The Guardian August 1, 2001


Horsemen of the apocalypse sabotage Kyoto

by Marcus Browning

The absolute hypocrisy of John Howard and his Canberra crew was never more 
evident than this week's announcement by the Prime Minister of a sudden 
conversion to clean and green. His tottering edifice of corporate toadies, 
which passes itself off as a government, will be trying to capture some 
votes in the coming elections by allocating funds to specially targeted 
environmental projects. This act of opportunism came hot on the heels of 
the Government aiding and abetting the US to again scuttle the Kyoto 
Protocol, this time in Bonn.

The Government intends using the $1 billion it allocated to its National 
Heritage Trust in the last budget to fund community projects, no doubt in 
electorally endangered areas around the country.

But in Bonn Australia joined Canada and Japan to back the US against the 
wishes of the 186 countries at the meeting in its refusal to ratify even 
the weakened protocol. The Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gases by 5.2 
per cent was halved through the connivance and manipulation of these four 
horsemen of the apocalypse.

The Howard Government openly states that as far as it's concerned the 
protocol's ratification depends on getting the nod from the US. Part of the 
plan is to shift the major responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas 
emissions from the main culprits, the industrialised Western countries, 
onto the underdeveloped nations.

"We want to be part of workable, comprehensive arrangements that 
incorporates the developing countries as well as the developed countries", 
said Howard, "and obviously the involvement of the United States is very 
important. We understand many of the concerns of the United States."

For "concerns" read the profits of the fossil fuel producing and consuming 
industries. The US is the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, and 
has two oil billionaires, George Bush and Dick Cheney, as its President and 
Vice-President.

As a reward for its sabotaging efforts Australia is now the only country 
which can officially include reductions in land clearing in its 
calculations, thus meeting its reduced greenhouse target without having to 
cut fossil fuel emissions.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said that the outcome has been to reduce the rich 
world's requirement to lessen atmospheric pollution, noting that the 
Australian representatives also helped extract the teeth  the penalties 
for non-compliance  from the agreement.

"I predict the Bush Administration, bypassed by Europe in Bonn, will 
pressure Mr Howard to block the penalties regime for the Protocol when it 
comes back for discussion in Marrakech in October", said Senator Brown.

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