Time ticking away for Howard and Bush

6 September 2007

On Wednesday, Greenpeace and Make Poverty History carted two ice sculptures of John Howard and George W. Bush around Sydney, sending a message to that there is little time left to take meaningful action on climate change and calling on both leaders to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Many developing nations are on the front line of climate change impacts, often due to a combination of natural vulnerability to climate impacts and a lack of wealth and infrastructural resilience to cope with climate change. The Carteret Islands are one example of how less developed areas can be exposed to climate impacts. The injustice is that many developing nations have a very small climate footprint and although contributing least to the problem, are forced to bear the brunt of its impacts. APEC contains many nations that will suffer greatly as climate change impacts take hold, as well as two who have forged the "coalition of the unwilling" on climate change, Australia and the USA. Both Howard and Bush are keen to talk about climate change through APEC and it is pretty clear that they would talk until the cows come home if we let them (or sea-levels rise to the point where they float home). But if climate change is going to be on the APEC agenda, it should be in the context of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and playing a role in negotiating binding targets to cut greenhouse pollution. There isn't the time to divert attention away from the Kyoto process with regional agreements that are centred around aspirational targets, and other such waffle. The only positive result on climate change through APEC would be the full support of APEC nations to the Kyoto process, especially its ratification by Australia and the USA.