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ABARE believes it necessary that a more equitable formula be found for greenhouse gas emission targets.

PETER THOMPSON: Australia is testing its relationship with Europe over the issue of climate change, launching a campaign across half a dozen European capitals to argue against global greenhouse gas reduction targets. But the arguments are not being welcomed by the Europeans who've thinly disguised their disappointment that Australia refuses to agree to equal targets for all developed countries. Australia is pressing the view that global targets will hit fossil fuel producers harder than other economies, and has published new data to prove it. Katie Cronin reports from Brussels.

KATIE CRONIN: Australia's most potent weapon in the campaign against global greenhouse gas emission targets is an updated study that shows that Australians would be 22 times worse off than Europeans if current EU greenhouse targets are enforced. It also stresses that the developing world will not join the fight against climate change unless a more equitable formula is found. Australia says those issues have to be taken into account in the lead-up to international negotiations in Japan at the end of this year.

Dr Brian Fisher, Executive Director of ABARE and one of the authors of the report, has just had two days of meetings with EU officials in Brussels. He knows that what he has to say upsets the Europeans.

BRIAN FISHER: I guess I anticipate some tough discussions because, basically, what we are suggesting is not accepted here in Europe. There is a notion here that it's easy to do these reductions and that we should do them and sort of take the pain. It means unemployment and those economic costs need to be counted.

KATIE CRONIN: The EU has committed itself to a 15 per cent cut in emissions based on 1990 levels by the year 2010, and environment officials in Brussels, Britain and the Netherlands, have made it clear that while they're prepared to listen to Australia, what they're really looking for is an indication of political will to do something. Without it, they say the Kyoto conference in December, which is the deadline for agreement on greenhouse targets and policies, could collapse.

Christof Bye (?) is head of the EU Unit on Climate Change, and he says Australia appears to be holding back.

CHRISTOF BYE: What we are saying is let's be concrete, let's put the cards on the table, let's start negotiating about concrete commitments, concrete targets, concrete policies and measures. Otherwise, we will end up debating among ourselves about some kind of a formula or differentiation clause. We will not agree on that and, at the end of the day, we end up with no commitment on either target or policies and measures, and then the negotiations will have failed. So clearly, we are very concerned that unless our partners in the negotiating process-and that concerns Australia just as much as it concerns the United States or New Zealand or others-come forward with concrete proposals and not only with sort of studies and abstract models which are interesting, which are important background, but on which we know we will not be able to agree as such.

KATIE CRONIN: Christof Bye in Brussels.

Brian Fisher from ABARE wants a delay to the negotiations. He says we can wait, which would mean failure in European terms at Kyoto.

BRIAN FISHER: Climate change is not going to happen between now and Kyoto, basically. We're talking about negotiating something that's important over time spans of generations, so I think we should spend the time to get that right, and if it means that we have to go a little bit slower then getting everything signed on the dotted line in Kyoto, then we should do that.

KATIE CRONIN: Australia is not a crucial player on this issue. The US and Japan, also holding back on targets, are far more important. But the Australian study is being taken to the US, Canada, Tokyo, Seoul and Jakarta, and with less than six months left to find agreement before the Kyoto deadline, it may well be a contributing factor if the industrialised world fails to set global greenhouse goals.

In Brussels, this is Katie Cronin reporting for A.M.