Thursday, August 23, 2007

Undermining Kyoto

APEC meets in Sydney next month, and climate change will be a key point on the agenda. But rather than using it to build consensus for a stronger post-Kyoto framework at the upcoming talks in Bali, John Howard is instead trying to use APEC to undermine Kyoto, with a draft declaration [PDF] which would turn the clock back 15 years. The bill would set no timetables and no targets, instead proposing an "aspirational" APEC-wide goal of reducing energy intensity (that is, energy used per dollar of GDP) by 25% by 2030 across the APEC region, against a 2005 baseline (!). This goal would allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase, just as they increased in New Zealand during the mid-90's when 30 of our largest companies signed up for similar targets (they increased efficiency, but also increased output). Finally, it proposes further investment in research, targetted at the coal industry. In other words, Howard's "plan" for tackling climate change is that we do nothing, while paying more money to polluters.

The Greens are right: we must oppose this. I don't know whether we'll win, but I expect Helen Clark and the New Zealand delegation to speak up to defend Kyoto and real action on climate change rather than Howard's greenwashing.

Meanwhile, this will also be an important test of the National Party's real position on climate change: do they reaffirm their newfound environmental principles by standing up for Kyoto, or do they return to their usual position of denial and craven subserviance towards the US and big business? Someone should try and get some answers out of them to see where they stand...