In March 2001, President George’ hanging chad’ Bush had pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol ratification process, citing the ‘national interest’ (sound familiar?). This was music to the ears of Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Although Australia had wangled a sweet sweet deal at Kyoto (a 108% ‘reduction’ target and a land-clearing clause that was an enormous undeserved loophole, as early as September 1998 the Aussies had said they weren’t going to ratify unless Uncle Sam did so first. Well…
I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.
In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.
This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.32
Source – Letter from Prime Minister John Howard to United States President George W. Bush, see http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Howardletter.html [dead link] Cited in NSW Parliamentary Library thing, 2002 – The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change: An Update By Stewart Smith
Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2. (which says that then Environment MinisterRobert Hill revealed letter’s existence on 15 April. “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”.”
On the same day Labor’s Lindsey Tanner, later to be one of Kevin Rudd’s Gang of Four gave a speech… According to Margo Kingston –
In a speech yesterday, Tanner opined that middle class voters of both hues cared about the environment. “If Labor allows the distinction between the Greens and the Coalition to become the dominant point of environmental differentiation in Australian politics, we will lose a major advantage over the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.
Tanner was concerned that the government would slip through the environment net through advertising glossing over its record. The big one going now is TV celebrity Don Burke extolling the Coalition’s Greenhouse credentials. Funny that, since most of the cash comes courtesy of the Democrats, who insisted on real money going into alternative energy research and rail as part of its price for supporting the GST. The Democrats got $400 million in extra funding for greenhouse gas projects over four years. In retrospect, lucky for the Coalition.
Kingston, M. 2001. Australia: green enough for Kyoto? Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April.
Also on this day –
2002 MRET in Australia 1st Mandatory Renewable Energy Target established (following speech by Howard just before Kyoto) (on the 2% to 0% target shenanigans – see Kent and Mercer 2006…)
The New South Wales Government has questioned the impartiality of a top-level Commonwealth adviser after he raised concerns about a planned expansion of Newcastle’s coal facilities.
Infrastructure Australia Advisory Board member Professor Peter Newman says the damage caused by coal will increase dramatically if Newcastle’s port facilities are doubled.
ABC. 2009. Anger at Rudd’s adviser over coal comments. ABC, 1 April.