July 25th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

OPINION: Michael Jackson and popular culture

BOOK REVIEW: D-DAY: The Battle for Normandy, by Antony Beevor

CANBERRA OBSERVED: What Australia can learn from China's behaviour

BANKING: Six economists renew call for a 'people's bank'

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Rebuilding a functioning financial system

FISHING INDUSTRY: Coral Sea marine protected areas: our gift to Asian fishermen

EDUCATION: The war against home-schooling our children

VICTORIA: Religious freedom under threat

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Aboriginal disadvantage: more than question of money

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Just some French youths

BOOK REVIEW: THE DARWIN MYTH: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin, by Benjamin Wiker

FOREIGN INVESTMENT: China businesses 'left and right arms of the state'

ENVIRONMENT: Rudd admits failure of global climate talks

HOMELESSNESS: Families forced to brave the streets

RUSSIA: Moscow unrepentant about Stalin era

CHINA: China unrest a symptom of a diseased system

EDITORIAL: The Middle Kingdom sends us a message ...

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Rudd admits failure of global climate talks

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, July 25, 2009
In an extraordinary admission that squarely contradicted earlier public statements that world leaders would reach agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Agreement next December in Copenhagen, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has privately conceded that there is little chance of agreement this year.

Mr Rudd's admission was made to the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mr Lars Rasmussen, who will host the December talks, at the recent leaders' conference in L'Aquila, Italy. The Australian Prime Minister was overheard by SBS television telling Mr Rasmussen, "Right now, I don't think we are on track to get an agreement at Copenhagen; there are too many problems."

This followed the meeting of the leaders of the 17-member Major Economies Forum, at which the leaders purported to reach agreement in the run-up to Copenhagen.

Their 12-point declaration announced that there was agreement on meeting the global economic challenge, as well as pushing for a successor to the Kyoto Agreement.

The real outcome of the meeting only became apparent outside the conference venue when some of the real differences were discussed.

India and China

Speaking to journalists aboard Air India One after the meeting, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "There is a lot of pressure on India and China on the issue of climate change. We have to resist it. I have put India's views on this before other countries [at the G8-G5 summit in Italy]."

The Russian Government publicly distanced itself from the agreed target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 2050. The economic adviser of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared that Russia was not prepared to sacrifice its economic growth for the purpose of CO2 reductions.

Early in June, Russian President Medvedev announced that his country expected to increase CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, the period when major economies are expected to cut emissions to at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels.

The outcome of the meeting was publicly criticised by the UN Secretary-General and by Brazil's chief climate negotiator, both of whom pointed out that the developed countries had refused to commit to any significant reductions by 2020, while setting huge aspirational targets for CO2 reductions by 2050.

Meanwhile, the Rudd Government's cap-and-trade legislation is stalled in the Australian Senate, with the Liberals, Greens and Independents all rejecting the legislation.

Among the most prominent opponents of the legislation is Senator Steve Fielding from Family First.

Senator Fielding has challenged the science behind global warming, releasing a chart which shows that over the past 10 years, there have been steady increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, but no increase in global temperatures. If anything, temperatures have fallen.

Senator Fielding has taken his case to both the Prime Minister and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

He said, "For years I believed, like most of us, that man-made carbon dioxide emissions were the main cause of global warming. However, over the last few months after speaking to a number of scientists both here and overseas, I have discovered the science on both sides of the debate isn't conclusive.

"The government needs to explain to the Australian people why global temperatures have remained steady over the last 10-15 years despite skyrocketing man-made carbon emissions."

Senator Wong responded by saying that the 10-year trend did not invalidate the long-term warming trend; but Senator Fielding submitted the minister's response to four of Australia's top climatologists, Professor Bob Carter from James Cook University, Dr David Evans who worked for the Australian Greenhouse Office, Associate Professor Stewart Franks, a hydro-climatologist from Newcastle University, NSW, and William Kininmonth, former head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

They utterly rebutted her statements in a 50-page report which is available on Senator Fielding's website (www.stevefielding.com.au).

They concluded: "Emissions trading legislation, such as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) bills that are currently before Parliament, rest upon the assumption that human greenhouse emissions, especially carbon dioxide, (i) are pollutants, and (ii) are causing dangerous global warming. Neither of these assumptions is supported by empirical evidence, and both have been under scientific challenge for many years by a large body of qualified and independent scientists."

Senator Fielding's vote is vital if the legislation is to get through Parliament.

He said: "I believe Australia should wait until the climate change conference in Copenhagen at the end of the year, before we pass any emissions trading legislation so we can see what the big economies and polluters around the globe plan to do to tackle climate change.

"I believe this is the best course forward for the country, as moving before the Copenhagen conference will put unnecessary pressure on our economy with massive job losses and sky rocketing electricity prices."

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