Monday, December 03, 2007

Australia ratifies Kyoto – at last!

In their first official act, the newly elected Rudd ALP government has today ratified the Kyoto Protocol!

This is indeed a historic act. If not for how this instrument will actually help curtail Australia's carbon emissions and help slow global warming, but to help build a new consensus around serious cuts to emissions.

It's arguable that the usefulness of Australia's greenhouse gas emission targets under Kyoto are doubtful, considering how Australia's conservative former government secured various concessions for Australia that avoided comittments to real, effective carbon emission cuts – and then refused to ratify it! This left Australia and the USA as the only two developed countries in the whole world who hadn't signed the protocol, and the Howard government's failure to take global warming seriously was a huge factor in voters kicking them out of government two Saturdays ago.

Now, only the USA has refused to sign the protocol, and Australia will be going to Bali to participate in the negotiations for the next round of international agreements to cut global carbon emissions.

I think that is the greater step for Australia, rather than the piss-weak targets for Australia under Kyoto.

Barista has a bit of insight into two of the Rudd cabinet team who are going to Bali next for the negotiations – Garret, now Environment and Arts Minister, and Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water. For my money, Penny Wong is the one to watch – for how she will balance the ALP's struggle between wanting to do the right thing on climate change and wanting to keep on the good side of business, energy industry and coal mining interests, and the mining and energy unions.

I know who – or what – I want to win. As green-oriented unionists have been known to say: there are no jobs on a dead planet.


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