Whatever the weaknesses of the Kyoto Climate Treaty in effectively curbing climate disruption, global unity over the agreement is arguably a very important factor in moving to a really strong, global carbon cap once it expires in 2012. So whatever your opinions of Kyoto, it's okay to be happy today -- no, really, it is -- that one of the two major holdouts in the industrial world, Australia, is going to ratify the agreement.
Just a few tidbits from coverage by the world's press:
The Earth Thanks Kevin Rudd: "Kevin Rudd, Australia's new prime minister, says he will immediately move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the United States standing proudly alone as the only developed nation in the world still refusing to commit to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases.
"The news is timely, and not just because the latest report from the World Meteorological Organization documented a record high for atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide in 2006 and Australians are the biggest per capita generators of greenhouse gases. Coming up next week is the United Nation's annual climate convention in Bali, Indonesia, where the pressure will be on for a new agreement on emissions reductions designed to kick in in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's "first commitment period" expires. Kevin Rudd plans to attend.
"The hope is that developed and developing nations will commit to even deeper cuts, and thus ensure the future health of the currently burgeoning global market for carbon emission reduction credits. Without a new agreement, the market for credits could collapse, warn some observers." (salon.com)
Turnbull tapped mat on Kyoto: Rudd: "PRIME Minister-elect Kevin Rudd has dismissed outgoing environment minister Malcolm Turnbull's support for the Kyoto Protocol, saying he should have argued harder to change the Howard Government's stance.
"Mr Turnbull, who was tossed out of his frontbench office on Saturday night, says voters have given Mr Rudd a mandate to ratify Kyoto and says it will be an important symbolic act in addressing climate change. (Herald Sun)
Kyoto tops Rudd's agenda:"Australia's ratification of Kyoto will leave the United States isolated as the only major country to have refused to sign up to the treaty, which is aimed at curbing the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
"Rudd's predecessor John Howard, ousted in weekend elections, was a staunch ally of US President George W Bush and made Australia a pariah state in the global climate change debate by also refusing to ratify Kyoto.
"Former US vice president Al Gore, who became an environmental campaigner and went on to win the Nobel peace prize, branded Howard and Bush the "Bonnie and Clyde" of climate change - a reference to the notorious US bank robbers.
"Rudd told the news conference that Gore had telephoned to congratulate him on his victory and the two would meet at the Bali conference on climate change next month.
"'We talked a lot about climate change and some of the important things that need to be done globally,' he said. 'We'll resume that conversation in Bali over a strong cup of tea or something stronger.'"
"Mr Rudd expects to have legal advice by Thursday on whether he can ratify Kyoto before next week's UN climate change meeting in Bali.
"But he was unimpressed with Mr Turnbull's sudden public support for the treaty, which commits nations to specific greenhouse gas emission reduction targets." (News24.com, South Africa)
Be sure to read Worldchanging contributor Craig Nelson's fresh-this-week intro to Kevin Rudd and his potential environmental policies.
What's even more astounding about this development in our (Australia's) approach to addressing climate change is that less than a week ago, we had a leader in government who was opposed to signing (and in fact taking any assertive action), and an opposition in government who promised the action we need.
Now we have a leader in government committed to signing Kyoto and taking this nation back to the world table, and an opposition leader who agrees that the time for action is overdue, and that the people of Australia have given their mandate.
Funny how a "nation's" refusal to act can be turned around by replacing just one person who's a skeptic with another person who will act in our future.....
I think it's safe to say there's a lot of Australians who have something on the world stage (other than sport) to feel proud about again.