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Kyoto - time for Howard to show leadership for the environment and the economy [and] Combating climate change: Labor's policy framework for a sustainable future -?\nwith quality of life and a healthy environment.

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Kyoto - time for Howard to show leadership for the environment and the economy

Australian industry will suffer and potential new export markets choked off unless the Prime Minister joins with other world leaders in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

John Howard’s refusal to ratify the Protocol will place Australia in the international spotlight at next month’s Johannesburg World Earth Summit.

It is critical that Australia ratifies now so that we have a seat at the table to influence future negotiations on climate change in Australia’s long-term interest.

John Howard has placed Australia in the absurd position of committing to meet the Kyoto targets while refusing to ratify the Protocol.

This means Mr Howard wants Australia to meet its international climate change obligation, but deny Australian industry access to significant and growing markets.

Nations that fail to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be locked out of a significant new international trading regime for reducing greenhouse emissions.

If Australia ratifies the protocol, we can use the Kyoto regime to reap billions from new emissions trading- but these markets are only available to us if we ratify the treaty.

Ratifying the Kyoto protocol benefits the environment and the economy.

Today I am releasing the first of a series of statements on climate change which demonstrate conclusively that Labor’s approach is good for the environment, good for jobs, good for investment and good for industry.

An example of this is the BP Solar plant I visited in Sydney today, which now employs at least as many people than either of BP’s two Australian oil refineries.

Labor will not only tackle climate change to avert serious environmental impacts, but also to competitively position Australian industry for the future.

Australia must grasp the economic opportunities that are now emerging as the rest of the world moves to deal with climate change. Labor’s approach means new jobs and investment in growth industries, including sustainable energy, carbon sinks and energy efficiency technologies.

Labor has established a special Shadow Ministry Committee to consult with all relevant stakeholders and oversee further development of Labor’s climate change policy.

My spokesperson on the environment, Kelvin Thomson, will join key players from around the world in attending the Summit, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

I call on the Prime Minister to show leadership on this issue and commit to the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in the lead up to Johannesburg.

With vision and leadership, Australians do not have to choose between decent environmental outcomes and a strong and growing economy - we can have both.

Sydney 14 August 2002

August 2002 Page 1 of 7

Combating Climate Change -Labor’s policy framework for a sustainable future - with quality of life and a healthy environment


Protecting the environment is central to the future of our country.

A healthy and sustainable environment will improve living standards, create jobs, support regional development and encourage growth of sustainable industries.

But as progress has been made in improving our quality of life in some areas, the state of our environment has been getting worse. Under John Howard’s leadership we have seen increasing salinity and land degradation, deteriorating water quality, loss of biodiversity and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change has serious economic, social and environmental consequences for Australia. Yet Howard Government programs have failed to deliver results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 1999 our total emissions were already 17% over 1990 levels (excluding land clearing) and emission projections have been recently revised upwards as it is increasingly clear that Howard Government programs are failing to deliver.

Labor stands committed to tackling climate change and achieving a sustainable future for all Australians. The following principles articulated in this document provide a framework for action:

1. Climate change is a reality

2. An effective response will require global action

3. John Howard’s approach is bad for Australia

4. National leadership is desperately needed

5. Reducing emissions will position our economy for the future

6. A least cost approach is the best way forward

7. Partnerships are critical for achieving lasting solutions

It is the responsibility of all governments to ensure that economic growth is ecologically sustainable, that Australians do not have to choose between decent environmental outcomes and a healthy economy - with vision and leadership, we can have both.

Tackling climate change will create economic opportunities and competitively position Australia for a sustainable future. Sustainability is not an optional extra - it must be the starting point of all that we do.

August 2002 Page 2 of 7

1. Climate change is a reality

The CSIRO presents a very clear picture of the threats that climate change presents to Australia. Impacts include coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, increased droughts and floods, a reduction in run-off entering our waterways and a greater incidence of tropical disease.

This will have an enormous impact on our tourism, agriculture and insurance industries, with particular consequences for coastal and regional communities.

Although our contribution to the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions is relatively small, our per capita emissions are high and any failure of the international community to contain emissions will have a disproportionate impact on Australia.

Our long coastline, unique plants and animals and our dependence on the agricultural industry leave us particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on the region.

Climate change is already occurring; it is no longer a scientific debate. As a matter of priority we must identify the impacts on regions adversely affected and develop strategies to minimise social, environmental and economic impacts.

2. An effective response will require global action

The only effective solutions to problems such as climate change are global and cooperative responses.

