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Monday, 14 February 2005
Page: 19

Mrs ELLIOT (1:43 PM) —I support the motion moved by the member for Throsby: Australia must ratify the Kyoto protocol immediately. It comes into force in just two days time, and it is appalling that Australia has not yet ratified it. Per capita, Australia is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases, yet Australia remains one of only two developed countries that have not adopted the protocol. Addressing the problem of climate change makes good sense for Australia environmentally, economically and socially. Burning fossil fuels and deforestation are increasing greenhouse gas emissions to unacceptable levels. We know that as a consequence the climate is changing and the world is heating up.

The evidence is real and indisputable and paints a frightening picture: oceans are warming; snow and ice coverage are decreasing; sea levels are rising, placing coastal communities like mine at risk; droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe; the risk of natural disasters, such as bushfires, is increasing; and the world's coral reefs are at risk of collapse in a few decades. According to the CSIRO, Australia is already hotter and drier than it was 100 years ago. Just another two degrees Celsius increase in average global temperatures would severely damage the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu's wetlands and the alpine regions of south-eastern Australia.

The poorest countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and as a developed nation Australia has an international responsibility to reduce the impacts of global warming—especially when you consider that it is our closest neighbours who will be most affected. Sixty per cent of the additional 80 million people projected to be at risk of flooding are expected to be in southern Asia, with 20 per cent in South-East Asia.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.