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Australia’s new government ratifies Kyoto pact

James Grubel, Reuters
Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, took the oath of office on Monday and immediately signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, ending his country’s decade of opposition to the global climate agreement.

The move isolates the United States, which will now be the only developed nation not to ratify the agreement which sets binding limits on developed countries to curb the carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

“This is the first official act of the new Australian government, demonstrating my government’s commitment to tackling climate change,” Rudd said in a statement.

Climate scientists said the development was a major step for Australia and sent a clear message to Washington.
(3 December 2007)

Australia has done a backflip

Craig Allen, Gristmill
Let me give you a shining example of why politics is so important.

You may be aware that Australia recently had an election and that the government of John Howard (a good mate and supporter of George Bush) has been crushed by the left leaning Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd (a former diplomat and fluent speaker of Mandarin) with the support of the Australian Greens.

Howard himself lost his seat to a very switched on former journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Commission – Maxine McKew.

It is widely recognized that the backward stance of Howard with respect to climate change played a significant role in the change of government.

The new Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is the first woman ever to hold that role.

As of yesterday we now have two dedicated, intelligent, enlightened ministers who are committed to helping the country get to grips with the environment, water and climate change, and who are eager to seek and accept the best advice available from the scientific community, economists and business leaders.
(29 November 2007)
Long comment (more at original) to a post about politics and climate change.

Labor Goes to Bali

Jeremy Brecher, Brendan Smith and Tim Costello,
This week trade unionists from around the world will travel to Bali for the December 3rd launch of negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse gasses. It will include delegates from such U.S unions as …

…The attitude of U.S. unions may be critical to how well the world addresses the crisis of global warming. Despite its waning power, labor retains a critical position in controlling energy legislation in Congress. According to the highly respected Congressional reporting of Congressional Quarterly, lawmakers in Congress view support of the AFL-CIO as “essential” to passing any climate change bill. James Grumet of the nonpartisan National Commission on Energy Policy says, “If you don’t have organized labor, you can’t get something through” Congress.

The international labor movement has responded valiantly to global warming.

…In another theme little heard in U.S. discussion, the ITUC says that trade unionists “believe climate justice cannot be achieved without gender justice.” Climate change “is not gender neutral. Women are generally more vulnerable, representing the majority of the world’s poor and powerless.” It points out that the 2004 Asian Tsunami killed four times as many women as men.

Among the vulnerable groups that need to be protected are workers and communities in both developed and developing countries who may lose jobs as a result greenhouse gas limitation policies. But the ITUC explicitly rejects union efforts to protect jobs by impeding efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses. Instead, it proposes “Just Transition” policies

…How is the American labor movement preparing to respond to the international labor movement’s call to accept the challenge of global warming “together, in solidarity and common action”? The American labor movement includes diverse unions, two federations, and multiple voices – some of which have outspokenly called for vigorous action on global warming.

But what is the position of the AFL-CIO, the most powerful purveyor of labor’s views? One indication is its recent letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate committee considering the Lieberman-Warner “America’s Climate Security Act.”

The AFL-CIO condemned as “an overly aggressive Phase I emissions reduction target” the bill’s proposal of a 15 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020.

…The international labor movement’s approach to global warming could provide an alternative to the divisive, high-energy-sector driven approach that still seems to be determining AFL-CIO policy. Nothing could do more to rescue American labor from its public perception as a “special interest” than taking a stand on the broad interest of working people worldwide and in the U.S. – including its own members – in combating global warming.
(2 December 2007)