Archive for the Press: Politics category

The Federal Government’s new climate change treaty is nothing more than a device to
cover up its refusal to reduce Australia’s burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions and
the abject failure of its policies, according to Australia Institute Executive Director
Clive Hamilton.

“By claiming that the new pact is an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, Environment
Minister Campbell is verballing China, India and South Korea all of which have
ratified Kyoto and are committed to it”, said Dr Hamilton.

“And to suggest that Kyoto ‘exempts’ developing countries while the new agreement
includes three of them is grossly misleading as the new treaty will not commit any
party to emission reductions.”

Dr Hamilton noted that the new treaty will be no more than a technology exchange
agreement without any obligation on parties to cut their emissions. The main
beneficiaries will be Australian coal companies, some of the world’s biggest
greenhouse polluters.

“It’s a Machiavellian pact”, he said.

“Study after study has shown that voluntary agreements such as those foreshadowed
in this treaty do not work. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol in which parties take on
mandatory emission reduction targets, the new treaty will do virtually nothing to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions in participating countries”, he said.

“Senator Campbell’s wall of blather seems designed to confuse. While claiming that
the world needs to cut emissions by 50 per cent, he refuses to cut emissions by the
first one per cent.

“While saying that Kyoto would damage Australia’s economic interests, he says
Australia will meet its target anyway.

“And while saying we need more renewable energy, his Government has repeatedly
cut support for renewables in favour of coal.

“The Senator seems to live in a parallel universe in which the normal laws of logic do
not apply.”

Original press release: New climate pact a charade (Australia Institute)

In reaction to the announcement of a new Asia-Pacific Partnership on clean development, energy security and climate change, which also involves the United States , Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society said:

“The science points to the need for a Herculean effort to make massive cuts in the amount of greenhouse gases that we pump into the atmosphere. So, while this encouraging new deal may play a role in this, it will only be part, and not all, of the solution.

“But we have serious concerns that the apparent lack of targets in this deal means that there is no sense of what it is ultimately trying to achieve or the urgency of taking action to combat climate change. And the developed countries involved with this agreement must not be tempted to use it as an excuse to avoid tackling their own emissions.

“All eyes should be on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Montreal at the end of November. Top of the agenda at this meeting should be the initiation of a study into what concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere we can allow without suffering the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This would allow us to plan cuts in worldwide emissions accordingly and provide direction to such efforts to tackle what is the biggest environmental threat we face today.”

Original press release: Royal Society comment on US and Asia-Pacific climate change pact (Royal Society)

In reaction to the publication today (Friday 8 July 2005) of the G8 communique on climate change, Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, said:

“At the heart of this communique is a disappointing failure by the leaders of the G8 unequivocally to recognise the urgency with which we must be addressing the global threat of climate change. Make no mistake, the science already justifies reversing not merely slowing the global growth of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the responsibility of the leaders of the G8 nations to respond to this. And further delays will make the G8s avowed commitment in this communique to avoid dangerous impacts of climate change extremely difficult.

“The conspicuous failure of the G8 explicitly to mention even the need for targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases underlines our concern.

“Opening yet another dialogue is not a sufficient response. We have been talking instead of acting since 1992, when the international community in the form of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recognised that we are facing an international threat. In its communique the G8 talks of facing a moment of opportunity while, at the same time, turning away from that moment.

“Doing our best to look on the bright side, we welcome the G8s recognition of the undeniable fact that climate change is happening and that it is humans that are largely responsible for it. Furthermore we also welcome the G8s commitment to work with developing countries, to build their own capacity to manage their emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change.”

In June 2005 the national science academies of the G8 nations, along with China, Brazil and India, published a statement that said the scientific evidence on climate change is now clear enough for the leaders of G8 to commit to take prompt action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Original press release: Royal Society reacts to G8 climate change communique (Royal Society)

The 189 member governments of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will decide this week on how best to manage the phase-out of methyl bromide, an effective fumigant and pesticide for strawberries, flowers and other high-value crops that also damages the Earth’s protective ozone shield.

They will also consider the level of funding that should be made available during the three-year period 2006-2008 to enable developing countries to continue complying with their numerous reduction obligations under the Protocol.

After successfully eliminating virtually all uses of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – historically the greatest cause of ozone destruction – a number of developed countries have struggled to phase out Methyl bromide by the agreed 1 January 2005 deadline.

