Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions in the next 12 years and has assured Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that he is willing to act as an intermediary between Beijing and the developed world.
In a significant move last night the Australian delegation to the UN climate talks stated it “fully supports” the proposal that developed countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emission by 25 to 40% by 2020.
Last night Australia publicly aligned itself with the nations under the Kyoto Protocol that have agreed to consider these cuts, distancing the new Rudd Government further from the US position. Until now, Rudd has repeatedly said that Australia would not set its own 2020 target until he received a report from economist Ross Garnaut next year.
“It is a successful model and we should persist with it,” a Chinese delegate said. The head of the UN’s climate team, Yvo de Boer, said it would be “a huge challenge” to bridge the divisions between some leading industrial countries and the developing countries here over the next days and suggested Rudd come to Bali immediately if he wanted to assist.
Sources confirmed on 5 December that Rudd had held a 20-minute conversation in Mandarin with Wen, in which he also accepted an invitation to next year’s Beijing Olympics.
Wen is the first world leader Rudd has spoken to since his swearing-in on 3 December after his emphatic victory in the election held on 24 November. Rudd spoke to US President George W Bush after his election victory. Sources confirmed last night that Wen had contacted Rudd to congratulate him on his decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Chinese Premier also sought Rudd’s co-operation in future talks on the issue of climate change.China and other developing nations face pressure from Europe to agree to binding cuts in carbon emissions. The US and the previous Howard government favoured voluntary targets for emission cuts.
Labour has made clear it will not sign a post-Kyoto pact that does not set emission targets for developing nations such as China and India. Rudd said that he wanted to take a leadership role in creating a bridge between the aspirations of the developing world and developed nations.