I received the letter below from the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and to be honest I was somewhat underwhelmed. Here is my response.
Dear Mr Combet,
thanks for your email dated February 10th whilst I appreciate you taking the time to write to me I hope you can forgive me for being less than enthusiastic about your response. We are already experiencing climate change related extreme weather and it is only expected to get worse- large storms more likely in future. And yet according to your own climate change advisor, Ross Garnaut “Australia needs to catch up to the rest of the world in it’s effort to address climate change” and describes Australia as “a drag on climate change action”. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you Mr Combet, Government figures show that Carbon emissions are on track to soar. If that is how you intend to “continue to play a strong role in international climate change negotiations” then frankly we’d rather you didn’t. The time for talking has long passed, it’s time for action and yet as far as I can tell the only thing your Government has actually done with respect to climate change is to slash $1.3 billion in clean energy incentives. My inner cynic has a few explanations as to why that might be so but nothing that speaks to what the Australian people elected you and your Government to do. Kevin Rudd described climate change as “the greatest moral challenge of our time” it’s time to rise to that challenge, the Australian people, our children and grand children deserve no less.
Thank you for your correspondence on land sector accounting rules in the international climate change negotiations.
The Australian Government recognises the need for improved international treatment of human-caused emissions from the land sector. As the current international accounting rules do not encourage countries to take up carbon pollution reduction opportunities from this sector, Australia - like other countries - is seeking changes to improve the environmental effectiveness of the rules. Improving the rules could provide greater incentives for countries to include emissions from a broader range of land management activities including forestry in their carbon pollution reduction commitments. This would promote greater action to reduce emissions and increase uptake of carbon dioxide (known as sequestration).
Good progress was made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancun, Mexico in December last year, with agreement that countries should finalise the land sector accounting rules during 2011. As part of this, countries need to agree on the approach for establishing a baseline which countries can use to measure changes in carbon pollution levels from their forests. Importantly, and in line with Australia’s preferred outcome, the decision also establishes a review process, to ensure that the proposed baselines are robust and set in an open and transparent manner. The findings of the review process will be open to all countries, as well as interested stakeholders.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I can assure you that Australia will continue to play a strong role in the international climate change negotiations.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency