Australia and Greenhouse Policy- A Chronology


Background Paper 4 1997-98

Paul Kay
Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Group
29 September 1997





The complexity of scientific debate and the intricacies of the global negotiating process leads to a high acronym count, those used in this chronology are listed below.

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Economics
Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate
Activities Implemented Jointly
Alliance of Small Island States
Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation
Council of Australian Governments
Conference of the Parties
European Conference of Ministers of Transport
Ecologically Sustainable Development
European Union
Framework Convention on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Non Government Organisations
National Greenhouse Response Strategy
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries
Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Objectives
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
United Nations Environment Program
World Meteorological Organisation


The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon which keeps the earth's temperature some 33C above what it would be in the absence of greenhouse gases. The atmosphere of earth consists of a mixture of gases dominated by nitrogen, oxygen and water vapour. Carbon dioxide, argon, methane and other trace gases are also represented throughout the atmosphere. Energy from the sun passes through the gases to warm the earth. The lower atmosphere is warmed through energy transmission to the land, water and atmosphere, while energy not captured is dissipated back into space.

Human activities have modified the balance of trace gases in the earth's atmosphere, for example carbon dioxide levels are 29 per cent higher today than they were 200 years ago, prior to the industrial revolution.(1) Largely anthropogenic (man made) trace gases such as chlorofluorocarbons, methyl bromide and hydrofluorocarbons which impact upon the greenhouse effect are also part of the atmosphere today. Changes in the gas composition of the atmosphere are predicted to change the balance of infra red radiation dissipated back into space, trapping a higher proportion of the energy. The 'enhanced' greenhouse effect is this anthropogenic impact upon the energy balance of the atmosphere. The anticipated consequence of this altered balance is increased temperatures in the lower atmosphere. Further consequences of this change are predicted changes in weather patterns and an increase in sea levels.

Current estimates of the enhanced greenhouse effect impact are an increase in global temperature of between 1.0C and 3.5C by 2100 relative to 1990, with a 'best estimate' value of 2C. Average sea levels are expected to rise by between 0.15 and 0.95 metres by 2100 relative to 1990 with a 'best estimate' of 0.5 metres.(2)

The scale of the problem in reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be underestimated; most human economic activity relies on emitting greenhouse gases to some degree. The problems associated with mitigating ozone depletion were large and took some time to negotiate through the Montreal Protocol. However, ozone depleting chemicals are a limited suite of artificially manufactured compounds produced by a limited number of companies for specific purposes. Also, all the effects arising from ozone depletion were clearly negative, unlike the effects of climate change. International negotiations were able to resolve the issue with effort over some time, mainly by substitution with alternative chemicals. Problems still remain with the use of these ozone depleting chemicals in developing countries and illicit trading into developed countries, but the gradual recovery of the ozone layer is expected to commence in the next few years.

Negotiations on ozone depleting chemicals, which are almost exclusively a consequence of technological society, have to some degree been used as a model for climate change negotiations. The similarities are limited, however, all human activity and every person has some impact on greenhouse gas emissions and often livelihoods and national economics are dependent upon the emissions. By the very nature of the problem, ameliorating the emissions of greenhouse gases presents a massive challenge. The problems with negotiating greenhouse gas targets are compounded by the concept and positive and negative impacts. It may be in some countries' interests for the climate and rainfall range to change as predicted. Similarly the argument remains that global warming may be a natural phenomenon not necessarily, or only partially linked to increased anthropogenic gas emissions. This argument, however, has limited validity as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly stated that 'the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate'.(3)

Just as the environmental impacts of climate change may vary between countries, the economic impacts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be highly variable between countries. For example, countries with a high reliance on nuclear power, low levels of population growth and a limited area are not likely to be heavily impacted compared with countries of large areas, high population growth and a strong reliance on fossil fuels. Actions taken by developed countries and not matched by developing countries would simply move relatively greenhouse gas emission-efficient industries out of developed nations to nations where emission efficiency was a lesser consideration. The result would be increased global greenhouse gas emissions for the same amount of production. Overall, the greatest potential for future rises in global greenhouse gas emissions comes from the developing countries, due to population growth combined with increased per capita emissions.


The following chronology outlines the development of the greenhouse debate with particular reference to Australian participation. Australia has had strong involvement in the development of greenhouse science and policy since the issue developed in the 1970s.

