Government refuses to ratify Kyoto but is committed to targets

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One week after the state premiers of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria released a report suggesting it would be in Australia's economic interests to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the federal government again said it would not do so. "The truth is that Kyoto itself will achieve very little," according to environment minister David Kemp. Ratification "would create obligations for Australia that are not imposed on many of our regional trading competitors. If these arrangements continued over the longer term, industries could be driven overseas by competitive pressure to countries that might not have as stringent environmental standards as Australia. Such a situation would mean an increase in global emissions, not the reduction we all seek." He adds: "We are not prepared to start shipping Australian industries and jobs overseas, even though some states are apparently prepared to do just that." He stresses the government remains committed to meeting its Kyoto target to limit emissions to an 8% increase on 1990 levels. "Australia is within striking distance of achieving the target," Kemp says, citing the success of domestic policies including the Mandated Renewable Energy Target (MRET), which he says has encouraged "a veritable explosion of opportunities" in renewable energy. The MRET "will see wind farms in every Australian state supplying some 250,000 MWh of power annually," says Kemp.

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