Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pressure remains on Australia as Kyoto takes effect

The Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will today come into force after a decade of deliberations.

The 140 signatories to the United Nations deal must now abide by the new law or face international embarrassment.

From today, all countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol must find ways to meet their targets.

Australia and the United States have both refused to ratify the deal, arguing it is not in their best interest. They will be denied access to a new international trading market where developing countries will get credits for cutting back emissions.

A lawyer specialising in climate change, Martijn Wilder, says change is already in the air.

"We're already seeing countries saying we will only take the supply of product of countries that have ratified Kyoto," he said.

The United Nations is hoping such schemes will provide financial incentives for countries to meet their targets.

Despite resistance from the United State and Australia, the United Kingdom is still lobbying hard for a change of mind.

Today demonstrators will target the Australian and American Governments in global protests.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Peter Christoff says he is disappointed Australia is not part of the protocol.

But he is hopeful there will be a change in policy in the future.

"The pressure that is currently being seen to be coming through from publics in Europe, in the United States even, in Australia too, if not ratify then to move towards climate change reduction mechanisms, is well and truly there," he said.

Mr Christoff says the Government's failure to sign will cost the country.

"Australia is going to miss out on participating in international carbon trading market that the Kyoto Protocol now puts into place, that means Australian industry will lose about a billion dollars a year by being excluded," he said.

"We also won't be able to invest in the new clean development investment markets, again which are being set up under Kyoto."

By Sarah Clarke 16 February 05


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