New Australian PM vows to ratify Kyoto

Sidney, Australia - Australia’s new Prime Minister and Labor Party leader, Kevin Rudd, has promised to ratify the Kyoto pact at the December Bali climate summit. Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 but did not ratify it.

Australian delegates representing the outgoing adminstration attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHGM) where Australia and Canada openly refused to commit to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Commonwealth leaders did agree on “a long-term aspirational global goal for emissions reductions to which all countries would contribute”. This was less than what many of the assembled leaders had sought, but faced with opposition from Canada, Australia and Trinidad an initial proposal that would have required binding emission targets was rejected because it did not cover major greenhouse gas emitters like China, the United States and India.

Prior to the Australian federal election which took place on Saturday November 24, 2007, Rudd stated if elected Prime Minister he would send a delegation to Bali to help develop a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

“There is no better way to reinforce that than prime ministerial attendance. It would be a way of indicating … that we intend to be globally, diplomatically active,” Rudd said.

Australia and the United States, the largest greenhouse gas emitters per capita were the only two countries to refuse to ratify the Protocol. The promise by Rudd may further isolate the United States on climate change issues.

However in the past week the United States has indicated interest in helping develop a successor to Kyoto, whose first period ends in 2012, and will also be sending delegates to the Bali summit.

Rudd has also urged that any new climate treaty must include upcoming large emitters like China and India.

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