Many farmers have eliminated or greatly reduced the use of Methyl bromide by switching to other fumigants and to non-chemical measures, such as grafted plants and barrier films. However, 16 countries are requesting ‘critical use exemptions’ in 2006 for certain crops in order to buy more time for adopting more technically or economically feasible alternatives.

Eleven countries received a total of 13,438 metric tonnes of exemptions for the first post-phase-out year of 2005. At the Protocol�s regular high-level conference last November, developed countries were granted 11,000 tonnes of exemptions for 2006. Another 3,000 tonnes were approved on an ‘interim basis’.

Because they were unable to complete the list of 2006 exemptions as expected, governments decided to reconvene for a one-day Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties (EXMOP-2) on 1 July to finalize the status of the 3,000 tonnes. A similar situation occurred last year, for the first time in the Protocol’s history.

The countries that have requested exemptions for 2006 are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the US.

“Governments need to ensure that the trendline for exemptions points downward year by year,” said Executive Director Klaus Toepfer of the United Nations Environment Programme, under whose auspices the Protocol was negotiated.

“This will not only accelerate the ozone layer’s return to health but will send the right signal to their own farmers and to developing countries, whose Methyl bromide phase-out has already begun and is to conclude by 2015,” he said.

The Extraordinary Meeting will be preceeded from 27 – 30 June by a preparatory session for the next regular annual conference. The Open-Ended Working Group will consider additional requests for 2006 exemptions totalling 325 tonnes and requests from 15 countries for 2007 exemptions totalling 8,088 tonnes. It will also review a recent survey of how methyl bromide is used in the quarantine and pre-shipment of agricultural exports (which is not covered by the Protocol).

In addition, the Working Group will consider a report by the Protocol’s Assessment Panel that recommends nearly $420m in funding to support developing country efforts to phase-out all of their ozone-depleting substances. This funding would constitute the fifth replenishment of the Montreal Protocol’s innovative Multilateral Fund.

During its first 15 years, the Multilateral Fund has supported over $1.8 billion in projects and activities in 139 developing countries. This support has helped to phase-out over 200,000 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances. The next replenishment will help developing countries to further eliminate the use of these substances as they look forward to their 2010 target for eliminating CFCs, halons and other major ozone depletors.

The Working Group’s recommendations on all of these issues will be forwarded for final decision to the 12-16 December 17th Meeting of the Parties in Dakar, Senegal.

Original press release: Exemptions & $420m Phase-out Support Considered in Ozone Meeting (UNEP)

The annual G8 Heads of State Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland will focus on two themes – climate change and Africa.

On climate change, there is a serious risk that the US President will prevent the Summit from agreeing to realistic and timely actions, and that the rest of the G8 will let him.

Tony Blair, the UK prime minister and Chair of the G8 Summit, and the other six countries at the Summit must defend and push the climate agenda forward, disregarding President Bush’s stance. Despite bi-partisan and business support it is highly unlikely that Bush will change his stance on climate change but instead be successful at watering down G8 initiatives.

What the Summit should decide:

Recognise that overall global warming must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius. Unless the global temperature increase is kept well below an average rise of 2 degrees Celsius in comparison with pre-industrial levels, climate change will bring devastating impacts such as more frequent and extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods which will have dramatic impacts on people and nature.

Reduce C02 emissions. G8 countries produce over 65% of global GDP and emit 47% of global CO2 emissions. In order to effectively cut CO2 emissions, the countries need to confirm their targets for emission reductions, and create an ambitious policy framework to ensure much deeper reductions in the short, medium and long-term.

Launch a Clean Energy Initiative. Renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures are the most effective way of cutting C02 emissions and keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, but have been ignored in the G8. Additional funds and political will should ensure that these technologies are commercialized immediately.

Original press release: The G8 and Climate Change – What The Leaders Must Do (WWF)

A leaked copy of a document on climate change being drafted for the G8 summit suggests plans have been watered down.

A version of the communique leaked in May treated climate change as a fact and pledged money to energy projects.

In the new version the words “our world is warming” appear in square brackets, meaning at least one country disagrees, and all financial pledges have gone.

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown said the only version that mattered would be agreed next month at the G8 summit.

He told Sky News: “What actually matters is what the final communique actually says and you will not know what that says until the world leaders actually get together.

Original press release: G8 climate plans ‘watered down’ (BBC)