Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rudd Announces Massive Emissions Cuts By 2020

Australians To Feel Full Force Of Economic Fight Against Climate Change

A few hours after telling the United States that they had to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and getting knocked back, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that Australia would leap headfirst into setting a world standard for cutting carbon emissions with a stunning declaration of up to 40% cuts within 12 years.

Only days before the election, on November 24, Rudd was still refusing to announce Australia's interum greenhouse gas emissions target, that would fall between now and his announced target of 60% cuts by 2050. Rudd said he would wait until he received a report on how emissions cuts would affect Australian business and the economy before announcing a 2020 target.

The announcement that Australia will aim to cut emissions by 25 to 40%, by 2020, came after both China and Indonesia demanded that all countries who have ratified Kyoto (as Australia has just done) must meet the targets agreed to in an "understanding" earlier this year :

Last night Australia publicly aligned itself with the nations under the Kyoto Protocol that have agreed to consider these cuts, distancing the new Rudd Government further from the US position. Saying Australia "fully supports" the position, the delegation said Australia was, "happy to proceed on this basis".

....when (Rudd) arrives in Bali next week he will face international expectations from Europe, China and Indonesia to make Australia's position clear whether, having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it is committed to its own deep cuts.

...China, Indonesia, India and most of the poorer nations speaking at the Bali conference yesterday made their views clear that rich countries, including Australia, must commit to deep cuts to their greenhouse gases within 12 years, by 2020 and keep the model of the Kyoto Protocol in the new climate agreement.

"It is a successful model and we should persist with it," the Chinese delegate told the talks.

Yvo De Boer, head of the United Nation's climate team, who are hosting the Bali talks, has told Rudd that if he serious about "bridging the gap" between developing and industrialised countries on climate change, he should get himself to Bali immediately, and not next week as originally planned.

If Australia is to meet emissions cuts of 25 to 40% within twelve years, we are really going to feel it. How exactly Rudd intends to get Australia to make such massive cuts, in such a short space of time, is unclear but it will obviously require some drastic measures, or Australia will face huge international fines, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Paying Papua New Guinea to preserve some of the last great expanses of ancient rainforests left in the world today, to act as carbon sinks, will probably figure to a large degree in Rudd's plans, as will the rapid roll-out of solar, wind and geothermal energy.

China and Indonesia are obviously playing hardball, and Rudd might have spoken too quickly about his plans to 'bring the world together' on climate change, now that he has decided such a move will be his Look What I Can Achieve mission in the next month.

While China and Indonesia will obviously want the so-called 'roadmap' on climate change under discussion at Bali to benefit them financially, they may only push so far, as it is unlikely they will want to embarrass Rudd, who they view as an important and beneficial ally, so early on in his leadership.

But then again, this is international politics, and international economics.

Rudd may be about to receive one very nasty wake-up call to how the rest of the planet, including China and Indonesia, really view Australia, and its place of importance in the world today.

It should also be noted that Rudd has many of Australia's largest corporations, including mining companies, backing his announcement of a 2020 target. They're ready to dive into the new global economy of carbon trading, and work emissions cuts and carbon credit values into their business plans and profit projections for the next few years. Something they were unable to do, and were growing increasingly annoyed about, under the Howard government.