Whether or not the Australian Government ratifies the Kyoto Protocol
has far-reaching consequences for Australia’s environment, industries,
trade development and growth.
Our involvement or absence could significantly impact on the flow of
trade and investment to Australia.
The Federal Government will not ratify the protocol until the
economic impact of doing so is fully assessed.
Yet business is becoming increasingly concerned about the potential
adverse implications of not ratifying and being isolated from the rest
of the global economy and international processes.
The European Union and media have been reminding Prime Minister John
Howard of this prospect during his visit there this week.
The Kyoto Protocol refers to an international agreement or treaty
developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Control to reduce greenhouse emissions to agreed targets.
It establishes commitments to limits on the emissions that developed
countries produce and sets out ways to achieve them such as trading
The practical details were refined and concessions on limiting
greenhouse emissions were made to several countries, notably Russia,
Japan and Australia last year.
Developed countries have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by about 5 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010. Australia is permitted to
increase its emissions by 8 per cent by 2010-12 and won other
concessions such as allowances for land clearing and carbon sinks.
The developing countries, including China and India, were not
allocated limits on emissions in the protocol despite predictions that
their emissions will exceed those from the developed economies by 2008.
The Bush Administration has stated that the US will not ratify the
protocol over concerns about the impact on its economy and will pursue
its own greenhouse gas emission reduction program through energy
efficiencies and technology advances.
In the past few weeks, the European Union and Japan became the latest
to sign up, while Russia and Canada are expected to ratify within the
next few months.
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