Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kyoto is not enough says UK Chief Scientist, while Australia sticks with the USA

The United Kingdom (UK) government's chief scientist, Sir David King, has warned that climate change is the most serious issue facing the world this century. He was speaking at a recent Greenpeace Business conference in London - "we are seeing extreme events which are attributable to global warming, at least in part, and these are having quite devastating effects." Australia and the USA are refusing to ratify the climate treaty.

"Kyoto is not enough. Kyoto is a beginning and it’s a good process. And what will be needed is once we’ve got the process up and running, it will need to be ratcheted up so that we can really bring emissions under control. The key problem, of course, is going to be moving into the second period, when we need to bring on board not only Australia and the United States, but also the big growing economies, China and India."

The Howard Government has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The USA and Australia are the only two western industrialised nations (1) who have refused to ratify the Protocol. Greenpeace Australia said that the Howard Government should commit to a target and road map to reduce greenhouse pollution by at least 60 percent by 2050 so that Australia will be protected from climate change.

A Greenpeace statement said: "Australia is the most vulnerable developed country to the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in our greenhouse pollution, we face more frequent and severe droughts and bushfires, annual coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, the potential loss of Australia's ski fields and serious damage to other important ecosystems such as the Wet Tropics."

According to the Greenpeace statement, opinion polls commissioned by Greenpeace and others consistently show that at least 75% of Australians want the Government to ratify Kyoto, irrespective of the US position.

"Once Kyoto is in place, the world will have to face the challenge of the at least 60% emissions reductions that scientists tell us are necessary," said Greenpeace Campaigns Manager Danny Kennedy. "In Australia, we must see mandated emissions reductions and clean energy targets to get us there."

"But first Mr Howard must respond to the weight of public opinion, the necessities of global business and increasing extreme weather by immediately ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and joining the international effort to tackle climate change, the greatest challenge of our age." said Kennedy.

On October 22 the Russian parliament approved the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (FOE Europe). Once approved by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin, the treaty will come into force as international law 90 days later.

Note 1: Croatia, Liechtenstein and Monaco (all with neglible emissions) - have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol, only Australia and the US have said that they will not ratify. The other three are all expected to do so. A full list of countries and their ratification status (PDF) is available.


1. Greenpeace Australia: Chief Scientist: we need immediate action on climate change
2. Greenpeace Australia: Howard leaves Australia isolated as Kyoto to become law