The Heat Is Online

Australia Won't Sign Kyoto Protocol

Australia says no plans to sign Kyoto Treaty, June 2, 2003

CANBERRA - Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, reaffirmed its opposition to ratifying the Kyoto treaty on combating climate change, saying it was not in the national interest.

Prime Minister John Howard said Australia was in an almost unique situation in being a developed country that was a net exporter of energy.

"If we sign Kyoto under present conditions we would run the risk of losing investment that would otherwise be in Australia to countries like China and Russia," Howard told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

"They don't have the same obligations because they are regarded as developing countries."

Australia has sided with its ally, the United States, in rejecting the 1997 pact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions blamed for rising global temperatures.

Howard argues the treaty is unviable without the United States, the world's biggest polluter, and if the same reduction targets faced by industrialised nations were not also imposed on developing countries.

Under the pact industrialised nations must cut emissions by an average five percent by 2012 from 1990 levels.

Australia's conservative government says it remains committed to its Kyoto target of an eight percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. But environmentalists say that target is all but unattainable under current government policy.