The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Speech at the High-Level Event on Climate Change

24 September 2007, New York

Speech at the High-Level Event on Climate Change

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of Australia, I'm very pleased to participate in this Event. I think history will show that it came at a time when the international community resolved to take truly effective action on climate change.

Momentum is building.

Thirteen days ago, Leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit agreed an historic Sydney Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development. Historic because the APEC Leaders, whose economies represent more than half of the world's GDP, broke new common ground on climate change.

The Leaders agreed to work actively and constructively towards a comprehensive post-2012 arrangement at this year's UN Climate Change Conference.

The APEC Leaders agreed to work to achieve a common understanding on a long-term aspirational global emissions reduction goal.

And the Leaders also welcomed the US initiative to convene a meeting of major economies to seek agreement on a detailed contribution to a post-2012 global arrangement.

Crucially, the Leaders agreed that an equitable and effective post-2012 international climate change arrangement must draw on the seven principles:

First, the principle of comprehensiveness. This means that all economies contribute to shared global goals in ways that are equitable, and environmentally and economically effective.

Second, is the need to respect different domestic circumstances and capacities.

Third, is the importance of flexibility and recognising diverse approaches and practical actions.

Fourth, is the important role for co-operation on low and zero emissions energy sources and technologies, particularly coal and other fossil fuels.

Fifth, is the importance of addressing forests and land use in the post-2012 arrangement.

Sixth, is the importance of promoting open trade and investment.

And, seventh, is the importance of support for effective adaptation strategies.

The APEC Leaders also agreed to work towards achieving an APEC-wide regional aspirational goal of a reduction in energy intensity of at least 25 per cent by 2030, and an APEC-wide aspirational goal of increasing forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares of all types of forests by 2020.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the APEC agreement underlines the momentum behind a growing global commitment to tackle the challenge of climate change. This positive outcome, particularly the seven principles to guide a future international arrangement, reinforces the UN Framework Convention and provides us with a guide for the work that lies ahead, including at Bali.

Australia calls on all Parties in Bali to resolve a new mandate for the Convention to move beyond Kyoto. We need to forge a comprehensive new agreement that leads to a global reduction in emissions.

These negotiations should first and foremost better mobilise and recognise mitigation actions by all, particularly the major economies. Such actions should be ambitious for all, and, in addition to further actions by developed countries, include measurable mitigation actions by developing countries.

It is crucial that a new negotiating mandate take a comprehensive view of emissions, including emissions from the land, particularly deforestation, which is responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Australia has pledged $200 million to help developing countries avoid deforestation and promote reforestation through our Global Initiative on Forests and Climate.

To be comprehensive, a new negotiating mandate needs to spell out actions that will provide Parties to the UN Framework Convention with more confidence as they move to put in place better national mitigation policies and measure. Such actions should address effective adaptation strategies and cooperation; the impacts of response measures, and the matter of technology development and diffusion.

For Australia's part, the Government will implement a national cap and trade emissions trading system with the aim of commencing by 2011. We have strong technology investments, especially in carbon capture and storage. Australia is committed to managing its emissions on a long-term basis. And, as part of our commitment to supporting low emission sources, Australia will introduce a new national Clean Energy Target, requiring that 30,000 gigawatt hours each year come from low emissions sources by 2020. This represents at least 15 per cent of Australia's electricity consumption.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we pledge our support to Indonesia in its role as President of the Conference in Bali as we strive to achieve truly global and effective climate change arrangements.

Thank you