To understand where we're at here in Bali, and what role Australia is playing, we need to go back to last August, when countries met in Vienna to discuss climate change. They came up with a range for what greenhouse gas reduction targets industrialised countries like Australia should accept in Kyoto's next commitment period that begins in 2013. That range was 25-40%. Most countries here in Bali have accepted that range, and want to get on with negotiating individual targets for developed countries within it. So far, the blockers have been Canada, Japan and the US, all countries who are openly anti-Kyoto. Unfortunately, Australia has not so far explicitly said it will support the range either, which is pretty disappointing and is holding up progress on a meaningful "Bali Mandate" which we desperately need if we are going to avoid dangerous climate change.
Credit where credit is due, however. Last August, Australia called the conclusions of the Vienna meeting unacceptable. But just yesterday, with a new PM at the helm, Australian diplomats here in Bali said they now supported the Vienna meeting's outcomes. That's a step forward, no doubt. But Australia needs to go further, and tell us that they will accept the 25-40% range.
Climate conferences frequently commit acts of great violence against the English language. Simple words become pregnant with deliberate ambiguity and what seems the clearest of statements in in fact opaque. Australia's statements so far on the 25-40% range have been guilty of these crimes. Given the seriousness of what we are talking about here, that's got to stop. So Prime Minister Rudd has to come out with a clear statement of Australia's position. Here's a draft for him (note to Rudd's wordsmiths - I won't be offended if you make changes): "Australia supports the 25-40% range for greenhouse reduction commitments by industrialised countries in Kyoto's next commitment period. Australia, having got such a sweetheart deal in the first commitment period, will accept a national target at the top end of that band".
Come on Aussie.....