Australia signs up to Kyoto at Bali conference

Applause greeted the announcement that Australia has agreed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which kicked off a two-week UN climate conference in Indonesia, chinadialogue’s Yi Shui reports from Bali.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Su Wei, praised Australia’s decision, saying he hopes the Australian government will fulfill its pledge to make a bigger contribution to the global fight against climate change.

Australian delegate Howard Bamsey said he had only been authorised to announce the decision hours earlier, adding that his country would commit to cutting its emissions 60% by 2050.

Indonesian environment minister Rachmat Witoelar was elected president of the conference, known as the thirteenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP13) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hopes to set out the road map for a future climate-change agreement. In his acceptance speech, Witoelar stressed the importance of mitigation, adaption, technology and finance.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, called on rich nations to respect the development demands of countries such as China and India, adding it was impractical to require binding targets of developing countries.

2007 should be known as the year of climate change, de Boer suggested on Monday, saying that nearly every international conference has touched upon the subject this year. De Boer also cited China’s national climate change plan and the EU’s ambitious targets emissions reduction targets as evidence of the change in attitudes to climate change.