APEC meeting to focus on climate change, US stalls, political bluster to prevail

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is meeting this week in Australia and according to the conference chair, the goal will be to reach a consensus on a greenhouse gas emissions strategy.

“We have here … the world's biggest emitters — China and the United States — and to have that discussion with them and to see if we can get an agreement on principles for managing carbon emissions and cooperation across the world's major economies would be a really good step forward,” said Australian Treasurer Peter Costello.

Not surprisingly, the US contingent to the APEC meeting is downplaying the likelihood of such an outcome. The US is claiming that such an agreement would be premature arguing that the next major meeting in December of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be the appropriate venue for such a commitment.

Aussie Prime Minister, John Howard disagrees and has described the APEC meeting as one of the most important gatherings of world leaders to discuss climate change since the 1992 earth summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Until recently PM John Howard has been a global warming “skeptic” and has been accused of delaying action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Howard was in power when Australia refused t ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

With the opposition parties making political hay over Howard's inaction on global warming and a national election in Australia most likely to occur in late 2007, no doubt Howard is attempting to re-position himself as a climate crusader.

Unfortunately for Howard, his attempt at new flashy green credentials is probably too late.

And unfortunately, for the world's climate and the millions of people affected, the most likely outcome of the APEC meeting will be more hot air with a big helping of further delay.