The Shadow

"Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow . . . For Thine is the Kingdom"

16 November 2006

Come clean!

At last the Australian mainstream media has called into question one of the standard excuses of the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment (Ian Campbell) for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol - by referring to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

An article in the Herald on 15 November attributed to James Button in Nairobi , where the world summit on global warming is being held, said:

"Mr Campbell has said the protocol is flawed because it does not force fast-growing developing nations such as China and India to reduce their emissions.

Yet China, unlike Australia, has joined the global carbon market and is taking part in projects to reduce its emissions through the UN Clean Development Mechanism."

CDM is set out under article 12 of the Protocol which allows Annex I Parties (developed nations) to implement emissions reductions projects in non-Annex I Parties (developing nations), in return for emissions credits in their own countries. The whole point of the mechanism is to allow countries such as Australia (if it were a signatory) to help countries such as China and India reduce their emissions.

As the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) web page says:

"Article 12 also stresses that such project activities are to assist the developing country host Parties in achieving sustainable development and in contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention."

As a bonus, when Annex 1 countries contribute to emissions reductions in developing nations, they offset some of their own emissions, putting themselves in a position where they can exceed their own targets without breaching the protocol.

I think, in light of this, Howard and Campbelll's reasoning is flawed. But the thing that got me was that no-one was mentioning this. Even Radio National's PM (quite a reputable program) let Campbell slip that defense through in an interview without a single CDM rebuttal.

My London source says that the UK press has been talking about CDM a fair bit, but that's not at all surprising. The UK is an Annex I Party and has contributed to a number of CDM projects in China.

I may be mistaken. There could have been some earlier CDM references in the Australian media that passed my radar. If you're aware of any, please correct me.

The other concern with Kyoto that the PM has raised on a number of occasions is that it threatens Australia's competitive advantage. We are a coal rich nation that burns and experts a lof of the stuff. It really is a tough one.


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