Melbourne, Dec.3 : Australia's Prime MInister designate, Kevin Rudd, has ratified the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, following a meeting of the executive council that was presided over by the country's Governor-General, Michael Jeffery.
It has been agreed that Australia should be bound by the international climate change agreement. The previous Howard Government had signed the Kyoto Protocol after winning significant concessions in 1997, but never adopted it into law.
Rudd campaigned on a platform of ratifying the agreement, which binds Australia to emissions of no more than 108 per cent compared with 1990 levels.
"This is the first official act of the new Australian Government, demonstrating my government's commitment to tackling climate change," The Australian quoted Rudd, as saying.
Australia was on course to meet that emissions target that applies from 2008-2012 on the back of significant carbon credits, but raw emissions are growing rapidly and will see a 27 per cent increase from 2012 to 2020 unless other measures are taken.
Some environmental groups dispute the official Department of Environment estimates about compliance in what is called the first Kyoto period - up to 2012 - believing Australia will be at least 1 percentage point higher, or 109 per cent of 1990 emissions.
Rudd said today that his policy measures would help ensure Australia reached its targets for the first Kyoto period and make a meaningful contribution beyond.
The other measures include setting a target to reduce emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050 - with intermediate targets to be set after a report next year from respected economist Ross Garnaut - establishing a national emissions trading scheme by 2010 and setting a 20 per cent target for renewable energy by 2020 to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
After the Rudd Government's action the instrument of ratification will sit with United Nations for 90 days until coming into force.
However, the Australian Government will use its decision to argue for a place in all the United Nation's forums discussing climate change at a two-week conference in Bali that began today.
The forums will set out an agenda for dealing with climate change after 2012.
Rudd, his climate change minister Penny Wong, environment minister Peter Garrett and Treasurer Wayne Swan will attend the meetings in Bali.
There are 175 nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which achieved a quorum of nations when Russia signed up in February 2005.
The Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities".
The approach was adopted because it was believed developed countries can more easily pay the cost of cutting emissions and that developed countries have historically contributed more to the problem by emitting larger amounts of greenhouse gases per person than in developing countries.
Under the Protocol, 36 countries and the European Union are required to achieve greenhouse gas emission levels specified for each of them in the treaty. These targets add up to a total cut in greenhouse-gas emissions of at least 5 per cent from 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012.
In the second stage discussions, some nations will be arguing for a greater contribution from developing countries, which are wary of an agreement that would hamper their ability to grow and increase living standards to those of the developed world. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI