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Reef Report for Monday, December 10, 2007

Newly Elected Australian Prime Minister Signs Kyoto Protocol

In one of his first official acts as the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Kevin Rudd has signed Australia onto the Kyoto Protocol Agreement. With four of the six steps required for Australia to become a member the only remaining steps are lodging the instrument with the UN and waiting 90 days for the ratification to enter into force

By becoming a member of the Kyoto Protocol, Australia aligns itself with 175 nations of the world that wish to work together to reduce the releases of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that cause global warming. © Crikey.com.au

Australia’s move leaves the United States as the only major industrialized nation that has not signed on to the agreement.

While this may have been a controversial issue in years past, the move was celebrated by everyday Australians. As evidence of the cultural change that has taken place in the past few years, a group of world wide business and banking leaders also supports Australia’s move. An alliance of some of the world's biggest companies, including Australian businesses, united to call on political leaders to construct a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at this week's climate change summit in Bali. Their interests are in having a stable political agreement so that they can participate in the massive amount of investment that is anticipated, mainly in the development and production of the modified and new technologies that will be needed.

Still though, politics remains politics, and Prime Minister Rudd did a bit of retreat over the early optimistic statements that his new government had made about the issue. A government representative at the Bali Climate Talks this week said Australia backed a 25-40 per cent cut on 1990 emission levels by 2020.

But after warnings it would lead to huge rises in electricity prices, Mr. Rudd said the Government would not support the target.

The repudiation of the delegate's position represents the first stumble by the new Government's in its approach to climate change.

Mr. Rudd said he supported a longer-term greenhouse emissions cut of 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050.

We urge Mr. Rudd to take the challenge of a 25% cut by 2020, and wonder how cutting enegy use would increase costs to the consumers that pay for the energy they use. Such a reduction would be healthy for the reef and environments worldwide, and for some countries a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas production could be easily obtained, and actually save citizens money.

Recent research has shown that significant reductions in the production of greenhouse gasses would be relatively easy to achieve in countries like the US and Australia, which on a per person basis produce more greenhouse gasses than any other country. Because the US and Australia use energy so inefficiently, just using very simple existing technology could reduce greenhouse gasses by 28%. Changing laws and educating the public to require and encourage the use of more energy efficient lighting, cooling, heating, and transportation is a relatively simple and inexpensive set of changes, and ones that can be taking place now, not 20 years from now.

Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol, from The Sydney Morning Herald

Rudd Kyoto promise pleases business, from The Age

Kevin Rudd recoils from climate change pledge , from News.com.au

Study details how U.S. could cut 28% of greenhouse gases, from The International Herald Tribune

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as  many other local sources in the dive community.

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