All eyes turn to APEC

Feature story - September 2, 2007
After officials from 158 countries meeting in Vienna agreed the next steps for negotiating phase two of Kyoto, the world now turns its gaze southward towards the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Sydney to see if some of the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases can rise to the challenge.

Newcastle, Sunday 2nd September 2007. Greenpeace activists enter the world's biggest coal port at Newcastle and paint the message "Australia Pushing Export Coal" on the side of a coal ship.The message was part of a peaceful protest to expose the Australian Government's real APEC agenda: to protect Australia's coal export industry by undermining the Kyoto Protocol. (c)Greenpeace/Morris.

The Vienna climate change meeting agreed that a cut in greenhouse gas emission in the range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels, by 2020 provides a useful initial parametre to set future emission reductions by industrialised countries.

Despite the agreement, some countries were pushing for smaller reductions targets.

Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Russia and Switzerland tried to introduce lower emission reduction ranges that, if adopted, would lead to higher greenhouse gas levels, and a much greater risk of dangerous climate change.

The positions supported by these countries could lead to a 4ºC global mean temperature increase or higher.

To keep climate change from spiralling out of control, we need to see emission cuts which keep global temperature rise as far below 2ºC as possible, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Australia too has been trying to weaken global emissions targets by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol along with the US.

As the APEC meeting in Sydney began, Greenpeace activists warned the many heads of state at the meeting of Australia's real climate policy by painting the message "Australia Pushing Export Coal" in two metre high letters along the side of a coal ship.

"Australia's climate policy is to 'Push Export Coal' and to hell with the consequences for the planet," says Ben Pearson, Greenpeace energy campaigner.

"Real action on climate change means moving away from coal and shifting to clean, renewable energy - and we don't have the luxury of time for expensive talk-fests that have no concrete outcomes."

During week long APEC meeting, Australia will export more than four million tonnes of coal, resulting in over 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions - equivalent to the annual emissions from 800,000 average Australian households.

Factoring in the costs of climate change impacts, as detailed in the Stern Review, Australia's coal exports will result in more than AUS$1.2 billion (US$1 billion) of damage during the APEC week alone, and AUS$64 billion (US$52 billion) annually.

On the other side of the world more Greenpeace activists blocked a Canadian coal shipment. The activists painted the words "No Coal. No Nuclear. Clean Energy." on the freighter's hull to press politicians in Ontario to commit to renewable sources of energy.

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