Labor takes the first steps towards tackling climate change

By Carolyn Jackson, Editor
Tuesday, 18 December, 2007

On his first day in office after being sworn in as Australia's 26th Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol, which is considered to be the most far-reaching agreement on environment and sustainable development ever to be adopted. At the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) conference held in Bali this week, Mr Rudd formally handed over the documents, which signified Australia's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

In a speech given after the signing, Mr Rudd said that Australia's official declaration that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country's efforts to fight climate change domestically and with the international community.

He also said that his government would do everything in its power to help Australia meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations, which were outlined as follows:

  • Setting a target to reduce emissions by 60% on 2000 levels by 2050.
  • Establishing a national emissions trading scheme by 2010.
  • Setting a 20% target for renewable energy by 2020 to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

But signing the Kyoto Protocol wasn't the only commitment Mr Rudd made throughout the recent election campaign; in fact Labor has a framework for climate change that, if implemented, could see a major reduction in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, economic growth and future employment opportunities. But is this simply 'Howard government rhetoric' or is this newly elected Labor government going to deliver?

In a speech given at the annual Fraser Lecture in May, Mr Rudd spoke of the 10 key areas for the Labor party's policy titled Framework on Climate Change. Each policy seems achievable and, with the right amount of incentive and investment, Australia looks set to show leadership in many areas.

The 10 steps are:

  1. Restore Australia's international leadership on climate change.
  2. Develop a carbon market and reform our institutions.
  3. Lead by example.
  4. Drive a clean renewable energy revolution.
  5. Help Australian families to green their homes.
  6. Invest in cleaner businesses and create new jobs.
  7. Invest in sustainable agriculture and protect biodiversity.
  8. Invest in cleaner transport.
  9. Prepare for the future impacts of climate change.
  10. Secure our future water supplies.

In implementing and creating these opportunities, Mr Rudd said that this framework brings together practical initiatives for action that will harness the power of the market, tap into the innovation of Australian researchers, encourage new industries and new jobs, and provide minimum performance standards.

There is no doubting the fact that Labor went to the polls with an outline for the future of Australia and a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change. The only thing now is whether these plans can be followed through and how quickly action can be taken to ensure no more technology goes offshore and that all sectors of Australian industry remain profitable and viable businesses for the future.

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