Sunday, August 19, 2007

APEC - Australia Pushing Export Coal

The leaders of the 21 nations of APEC will decend upon Sydney in a matter of weeks. It would appear that Sydneysiders are greeting the meeting with an appropriate level of indifference. Our lives will be disrupted by the security, and our common sense will be assuaulted by the hyperbole that will no doubt eminate from our good Prime Minister.

The Agenda is supposed to be about driving action on climate change but, it's really about positioning in the lead up to the federal election. Greenpeace was leaked a copy of the draft declaration on climate change that is due to come out of the meeting.

The document is long on rhetoric, and short on substance. Typical for Howard, it stresses voluntary targets for greenhouse gas reduction, that can then be changed later on if they get too hard. What kind of a target is that?

It is clear that the real agenda behind Howard's posturing at APEC is to undermine the Kyoto protocol in the lead up to the second commitment period. Sure, Kyoto is highly problematic becuase it doesn't go far enough - which is why it needs to be seriously improved and tightened up - not further undermined.

Australia managed to win significant concessions in the negotiation of the first commitment period under Kyoto - which made it seem odd that we then didn't ratify it. The only obvious explanation for our continual undermining of Kyoto is that it if it is effective in driving down greenhouse pollution in other countries, it will have a big negative impact on the Australian export coal industry. In this context, APEC might well be renamed from 'Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation' to 'Australia Pushing Export Coal'.

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