Milestones         Details                                                   Source 


1861               The Irish physical chemist John Tyndall suggested there                            
                   was a link between the absorption of radiation in the                              
                   atmosphere and the gas composition of the atmosphere. It                           
                   is well established that the earth's temperature would                             
                   be about 33C cooler in the absence of the natural                                  
                   greenhouse effect.                                                                 

1895               The Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius produced a paper on                           
                   the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect. Arrhenius estimated that                           
                   the earth would warm by 5.2C with a doubling of carbon                             

March 1958         Monitoring of carbon dioxide concentrations in the                                 
                   atmosphere commenced on Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The                                     
                   Atmosperic Carbon Dioxide Program of the International                             
                   Geophysical Year established the observatory.                                      

February 1979      The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) sponsored                              
                   the First World Climate Conference at Geneva in                                    
                   Switzerland. The conference called for further research                            
                   into increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.                                       

22 September 1985  The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone                              
                   Layer came into force; this became a relatively simple                             
                   model for initial greenhouse gas negotiations.                                     
                   Generally, substances that impact on ozone depletion are                           
                   also greenhouse gases often with a much higher impact                              
                   per molecule than CO2.                                                             

9-15 October 1985  The WMO and the United Nations Environment Program                                 
                   (UNEP) staged a conference on climate in Villach,                                  
                   Austria. Increased awareness of climate change issues                              
                   evolved from this conference. The conference urged                                 
                   further research into both the causes and effects of                               
                   climate change and arranged follow up workshops on                                 
                   climate science.                                                                   

1987               The World Commission on Environment and Development's                              
                   Our Common Future ('the Brundtland report') was                                    
                   released. It clearly defined the concept of sustainable                            

8 June 1988        Australia signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances                               
                   that Deplete the Ozone Layer. It came into force for                               
                   Australia on 17 August 1989.                                                       

27-30 June 1988    The World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere;                                   
                   Implications for Climate Change was held in Toronto,                               
                   Canada. The Toronto Agreement aimed to cut CO2 emission                            
                   levels by 20 per cent by the year 2005, using 1988 as a                            
                   base level. The Australian government adopted this                                 
                   target, as an Interim Planning Target in 1990. Forecasts                           
                   at that time were predicting a 3C rise in global                                   
                   temperatures by 2030 due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas                           

October 1988       The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was                           
                   jointly established by WMO and UNEP. The IPCC comprised                            
                   three Working Groups, I - Scientific Analysis, II -                                
                   Impacts and III - Response Strategies.                                             
11 March 1989      The Declaration of the Hague called for a Convention on                            
                   Climate Change. Australia along with 23 other countries                            
                   signed the Declaration which pledges that the countries                            
                   will work through the United Nations to take measures to                           
                   control global climate change.                                                     

July 1989          Prime Minister Bob Hawke appointed Sir Ninian Stephen                              
                   Australia's first Ambassador for the Environment.                                  

November 1989      Fifteen island nations met at Male in the Maldives and                             
                   made the Male Declaration on Global Warming and Sea                                
                   Level Rise, which called upon industrialised nations to                            
                   control greenhouse gas emissions.                                                  
                   The Noordwijk, Netherlands, Ministerial Conference on                              
                   Atmospheric Pollution and Climate Change was attended by                           
                   the representatives of 67 countries, 11 international                              
                   organisations and the Commission of the European                                   
                   Community. The Noordwijk Declaration on Atmospheric                                
                   Pollution urged industrialised countries to support                                
                   investigations into limiting CO2 emissions.                                        

22 December 1989   The United Nations decided to convene a two week long                              
                   United Nations Conference on Environment and Development                           
                   (UNCED) in Brazil to coincide with World Environment                               
                   Day, 5 June 1992 (Resolution 44/228).                                              

9 June 1990        The first assessment report of the IPCC Working Group I                            
                   was released including predictions of global warming and                           
                   climatic impacts (a supplement was added in 1992). The                             
                   best estimates from Working Group I (scientific                                    
                   analysis) were a 3C rise in global temperature and a                               
                   0.65m sea level rise by 2100. Australian scientist Dr                              
                   Greg Tegart was a Co-Vice-Chairman on the Climate                                  
                   Change, The IPCC Impacts Assessment report from Working                            
                   Group II. Consensus was also reached at the Response                               
                   Strategies Working Group of the IPCC, Working Group III.                           
                   The Scientific and Impact Assessment reports concluded                             
                   that emissions from human activities were increasing                               
                   atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, which                              
                   was likely to enhance the natural greenhouse effect                                
                   resulting in global warming.                                                       

August 1990        Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced the creation of nine                            
                   Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) Working                                 
                   The 4th session of IPCC was held in Sundsvall, Sweden.                             

