The draft APEC leaders' declaration leaked to Greenpeace last week was vague as to what the meeting would agree to, and by when. But one thing was crystal clear: John Howard and George W Bush will try and use APEC to undermine international action to address climate change. And they will do this to protect the Australian export coal industry, and American fossil fuel interests.Well, that's something I can agree with Ben on - climate change does indeed present the greatest environmental, economic and social threat we face.
The declaration was leaked directly from one of the APEC member nations. There is no doubt it is genuine, and the work of the only two major industrialised countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol; the declaration is made in the USA and covered in Australian coal dust.
There are no binding targets for action and no timetables by which anything has to be achieved. It is a declaration designed not to reduce greenhouse gases, but to reduce the political pressure Howard and Bush are feeling after years of climate inaction. The timetables that matter to them revolve around national elections in the US and Australia over the next 18 months.
The key political aim of the declaration is to get agreement on an 'aspirational' long-term greenhouse gas reduction target. Yet if APEC nations sign onto this goal, it will undermine efforts to extend and strengthen the legally binding targets that are at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol. The international community will meet in Bali in December to begin negotiations on new targets under Kyoto once the current ones run out in 2012. The APEC declaration aims to stymie progress at these talks.
Howard and Bush are implacably opposed to binding targets. Why? Because they work.
Aspirational targets, on the other hand, do not, as experience has shown across many different industries and countries. Greenpeace has labelled them "Bridget Jones" targets after the heroine in the eponymous book.
Despite her best intentions, Bridget is constantly failing to meet her 'aspirational' targets of drinking and smoking less. Her daily diary is a record of her failure. Aspirational targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions would be just as ineffective.
The Kyoto Protocol's binding targets grew out of the international community's recognition 12 years ago that the voluntary targets agreed under the original United Nations Climate Convention were insufficient.
As a result, a meeting of parties to that Convention in Berlin in 1995 concluded that an additional protocol had to be negotiated which would set legally binding targets for industrialised nations. Two years later, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded. To return to voluntary targets now would be to throw away the last 12 years of progress, and return to a system that was acknowledged as being ineffective in addressing climate change.
What is needed out of APEC is simple. Australia and the US could start by joining the rest of the international community in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. And the final summit communique must unambiguously endorse extending and strengthening that Protocol, starting in Bali this December. That means binding targets for industrialised nations.
There simply is no other way of avoiding climate change: the greatest environmental, economic and social threat that we face.
Implementing the socialist, world-government solutions advocated by Greenpeace and their climate ilk will result in the same environmental catastrophe discovered when the Soviet Union collapsed.
For Climate Brown Shirts like Greenpeace to still be banging on about the ineffective, immorally expensive Kyoto Protocol shows that their thinking is stuck in a political rut with an agenda of promoting whatever policies are anti-capitalism, anti-business, anti-development and anti-people. To say that binding CO2 targets work is to completely disregard the fact that they have yet to make any difference in Europe where CO2 levels continue to rise. These people are profoundly dishonest.
The threat to our economy, society and environment has never been under greater threat - from Greenpeace and the environmental movement.