Australia's Rudd to move quickly on climate change

Published November 25th 2007 in Agence France-Presse
SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia's incoming prime minister Kevin Rudd on Sunday vowed to move quickly on his campaign pledges on climate change, viewed as a crucial element in his landslide election victory.

Promising "action and action now on climate change and water," Rudd said he would attend next month's UN meeting on climate change in the Indonesian island of Bali after an invitation from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Rudd also told British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a telephone conversation that he would move quickly to ratify the United Nation's-backed Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

"President Yudhoyono formally invited me to attend the Bali conference, which will of course deal with climate change and where we go to now on Kyoto," Rudd said.

"I responded positively of course to President Yudhoyono's invitation and I look forward very much to meeting him in Bali very soon."

In the Ugandan capital Kampala, which has been hosting the biennial 53-nation Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Brown issued a statement saying that Rudd had undertaken to move quickly to ratify the Kyoto agreement and take serious action on climate change.

"This is an immediate change for the Australian government," Brown said at the leaders' retreat on the shores of Lake Victoria.

"They (Australia) are now signing the Kyoto agreement. As far as the Bali talks are concerned, his commitment to a post-Kyoto agreement and what he wants to do about a binding commitment will be a very important factor in the next stage of the Bali talks."

Rudd pledged during the campaign to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a step which would leave the United States as the only major country not to have ratified the agreement.

A total of 172 countries and government entities have ratified the Protocol, which came into force on February 16, 2005. Thirty-six of them, plus the European Union (EU) as a party in its own right, are required to make targeted emissions curbs, concerning six greenhouse gases.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said climate change had proved a crucial issue in the election, saying 21 of the seats Rudd's Labor Party had wrested from the government had been decided on Green Party preferences.

"Australians have voted for fair dinkum (genuine) action on climate change and are looking forward to Mr Rudd moving immediately to ratify Kyoto and develop a strong target to cut greenhouse pollution by 2030," said ACF executive director Don Henry.