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UN turns up heat on Australia Share on Facebook
THE head of the United Nations environment body has defended the Kyoto Protocol from attack by the Australian Government, and called on politicians to stop making decisions about climate change "based on narrow national self-interest".

by Fairfax - Tuesday, 7 November 2006


Achim Steiner's comments come as 6000 delegates from 189 countries gather in Kenya today to review the progress of the Kyoto Protocol.

Australia has not ratified the protocol, so will be limited to observing some parts of the conference, but will co-chair a two-day workshop on improving international co-operation on climate change.

The UN Environment Program executive director conceded that Kyoto was "only a first step" towards slowing the pace of global warming, but said was better than voluntary alternatives.

"The Kyoto Protocol is the first, legally binding, emission reduction treaty and is, to date, the only mainstream game in town to address the ever-rising threat of climate change," Mr Steiner said.

"A few countries have characterised Kyoto as straightjacket and a burden to economic growth. But many of those who have embraced the treaty are convinced that its variety of provisions - from emissions trading to offsetting pollution via green energy and reforestation projects in developing countries - offer flexible and economically interesting ways out of the threat of climate change while moving their economies to more resource-efficient patterns and catalysing new industries, jobs and business opportunities.

"Responding to climate change can no longer be based on narrow national self-interest."

Over the past week the Federal Government has been under renewed attack for being one of only two industrialised countries (the other is the United States) not to ratify Kyoto, which came into force early last year.

The Government has responded by arguing the protocol would harm Australia's energy-intensive economy. It has vowed not to join any similar agreements until other polluters such as China and India do so.

 

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