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Tuesday, 23 September 1997
Page: 8266

(Question No. 1966)

Mr Barry Jones asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 25 June 1997:

(1) Did he raise the issue of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in his June 1997 discussions with Prime Minister Blair in London and President Clinton in Washington to seek support for a differential target.

(2) Is the issue high on his political and economic agenda.

(3) Was an international Earth Summit held in New York in June under the auspices of the UN to consider the issue of setting binding national targets for greenhouse gas emissions; if so, did more than 100 heads of government, including Prime Minister Blair and President Clinton, attend the Earth Summit.

(4) Did his itinerary, after his commitments in London, mean that he arrived in the USA the day after the Earth Summit ended.

(5) Did he give consideration to attending the Earth Summit to press his case; if not, why not.

Mr Howard —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

(3) (a) No. The United Nations General Assembly Special Session held in New York in June was not convened to consider the issue of setting binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions. The Special Session was called to consider progress in meeting the objectives established under Agenda 21, and broadly the Special Session did not consider matters of detail where they are being negotiated or dealt with through other forums or conventions. In regard to greenhouse issues the Assembly ultimately agreed that climate change is "one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the next century" but that it would be inappropriate for UNGASS 51 to "seek to predetermine" results prior to the Kyoto meeting in December.

(3) (b) No. Australia's Mission to the United Nations advises that 24 Heads of Government attended the session along with 22 Heads of State and 178 Ministers.

(4) No. The summit was still underway when I arrived in the United States.

(5) Yes. Australia was well represented by the Minister for the Environment, Senator Hill. I made the decision to focus my efforts on direct, personal representations at the highest levels—with Mr Blair, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Mr Clinton, the President of the United States of America, following earlier discussions with Mr Kohl, the Chancellor of Germany and Mr Hashimoto, the Prime Minister of Japan.