Australia signs new version of the Kyoto Protocol

AUSTRALIA has signed up to extend the Kyoto Protocol but has been criticised for not "re-doubling" efforts in the face of rising global warming predictions.

The protocol is a treaty binding signatory countries to cut global greenhouse emissions. As a result of signing up to a second commitment period, which begins from January 1, Australia will strive to cut emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol was first created in 1997.

With the protocol successfully extended after 12 days of haggling, countries at the latest Doha conference also started negotiating a new emissions reduction agreement to come into play in 2020.

It will require all major emitters, including the United States and China, to take action and will be bound with legal force.

Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus, who held the negotiations on Australia's behalf in Doha, acknowledged the Kyoto Protocol on its own was not enough.

"In Doha we have seen further progress on shaping a new global agreement to tackle the challenge of climate change and Australia has played an important part," he said.

While the WWF has praised Australia's signature on the international treaty, the organisation believes efforts should be doubled.

"With the world currently on track to experience 4-6°C of global warming this century, it is very disappointing that Doha failed to deliver any real progress to reduce global emissions," WWF climate change policy manager Will McGoldrick said.

"The take home message from Doha is that governments need to re-double efforts and increase the pace of negotiations to meet the deadline of having a much stronger treaty in place by 2015.

"They also must keep open the prospect of limiting global warming to well below 2°C."

Oxfam Australia claimed developed countries agreed at climate talks in 2009 to commit $100 billion to help developing countries adjust to climate challenge but that was not followed through in Doha.

"Rich countries, including Australia, failed to provide vulnerable communities with the badly needed assurance that finance for adaptation and mitigation will go up not down in 2013," Oxfam Australia climate change policy advisor Simon Bradshaw said.

Topics:  environment international relations

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