Kyoto deal deemed of benefit

WA mining groups have mixed feelings over the revised Kyoto Protocol, which was brokered in Bonn this week after Australia, Japan, Canada and Russia finally came to agreement following 48 hours of uninterrupted talks.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy said the new agreement went a long way to addressing the concerns of Australian industry and resource groups.

“It’s a much better outcome for Australian industries than the original Kyoto Protocol,” Greg Johannes, director of the Environment, Community and Government at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy said.

In Bonn, Environment Minister Robert Hill gained major concessions on carbon sinks, which can be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

A wider definition of carbon sinks now includes Australian native vegetation.

Mr Johannes also welcomed the move away from penalising countries that do not meet their cuts in emissions. Instead, incentives and disincentives will be used.

He said while some would argue the new protocol had become toothless, it still accomplished far more than if the talks had failed, as many expected.

The Chamber believes the compromise would help maintain the nation’s competitiveness in comparison with developing countries, but also with the United States.

The US failed to sign the treaty – although that country contributes about 25 per cent of the world’s emissions – because it threatened their competitiveness. The compromise deal should help keep Australia on an equal competitive footing to the US.

However, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive George Savell was sceptical of the Government’s negotiations, which he said unfairly targeted the mining industry.

Queensland and WA, which are major exporters, would have to bear the brunt of the new agreement, he said.

Investment money could be lost to developing nations which are kept out of the protocol’s loop.

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