11 October 1990    The Australian Government adopted an Interim Planning                              
                   Target to stabilise greenhouse gas emission at 1988                                
                   levels by 2000 and to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by                           
                   the year 2005 based on 1988 levels (known as the Toronto                           
                   target). An important caveat was included in this                                  
                   target. This stated that measures which would have net                             
                   adverse economic impacts nationally or on Australia's                              
                   trade competitiveness would not be implemented in the                              
                   absence of similar action by major greenhouse gas                                  
                   producing nations. Actions would be taken if benefits                              
                   were realised in addition to the greenhouse gas emission                           
                   reduction benefits, for example energy conservation.                               
                   This became known as the 'no regrets' strategy.                                    

November 1990      The Second World Climate Conference in Geneva reached a                            
                   scientific consensus that action on climate change was                             
                   required, but failed to agree on a strategy to prevent                             
                   global warming. Australia and other nations negotiated                             
                   for the adoption of emission reduction targets.                                    
                   Formation of the Alliance of Small Island States                                   
                   (AOSIS), a coalition of small, low lying or coastal                                
                   developing countries vulnerable to sea level rises.                                

21 December 1990   The United Nations General Assembly, in Resolution                                 
                   45/212, established the Intergovernmental Negotiating                              
                   Committee (INC) with the aim of reaching a framework                               
                   convention in time for signing at the Rio Conference in                            
                   June 1992.                                                                         

January 1991       The Commonwealth Parliament's Senate Standing Committee                            
                   on Industry, Science and Technology released its report                            
                   on reducing the impact of the greenhouse effect Rescue                             
                   the Future. The report made numerous recommendations                               
                   regarding renewable energy development and energy                                  

January 1992       Reports by the three chairs of the Australian ESD                                  
                   process were presented on intersectoral and greenhouse                             

10-12 February     The seventh session of the IPCC was held in Geneva,                                
1992               Switzerland. Following the meeting the IPCC released a                             
                   supplement on areas identified as requiring revision.                              

May 1992           The Australian Interim Planning Target (Toronto target)                            
                   to stabilise emissions of greenhouse gases to 1988                                 
                   levels by the year 2000 was included in Schedule 5 of                              
                   the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment and                             
                   endorsed at the May 1992 Premiers Conference.                                      

9 May 1992         At INC 5 in New York, USA, 42 countries agreed to adopt                            
                   the final text of the FCCC.                                                        

June 1992          The IPCC Supplementary Report of 1992 was released to                              
                   coincide with the UNFCCC in Rio de Janeiro. The report                             
                   added new quantitative information on the climatic                                 
                   effect of aerosols in dampening global warming,                                    
                   estimating the 'best estimate' of warming to 2C by 2100                            
                   compared to 1990 temperatures. This represented a one                              
                   third reduction on IPCC estimates presented in 1990.                               
                   Similarly, the 'best estimate' for sea level rises                                 
                   estimated at 0.5 metres by 2100 compared to 1990 sea                               
                   levels. This represented a 25 per cent reduction on the                            
                   1990 best estimate.                                                                

3-15 June 1992     The UNCED Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro,                                
                   Brazil. Australia and 153 other nations out of the 161                             
                   countries attending signed the United Nations Framework                            
                   Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The initial                                 
                   agreed target was a stabilisation of greenhouse gas                                
                   emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. The concept of Joint                             
                   Implementation or Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ)                             
                   was introduced in the lead up to the Rio Conference and                            
                   formally adopted into the text of the UNFCCC.                                      

3-15 June 1992     Annex I Countries include members of the OECD, some                                
                   other economically developed countries and 'other                                  
                   parties' which are the former centrally planned                                    
                   economies in transition to market economies. Australia                             
                   was designated as an Annex I country.                                              
Developing         are not classified under either                               
Countries          Annex I or Annex II.                                                               
                   Australia was represented by the Minister for Arts,                                
                   Sports, the Environment and Territories, Mrs Ros Kelly,                            
                   accompanied by the Minister for Overseas Trade, Mr John                            
                   Kerin, and the Minister for Resources, Mr Alan                                     
                   Griffiths. Sir Ninian Stephen, the leader of the                                   
                   Australian delegation at the Preparatory Committee                                 
                   meetings, was the senior participant of the 49                                     
                   Australian delegates.                                                              