In 1992, Labor signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit. Since then world leaders have pursued a global response that has been incorporated in the Kyoto Protocol.

Until the change in government in 1996, Australia was a leading and positive force in this process. This is no longer the case. We cannot be a part of a global solution if we are perceived as being a part of the problem. It is in our national interest to assist in the development and implementation of global solutions.

Unlike the Howard Government, Labor considers the protection of the global environment a vital international policy objective and is committed to re-establish Australia as a leader in international climate change negotiations.

Labor recognises the urgent need for global greenhouse gas emission controls to mitigate the impacts of climate change and believes that the Kyoto Protocol is a critical first step towards effective international action.

Effective long-term global action requires active participation of all countries. Labor will ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol and take a leadership role to urge ratification by other countries.

Australia must actively engage to bring the United States back into the process. We must also work with emerging economies such as India and China to see them participate in future commitment periods as part of a global strategy, as was envisioned in the original Framework Convention.

August 2002 Page 3 of 7

3. John Howard’s approach is bad for Australia

John Howard’s approach to climate change is inconsistent, backward looking and fundamentally bad for Australia.

Domestic action has largely failed and emission projections have been recently revised upwards as it is increasingly clear that current programs to reduce emissions are failing to deliver.

The need to achieve emission reductions is not reflected in the priorities of other Government policies, including industry, energy, treasury, research and development.

The Government has consistently failed to spend money allocated to climate change in the budget each year. It has delayed spending at the same time as emissions are increasing.

Howard Government programs designed to engage industry have failed to deliver emission reductions that go beyond what would have otherwise occurred. There is a need to actively engage industry in effective and credible programs that deliver emission reductions over business as usual.

The Howard Government’s approach is exposing Australia to greater risks of the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change and at the same time is locking Australian industry out of growing international markets in sustainable goods and services.

John Howard has committed Australia to meeting our Kyoto target, but by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, he has prevented Australian industry from access to international trading schemes. This approach is inconsistent and makes no sense.

If Australia is to meet our Kyoto target, we should ensure that Australia will reap the benefits - both economic and environmental - of doing so.

Australia stands to reap large rewards from the Kyoto Protocol's flexibility mechanisms which allow for international emissions trading and emissions credit for actions taken in developing countries or in partnership with other nations under the Protocol.

Within the Protocol framework, Australian companies could expand into new export markets, reduce environmental damage, and earn “credits” for Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions account, all at the same time.

There is little doubt that the Kyoto Protocol will create a fast-paced, lucrative market in the environmental sector - but Australian companies could miss out on many of those opportunities if John Howard keeps Australia locked out of the Kyoto Protocol.

4. National leadership is desperately needed

We desperately need a Federal Government that recognises the importance of this issue and will lead national action to reduce emissions in partnership with all sectors of society.

August 2002 Page 4 of 7

Climate change introduces long-term risks and added uncertainty to a range of projects. Businesses making decisions now need to consider the real long-term costs of their decisions. A timely and nationally consistent policy response by Government will give business greater certainty.

Australia needs a comprehensive domestic response that includes supply and demand side solutions, covers all sectors responsible for emissions and includes a strategy to manage greenhouse sinks. It should make use of a range of mechanisms including regulatory, voluntary and market based responses.

The National Greenhouse Strategy seeks to provide a framework for action and sets out a number of policy directions. However, the Strategy has been subject to delays in implementation and has not been effective in achieving results.

The Strategy needs to be radically overhauled and given clear objectives with emission reduction targets for each measure. Success (or failure) in meeting these targets should be publicly reported. Labor believes it should be enshrined as a Heads of Government agreement under COAG to ensure consistency between States and Commonwealth policies.

Many initiatives required for successful greenhouse outcomes should be pursued for other positive reasons such as economic efficiency, better water quality, better public health, better soil conservation, lower salinity levels, regional development and a wide range of new job opportunities.

To ensure sustainable economic growth, Labor will also include a greenhouse trigger in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This will enable major new projects to be assessed for their greenhouse impact as part of any environmental impact assessment process, ensure that new developments represent "best practice" and that Australia's national interest is taken into account.

5. Reducing emissions will position our economy for the future

Significant emission reductions can and should be achieved with a positive effect on Australia’s economy and our international competitiveness.

Land clearing contributes approximately one seventh to Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions through the burning and rotting of vegetation. By reversing our current decline in vegetation by controlling clearing and investing in revegetation we can achieve significant low-cost emission reductions and deliver other biodiversity and salinity outcomes.

