent action is taken to stave off global warming. Former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern said in a report commissioned by Britain that Kyoto should be seen as a first step towards global emissions trading.

Australia, like the United States, has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement, and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Stern report would not change the government's mind.

Australia was nevertheless on track to meet its target of greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

"Australia will be the only country in the world without nuclear energy that will reach the Kyoto target," Macfarlane told Australian television.

"The sort of things that Sir Nicholas Stern is saying has to be done in the western world are already being done here in Australia."

Stern warned that the economic fallout of global change could be on the scale of the Great Depression of the 1930s, putting the cost of doing nothing at 6.9 trillion dollars.

"There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change if we act now and act internationally," he said as he launched the report in London on Monday.

Macfarlane said Australia had committed two billion Australian dollars (1.5 billion US) to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and had last week announced major environmental projects.

"(Kyoto) is a scheme which encompasses less than half of the world's emissions, and it is a scheme which will fail dismally to reach the targets," he said.

Treasurer Peter Costello said developing countries such as China and India needed to do more to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

"There's no point in Australia meeting its emissions target if you're going to have major emitters such as China and India, which are increasing every year their emissions by more than the total of Australia's," he said.

Opposition Labor Party leader Kim Beazley said, however, that if Labor came to power it would sign the Kyoto protocol, engage in emissions trading and focus on renewable energy and the development of clean coal technologies.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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Reaction To Climate Change Report: Cool To Warm
Paris (AFP) Oct 31, 2006
Reactions Tuesday to a major climate change report warning against environmental catastrophe ranged from chilly skepticism in the US and Australia, to tepid-to-warm endorsements in Japan and Europe. The 600-page Stern Report, released Monday in Britain with the backing of Prime Minister Tony Blair, concluded that unchecked global warming could destroy five-to-20 percent of global gross domestic product every year unless economic measures are quickly taken.

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