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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > U.S., Australia Climate Plan Cuts No Emissions

U.S., Australia Climate Plan Cuts No Emissions

Date : 16th July 2002, Source : ENS

WASHINGTON, DC, July 12, 2002 (ENS) - The governments of the United States and Australia have announced an initial work program under the U.S.-Australia Climate Action Partnership. This bilateral agreement announced in February takes the place of the Kyoto climate protocol, an international treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions that neither country will ratify.

Environmental groups in both countries have criticized the work program for doing nothing to actually cut the emission of greenhouse gases. The work program of 19 projects was announced following meetings held this week between Dr. David Kemp, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and top members of the Bush administration responsible for energy and environment.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky met with the Australian environment minister on Tuesday. Dr. Kemp also met this week with other senior members of the Bush administration - Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton, and Commerce Under Secretary and NOAA Administrator, Vice-Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr.

The 19 projects fall into five categories, all concerning information exchange, monitoring, and research into cleaner generating technologies, but none actually limiting the emission of greenhouse gases.

Science and Monitoring - delivering enhanced collaboration on scientific research that will improve understanding of southern hemisphere climate systems, and address key areas of climate change uncertainty;

Engaging Business - exchanging information and experience on policies and approaches, and sharing tools developed by both countries, that will assist industry action on reducing greenhouse emissions;

Technology Development - providing for Australian and US industry collaboration on the development of renewable energy and other cost effective technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as trapping carbon dioxide emissions underground and advanced cleaner coal utilisation technologies;

Greenhouse Accounting - strengthening capabilities for accounting for emissions from forestry and agriculture activities; and

Collaborating with Developing Countries - helping build capacity in developing countries in the Pacific to monitor the regional climate. "The agreement launched today in Washington is called a 'Greenhouse Action Partnership,' but it lacks any calls for direct action," said Greenpeace Australia climate campaigner Dr. Frances MacGuire. "The Partnership involves information exchange, continued monitoring, development of technologies and collaboration on accounting mechanisms. But it does not require any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

U.S. Under Secretary Dobriansky maintains the work program will cut emissions. "The exchange of knowledge and experience on policies and approaches developed by the U.S. and Australia to reduce greenhouse emissions will make both countries' domestic programs more effective," she said.

On Monday, the U.S. Secretaries of Energy, Commerce and Agriculture and the EPA Administrator submitted recommendations to President Bush that provide a blueprint to improve and expand a voluntary reporting system that encourages greenhouse gas emission reductions and creates a new, transferable credit system for those reductions. Energy Secretary Abraham said, "Our goal is to significantly improve our reporting system, reduce the projected growth in greenhouse gases over the long-term, and credit those who voluntarily make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

But Americans want the government to do more to limit global warming, according to the results of a public opinion poll released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S. group that supports steep cuts in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, the number one greenhouse gas.

The Zogby survey of 1,008 likely U.S. voters across the country found that 76 percent of those questioned want the U.S. government to require power plants and industry to cut emissions linked to global warming, and not rely on voluntary market based measures endorsed by the White House.

President Bush's global warming plan would allow more greenhouse gas pollution to occur at a faster rate than if the nation maintained the pollution trends of the past five years, says a report issued Thursday by America's largest environmental membership organization, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

"Beneath the Hot Air" uses Energy Department data to show that the amount of carbon dioxide,that the United States is adding to the atmosphere each year increased by 4.6 percent over the past five years due to increasing dependence on coal, oil and natural gas.

If these trends were to continue for the next 10 years, the nation's carbon dioxide emissions from energy would be expected to grow by 9.5 percent.

The Bush plan obscures this emissions growth by using what the President termed "emissions intensity" targets that link the amount of greenhouse gas emissions to the size of the economy rather than identifying concrete emissions targets as the world's other industrialized nations have agreed to do under the Kyoto Protocol.

Jeremy Symons, NWF climate change and wildlife program manager, said "The Bush administration claims to be reducing global warming pollution, but it's an accounting sham. The proof is in the pollution."

Australia's largest environmental group, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the work program announced for the Australia-U.S. Climate Action Partnership is a "smokescreen" for Australian government inaction on climate change.

"The Partnership gives no commitment to binding targets to reduce greenhouse pollution," said Sarojini Krishnapillai, ACF climate change campaigner.

Australian Environment Minister Kemp sees value in the work program. "Scientific cooperation under this Partnership will assist in reducing key uncertainties and improving the capacity of climate science to inform policy making," he said. "Some projects are targeted at building the capacity of developing countries, particularly in the Pacific, to address climate change." Krishnapillai says Pacific Island nations would not need this increased capacity to deal with global warming impacts if industrialized countries would limit greenhouse gas emissions. "One of the greatest insults in the Partnership is the claim that U.S. and Australia will assist developing nations monitor climate impacts and manage climate risks in some of the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events - instead of cutting greenhouse pollution which causes these impacts and risks."

A poll of Australian voters announced this week shows they too want a stronger global warming limitation program from their government. "The Australian people want the government to ratify the [Kyoto] treaty," Greenpeace's Dr. MacGuire said. "Polling released yesterday shows that only 17 percent of Australians share Mr. Howard's concerns that it would not be in Australia's interests to do so, while 71 percent believe it would be in the national interest."

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia would have been able to increase its greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent in the period 2008 to 2012.

"If Australia is committed to global action, why is it negotiating a bilateral agreement and shunning the Kyoto Protocol?" Dr. MacGuire asked.

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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