typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Australia ratifies Kyoto – now the real fun begins!

with 5 comments

Not much time to write this up at the moment, but WOW!!! Shortly after being sworn in, along with his new government, as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd took the bold step of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Making this his first official act as Prime Minister, having already indicated last week that Aboriginal Australians – particularly the Stolen Generations – can expect an apology in this federal term, Rudd is really shaking expectations in the most pleasing manner imaginable.

Michelle Grattan – one analyst and writer worth far more than her bodyweight in water (unlike many other mainstream journos named elsewhere in these screens) – writes in today’s Age that

Its Kyoto pledge was one of the policies that helped Labor to victory. Rudd’s instant move is saying Labor will keep faith with its voters. It also emphasises the new PM wants to hit the ground at full tilt on this issue but on others as well.

While I would expect that many of the new government’s supporters didn’t swallow the “me-too” and “Howard lite” bollocks spouted by media for months before the election, I doubt that such decisive and progressive commitments were expected before the year was out.

Symmetrically, these are two big commitments – one domestic with international implications and the other international with big domestic implications – which neatly and responsibly tends to two festering wounds that have only been repeatedly salted and gouged over the last 12 years.

Senator Christine Milne, a Greens senator heavily invested in fighting deforestation and calls for preparation of comprehensive plans to address peak oil, had this to say at the Greens blog:

“Today is a historic day, many years overdue.

“Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is a welcome return to the multi-lateral approach of negotiating through the UN.

“Prime Minister Rudd realises that he has now legally bound Australia to meeting our targets, so real and swift action is now needed to turn around our sky-rocketing emissions.”

It would be misrepresentative to describe Rudd as calculating, but his actions – what we have seen of them this year, at any rate – have been very deliberate and considered. Like many people, I am still hoping that Australia’s professed, and now binding, commitment to tackling climate change will bleed into and derail the politics of the poorly considered pulp mill in Tasmania.

Apparently, yesterday’s announcement of the Australian ratification was met by a one-minute standing ovation by the nations of the world at the UN’s climate change conference in Bali. The ABC reported the following comments from UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretary Yvo do Boer:

“I think that [the applause] was an emotional and spontaneous reaction to a very significant political decision on the part of the Australian Government to ratify the Kyoto protocol,”

“The long applause in fact reflects people’s appreciation for the courage shown by Australia to take this dramatically different position, to engage even more strongly with the international community on the question of climate change.”

With Bali under way and the finance ministers’ meeting and high level meetings next week, it may well all be up for grabs before Christmas. Massive international support could certainly ease the headache caused by the predictable whingeing and whining of unimaginative Tasmanian forest-f#%$ers forever certain that the world is out to destroy them. How ironic they are.

Recent research has indicated that when old growth forests are logged, half of the carbon dioxide released comes from the disturbance and disruption of the forest floor. In younger forests – such as plantations – this proportion is closer to 15 per cent. This is just one of over a hundred reasons why old growth shouldn’t be logged, why Tasmanian and Victorian forestry in Australia is unsustainable, and why the Gunns pulp mill should be stopped and re-evaluated.

Perhaps the most important aspects of this ratification are that it signals a renewed commitment from Australia to strengthen, rather than undermine, the spirit of international lawmaking and the community which it seeks to build. As a consequence, America’s position as the sole developed country to have not ratified shall be increasingly untenable and the US hope of further subverting Kyoto shall hopefully go the way of John Howard.


Written by typingisnotactivism

December 4, 2007 at 1:09 am

5 Responses

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  1. Rudd has tasked Garnaut to review Australia’s climate policy response to the dangers we face and the process can be viewed online. Submissions can be made.

    We cannot ask the third world to forgo its economic potential from clearing forests when we have reaped the benefits snd the codtd of same in the first, both from the thirds and our own forests.

    Its the same value as with development and coal fired power.

    We have to set in place mechanisms that compensate for the losses involved in the destruction of the renanats of nature wherever they are. The forests of north east Tasmania, will have a carbon value and may well be worth more standing.

    Australia has hectares of plantation, process that first.

    phill Parsons

    December 4, 2007 at 6:28 am

  2. As a systems consultant, I can say that Rudd appears to really know what he’s doing. He has the experience and knowledge to engage in real reform, he has the intelligence to devise rational priorities, he has the wisdom to go and listen to real people in the real world, and he has the energy of youth.

    There’s a real chance that he’s going to do good things.

    Something to look forward to.

    At last.

    Mike Bolan

    December 4, 2007 at 8:36 am

  3. If Rudd revisits the pulp mill assessment, and demands that ALL affected individuals, businesses etc be included then I will start to believe in miracles again!


    December 4, 2007 at 10:12 am

  4. One has to agree with you, particularly given that if Australia is to actually meet it’s Kyoto target, rapid changes will be required, of which properly ending old growth logging is one of the easiest measures.

    A little concerning seeing the Vic Premier heading off to Bali, while he claims to be spruiking Vic green ‘credentials’ one has to hope he is not simply an agent of the greenhouse mafia trying to protect the second easiest carbon target – Victorian brown coal.

    Alex Wadsley

    December 4, 2007 at 4:44 pm

  5. My money would actually be on Brumby pushing the genetically modified trees that have been developed on the taxpayer’s cash. There was a partnership going on between a scientific division of, i believe, the DSE and one of the Victorian Universities. Hot to trot on the GM miscalculation, he will likely be pushing the idea of fast-growing trees as carbon saviours (my guess). Let’s ignore the fact that trees reaching maturity 2 – 3 times faster than nature intended also suck up lots more water, aren’t likely to have positive impacts on native pools when cross-pollination occurs, and, with Victoria’s ‘sustainable forest management’ being what it is, shall only act as carbon sinks for about 40 – 80 years. Which means they’re not part of the solution, They’re just more of the problem. imho.


    December 4, 2007 at 11:55 pm

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