On Monday the government announced a very weak emissions target for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol of a half a percent reduction on 1990 levels.

Well, maybe not good, exactly… Pic: Supplied

This target is the lowest possible in the government’s long stated 5-25 per cent range dependant on the level of global action.

But in school we were always told to give our best effort and this is clearly not it.

Australia should have set the example internationally by raising ambition to the higher end of their target range. Instead they have committed themselves to a reputation for doing the bare minimum.

It is now more crucial than ever that the world keeps the reduction of the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere the focal point of the Kyoto Protocol.

At the UN climate change conference in Doha over the next two weeks, countries will decide what they are going to do with the left over emission units from the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period that ends this year.

These units were used by countries to meet their emission reduction targets internationally, but some countries exceeded their goals and want their surplus units carried over into the next commitment period.

This would mean very little for climate change reduction.

In effect these countries would then be able to meet their targets not through reducing the amount of carbon and green house gases in the atmosphere, but from their left over emission units.

Indeed, a number of countries were able to meet their first Kyoto targets without any deliberate action.

For example, reductions during the dissociation of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s were due to economic reform and not any premeditated climate action.

Australia is one country hoping these units will be able to be carried over into the new commitment period along with Russia, who is not continuing with their Kyoto commitment and is pushing for surplus units to be transferred over so they can sell them.

When the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997, Australia lobbied hard for the inclusion of a specific clause on land clearing that allowed it to table one of the weakest targets in the world of +8 percent on 1990 emissions.

And once again, Australia is planning to commit to one of the weakest targets in the world and have also stated In Doha that the “land sector rules must continue” for Australia to be involved with the Kyoto protocol.

For the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to be an effective interim framework towards a new global treaty in 2020, there must be no ability for these units to be carried over.

Doing so risks Kyoto becoming nothing more than an empty shell that procedurally incentivises weak targets in the first place. Critics suggest that a lack of carry-over will disincentive achievement above and beyond targets by countries, but this realpolitik view forgets the reason a country would table a target in the first place.

Today in the UN negotiations, developing countries expressed their disappointment with Australia’s weak target.

The least developed countries group have even stated explicitly that Australia’s proposed Kyoto strategy is unacceptable and that carry over units should be outright abolished. Meanwhile, the Africa group represented by Swaziland encouraged Australia to “move to the higher end of their target range without conditions”.

Ultimately, Australia’s target is a drop in the ocean compared to the action of other countries such as Norway and Switzerland.

Not only does Australia need to increase the ambition of their targets, but they must remove their conditions on land clearing and carry-over units.

This will improve the mood of the negotiations and move the world forward into mitigating climate change.

Because the time to mitigate climate change is running out. Once the world hits the tipping point of carbon in our atmosphere, the effects of climate change will become irreversible.

This world needs real action, not the illusion of carbon reduction which carry-over units represent.

But if they are passed during this negotiating round, the only hope for the world is that countries like Australia dramatically increase the ambition of their targets.

It is past the time to take shortcuts.

It is past the time to take shortcuts. Ryan Hyde is a member of the Global Voices UNFCCC Australian Youth Delegation and a student at Swinburne University.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.

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32 comments

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    • subotic says:

      02:27pm | 28/11/12

      Smithers: Sir, that nuclear waste concealment unit that was supposed to last a thousand years is full.

      Mr. Burns: Hmmm. Have you tried stamping it down?

      Smithers: It just popped up in another place. We need a place to get rid of this plutonium.

      Mr. Burns: Just pick the biggest idiot in the plant and put the plutonium in his bag.

      [Sees Homer and his new Duff bag through the surveilance cameras]

      Mr. Burns: That’s a bingo.

    • Liberal genius says:

      02:39pm | 28/11/12

      But that’s just because we default to racing to the bottom of the conservative swill view, that’s all. We don’t really think we can hurt the planet and see nothing alarming about a one degree per century change in a planet that’s Billions of years old and Is used to stability in order to sustain life. We’re idiots and twits is all.

