Australia signs Kyoto – what has changed?

The new government in Australia announces a change with the past by saying it will sign Kyoto promptly.

The real question is what will the government do to cut carbon output? We have several countries in the EU who signed up to Kyoto, but whose carbon output has been rising.

Gestures are easy – takign action which people will accept that will change people’s behaviour to burn less fuel is much more difficult. Is the new PM going the usual labour rotue of higher taxes and more regulations to try to get carbon output down? Or will he try the Conservative way, of offering incentives for greener behaviour? Or maybe he is just wanting to pose as a green, with no serious intention of doing anything. Wheh we know which way he is really going we will be able to come to a view on whether he is making a good or a bad difference.

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7 Comments

  1. Adrian Windisch
    Posted November 25, 2007 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Its only Australia and the USA that hadnt signed Kyoto, this helps to isolate the USA, put pressure on their next president to sign it. I dont hold out much hope for Bush to do anything.

    Unfortunately John is right that most countries that have signed up for Kyoto have done litte, despite the rhetoric under Labour emissions have gone up. I doubt the Conservsatives will do better, we shall see.

    I think we need to reduce emissions every year, not give the impression that we have till 2050 by discussiuons for targets in the distant future. Its up to us to solve this, not leave the problem for the next generation.

  2. DennisA
    Posted November 25, 2007 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    The myth of course is that cutting carbon use will affect the temperature of the planet. Even if Kyoto were fully implemented it would theoretically make a difference of 0.2 degrees C by 2050.

    Temperatures haven't risen since 1998. NASA recently had to acknowledge that 1934 and not 1998 was the hottest year in the US and yet atmospheric CO2 has still been increasing. It will continue to do (but not exponentially as in climate models) until the climate changes once more to a colder cycle and CO2 levels fall again.

    The Central England Temperature record shows warm periods in the 18th century, similar to the present one, before industrialisation. From the late 1940's to the late 1980's temperature declined in spite of increasing CO2. The 60's and 70's were amongst the coldest decades of the 20th century, yet are the period of record used for comparison in the oft repeated message, "above average", relating to post 1990 temperatures.

    There were worse heat waves than 2003 in the 16th century: the heatwave of 1540 lasted, off and on, for seven months, Major rivers, such as the Rhine, dried up. People in Paris could walk on the bed of the Seine without getting their feet wet.

    Wooden houses became tinderboxes, dry peat, forests and undergrowth ignited readily and led to massive wildfires.

    The flooding of the last few years is dwarfed by major flooding in previous centuries. Building damage is now greater because of urbanisation but loss of life is massively less.

    So the question is not about "saving the planet" by controlling
    CO2 levels, it is about energy security, which with this government is the same as data security, non-existent.

    We import coal from Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and Australia, (presumably the green Mr Rudd will ban this to help the planet) and yet have proven UK reserves of 220 million tonnes and possibly up to 1 billion tonnes.

    "Green" NGO's have successfully stalled new nuclear power stations while initiating the destruction of large areas of natural environment with inefficent, subsidy-dependent wind turbines that still require 90% conventional backup to preserve the integrity of the grid.

    As long as all parties pursue their carbon footprints down the blind alley of global warming, we will waste billions on foolish gesture-policy initiatives that could otherwise be spent on renewing existing power stations, renewing Victorian water supply and drainage infrastructure and putting in place flood and coastal defences to combat the natural weather events that have occurred since time immemorial.

    Reply: Yes, the sea froze by the Kentish coast in the 1960s, after decades of industrialisation.

  3. Jock
    Posted November 25, 2007 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Australia is also the biggest polluter per captia in terms of its electricity generation – presumably because they've relied nearly completely on coal. Yet some of their scientists have long been working on harnessing that other great power source they have a lot of – the sun – just it hasn't really got out into the mainstream yet. Just the sort of thing that government could give a push to, even without being protectionist about it.

  4. Neil Craig
    Posted November 25, 2007 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    The slightly strange thing is that this response – of saying how "green" you are while doing nothing active – clearly strikes a chord with the public. It is reminiscent of the attutude to God – people want us to be a "Christian country" but few go to Church & nobody gives away all their worldly goods to get into heaven.

    It is as if the public have been convinced that, to be respectable, one must put on a public show, but know privately what rubbish it is.

    While this is not going to get us back to the medievalism the eco-fascists want it does mean that progressive policies, requiring some action, like replacing our nuclear power, don't get done because it is politically damaging to advocate anything positive. This is currently leading to 24,000 hypothermia deaths a year & will lead to blackouts, but by the time they are damaging enough to be noticed it will be to late.

  5. Man in a Shed
    Posted November 25, 2007 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Australia will stop exporting coal ? No chance …

  6. British Patriot
    Posted November 26, 2007 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Instead of forcing people to pay taxes, couldn't the Govt force people to plant trees to soak up the carbon into the Wood.
    If each child at 5yrs of age Planted with friends relatives etc 5 trees, perhaps involving the local church, what better positive way to contribute to the Planet. This country and Planety could certainly do with More trees.

    Oh wait, where's the exchequers cut….tsk, Silly me.

    Oh yes I almost forgot, here's how to make your own Biometric ID's.
    ID cards, Another Money making wheeze from Westminster between MP's and their Industrialist cohorts.
    http://www.badscience.net/2007/11/make-your-own-i

  7. Diablo
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Don't worry – all will be well under Rudd. After all he has promised to apologise to the Aborigines – a bit like Blair apologising to the Irish for the potato famine and to Africa for the slave trade.

    Things can only get better!

    Reply: Expect more gesture politics if he is like Blair. Also expect some gap between what he claims – withdrawal from Iraq and the end to global warming – and what he achieves!

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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