Despite the G8 countries’ announcement this morning of their ‘vision’ to halve global emissions by 2050, there is a continuing reluctance on the part of the developed nations to take decisive action to reduce emissions and shift away from the global reliance on fossil fuels to renewable technologies. Kevin Rudd is speaking at the G8+ Leader’s Summit in Tokyo today, and has the opportunity to step up to the role of global leader on climate change on behalf of all Australians.

Australia doesn’t have a proud history of such leadership, but the Rudd Government would like us to think that is changing. Currently, there is an ongoing global discussion about a new international mechanism for developed countries to ‘transfer’ clean technologies to developing countries, to assist them in mitigating against climate change. The Australian government is arguing for the transferance of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, or so-called ‘clean coal’. Never mind the issue of the future liability for developing countries of having to store the toxic carbon dioxide from this as-yet unproven process, nor the fact that Australia is seeking new markets for its export coal due to the gradual introduction of carbon pricing in developed country markets. The Rudd government would have us believe it is acting altruistically in making CCS technology available to developing countries. In actual fact it more likely has to do with the fact that the government has approved $20 billion for infrastructure for coal expansions since it came into power, while delaying its election promise to fund renewable technology, despite a poll weeks after the election showing that nearly three quarters of Australians supported the capping or reducing of our export coal market.

In contrast, real climate change leadership would be a strong call for developed countries to commit to real action plans to reduce their own emissions, as well as transferring renewable technologies to developing countries, to make available genuinely zero-emission options to meet their increasing energy demands. Kevin Rudd has an opportunity to take this position in discussions at the G8+ today, and needs to know that Australians will be watching very closely.