From: Rod McGuirk, Associated Press
Published May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

Australian Foreign Minister Says Regional Carbon Trading Scheme Unlikely Soon

CANBERRA, Australia -- Chinese and U.S. opposition to international carbon trading make a regional scheme to place a price on pollution unlikely in the near future, Australia's foreign minister said Monday.


A weekend newspaper article said Australia was developing a regional carbon emissions trading scheme including China and the United States that could be put to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders' summit in Sydney in September.


Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that while climate change "is going to be one of the central, if not the central issue" at the meeting, an agreement on carbon trading was unlikely.


"You need to understand that in terms of an emissions trading scheme, both China -- particularly China -- and the United States -- and I think .... there would be some smaller countries in the region which might share this view -- have been opposed to establishing an emissions trading scheme," Downer told reporters.


"So I think the prospects of setting up an emissions trading scheme in the short term are not very bright," he added.


Australia and the United States are the only industrialized nations to refuse to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to join in carbon trading.


Such schemes place a price on carbon pollution and allow polluters to trade credits that limit amounts of carbon emissions allowed.


Prime Minister John Howard, who will chair the APEC meeting, has recently said that Australia will inevitably become part of an international carbon trading scheme and commissioned an inquiry, which will report next month, into how carbon trading could affect the economy.


The Weekend Australian newspaper reported Saturday that Australia is planning a regional emissions trading scheme based on the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate -- a U.S.-led forum that also comprises Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and India.


The forum seeks to reduce pollution by promoting cleaner technologies but does not set limits on the amounts of global-warming carbon that a member country can produce.


Source: Associated Press


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