December 04, 2007 | Graham

Kyoto – there goes Australian independence

We ratified the Kyoto protocol and received a standing ovation. If you’re into instant gratification it was a moment to savour for a couple of seconds. If you’re not, you should ask yourself what was actually achieved.
The Kyoto protocol is in tatters. Most of the signatories are in breach of their obligations, and some of those who have achieved their targets have only done so via economic recession, while the rest have done it by exporting their manufacturing industries to non-ratifying countries like China and India! The carbon trading markets meant to sustain the protocol targets are malfunctioning.
Instead of playing an honourable role where we acknowledged a responsibility to limit greenhouse emissions but were not prepared to ratify a flawed agreement, we’re now one of the maddening crowd. We’ve traded our influence for social warmth. While we were complying but refusing to sign we were simultaneously showing a good example and making a strong critique.
Ratifying Kyoto is meant to give us leverage, but in fact we had plenty when we weren’t a ratifying naton. More than we’ll have now we’ve given in. The leverage we had was on display when we got the Sydney declaration from the major greenhouse emitters at APEC.
One of the persistent rounds of the Hawke-Keating years was that we needed to be “respected” by the rest of the world. In reality this meant bowing to fashion. We had to pretend to be things we quite clearly weren’t, like an Asian nation, because being who we were wasn’t good enough. Every time a UN committee stacked full of the sorts of countries that bring up the long-tail of any international index criticised us, we had to import a load of hairshirts instead of telling them to take a running jump.
One of the legacies of Howard’s term in office is that we don’t care about those things too much anymore. We’re happy being who we are. Or we were. The left pilloried Howard for being a “suck hole” to the US. Their solution, it seems, is to do the same to any collection of international organisations that demand instant gratification. Rudd is playing ball on this issue. I hope Kyoto is where he draws the line.

Posted by Graham at 5:54 pm | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

1 Comment

  1. We have known for some time that the Kyoto protocol is a joke. It follows than the new Rudd Government is also a joke, rushing in to sign such a dud document when it is on the way out anyway.
    As for us “…happy being who we are”, the changing of government when there was no logical reason for change and many economic reasons not to change, seems to indicate that we are not happy.
    We can now look forward to much inconvenience and cost when the only solution to climate change is another climate change.
    Happy now?

    Comment by Leigh — December 5, 2007 @ 8:35 am

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