    • pete says:

      02:42pm | 28/11/12

      Here’s a tip, buddy, if you actually care about this, encourage people to stop having kids.

      Only way to fix it.

    • PJ says:

      03:05pm | 28/11/12

      Stop the Gillard Governments mass immigration, because its people that create the harmful gases right?

      Roads, concrete on green fields, houses, more jobs, more cares greater carbon footprint.

      Plant trees instead.

    • fzr560 says:

      03:13pm | 28/11/12

      The elephant in the room. With the population of the Indian Sub-continent, Africa and South America exploding, our symbolic gestures are increasingly redundant. The naive little kid at the end of the street will always be a passenger.Those that think otherwise,probably also thought the PMs misogyny rant had some sort of impact overseas.

    • con says:

      03:16pm | 28/11/12

      yeah pete 1000000 people dont have kids….i bet for you that would mean another coal pit for another few years

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      03:27pm | 28/11/12

      Pete
      Ryan is a young educated man on a mission and is to be congratulated, however, very soon, he will realise that Kyoto / Australia / Doha / Swaziland will mean nothing if world population is not bought under control and probably during his lifetime.

    • J says:

      02:56pm | 28/11/12

      “Global warming” doesn’t exist, its as simple as that. Its a fabrication.

    • ramases says:

      02:58pm | 28/11/12

      Lets face it Kyoto is an empty shell. Its was supposed to be the answer to all our supposed problems but as usual with watering down and countries not signing up it has become somewhat of a joke.
        Climate Change in itself is a misnomer as the Climate is always changing and this seems to be a convenient way of imposing extra costs onto countries without real benefits.
        Just because the records say we are maybe getting warmer doesnt mean it is so as just remember that the records are but a drop in the bucket in terms of the earth’s age and the changes in climate that have occurred before have certainly exceeded the minute changes we are experiencing today and all that without there being a tax to cover it.
        Of course the Climate Change faithful will once again trot out the 95% of scientists that are sure the climate is changing but forget to also tell us that that figure was obtained from only 79 of them which is also but a drop in the bucket. Sure climate is changing and from day to day, week to week and year to year and has and will continue to do so. The doom and gloom scenarios painted by those in a position of power have been shown to be not only false but seriously false, almost criminal and the public perception is that the whole thing was a storm in a tea cup with the express purpose of allowing Government world wide to impose extra monetary burdens on their peoples for no discernible outcome but to appease a minority and get their votes and hold power.

    • Don says:

      06:26pm | 28/11/12

      We should join Canada - they are pulling out. Whooopsie didn’t mention that huh? Shame.

    • iansand says:

      03:01pm | 28/11/12

      The whole point of carbon trading schemes and the allocation of “units” of carbon is not that they should be able to be carried over but that their supply should be incrementally reduced so the market can operate.

    • PJ says:

      03:02pm | 28/11/12

      The developing economies will not sacrifice their economies for Global Warming politics.

      Developing economies will account for 96% of the demand for Energy by 2030 and they wont be part of any carbon trading agreements that would take monies out of their countries into a Western Government controlled Green Fund.

      Fossil Fuels are predicted to be still the way of the world:

      Year 2030 - Global Energy Report: Energy Sources as %

      Renewable Energy only 6.3%
      Nuclear 6.0%
      Hydro 6.8%
      COAL 27.7% (You’re missing out on all this Coal demand Australia)
      GAS 25.0%
      Oil 27.2%

      Over the next 10 years the world will increase Coal Fired Power Stations by 35%, at an investment of $140 Billion dollars per year.
      Whereas, to date only $257 Billion has been spent on Renewables globally.

      One Coal Fired Power Station at 200MW is equivalent to 5 million cars on the road.

      In the same way we failed to achieve combined nuclear disarmament and world peace, we would also fail to get a global, consistent agreement on the reduction of green house gases from all Nations.

