The Guardian April 4, 2001


Kyoto greenhouse shocker

The world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, the USA, has torn up 
the global program for reducing greenhouse emissions, the UN Kyoto 
Protocol. The Howard Government has dutifully bowed to the move by its US 
master. "If the United States walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, that 
would be the end of the Kyoto Protocol", said a compliant Environment 
Minister, Robert Hill.

A Bush administration spokesman said the move to scrap the Protocol was 
because "it is not in the United States' economic best interests". The US 
Government's Environment Protection Agency stated that "we have no interest 
in implementing that [Kyoto Protocol] treaty".

The Business Council of Australia enthusiastically called the US action "a 
healthy dose of realism": industry would have to forgo some of its profits 
if the greenhouse targets were to be met.

The Australian Government has acted as a forward defence for the US's 
position since the international meeting which produced the agreement in 
Kyoto, Japan in 1997. From its inception, the Protocol has been handicapped 
by major industrialised countries Japan, the US, Australia and Canada who 
have refused to ratify the treaty.

They continued to push for the inclusion of developing countries such as 
China, India and Brazil, which are exempted from the reduction targets 
because of their under-developed status.

It is the exemption of these countries which has been used as a pretext by 
the US and its followers to not sign the Protocol. Instead, the Bush 
Government is now promoting nuclear energy. "If you want to do something 
about carbon dioxide emissions then you ought to build nuclear power 
plants", said US Vice President and oil billionaire, Dick Cheney.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said Prime Minister Howard should call George Bush 
and ask him to revise the decision, saying Bush had caved in to the greed 
of the corporate lobby.

"It is a low point in world environment history", said Senator Brown, who 
dismissed claims by the Howard Government that Australia will achieve its 
Kyoto emission targets by 2010.

By 1998 Australia was producing 16.9 percent more greenhouse gases than the 
Kyoto 2010 target. In fact, Environment Minister Hill's own Australian 
Greenhouse Office says that the growth in total emissions will be at least 
18 percent, and could be up to 48 percent, over target by 2010.

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