Australian government vows to back Kyoto, leaving Bush isolated
It was an unprecedented election campaign in Australia. Every party was forced to take a position on climate change. In the end, Labor was victorious - boosted by a pledge to sign the Kyoto Protocol and generate 20 percent of Australia's energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The Kyoto Protocol is the world's only international agreement with binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. John Howard, the outgoing Australian Prime Minister, refused to sign it. Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minster, made it an election issue.
Howard lost. He was even defeated in his home district, losing his seat in Parliament - something that's happened to a Prime Minister only once before in Australian history - and that was in 1929.
It's clear Aussies care about climate change, and with the issue central to the Australian Labor Party's winning campaign, the nation will want and expect to see real action on the issue, and fast.
Ratifying Kyoto is a good first step. But the key indicator of the new government's success will be if emissions begin to decrease during this term, and the only way that is possible is to rid Australia of its addiction to coal.
The next round of Kyoto negotiations is only a week away. When the US delegation shows up in Bali, Indonesia, for the talks they'll be isolated more than ever. Rudd's decision to sign Kyoto leaves the US as the only major industrialized nation refusing to commit.
"Climate scientists are telling us that emissions of greenhouse gases must peak in just seven years - 2015 - and then be reduced," said Shane Rattenbury, Greenpeace International political director. "We expect that when Kevin Rudd goes to the Bali negotiations in two weeks' time, he will take a position of leadership rather than being the destructive force that Australia has been over the past decade."