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Commission presses on as Australia ignores Kyoto

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission marked yesterday's coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol to curb climate change due to global warming, with an education and information initiative aimed at householders.

In a statement, the Commission acknowledged the coming into force of the Protocol, but stopped short of criticising Prime Minister John Howard for following the US lead in refusing to ratify the Protocol. All other western developed nations have signed.

Australia has not ratified Kyoto, which sets a 5.2% cut in greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2012, saying it is flawed because it does not include big polluting, developing nations such as China and India. Australia accounts for only 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but has the third highest greenhouse pollution per capita in the world.

Before Christmas, Bishop Christopher Toohey of the NSW bush Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes called on the Australian Government to ratify the Protocol.

He said: "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."

In Melbourne, about 60 protesters waved flags of the 141 countries that have signed Kyoto and said Australia should apologise for damaging the environment.

The Brisbane Commission yesterday opted not to protest against the Government stance, but instead released a booklet of energy saving tips for householders on its website, as part of its commitment to promoting action on global warming and climate change.

The publication was prepared with funding from the Australian Greenhouse Office's Cool Communities Project, and was timed to coincide with the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Commission has spent the past two years working in collaboration with the Queensland Conservation Council to present energy efficiency workshops to householders on the Gold Coast, in Maryborough, Kingaroy, Hervey Bay and Brisbane.

Commission Executive Officer Peter Arndt said that the booklet enabled many more householders to learn about changes they could make in their homes to reduce greenhouse gases and address the global warming problem.

"We have helped many households in Catholic parishes and schools to become more energy efficient and this will make a difference in the long term," Mr Arndt said. "We have also been able to work with householders in an Anglican Parish in Brisbane, a Uniting Church Parish in Hervey Bay City, as well as many people from the wider community."

"The Pope and the Australian Bishops have stressed that taking action to care for the Earth is an important part of our faith commitment," he said. "Our Cool Communities Project has enabled many Christians to become models of faith in action in their own homes," he said.

Commission Publishes Energy Saving Booklet (Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane 16/2/05)

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane
Queensland Conservation - Catholic Justice and Peace Commission - Creating Cool Communities
The Kyoto Protocol | Ratification Status of nations

Bishop calls Australia to ratify Kyoto (CathNews 21/12/04)
Climate change worrying Pacific leaders of religious congregations (CathNews 12/8/02)

Kyoto Protocol (Independent Catholic News 16/2/05)
Kyoto debate heats up in Australia (CNN 16/2/05)
Kyoto useless for Australia: Howard (The Age 17/2/05)

17 Feb 2005