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Bishop calls Australia to ratify Kyoto

Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, says Catholic Earthcare chairman, Bishop Christopher Toohey, to stand in solidarity with the 150 countries which have agreed to abide by the United Nations' global warming agreement.

Online Catholics reports that the Bishop's remarks come in reponse to a debate between Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, and Labor's Anthony Albanese over the integrity of Australia's position.

Speaking on the eve of the new UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005 - 2014) Wilcannia-Forbes Bishop Toohey told Online Catholics that Australia's refusal to ratify the Protocol was "a concern."

"The Kyoto Protocol asks that developed countries pledge to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by just on 6% by 2012," Bishop Toohey said. "But the best science available tells us that what is needed is more like a 60% reduction.

"Therefore for the sake of our children and God's Earth, Australia should stand alongside the large number of countries who have signed and ratified the agreement, which would, in any case, be just a first step."

According the CSIRO, some parts of New South Wales could become uninhabitable within the next 70 years if countries continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate. In a worst-case scenario, droughts could increase by 70% and the number of days above 35-degrees could double by 2030.

Australia and the United States are the only two developed nations that have refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gases emissions world wide. Pressure is on the two nations following the signing of the Protocol by Russia, on 18 November, which marked the start of the ninety day count down to the entry in force of the Kyoto Protocol.

Bishop Toohey, who is the chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Justice Ecology and Peace which sponsors Catholic Earthcare Australia, has two major initiatives planned for next year. One is the introduction of an environmental audit for use by schools and other institutions with which to determine their environmental efficiency. The second is a major confererence on climate change, which will bring together the best scientific and theological thinkers in the southern hemisphere. The conference, which is likely to take place next Novermber, will seek to view questions of climate change from the point of view of the nations of the South.

"We have to kick the fossil fuel 'habit'," said Bishop Toohey, who is also a keen amateur astronomer. "It is not a question of politics. It is a question of uncovering the facts on climate change and acting on those facts, in the light of the Gospel," the Bishop said.

Aussies should ratify Kyoto - Bishop (Online Catholics /12/04)

UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005 - 2014)
The Kyoto Protocol
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Kyoto Thermometer
Ratification Status of nations
Bishops Committee Justice Development Ecology and Peace
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Christians Respecting Earth And The Environment

Bishops in call to boost effort safeguard Great Barrier Reef (CathNews 6/8/04)
Commission highlights plight of environmental refugees (CathNews 31/3/04)
Environment - the human rights issue of the future (CathNews 24/2/04)
Pope calls neglect of the earth a 'moral problem' (CathNews 12/6/03)
Catholic Earthcare set for Brisbane launch (CathNews 5/6/03)
Archbishop calls Tasmanians to make 'personal choices' in favour of ecology (CathNews 30/9/02)
Climate change worrying Pacific leaders of religious congregations (CathNews 12/8/02)
Religious Leaders urge Govt to ratify Kyoto Protocol (CathNews 5/6/02)

21 Dec 2004