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Rupert Murdoch Changes Mind On Global Warming

"The Kyoto Protocol was found to be faulted in many ways and certainly impossible to accept in some countries and unlikely to be followed in some of the largest emerging countries. But we certainly have to have rules," he said. Any treaty "must apply to all countries" -- including the United States, Japan and European nations, along with China, India and Russia. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Shaun Tandon
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 6, 2006
Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch said Monday he has had a change of heart on climate change and now believes global action is needed -- although not in the form of the Kyoto Protocol which the US opposes. Murdoch -- whose powerful News Corp. empire includes Britain's The Sun tabloid newspaper and The Times -- called for a new treaty that is acceptable to all countries and brings in emerging economies.

"I have to admit that, until recently, I was somewhat wary of the warming debate. I believe it is now our responsibility to take the lead on this issue," Murdoch told a conference in Tokyo.

"Some of the presumptions about extreme weather, whether it be hurricanes or drought, may seem far-fetched. What is certain is that temperatures have been rising and that we are not entirely sure of the consequences," he said.

"The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt."

He spoke as an international summit got underway in Nairobi to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's most far-reaching environmental treaty, which requires industrialized nations to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, the world's biggest polluter, and Murdoch's native Australia have boycotted the Kyoto treaty, arguing that is unfair as it makes no demands of large developing countries such as China and India.

"Kyoto was a bad idea in 1997, and it's a bad idea today," Murdoch's New York Post said in a December 2003 editorial as Russia prepared to ratify the treaty and as a result bring it into effect.

Murdoch said he now believed a treaty was needed but not necessarily the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in 1997 in Japan's ancient capital for which it is named.

"I think that we should certainly have a protocol and probably a new one," Murdoch said.

"The Kyoto Protocol was found to be faulted in many ways and certainly impossible to accept in some countries and unlikely to be followed in some of the largest emerging countries. But we certainly have to have rules," he said.

Murdoch said any treaty "must apply to all countries" -- including the United States, Japan and European nations, along with China, India and Russia.

"It is meaningless, really, all of this, unless we get the four or five major industrial countries in the world," he said.

He credited Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. for developing hybrid cars that guzzle less gas and said his own company was trying to do its bit.

He said British Sky Broadcasting, which is run by his son James Murdoch, was moving to be "carbon neutral" -- or not contributing any net carbon emissions.

"He has proved that being environmentally sound is not sentimentality. It is a sound business strategy and an example that the whole of News Corp is trying to emulate."

A recent report commissioned by the British government estimated that worldwide inaction could cost the equivalent of between five and 20 percent of global gross domestic product every year if nothing is done.

The report's author, former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, said the economic fallout of climate change could be on the scale of the two world wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

While saying he was still skeptical of doomsday scenarios, Murdoch said he was convinced that the problem was serious.

"The world is certainly warming. How much of it is warming due to human error? Regardless of that we should (act) and there are good geopolitical reasons as well to find alternative fuels," Murdoch said.

earlier related report
US Says No Change On Kyoto Rejection During Bush Administration
Nairobi (AFP) Nov 6 - The United States, the world's largest polluter, said Monday there would be no change in its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming until at least the end of US President George W. Bush's second term in office. Harlan Watson, the acting head of the US delegation at a UN conference on climate change here, said there was no sign of any policy shift on the matter, which has attracted heavy criticism from environmentalists and others.

"I certainly (have) no indication that there is any change in our position or there is likely to be during this presidency," he told reporters at the Nairobi conference, the 12th on climate change and second on Kyoto.

Bush's second mandate expires in January 2009, after which he will be succeeded by the winner of presidential elections the previous November.

Bush has incurred the wrath of environmentalists and ecological experts by abandoning the 1995 Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce the emission of climate change-causing greenhouse gases, saying it would hurt the US economy.

Washington says it is pursuing alternative measures to deal with global warming and Watson said the United States was working within the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of which Kyoto is an annex.

"The USA is focused on making progess under the UNFCC," he said.

"President Bush and his administration are firmly committed to taking sensible action on climate change, which is a serious, long-term challenge," Watson said.

"The administration's climate change policy is scince-based and encourages research breakthroughs that lead to technological innovation," he added.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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