With leadership in stimulating appropriate research, effective investment and best practice land management, Australia has the opportunity not only to tackle its own environment problems but also to export cutting edge technology and intellectual property to our region and the world.

Tackling climate change offers opportunities for both new and existing industries. Changes resulting from timely emission abatement will result in new jobs and opportunities critical to establish Australia as a new economy.

Not only are there significant opportunities for the development of new industries in low emission and greenhouse abatement technologies, but also for

August 2002 Page 5 of 7

the modernisation of existing industries through the uptake of energy efficiency and cleaner production technologies, with significant potential for productivity improvements.

Fossil fuels will continue to be a major energy source in Australia and globally into the foreseeable future. In addition to new technologies, effective emission reductions must involve investment in emission reduction for existing electricity generation, and methane capture in coal mining as well.

In pursuing a less carbon intensive energy sector, more efficient coal use will be a part of our future competitive advantage. A revitalised approach to cleaner technologies can bring long-term job security to traditional energy producing regions such as the La Trobe Valley in Victoria and the Hunter Valley in NSW.

John Howard has ignored these opportunities. Instead, while he has committed Australia to meet our Kyoto target, he has prevented Australian industry from access to international trading opportunities.

By delaying effective action, Australia will miss out on new and growing global markets for sustainable goods and services.

6. A least cost approach is the best way forward

A ‘least-cost’ approach should be used in the pursuit of emission reductions, through the use of market-based instruments.

The challenge of meeting anticipated growth in energy demand and emission reduction targets will not be readily resolved and will require both economic and behavioural change. Greenhouse and energy policy must work together. Under John Howard there is no national energy policy, and no effective national greenhouse policy.

Labor believes that Australian industry is well positioned to benefit from opportunities arising from global action on climate change.

Continued economic growth and employment opportunities should be sustained in regional communities through a range of development opportunities that suit individual regions.

Market based instruments can help facilitate a smooth transition to a less carbon dependent future. They provide incentives for identifying the most cost-effective actions to reduce greenhouse emissions across different sectors, and also allow flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

A national and international emissions trading scheme is likely to be part of any least cost strategy to facilitate the internalisation of environmental costs.

A Labor Government will work with the States to deliver national legislation and a regulatory framework to underpin emissions trading.

Laying the groundwork for the early implementation of a national emissions trading system will allow Australia to build capacity and experience, position Australia’s financial sector as a regional centre for trading, encourage emission abatement and position us to lead the international debate in the development of a global trading scheme.

August 2002 Page 6 of 7

7. Partnerships are critical for achieving lasting solutions

Labor will actively engage with the business community, the environmental movement, State and local governments, the union movement and the broader community to facilitate domestic greenhouse action.

Partnerships across all sectors and the community will be critical in achieving an effective response and lasting solutions.

John Howard has already shown he is not interested in forging effective partnerships. Instead of demonstrating leadership, he plays short-term political blame games and undermines the efforts of others with his own policy failures.

It is only through a truly national response that actively engages all tiers of Government that we are going to be able to address climate change. Innovative partnerships such as Cities for Climate Protection and Cool Communities should be encouraged and supported by a national framework.

Labor will lead by example and will expect public service agencies to incorporate environmental values into government decision-making. For example, they will be required to implement strategies to reduce their impact on the environment, increase their efficiencies in resource use, and most importantly, reduce the indirect impacts of their policies and programs on the environment.

As part of its broader commitment to reducing emissions, a Labor Government will adopt mandated energy efficiency standards for owned or leased offices, new equipment and government vehicles as well as minimum environmental performance requirements in government contracts.

The public sector has historically played a major role in research and development. This should continue and an enhanced government commitment to research and development will contribute to our capacity to address climate change through technological development.

The challenge faced by Government is to help facilitate a smooth transition to a less carbon dependent future and to ensure that those affected by the transition will be involved in the development of policies that will shape their future.

Early movers must also be recognised in the formulation of policy to ensure that that those companies that undertake voluntary abatement activity prior to any mandatory requirements will not be disadvantaged.

August 2002 Page 7 of 7

Policy development

Labor has established a special Shadow Ministry Committee to oversee further development of Labor’s climate change policy and consult with all relevant stakeholders.

The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, will chair the Committee, which is to comprise:

• Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Kelvin Thomson and his Parliamentary Secretary, Kirsten Livermore;

• Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources, Joel Fitzgibbon;

• Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Kerry O’Brien;

• Shadow Treasurer, Bob McMullan;

• Shadow Minister for Regional and Urban Development, Transport and Infrastructure, Martin Ferguson; and

• Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Trade and Tourism, Craig Emerson.