Monday, December 7, 2009
Australian ETS defeat disappoints climate change delegates
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE failure of the Rudd Government to introduce a new emissions trading scheme is a serious setback for global efforts to fight climate change, according to delegates at COP15.
Antigua’s UN ambassador John Ashe said Australia had put forward many useful ideas about how to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t want to say nasty things about Australia,” he said. “But the ETS defeat is quite a setback for Australia.”
The ambassador, who chairs a working group on commitments to cut future emissions by industrialised parties under the Kyoto Protocol, was speaking after a pre-conference media briefing yesterday by Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
When asked in the briefing whether the defeat of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed ETS undermined efforts to find a solution, de Boer avoided the question.
Asked again outside the briefing, de Boer replied, “no comment”.
Denmark Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard also expressed concern but was reluctant to comment on the implications of Rudd's ETS defeat.
"Domestically, there have been huge problems in Australia," she said. "But I also know from my deliberations with Penny Wong and the Prime Minister that the Australian leadership is very keen to come here and actually deliver.
"I don't want to comment on your Opposition."
Mr Rudd was returning from a meeting last week with President Barack Obama when he heard the news of the ETS defeat in the Senate, where the Government does not hold a majority.
Experts say the failure of Australia to introduce legislation will make developing nations less likely to agree to cut emissions and undermined Australia’s credibility at COP15.
Mr Rudd wants to cut carbon emission by five per cent to up to 25 per cent by 2020.
During the briefing, de Boer described the Copenhagen conference as a turning point on the road to a safe climate future.
De Boer said with cuts of up to 40 per cent by 2020 and 85 per cent by mid-century, the private sector would be mad to invest heavily in the energy sector.
“If we can use limited public funds to help the private sector go that extra ‘green mile’, we will have an excellent blending of financial resources over the long term,” he said.
De Boer said by the end of the Copenhagen conference he wanted to see a list of rich country targets which were ambitious; clarity on what developments countries are undertaking to limit emissions; and a list of financial pledges.
“This will make it possible for the much broader developing communities to both change the direction of their economic growth and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change,” he said. “That’s what I am asking Father Christmas for.”
He said the money pledged at COP15 must be, “real, significant and immediate”, starting with $10 billion in 2010, 2011 and 2012. By 2020 and 2030, this would have to increase to hundreds of billions of dollars to deal with mitigation and adaptation.
“I think the majority of countries present at these negotiations have made it very clear they want to see a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.
He added the process of getting there had to be based on solid science.
“And if the quality and integrity of the science is being called into question, then that needs to be examined,” he said.