'No guilt' over greenhouse

Wednesday, 11 May, 2005

The Kyoto Protocol came into force on 16 February 2005. It demands a 5.2% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from the industrialised world by 2012.

Some 141 countries have ratified the treaty. However, Australia and the United States are the only two major industrialised nations not to have done so.

The Australian government has defended its decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, with Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell stating: "The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is a milestone, but rather than be made to feel guilty for not having ratified it, Australia can hold its head high for its record in protecting the environment."

He said emissions had been cut by around 4% in the past five years, the equivalent of taking four million vehicles off our roads. We were also on track to meet our Kyoto emissions target, in common with only three other countries - Britain, Sweden and New Zealand. Australia's target was a reduction of 94 million tonnes of greenhouse gas by 2010 compared to 1990 levels.

The methods Australia was using to tackle the greenhouse problem included legislating for some energy to come from renewable sources, involving Australian companies and businesses in the Greenhouse Challenge Plus Program and making it compulsory for household appliances to carry energy rating labels and new cars to show fuel consumption levels.

Senator Campbell said that if Australia had signed up to the Protocol the competitiveness of some Australian industries would have been severely harmed and job losses would have followed. "Today, world energy relies on fossil fuels," he said. "To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these sources can only come from advances in technology."

The government's $1.8 billion climate change package is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It includes the Renewable Energy Development Initiative, Solar Cities Trial, Advanced Energy Storage Technologies Fund, Mandatory Energy Efficiency Opportunity Assessments and Wind Forecasting Program.

The $500 million Low Emissions Technology Fund from the Energy White Paper provides incentives to industry to develop cleaner technology and another $200 million will help develop the renewable energy sector.

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