From: Rob Taylor, Reuters
Published October 31, 2006 12:00 AM

Australia Rejects British Climate Report

CANBERRA -- Australia said on Tuesday it would not let down workers and accept a hard-hitting British report on climate change as critics branded the country an environmental "renegade".

Australia, which along with the U.S. has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol cutting Greenhouse gases, said solutions to global warming were doomed without the world's biggest Greenhouse producers: China, the U.S. and India.

"You cannot have an effective response to global warming unless you have all of the culprits in the net," a defiant Prime Minister John Howard told parliament as lawmakers failed to censure him on global warming.

"I am not going to betray the natural advantages that this country has, I'm not going to betray those associated with the resource industry."

Howard's comments followed a new British report warning failure to tackle climate change could lift world temperatures by 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) over the next century, bringing catastrophic climatic swings displacing millions of people.

The report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said determined international action to tackle global warming would outweigh the economic and human costs.

Howard said Australia agreed international action was required, but wanted a solution outside the Kyoto Protocol framework and one which recognised the country's fossil fuel-reliant economy.

"How on earth can an agreement that does not embrace almost half of the world's emitters be the answer," Howard said.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said a rival scheme bringing together Australia, China, India, the U.S., South Korea and Japan was a better solution to both the Stern report and Kyoto, which requires 35 countries to cut Greenhouse gases.

But the environmental report Down To Earth, by the India-based Society for Environmental Communications, said the scheme only gathered together Australia and the U.S. as the world's biggest "renegade polluters".

Climate scientist Matthew England, from the University of New South Wales, said Australia must commit to international agreements cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"Australia has to get with the times on this," he said.

Stern's report estimates that stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cost about 1 percent of annual global output by 2050. Inaction, however, could cut global consumption per person by between 5 and 20 percent.

Failure to act could plunge the world into an economic crisis on a par with the 1930s Depression, it said.

Source: Reuters

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