clear the air

KYOTO: in Layman’s Terms

With all the talk of the Kyoto Protocol, particularly during Australia’s Federal Election with John Howard belatedly stating that he would ratify this agreement that stems from the 1990’s, and now Prime Minister Kevin Rudd having beaten Howard to it, I thought it would be worth summing up what the differing positions are/have been:

Those that have ratified Kyoto:

Kyoto sets target emissions on the basis that all countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

This is essentially jargon for the idea that rich countries must cut their emissions of greenhouse gases, while poor ones carry on as normal unless the rich world pays for them to clean up their act.  The Kyoto Protocol’s successor is currently being debated in Bali for when it expires in 2012.

Those that haven’t ratified Kyoto:

The United States remains the only first world country not to have ratified Kyoto, following PM Rudd’s signing of the treaty.

President Bush’s implicit message is that binding emissions targets are counter-productive, and that any solution must involve poor countries as well as rich ones.

The US ultimately believes that disseminating green technology is more positive and productive in the long-term.

My belief is that everyone is part of the problem meaning that everyone must be part of the solution. The US is correct in insisting that green technologies must be promoted, but this must occur at the same time as capping emmissions. Whilst I feel that all countries should be required to conform to the same standards (Kyoto does not require this), at present the Kyoto Protocol is the best mechanism with which the global community has to work with.

Therefore, being a signatory to Kyoto will allow Australia more input in ensuring that from 2012 onwards the global mechanism in place is more equitable and more abided by.
Simon Turner


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