Australia recommits to Kyoto Protocol

Australia has done the right thing by industry as well as the planet in recommitting to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol, Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson says.

Australia and 36 other industrialised countries signed up for binding emission cuts by 2020 as part of a package of agreements extending the life of the Kyoto Protocol at a UN conference in Doha.

Dr Emerson said this gave Australian businesses the capacity to participate in global emissions trading markets and access to lowest cost abatement measures.

"What we're doing is ensuring that Australian industry is in there with a predictable regime and is able to tap into those international markets," he told ABC TV.

"We're doing the right thing not only by Australian industry but by the planet."

The 27-member European Union, Switzerland and eight other industrialised countries joined Australia in signing the extension to Kyoto, the first leg of which expires on December 31.

They represent about 15 per cent of global emissions.

However, the protocol excludes major developing polluters such as China and India, as well as the United States which refuses to ratify it.

Negotiations have begun for a binding global agreement in 2015 that would bring in those big nations.

Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said progress was encouraging.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said Australia's recommitment to the Kyoto Protocol, along with carbon pricing, put the country in a position to be influential in developing the 2015 agreement.

"Australia can play a key role by urging the USA and China to work for an ambitious agreement," chief executive Don Henry said in a statement.

"If we want a healthy Great Barrier Reef, a prosperous agricultural sector, safety from bushfires and a limit to sea level rise and extreme weather, Australia needs to be bold and active in helping achieve a strong global agreement in 2015."

Dr Emerson said it wasn't as if the major countries were doing nothing on climate change at the moment.

He noted there were at least 10 states within the US which had set up emissions trading schemes.

"Within a year we'll have either a carbon price or an emissions trading scheme in 50 or more national and sub-national jurisdictions covering well over a billion people," he said.

"That's a pretty good start."

Environmental lobby group WWF called on the Australian government to commit more financial assistance for developing countries to reduce emissions.

-AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 30 Dec 2014 06:03:51 Processing Time: 273ms