Canberra: Australia called on the European Union (EU) on 3 April to do more to cut its own greenhouse emissions before lecturing Kyoto sceptics Australia and the United States about climate change.
Australia and the U.S. have refused to ratify the Koyto Protocol, which sets binding limits on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said on 2 April that Australia and the U.S. are hampering efforts to tackle climate change, prompting a rebuke from Prime Minister John Howard, who said 12 EU nations are in danger of missing their Kyoto targets.
“You’ve got the spokesman for a group of countries lecturing us about not having signed Kyoto, yet the great bulk of the countries on whose behalf he speaks are falling well behind their Kyoto targets and are doing less well than Australia in meeting them,” Howard said.
“Our answer to the spokesman for the EU is look to your own affairs, get your countries complying with the targets you’ve proclaimed,” he said.
Howard said countries including Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and Italy are all in danger of missing their Kyoto targets, while Australia will likely meet its emissions’ target, despite its refusal to ratify the pact.
At a United Nations-sponsored meeting in Brussels to review a report on the regional effects of rising global temperatures, Dimas said only political pride was stopping Australia from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
“It’s only political pride, if I can put it in a nice way, that prevents you from ratifying,” he said to Australian delegates. “If you would like to really give a boost to international negotiations, you could ratify Kyoto.”
The 27-nation EU agreed last month to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, challenging industrialised and developing countries to go further with a 30% cut, which the EU would then match.
But Howard’s conservative government has steadfastly refused to set binding cuts on greenhouse emissions, as this will hurt the economy and its position as the world’s second largest coal exporter.
Howard said if Australia ratified the Kyoto protocol, the country would be put at a competitive disadvantage compared with countries in Europe which did not have a strong resources sector.