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Prime Minister wants APEC to agree to 'aspirational' carbon emissions targets; Opposition Leader wants binding targets and ratification of Kyoto protocol.

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Mon day 27 August 2007

Prime Minister wants APEC to agree to 'aspirational' carbon emissions targets; Opposition Leader wants binding targets and ratification of Kyoto protocol


MARK COLVIN: Climate change emerged as a major point of difference between the parties today as the Prime Minister and Opposition leader both addressed the agenda for next week's APEC meeting in Sydney. 


John Howard and Kevin Rudd delivered speeches simultaneously in different parts of Sydney today, outlining competing ideas on global warming. 


Mr Howard wants APEC to formulate a Sydney declaration, setting flexible targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking account of different economic circumstances from country to country. 


Mr Rudd insists that APEC nations should set concrete targets and work within existing international frameworks, including the Kyoto Protocol. 


National Security Correspondent Leigh Sales reports. 


LEIGH SALES: When the leaders of 21 nations meet in Sydney the weekend after next, climate change is highly likely to be the key topic. 


Both John Howard and Kevin Rudd support that, but differ in what direction they'd like discussions to take. 


The Prime Minister's goal is the so-called APEC Sydney declaration. 


If he can get all nations on board, that will be a new international agreement, setting a long-term aspirational goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 


For "aspirational", read "voluntary".  


JOHN HOWARD: At APEC, we should strive to find agreement on principles for international action that genuinely address the problem, whilst also allowing countries, such as China and Indonesia, to continue to grow and prosper. 


From Australia's perspective, and I can report encouraging reactions from APEC members. These principles include comprehensiveness, all economies need to contribute in ways that are equitable and effective, flexibility, and respect for national circumstance. 


Different countries have different attributes and capacities. What works for Australia, may not necessarily work for Thailand or Korea. 


LEIGH SALES: At the exact time the Prime Minister outlined his agenda at a lunchtime speech in Sydney, a few blocks away, Kevin Rudd was setting out his vision for APEC's response to climate change. 


The Opposition leader disagrees with John Howard's flexible goals and insists APEC should set concrete targets, to be achieved through a UN negotiating process. 


KEVIN RUDD: Put simply, if APEC can't get its act together on one of the biggest challenges that the world faces today, that is climate change, the APEC will have no effective future. 


And the Sydney APEC summit should play a key role in bringing together the economies of the Asia-Pacific to drive practical and affective global action that will solve the problem. Not merely entrench more excuses for not solving the problem. 


Australia has a critical role in seeing APEC succeed, and on climate change, this means Australia must ratify Kyoto to show good faith in the global negotiating process, embrace a greenhouse gas reduction target for Australia of 60 per cent against 2,000 levels by 2050, argue that an equivalent targets be accepted by developed countries, and that developing countries agree to graduated targets for action coupled with market-based incentives for technology transfer. 


LEIGH SALES: When United States Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Australia at the beginning of this year, the television coverage in particular was dominated by an angry public backlash to the delays and traffic snarls caused by his security requirements. 


Today, the Prime Minister was pre-empting a similarly negative backlash to APEC, as yet another poll predicted voters are poised to dump him in favour of Kevin Rudd at the election. 


JOHN HOWARD: Inevitably, the focus of much media reporting will be on traffic dislocation and inconvenience to citizens. I think it is worth reminding ourselves that security precautions of the type that we will see in Sydney next week are of course familiar experiences of countries that regularly host such gathering. 


To me, it would have been unthinkable for what I regard as the most beautiful, big city in the world, to pass up the opportunity. 


LEIGH SALES: The head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1993 to 1996, Michael Costello, recently wrote a newspaper column, suggesting that Sydney should stop whingeing about APEC and instead embrace the event, as it did with the 2000 Olympics. 


The former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, said last week that he thought APEC would be a wasted opportunity if members didn't tackle thorny security issues, particularly the simmering tensions between China and Japan. 


Kevin Rudd raised that issue today in passing, but the Prime Minister did not. 


MARK COLVIN: National Security Correspondent Leigh Sales.