EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard showed her excitement when Australia recently signed up for a second round of emission reductions with the Kyoto Protocol. Neighboring New Zealand, however, is joining a separate convention and forgoing the Kyoto choices.
New UN climate negotiations are scheduled to start in Qatar this month with a planned discussion of new targets for the Kyoto process.
As Greg Combet, Australia’s climate change minister, said, “Joining a second commitment period will ensure Australian businesses have access to international credits under the Clean Development Mechanism, helping Australia reduce emissions at the lowest cost to the economy.”
As it explains on the euroactive.com website, “The protocol commits industrialised countries to reduce their collective emission of six greenhouse gases (GHG) during the period 2008-2012 by 5.2% from 1990 levels. Under the protocol, the EU committed itself to reduce GHG emissions by 8%. Other agreed national CO2 reductions varied from 6% for Japan and Canada, 0% for Russia, and permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland. To enter into force, the protocol had to be ratified by 55 countries, which collectively were responsible for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990.”
Australia accounts for only 1.5% of global emissions, but it is the developed world’s highest emitter per person since they rely heavily on burning coal for electricity. Australia has now targeted that, by 202, they will cut CO2 emissions by 5% from its 2000 levels.