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Rudd's climate 'ripple' overseas

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COMMENTS

7 May 2010 13:32

Nic Maclellan works as a journalist and researcher in the Pacific islands.

In her post on 'Brand Australia', Alex Duchen suggests that Kevin Rudd's back down on climate change is 'unlikely to cause much of a ripple overseas.' Let's have a look at some media headlines from around the world:

Australia postpones carbon pollution curbs
Times of India, 27 April 2010

When Rudd was elected in 2007, he declared addressing climate change as the great moral challenge of the current generations...Australia is a small greenhouse gas polluter in global terms, but one of the worst per capita because it relies heavily for its electricity on its abundant reserves of coal, which also make it the world's largest exporter of the polluting fuel.

Australia Suspends Emissions Trading Proposal
New York Times, 27 April 2010

Mr. Rudd was elected in 2007 on a promise of reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and polls have repeatedly shown strong support for government action on climate change. Nevertheless, the emissions trading proposal has been drawn criticism from economists, business groups, scientists and opposition politicians of every stripe.

Australian opposition leader announces to stay on in politics
Xinhua (English service), 1 May 2010

Turnbull has lashed out at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for ditching his promise to start emissions trading next year, to tackle climate change….The shelving of Labor's plans for an Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) has removed a source of friction between Turnbull and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who opposed emissions trading.

Australia puts carbon trading scheme on hold
Guardian (UK), 27 April 2010

The delay follows a set-back for carbon trading plans in the US, where a high-profile launch of proposed climate change laws was abandoned yesterday. The proposals had carbon trading at their heart but were put on hold when Lindsey Graham, a Republican and one of three senators behind the proposals, fell out with Democrats over immigration laws. The move puts a core Obama mission in jeopardy and further complicates international efforts to reach a deal on global warming.

Rudd does a flip on climate change plans
New Zealand Herald, 28 April 2010

The decision means the Government has lost climate change as a potential trigger for an early election, and places Rudd under fire from the Opposition - which accused him of "cowardice" - and environmentalists. It also adds to the list of first-term policies Rudd had promised to introduce after winning power in 2007 but has failed to deliver, and has undermined his repeated determination to attack climate change...The deferral of the Government's ETS means climate change will be a blurred issue at the election, with both major parties locked into positions that now stand little chance of being put into action for at least three years.

Australia Gov't Polls Down After Climate Law Delay
New York Times, 3 May 2010

Commentators described the decision as Rudd's biggest policy backflip, since he had described climate change during his victorious 2007 election campaign as the greatest moral challenge facing Australians. …Australia is one of the world's worst emitters per capita of greenhouse gases because of its heavy reliance on abundant reserves of coal for power generation. As the driest continent after Antarctica, it is also considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Under the previous government, Australia and the United States were the only industrialized countries to refuse to ratify the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Kevin Rudd was happy to bask in the plaudits of the 'international community' in December 2007, when he travelled to Bali to announce Australia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Why should anyone think that those same people will not notice the Government's current disarray over climate policy? It's pretty clear that our Government’s flip-flops are closely watched in the region and internationally.

In a post to the Interpreter last September, I argued that 'Australians should not kid themselves that the Pacific is happy with our government's weak pledges on greenhouse gas emissions.'

Could I now suggest that Australians should not kid themselves that everyone overseas is happy with our government's failure to follow through on the weak targets announced under the 'Copenhagen Accord'? Australian backsliding gives other major carbon emitters another excuse to delay taking action.

The Government's CPRS is no great loss – an agreement fatally flawed by the concessions it grants to polluting industries and its target of 2035 to reduce emissions by five per cent below 1990 levels. But delaying the CPRS legislation is overshadowed by the Government's failure to articulate and implement other credible options to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

'Brand Australia' has a bit of work to do.

Photo by Flickr user kavehkhkh, used under a Creative Commons license.

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