Australia, US Must Join International Strategy on Emissions

Australian Environment Minister admits country is very vulnerable to climate change and achieving a comprehensive, worldwide approach on global warming must be a priority.

Published: 04-Jan-2005

SYDNEY : Australia and the United States will have to eventually participate in an international strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol, an Australian minister has been reported saying.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell said Australia was "very vulnerable" to climate change and achieving a comprehensive, worldwide approach on global warming must be a priority, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"I have made a conscious decision to get the government more onto the front foot on climate change," he was quoted saying.

"Climate change is the preeminent environmental issue," he said.

Australia would continue to align itself with Washington in opposing Kyoto but Campbell conceded both countries would be part of a future global agreement, the newspaper said.

The protocol comes into force next month, but the United States and Australia have been two leading opponents.

Australia has argued it is too costly and unfair because developing countries are not bound to make specific pollution cuts, although Campbell conceded Monday that Australia needed to recognise the special needs of developing nations.

Greenpeace campaigner Catherine Fitzpatrick welcomed the government's recognition that climate change was a serious issue but said it was hard to take seriously until greenhouse gas emissions started coming down.

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