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Australia criticised at Copenhagen

Emma Alberici reported this story on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Copenhagen. Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, arrived at the
international climate summit today and immediately faced accusations that he's a climate change
sceptic.

The G77 group of African nations as well as China have been attacking the Australian Prime Minister
for what they say amounts to an about face on his Kyoto commitments.

They accuse Mr Rudd of being behind a push to significantly dilute the emissions reduction
obligations to be imposed on the rich world.

Europe correspondent Emma Alberici is in Copenhagen and she joins us there now.

Emma it sounds like it's been another dramatic day of walkouts and threats and accusations; is it
looking like there will be a deal at the end of this week?

EMMA ALBERICI: Eleanor there's now only around 48 hours left for an agreement to be reached. This
is after two years worth of negotiations and there is still a lot of wrangling going on among the
various corners of this negotiation process.

There is still at least four big sticking points. The first one that has seemed to gain the most
traction in the last few days is what's being called MRV which is measurement, reporting and
verification process. In other words how do you check that countries are actually living up to
their commitments once they say they're going to reduce their carbon emissions by a certain amount?

China is resisting any effort by the United Nations or any other international body to go in and as
they say, threaten their sovereignty, go in and ask them to justify their behaviour. They find that
quite insulting that they would be accused of not complying.

The rest of the world is saying no it's not that we just want to be able to check everyone and keep
them all on a level playing field.

One of the other sticking points is the issue of mitigation, in other words these carbon reduction
targets. Those in the developing world are saying that the developed world targets are far too low
and because the likes of the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, the European Union, because they caused
the problems, the developing world is saying they should have far greater targets than anyone else.

And that the targets they currently have are too low, including Australia's targets, they say that
they're too low.

Now this all...

ELEANOR HALL: So...

EMMA ALBERICI: Sorry?

ELEANOR HALL: No go on Emma.

EMMA ALBERICI: I was just going to say that this all revolves around the idea that by 2020 it's
generally established that we can't allow temperatures to rise above 2 per cent, sorry 2 degrees by
2020.

Now, the small nations and China are saying, actually it's 1.5 degrees. If we get to 2 degrees many
African nations will be suffering around 3.5 degrees and they say that's just devastating for them.

So there are some really key points that are still being debated here. So they're very far from an
agreement.

ELEANOR HALL: And I understand that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has had something
to say about this.

EMMA ALBERICI: Yes, Ban Ki-moon has a lot riding on this because he cannot afford to have this end
in failure. This is what he had to say.

BAN KI-MOON: The time for maximalist negotiating positions is over. The time for unreasonable
demands and pressure on your negotiating partners is over. The time for consensus has arrived.

No-one will get everything they want in this negotiations but if we work together I will guarantee
everyone will get what they need. The stronger the agreement here in Copenhagen, the sooner it can
be transformed into a legally binding treaty.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary-General.

Emma, world leaders are arriving overnight. Australia's Prime Minister is one of them but he has
flown into a storm. He's being accused of being a climate change sceptic and of bullying and his
team has been accused of being the ayatollah of the one track. Now why is Australia the brunt of so
much fierce criticism?

EMMA ALBERICI: Well, I guess Kevin Rudd in some respects has created a rod for his own back because
of course two years ago in Bali he stood up as the only leader who attended that climate conference
and very publically declared that Australia would finally ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Well now the small countries are saying, you've let us down. You've said, you know with great
fanfare, that you were going to sign up but now you're abandoning Kyoto in favour of some other
agreement because you don't want to take responsibility for the kinds of commitments you made back
then.

So he's really the fall guy for the rest of the developed countries because he put himself out
there in 2007 as the one that wanted to lead everyone else down this path.

Now, the argument is that these rich and developed countries want to abandon Kyoto in favour of
another agreement; so what is likely to happen is that we're going to end up with two documents on
Friday that are going to have to be signed by the world leaders, certainly not a situation that
anyone wanted.

And Lumumba Di-Aping, who is the head of the G77 which actually represents 130 small, mainly
African nations, has had quite a bit to say about this. He's angered. He also represents China and
he says Kevin Rudd now lacks all credibility on the issue of climate change.

LUMUMBA DI-APING: The message that the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, is giving to his
people, his citizens is a fabrication. It's fiction. It does not relate to the facts because his
actions, I have described very clearly, are climate change scepticism in action.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Sudanese negotiator Lumumba Di-Aping. Now Emma, just tell us why there is
there this split between the developed and developing nations over Kyoto and the suggestion of a
one track or a two track deal?

EMMA ALBERICI: Well, the fact is that the Kyoto Protocol did not include the developing world. It
only put these emission reduction targets onto the rich countries and so the likes of Australia and
the European Union and Japan and Canada, they say well it's just not a fair document, because it
doesn't include those developing countries, specifically, like China and India that are now
advancing at such great knots that they are creating quite a lot of the problem with carbon
emissions.

Of course China backed back and said, well, hold on a minute, you know, the history tells us the
last 200 years, the responsibility lies firmly at the floor of the United States, Australia and so
on. But of course the United States has not ratified Kyoto, so it's not a member.

So it's all in a bit of disarray actually about exactly what form, what framework this final
agreement will take and whether indeed they'll keep Kyoto and extend that for those who've already
signed up; because at the moment that's the only legally binding document on the table, or whether
they'll scrap that all together and start something new.

Whichever way they go Eleanor, it certainly doesn't look like they're going to have any kind of
substantive agreement within the next 48 hours, as was previously thought might be achievable here.

ELEANOR HALL: And has Kevin Rudd had anything to say about this or indeed responded to any of the
criticism that's been levelled at him?

EMMA ALBERICI: Well as you mentioned earlier he has literally just flown in in the last couple of
hours. He did hold a press conference upon his arrival and all of this was put to him and he said
he didn't think it was unusual that there would be this "political posturing" as he called it the
blame game going on at the eleventh hour where all the countries try to blame each other for the
fact that they're not moving fast enough towards agreement.

So he really did dismiss the criticisms and basically just called it a bit of political posturing
but he also quite interestingly seemed to change his language and started to say, and I quote him
now, "there is no guarantee of success".

Shortly after that Gordon Brown came out and said very similar words. He said that there was every
chance this would end in failure.

But in both cases I think Ban Ki-moon, Yvo de Boer who's the chief of climate negotiators for the
UN and Connie Hedegaard, the president of these proceedings from Denmark, they would all be quite
dismayed to hear those comments from Australia and the UK.

It certainly doesn't sound like they have much faith in these negotiations ending in any kind of
obvious agreement.

ELEANOR HALL: Emma Alberici at the Copenhagen climate conference, thank you very much. Interesting
couple of days ahead there.