Key greenhouse gas emitter Australia on Friday announced it was ready to sign up for a second round of the Kyoto Protocol environmental protection treaty.
“Today I can announce that Australia is ready to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol,” Climate Minister Greg Combet said in a speech.
Australia is among the world’s worst per capita polluters, with a heavy reliance on coal mining and exports. Most of its electricity comes from coal-fired power stations.
Combet’s announcement comes ahead of annual negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which this year take place in Doha, Qatar, from November 26-December 7.
The big issue is renewing commitments under Kyoto after the first round of cuts expires on December 31, smoothing the way towards a new global treaty on climate change that would take effect in 2020.
Combet said joining a second commitment period would ensure Australian businesses have access to international credits under the Clean Development Mechanism, helping reduce emissions at the lowest cost to the economy.
He added that it was the right thing to do because “countries right around the world are increasingly taking real action to combat climate change”.
“Second, all countries are now working on the new global agreement that will be concluded by 2015, and take effect from 2020.”
But the minister said conditions were attached, including access to the Kyoto market mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism, from January 1, next year.
He also cited the need for existing land sector rules to continue, providing opportunities to cut emissions through better land management.
“While Australia is doing our fair share, we expect the same from others,” he added.
Kyoto is a talisman for developing countries, but more and more developed countries say it is unfair because its binding emissions targets do not affect emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil.
However, New Zealand said on Friday it won’t sign on for a second stage of the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty.
New Zealand’s climate change minister, Tim Groser, says he remains committed to emission reductions agreed to under the first Kyoto Protocol. But he says the country will be better served in the future by joining the US, China and others in a nonbinding climate pledge under the United Nations Framework Convention.