      Australia will have sacrificed 15% of it’s economy in exchange for other nations lip service and token efforts.

      Our Mining boom is already moving new business to Africa, because of our Green and MRRT taxes:

      African Mining 2012 - minus 16.8% to plus 32% growth at the same time the Gillard Government was expectation managing us that the mining boom was over through controlled leaks through Ferguson and Swan.

      Chevron CEO warned us this week $100 billion dollars of projects lies in the Balance due to the expense of operations in Australia.
      The Government already lost us the Olympic Dam Project worth $30 Billion to the future of our kids.
      BHP Kloppers has told investors in London Australian taxes have made Coal mining unprofitable in Australia and just look at the forecast demand for Coal up to 2030. These customers will buy there coal from somewhere and burn it. they may as well buy it from us, so we should cast of the Green shackles and trade.

      You cannot fight anything if your nation is broke and unemployed.

    • cheap white trash says:

      03:13pm | 28/11/12

      Ryan Ryan Ryan,Its nice to be 18 and so Naive,
      This would mean very little for climate change reduction.

      China and India, are building new power plants continuously to satisfy population growth and economic advancement. China is building the equivalent of two 500 megawatt coal fired power plants per week, and a capacity comparable to the entire United Kingdom power grid each year.

      Now if you want to change the World,first you have to go and talk to China and India,sending Australia back to the Dark ages,so you can feel all warm and cuddly doesn’t cut it son.

      Take a hint Ryan,
      Tim Flannery, the Australian Chief Climate Commissioner, was quoted as saying the following:

      “Just let me finish and say this. If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as 1000 years because the system is overburdened with CO2 that has to be absorbed…”

    • sunny says:

      06:45pm | 28/11/12

      “Ryan Ryan Ryan,Its nice to be 18 and so Naive,”

      Climate change is going to affect his life a lot more than yours. You and I probably won’t be here in 50 years (I know I won’t be) but Ryan probably will. People like him who will still be around will have to answer the question ‘Why did you let this happen when you had the chance to act?’. So it stands to reason that he and people his age are motivated to address the issue.

    • Super D says:

      03:17pm | 28/11/12

      I’m surprised this is being held in Doha. After all aren’t Qatar building a dozen air conditioned football stadiums so the can hold the football world cup in the middle of the desert in summer?  What next a gay rights conference in Iran?

    • Nev says:

      03:17pm | 28/11/12

      So Ryan, just because Australia hasn’t committed to a larger reduction doesn’t mean that you and others can’t make a contribution at great cost and personal sacrifice on your own.
      I’ve made my contributions at great cost and personal sacrifice, what have you done?

    • Kurisu Sonsaku says:

      03:18pm | 28/11/12

      Ryan - what absolute tosh. We have a carbon tax now, we have single handedly saved the world.

      I thought this bit was a pearl - “But in school we were always told to give our best effort and this is clearly not it. “

      Guess what? you’re a student, YOU ARE STILL IN SCHOOL. 

      Come back when you are able to pay taxes and get a job that doesn’t involve the corruptocrats at the UN.

    • SantosLHalper says:

      03:21pm | 28/11/12

      Trying to stop the climate from changing is as futile as trying with all our might to make the day last a minute longer.

      Every single time an article on the environment is posted on this site the same debate ensues. The oh so evil “deniers” vs. the hive minded “the sky is falling” screaming believers.
      How about we focus on something that we can all agree on.
      Whether the temperature will go up or go down, and no matter the cause, eventually the climate will change.
      Always has, and always will. Our fault or not.

      I think it is about time we started the real debate: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!

      If we spend all our time and efforts trying (in vain) to keep the climate the same we will lose valuable preparation time for what is inevitable.


      oh yes. and in the news this morning.
      http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/where-even-the-earth-is-melting-20121127-2a5tp.html
      Do you seriously think there is anything we can do about this?...

