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France accuses Australia of cheating on carbo -

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ELEANOR HALL: We begin today in Copenhagen where the Australian delegation has infuriated some of
the key players at the climate change conference by pushing to change the rules on carbon counting
in land use.

The Australian negotiators are trying to ensure that natural disturbances to the land - like
drought and bushfire, which cause huge spikes in carbon emissions - will not be counted, while
other elements of land use will be.

But it has prompted the French to accuse Australia of trying to cheat its way to meeting its
emissions targets.

The French ambassador for climate change says this is a scandalous attempt by Australia to double
dip, as Europe correspondent Emma Alberici reports from Copenhagen.

EMMA ALBERICI: Around a third of all the greenhouse gases in the general environment have come from
land use - logging and clearing forests for agriculture and urban development.

Every time a tree comes down its natural stores of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.
But the Australian negotiating team in Copenhagen wants to ignore that in the final agreement - on
the other hand, it does want the right to count the gains it's making in better farming practises.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne is in Copenhagen.

CHRISTINE MILNE: I've always been suspicious of Australia on land use. They are so good at coming
to these negotiations and manipulating things to suit Australia and I think it a disgraceful
because it is a slight of hand.

It is actually cheating the global community. It is cheating all of us in terms of getting a decent
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

EMMA ALBERICI: In the past 24 hours, the French have taken a stand on the issue - breaking away
from their partners in the European Union who support Australia's position.

The French ambassador for climate change, Brice Lalonde thinks its scandalous - the practise of
allowing the credits from land use into a deal and leaving emissions intensive behaviours out;
especially because the proposal from Australia, Canada, the United States and much of Europe
involves asking the developing world to continue reducing its emissions from deforestation.

BRICE LALONDE: And we have to, year after year compared to 1990 see exactly how our sinks, because
that is how we call it, forest are sinks, how are sinks are going or shrinking and it is very, very
important.

And now because some countries have specific problems or they want to cover up the fact that they
are cutting a lot of wood, they suddenly are ready to cheat and instead of counting exactly what
they are doing, they would like to invent some, I don't know, reference level which they will never
reach.

I mean it is covering up huge amounts of emissions and you cannot ask on one side developing
countries to be very serious, to account every tonne of CO2, every tree and we, on our side, not do
the same - impossible.

EMMA ALBERICI: What do you think of Australia's position on this?

BRICE LALONDE: For us Australia is a very, very nice country. Nice partner but I am a bit
disappointed to learn this actually and you should be more brave about all this. I mean if you have
circumstances which hit you which you are not responsible for, that will be taken into account.

But you should do all your efforts to very say the truth because otherwise you cannot ask the
developing countries to do the same if you don't do it yourself.

EMMA ALBERICI: Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has dismissed the criticism.

PENNY WONG: The issue of land use is an issue in the negotiations. The Australian Government's view
is that we can improve. The world community can improve the accounting rules to better reflect the
reality of how you need to manage the land sector.

But, and our position is that we should ensure that governments can manage emissions from those
sectors but obviously not all of the emissions are capable of management in terms of human
activity.

EMMA ALBERICI: By ignoring big rises in emissions from the agricultural and forestry industries,
Australia has already managed to make its overall emissions seem much lower than they actually are.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is allowed to increase carbon emissions by eight per cent
compared to 1990 levels but it managed to win what was dubbed the 'Australia clause' allowing
emissions from land use to be excluded from final calculations.

As a result, figures supplied to the United Nations earlier this year show that between 1990 and
2007, Australia's real carbon emissions actually rose by 82 per cent

Chris Henschel is the senior conservation manager with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

CHRIS HENSCHEL: And at the end of the day in Kyoto there are a bunch of special fixes that were
made to get certain countries to buy in and get onside and Australia had their own fix, the
'Australia clause'.

It was their bargaining chip to sign on and that is why accounting for Australia is done
differently than for everyone else; and that is why you have this strange outcome where the books
are being cooked for Australia and they are allowed to increase their fossil fuel emissions.

EMMA ALBERICI: The Australian Government might say natural disturbances like droughts and bushfires
are a consequence of climate change and not something the country is doing deliberately. So why
should they be penalised for that area of land clearing?

CHRIS HENSCHEL: There are two reasons why we should think carefully about how to treat natural
disturbances caused by climate change. One is we are actually responsible for climate change so for
the Australia Government to claim no responsibility for the effects of climate change is a bit
rich.

Secondly, the problem with Australia is we have no confidence in the data or the methodology they
are using and in fact they haven't even been very clear about how they want to exclude the effect
of natural disturbances.

So it is just another way that developed countries including Australia can cook the books and end
up claiming some kind of credit for what they have done instead of accounting for actual emissions.

EMMA ALBERICI: The argument is creating divisions within the European Union and between developed
and developing countries over how emissions from agriculture, grazing and forestry will be counted
in any new climate deal.

This is Emma Alberici in Copenhagen for The World Today.