November 1992      The IPCC met in Harare, Zimbabwe focussing on science,                             
                   impacts and macroeconomics.                                                        

December 1992      The National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS) was                               
                   released by the Federal Government endorsed at the                                 
                   Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) meeting. The                              
                   key elements of the NGRS relied on voluntary measures                              
                   and 'no regrets' strategies. No regrets means that the                             
                   measures taken have net benefits (or at least no net                               
                   cost) in addition to addressing the enhanced greenhouse                            
                   The Interim Planning Target (Toronto target) was                                   
                   endorsed at the CoAG meeting.                                                      
                   The Australian National Strategy for ESD was released.                             

December 1992      The Commonwealth Parliament's Senate Standing Committee                            
(cont.)            on Industry, Science and Technology released its report                            
                   Gas and Electricity Combining Efficiency and Greenhouse,                           
                   which recommended that natural gas should be used where                            
                   possible for power generation.                                                     

7 Dec 1992         The CoAG endorsed the National Greenhouse Response                                 
                   Strategy and agreed to publication of the document.                                

30 December 1992   Australia became the ninth country to ratify the UNFCCC.                           

16 March 1993      Australia's Ambassador for the Environment and Permanent                           
                   Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms Penny Wensley,                              
                   was elected to a position of Vice Chair of the INC on                              
                   Climate Change during the meeting of the committee in                              
                   New York, USA.                                                                     

21 December 1993   The necessary fiftieth country ratified the UNFCCC,       Treaty Text, Article 2   
                   hence the convention entered into force 90 days later     of UNFCCC, Information   
                   (21 March 1994). Countries were not legally bound by the  Unit on Climate Change,  
                   Convention, but the stated target was to stabilise        Switzerland.             
                   greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. The                               
                   objective of the UNFCCC was to acheive 'stabilization of                           
                   greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a                               
                   level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic                                   
                   interference with the climate system'.                                             

7-18 February      The ninth session of INC (INC 9), which reviewed the                               
1994               adequacy of current commitments by industrialised                                  
                   countries, was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The USA and                            
                   other countries called the FCCC 'inadequate' in                                    
                   addressing future reductions (post 2000) of greenhouse                             

21 March 1994      The UNFCCC came into force.                                                        

16 June 1994       Prime Minister Paul Keating convened a round table                                 
                   meeting of non government organisations (NGOs) as part                             
                   of the ESD strategy. The main issue raised by NGOs was                             
                   Australia's commitment to and progress in reducing                                 
                   greenhouse gas emissions.                                                          

21 June 1994       Federal Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner                                 
                   announced the appointment of a panel to advise on                                  
                   greenhouse strategies amid growing friction between                                
                   business and conservation groups. The panel was headed                             
                   by Professor Paul Greenfield of Queensland University                              
                   with representatives from consumer, conservationist,                               
                   union, business and industry bodies.                                               

22-31 August 1994  INC 10 was held in Geneva, Switzerland. It negotiated                              
                   the possible introduction of European Union and AOSIS                              

21 Sept 1994       Federal Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner                                 
                   lodged Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory                               
                   with the FCCC Secretariat along with Australia's                                   
                   National Communication on Climate Change. The inventory                            
                   comprised a six volume document which concluded that                               
                   Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 were 572                              
                   million tonnes CO2 equivalent. The inventory forecast                              
                   that in 2000 there would be 654 million tonnes CO2                                 
                   equivalent of emissions a 14 per cent increase. The                                
                   Inventory formed part of Australia's First National                                
                   Communication, a requirement under the Climate Change                              

6-17 February      The climate change convention INC 11 was held in New                               
1995               York, USAA, in which developing countries such as China                            
                   and the OPEC group expressed concern over moves to                                 
                   strengthen their commitments.                                                      

21 February 1995   The three day Asia Pacific Leaders Conference on Climate                           
                   Change in Manila, Philippines led to the Manila                                    
                   declaration which called upon developed countries to                               
                   reduce gaseous emissions to 20 per cent less than 1990                             
                   emissions by 2005.                                                                 