    • andye says:

      05:48pm | 28/11/12

      @SantosLHalper: “Whether the temperature will go up or go down, and no matter the cause, eventually the climate will change.
      Always has, and always will. Our fault or not.”

      What is the difference between me throwing a bullet at you and me shooting one out of a gun at you? basically, it is the speed of it that will kill you.

      Earth will certainly find its equilibrium. It has before when there was catastrophic climate change. That was about 250 million years ago. The oceans turned to acid, 80-90% of all life dies, several million years for life to even begin to recover, you know. The usual.

      Interestingly a lot of volcanoes is a probable cause or contributor. Right now man produces 135 times as much carbon as all the volcanoes on earth - that includes the undersea ones for all you Ian Plimer fans out there.

      Lots of fish stocks have already collapsed worldwide just from fishing and pollution. Acidification of the oceans is already happening and measurable.

    • craig2 says:

      03:33pm | 28/11/12

      I love it when a gen y student gets all edgy and starts screaming at me. Anyway, climate change, yep, got it. Let me know when you get off that carbon producing computer and have a strategy to deal with global over population, which is a key driver of climate change in general. Over to you Ryan.

    • Tropical says:

      03:39pm | 28/11/12

      Who cares. We got a CO2 tax so all is good in Australias warmist looneyville.
      By the way this drivel belongs over at the Drum where it would be met with mutual wailng and hand wringing over not much at all really.

    • Don Paul says:

      03:45pm | 28/11/12

      Ryan, if you want large domestic CO2 cuts, do some research on nuclear energy. Using renewables alone for this task is slow, resource intensive and expensive. It’s like trying to do a job with one hand tied behind our back.

      Relying on renewables alone just keeps the door open for fossil-fuels.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      04:36pm | 28/11/12

      Better hope that the permafrost isn’t melting as fast as some scientists think. You haven’t got a hope in hell if all that trapped methane escapes and a postive feedback cycle develops….

    • P. Walker says:

      04:40pm | 28/11/12

      So I’ve read your CV Ryan, but how much independent research have you undertaken, or have you simply listened to what you wanted to hear from your indoctrinators and now imagine yourself as having wisdom?

    • iansand says:

      05:09pm | 28/11/12

      California has just launched its ETS.

    • Cheap white trash says:

      06:36pm | 28/11/12

      And how many counties are broke,Vallejo,Stockton,Mammoth Lakes,it’s not hard to find.Bla Bla Bla more Green BS,Another Scam.

    • Dazza says:

      05:17pm | 28/11/12

      “Bachelor of Journalism / Arts student at Swinburne University of Technology”

      Ha ha say no more…..

    • michael j says:

      05:43pm | 28/11/12

      just another SCAM , the sooner people realize these Emission Control Scheme’s are just another way of extorting money from people who cannot afford it , these schemes in Europe are Reportedly run by Criminal Gangs ( some elected ) others Private , who trade in bottles of fresh air with the price going up on each trade ,,wake up Folks you are being CONNED,,

    • kfr says:

      05:57pm | 28/11/12

      Thought the world was ending in 2007 and rudd saved us by signing kyoto mark 1? Then jooles saved us, again, by imposing the carbon tax. Ryan, nice try and so committed but also so easily lead. When you have grown up a bit more lets talk.

    • Steve says:

      05:58pm | 28/11/12

      Hey Ryan, do you think maybe you will meet heaps of girls at these youth conventions? It’s the perfect lefty demonstration, stamp you’re feet and tell everybody what to do, while sipping coffees and meeting chicks. You could all pash for global cooling.

    • Laughing out loud says:

      06:46pm | 28/11/12

      bwa ha haha ha

    • a says:

      06:55pm | 28/11/12

      “This target is the lowest possible in the government’s long stated 5-25 per cent range dependant on the level of global action.”

      I think you mean dependent. Pretty sure.

 

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