From: Associated Press
Published July 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Former Soviet Leader Gorbachev Urges Australia, U.S. to Sign Kyoto Protocol

BRISBANE, Australia — Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Friday urged the United States and Australia to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, saying the world's "reservoir of life" was rapidly shrinking.


Australia and the United States are the only major industrialized countries that have not signed the Kyoto treaty, which mandates specific cutbacks in emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases by 2012 in 35 countries.


"Our reservoir of life is shrinking," Gorbachev said from the eastern Australian city of Brisbane, where he is heading an international environmental conference. "Before it is too late I think we need to put our environmental house in order."


Gorbachev said the United States had behaved like a "stubborn animal" over the Kyoto agreement, and urged Australia to show leadership by joining the pact.


Australia's conservative Prime Minister John Howard is a staunch supporter of U.S. President George W. Bush, and has thrown his country's weight behind several U.S. foreign policy decisions.


"That's even more reason for Australia to sign the protocol," the former Soviet leader said. "Then that closeness will play a positive role. If that closeness is used only for aggravating mistakes such as the war in Iraq that's not positive, that's not useful."


The 2006 Earth Dialogues conference runs until Monday, and includes presentations by environmental activists from around the world.


Gorbachev said he believed the forum was important to mobilize public support for dealing with global warming.


"World public opinion is now considered a superpower in its own right, and we have a responsibility to make use of this power to drive positive action for a sustainable future," he said.


Source: Associated Press


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