Australia used to be a lone supporter among the developed countries of the U.S. obstinacy to recognize harmful consequences of global climate change, refusal to ratify the Kyoto protocol and commit itself to binding targets to reduce green house emissions. No more. The Australian Labour Party’s recent resounding victory in Australia’s general election made sure of that. The party’s leader Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard (pictured) made no secret during the election campaign that they would ratify the Kyoto protocol if elected. At the polls, the Labour has routed the U.S.-backing Liberals, as the Australians racked by chronic drought, water shortages and perennial bush fires obviously took this Labour’s promise close to heart. Now the U.S., still the world’s primary polluter, stands alone in its stubborn resistance to reason and subservient pandering to the well-connected special interests. Without its former ‘friend’, it’s getting harder and harder for the U.S. Government to deny the obvious and justify its inaction.
Europe is surging ahead and has already unilaterally committed itself to cut emissions by 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels. A new treaty to succeed the Kyoto is in the works, and Europe is pushing for even more ambitious targets of cutting emissions by 30% by 2020 and by between 60% and 80% by 2050. Meanwhile, the U.S. is still refusing to commit itself to meaningful reductions, and is involved in “you first” finger-pointing with China and other developing countries, disregarding the fact that however bad China is, its per-capita emissions are still one sixth of the America’s.
A recent UN report on climate change warns that current progress in the developing world will be reversed unless rich countries begin cutting emissions and help poorer ones switch to energy sources less-polluting than coal and oil (China currently builds one or two new coal plants a week to satisfy its energy demands). Still, in the U.S. the special interests-funded “sceptics” are not convinced. One of the main arguments is as usual a “threat to growth and prosperity”, because of the “staggering” costs. Strangely, you often find that people espousing such views at the same time have no problem with staggering costs of a wasteful war costing a billion dollars a week… It is not a threat to growth and prosperity, as long as you have the right shares portfolio!
With the loss of America’s ONLY ally in its long stand-off against Kyoto, the future looks a bit less grim. Hopefully, prodded by proactive Europe, more informed and less brainwashed American population, a conscientious and future-oriented part of the business community, the U.S. Administration may eventually see reason and commit itself to some meaningful changes. The other good news is that the new treaty will likely for the first time set targets for developing countries like China as well, committing them to reducing emissions per unit of their growth. There is a long and tortuous road ahead, of protracted negotiations and horse-trading. Still, it looks a little brighter, because the progressive countries gained a new important ally – the new Australian government of Kevin Rudd, cute Julia Gillard and their right-minded supporters.
Sources: miscellaneous media reports http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Gillard (picture courtesy of Wikipedia, which is the best and FREE!) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6769743.stm (it’s easy to blame China, but who’s driving it?) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/world/28climate.html?ref=environment (the U.N. makes sense, but not to the U.S. “sceptics”) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=26&objectid=10478949 (the new treaty’s tribulations)
thanx dimitry – dhlovelife 1st foriegn correspondant!