Minister for Foreign Affairs

Alexander Downer


12 December 1997

Downer hails Australian diplomacy in Kyoto outcome

I would like to join the Prime Minister and Senator Robert Hill in welcoming today's historic Kyoto outcome.

We can pride ourselves in the role that Australia has played in constructing a framework for an overall reduction in global greenhouse emissions.

The agreement provides for differentiated country commitments with a global outcome of a 5.2% reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gases by 2008-2012. Australia's requirement is to limit the growth of our greenhouse emissions in this period to 8% above our 1990 level.

The outcome is very satisfying, and goes to show that the Government was right all along in advocating differentiation unlike some groups in Australia who wanted us to take an approach that would have put investment, jobs and Australia's economic growth and future prosperity at risk.

Two other non-EU Annex 1 Parties are to be allowed emissions growth above 1990 levels. They are Iceland (+10%) and Norway (+1%). At least five EU countries are expected to be allowed to increase their emissions above 1990 levels. The EU received a collective emissions target of -8%; the US -7% and Japan -6%.

But it was extremely tough going for Australia. Our objective was always to secure an acceptable emissions target which met Australia's requirement for equity and was realistic and achievable given our national circumstances.

The fact that we have been able to achieve that goal often in the face of openly hostile opposition is a triumph for Australian diplomacy and our determination to pursue our national interests.

My ministerial colleague, Senator Robert Hill, our Ambassador for the Environment and the entire Australian negotiating team deserve our heartfelt congratulations for a job well done both for Australia, and for the global environment.

Xian, China

Further information: Penny Burtt (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500
Tony Melville (Departmental) 02 6261 1555