Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blair: Australia must also fight global warming.

Today's SMH reports that the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has called for action on minimising climate change as part of a broader global agenda that also includes promoting shared democratic values, fighting terrorism and countering trade protectionism.

He was forthright, yet diplomatic, in putting his case forward for observing the Kyoto Protocol:

Another important challenge on the global agenda was the threat of climate change and concerns about energy supply.

Mr Blair acknowledged disagreements with the Howard Government on climate change, saying "we strongly support Kyoto, you do not". But he urged consensus in the future and conceded Australia's argument against Kyoto: "There will be no agreement worth having that does not involve the US, China and India as well as the rest of us."

However he strongly pushed the thrust of the Kyoto Protocol for measurable benchmarks, saying: "There will be no resolution without a clear disciplined framework for action with measurable outcomes."

I am pleased to see that a world leader who engenders respect and controversy from all around the political spectrum is making a clear case for supporting Kyoto to the Australian Parliament. By the time the US comes around, those who have set their baselines and frameworks, and developed their renewable energy infrastructure and carbon trading markets will have leadership. Australia could well be caught on the back foot at current indications.

On the point of India and China being included I know that both countries do not have their head in the sand like Australia and the US do. In India, 69 percent endorse the view that all countries have a responsibility to limit emissions.

The Chinese government has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but are not bound by emissions targets, yet are aiming to meet targets, and hope that Australia and the US participate. Here is what China's Australian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan's had to say in his press conference on 17 February 2005, the day after the Protocol became effective..

Q: The Kyoto Protocol came into effect yesterday. As a country with the second largest carbon dioxide emission , what measures will China take?

A: We are pleasant to see the Kyoto Protocol became effective yesterday. I think your question should be considered comprehensively. The change of the global climate is the outcome of the long-term industrialization of developed countries and the price paid in their accumulation process of industrialization. That's why in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, all sides reached a consensus that although both the developed countries and the developing countries are responsible, their responsibilities are different due to the history and process of industrialization. The Kyoto Protocol demands that the developed countries reduce or limit the emission of green house gases from 2008 to 2012. The Protocol, as an important document to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the legal basis for the international community to take concrete measures to cope with climate changes, should be put into action as early as possible.

It's true that China, as the largest developing countries, ranks second in terms of carbon dioxide emission. On the other hand, our per capita emission of carbon dioxide is low in the world due to a 1.3 billion population. Nevertheless, China is also taking active measures to prevent our common home and the global climate from further deteriorating. Yesterday, China held a special ceremony to celebrate the entry into force of the Kyoto protocol. In the ceremony, Liu Jiang, Vice Minister in charge of the State Development and Reform Commission and head of the Chinese delegation to negotiation of convention on climate change, briefed on some measures taken by China to reduce the impacts on the climate in the process of economic development and industrialization. Besides the organization of a national coordination institution on climate change and active participation in international negotiation on climate change, all departments of the Chinese Governments adopted a series of policies and measures to slow down the emission of greenhouse gases, including increasing the efficiency of utilizing energy, improving energy structure, promoting the utilization of new energy and reproducible energy and etc. China's positive measures proved that we attached great importance to the issue of climate change and we took a positive attitude towards the issue.

Q: With regard to the Kyoto Protocol, what message does china want to send to those countries that have not signed the Protocol yet?

A: China appeals for and hopes those developed countries sign the protocol as soon as possible.

Q: Just then you emphasized that, although China is the world second largest producer of greenhouse gases, from the people average angle, China is not that bad. Australia said, since the U.S. and China didn't participate in the Kyoto Protocol, it will also not participate. What's China's reaction to this?

A: we do not feel satisfied or self-consoled for the low emission per person. We have fully realized that we are facing a global problem, a problem which will influence the offspring of the whole human being. Just from this angle, although Kyoto protocol doesn't have a clear limit to its emissions, Chinese government still adopted a series of measures to reduce the green house emission in the process of our nation's fast economic development, and paid attention to the other environmental problems. Just then I have introduced the seven main measures that the Chinese government has taken. Actually, there are some others, such as planting trees to form forests. China's efforts and contributions to the protocol is widely recognized by the international community. The Chinese government will reinforce its efforts in this respect. As to the attitudes of some developed countries, we appeal these developed countries will sign the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible, thus making the measures dealing with the climate changes by international society take concrete effect globally.

Follow-up: Although China doesn't have the duty to make commitment, Australia said it didn't participate in the Kyoto Protocol because China didn't take on its commitment. What's China's reaction to this?

A: I haven't heard the relevant remarks of Australia. I think China's effort to carry out the Kyoto Protocol is realized by the international society. I've made a specific introduction to you just then, that China has been actively participated in the negotiations. After the Kyoto Protocol took effect from February 16, China will reinforce the implementation of the Protocol. We will continue to explore new ways to deal with the climate changes which are suitable to different countries through international cooperation. Our final aim is to keep our earth and living environment well protected.

If no more questions are to be raised, let's call it a day.

Thank you for your coming!
I'll follow up on what China is doing to limit emissions. It should also be kept in mind that since the oil lobby were lobbying the Indian government to not participate in the Kyoto Protocol, they have queered the pitch for those who argue there is no point in the US joining until India does., and this in turn undermines the legitimacy of those who argue in Australia that there is no use in joining until the US does.

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