Australia Environmentally Backward!
Monday, 26th August 2002 at 1:08 pm
The World Summit on Sustainable Development may be only a few hours old but critics have claimed that Australia has lost significant ground in terms of its environmental policy and is regarded as backwards and recalcitrant in that area.
That’s the verdict of one key negotiator for the United States attending the World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Professor Daniel Esty says that there is no country that has swung more sharply against environmental improvements in the decade since the Rio Earth Summit than Australia.
Australia has been grouped with the United States as an environmental spoiler with its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol designed to curb climate change.
Prof Esty speaking in an interview with ABC radio said Australia’s record since the Rio Earth Summit showed a lack of leadership.
He claimed that the US was not a leader in `92, it was sort of dragged along in some respects – it did well on some issues, less well on others. But Australia was right out front, in `92, on a whole set of issues.
He went on to say that Australia stands arm-in-arm with the US at the trailing end of efforts to address these global-scale problems and to take the environment seriously, or more broadly.
About 100 heads of state are attending the Johannesburg the summit but Prime Minister John Howard and US President George W Bush will not be there, instead sending high-level delegations to negotiate.
Esty’s comments came as a Washington-based researcher, Seth Dunn, of the Worldwatch Institute, said it was time to leave voluntary commitments behind and adopt binding protocol targets.
Dunn says the momentum for bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force has been building, following the ratifications by the European Union and Japan earlier this summer.
The Prime Minister and his Environment Minister have defended Australia’s stand claiming we are already ‘close’ to reaching the targets of the protocol without the restrictions it places on the pacific region!
Friends of the Earth delegates from Australia are attending the Summit and mainstream media will hopefully follow the Summit’s progress.
If you would like to watch the events as they unfold via the Internet, a daily news service has been organised to keep everyone up to date. Take a look at www.dailysummit.net/.