Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Matters of Urgency
I know you will be hanging on every word, Acting Deputy President Forshaw! The people out there in Australia of course are listening because this tells them what a fantastic and outstanding record the Howard government has in dealing with climate change and the environment. This record of concern about greenhouse gases and climate change has been in place since the government came to office. People out there in Australia will be reassured, I am sure, Senator Marshall, to hear this.
As I said, a $100 million fund has been announced as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which is very relevant to Senator Milne’s earlier motion because in section (c) she calls on the government:
... to introduce a policy framework that is underpinned by a commitment to contribute fairly to global efforts to constrain temperature rise to 2°C or less.
Obviously Senator Milne is referring to the fact that the government has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. We have signed it but we have not ratified it, because we do not regard it, as other speakers have said, as a mechanism which is going to do anything about climate change. It is a symbolic statement that climate change is an issue and that we are concerned about it. We signed the protocol; we have not ratified it. In other words, we have acknowledged—and that is the point I am trying to make—that climate change and greenhouse problems are issues. But we have not signed onto it, because this protocol is not going to do anything very much to reduce greenhouse gas or prevent climate change, if they are due to carbon dioxide emissions.
The problem with the Kyoto treaty, as I have heard other people say today, is that the great emitters of the world are not parties to it. Senator Milne asks us to introduce a policy framework that is going to contribute fairly to global efforts to constrain temperature rise. We have developed this Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The Asia-Pacific partnership is a key plank of Australia’s international climate change policy. It brings together, unlike the Kyoto treaty, some of the key emitters of the Asia-Pacific region. These include the USA, Japan, Korea and India. It brings them together to focus on practical technology-driven solutions to climate change. This is a much more useful and practical approach than the Kyoto treaty, which you obviously support, Senator Milne. I and the Howard government support it as a statement of concern; it is just that we do not think it is practical, because it would reduce greenhouse emissions, I am told, by about one per cent, which is not going to do very much to solve the problem.
Australia, as I said, has established this Asia-Pacific partnership, which is a real partnership of nations, including some of the big emitters of the world. It will do far more than the Kyoto treaty to reduce the dangers that climate change might bring. In fact, Senator Milne, we are already meeting section (c), the concluding section of your earlier motion. We are already doing something which is practical and will fairly contribute to containing climate change and increases in world temperature. So, with that, I leave you and the people of Australia listening to this with the message that the Australian government, the Howard government, has been concerned about climate change from day one and is continuing to develop policies to deal with this situation.