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Greenpeace climbers scale Australian Parliament

Tue, 20 Aug 2002

Greenpeace climbers scale Australian Parliament House flagpole in climate change protest

Canberra/Auckland, Tuesday August 21, 2002: In a peaceful protest today, three Greenpeace climbers, including New Zealander Michael Simpson, scaled the flagpole at Parliament House in Canberra, urging the Australian Government to ratify Kyoto now.

From the flagpole, Greenpeace Climate Campaigner and expert climber Catherine Fitzpatrick, said: "Greenpeace has taken this action today because the Howard Government is failing to address the root causes of climate change. The evidence that burning fossil fuels is already disrupting our climate is mounting every day and John Howard is asleep below us. Greenpeace is here today to wake him up to his responsibilities to the people of Australia and the world."

"John Howard will go down in history as the man who failed to act at a critical moment," said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Dr Frances MacGuire, also present at the protest. "Economists, scientists and the Australian people themselves all want action on climate change and the first step in this process is to join Europe and Japan in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol."

* Last week, the Howard Government confirmed that it would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, as it believes it is not in the national interest to do so; * To date 76 countries, including Japan and the members of the European Union, have ratified Kyoto. If Russia and Poland ratify, as both have pledged to do by the end of this year, the Protocol will become law; * Only countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol can participate in the treaty's mechanisms, such as emissions trading, which will provide economic incentives for companies that reduce their emissions. If the Government refuses to ratify the Protocol, Australian companies will be locked out of the global emission reduction market; * Opinion polling done for Greenpeace over the past fifteen months shows that 71% of the Australian public believe that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would be in the national interest and 80% believe that the Australian Government should ratify, without the USA if necessary; * In recent weeks, scientists around the world have linked the El Nino drought in Australia, the Asian Brown Cloud, the spread of West Nile virus in North America and the devastating floods across Europe and Asia to emissions from burning fossil fuels. These will be major issues at the Earth Summit, where Australia's actions will be under intense international scrutiny.

"Mr Howard, with the release last week of Australia's greenhouse gas inventory, your excuses for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol have dried up just like Australia's farming land," added Ms Fitzpatrick. "The Australian people want leadership, Mr Howard. It's time for action."

Kiwi Michael Simpson can be interviewed by telephone from the flagpole on +61 410 772 528. Communications officer Tim Hollo is on +61 411 032 375. Or call Dr Frances MacGuire on mobile +61 419 179 529. For images, contact Olivia Bradley on mobile +61 438 422 572.


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