29 March 1995      Federal Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner                                 
                   announced the release of Greenhouse 21C, which consisted                           
                   of additional greenhouse response measures by the                                  
                   Federal Government at a total cost of $63 million.                                 
                   Greenhouse 21C set targets to reduce the increase in                               
                   greenhouse gas emissions to 17 million tonnes CO2                                  
                   equivalent between 1990 and 2000, or 3 per cent above                              
                   stabilisation (close to the target agreed to at the                                
                   Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro). The package was                                   
                   released prior to Senator Faulkner's attendance at the                             
                   First Conference of the Parties (CoP) in Berlin which                              
                   resulted in the Berlin Mandate.                                                    

27 March-6 April   The first CoP to FCCC (CoP 1) met in Berlin, Germany. A   Treaty Text, Article 2a  
1995               result of CoP 1 was the Berlin Mandate which expressed    of COP 1.                
                   concerns about the adequacies of countries' current 
                   commitments under FCCC resulted from CoP 1. The Berlin    ortfolio/esd/climate/
                   Mandate emerged with the aim of strengthening the         international/mandate.htm   
                   commitment of developed nations (the FCCC Annex 1                                  
                   countries) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within                               
                   time frames 2005, 2010 and 2020, but without binding                               
                   targets. The Berlin Mandate also stated the need to take                           
                   'into account the differences in starting points and                               
                   approaches, economic structures and resource bases, the                            
                   need to maintain strong and sustainable economic growth,                           
                   available technologies and other individual                                        
                   circumstances, as well as the need for equitable and                               
                   appropriate contributions by each of these Parties to                              
                   the global effort'. Thus the mandate accepted the                                  
                   concept of differentiated targets but specifically                                 
                   stated the need to set quantified limitations and                                  
                   reduction objectives within specified time frames. The                             
                   Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) was                                      
                   established at CoP 1.                                                              

May 1995           Mr Howard Bamsey was appointed Australia's Ambassador                              
                   for the Environment, based in The Hague, Netherlands.                              

21-25 August 1995  The initial meeting of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin                              
                   Mandate (AGBM 1) was held in Geneva, Switzerland.                                  

23 October 1995    Federal Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner                                 
                   announced that more than 50 major companies and industry                           
                   associations had committed themselves to develop action                            
                   plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as part of                              
                   the Greenhouse Challenge program.                                                  

27-29 November     The fifth session of IPCC Working Group 1 was held in     Climate Change 1995,     
1995               Madrid, Spain. A key outcome of this was the IPCC         Summary for              
                   'Summary for Policymakers' (part of the second IPCC       Policymakers, Technical  
                   Assessment report), which concluded that 'the balance of  Summary of the Working   
                   evidence suggests a discernible human influence on        Group I Report, IPCC,    
                   global climate'. This was the first scientific consensus  WMO, UNEP.               
                   reached agreeing that anthropogenic climate change was                             

11-15 December     At the IPCC 11 meeting in Rome, Italy, the second IPCC                             
1995               Assessment report was released and subsequently                                    
                   accepted. The second IPCC Assessment report was written                            
                   and reviewed by some 2000 scientists and 'experts'                                 

8-19 July 1996     The second CoP to FCCC (CoP 2) met in Geneva,                                      
                   Switzerland. A ministerial declaration was the key                                 
                   outcome of CoP 2 (the Geneva Declaration). This stressed                           
                   the importance of the scientific findings of the IPCC,                             
                   especially the evidence that there was discernible human                           
                   influence on climate change. Figures were tabled which                             
                   indicated that most countries were unlikely to succeed                             
                   in stabilising emissions at the 1990 levels by the 2000                            
                   deadline. Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert                              
                   Hill attended CoP 2 and presented a statement outlining                            
                   Australia's progress in implementing its Annex 1                                   
                   commitments and views on the Berlin Mandate process                                
                   including AIJ.                                                                     

26 November 1996   Senator Warwick Parer, the Minister for Resources and                              
                   Energy announced the estimated costs of greenhouse gas                             
                   cuts to Australia, as estimated by the Australian Bureau                           
                   of Agricultural and Economics (ABARE). Senator Parer                               
                   used the costs as justification for the setting of                                 
                   differentiated targets as provided for in the FCCC and                             
                   the Berlin Mandate.                                                                

28 February 1997   Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill                                   
                   announced the release of a discussion paper, 'Future                               
                   Directions for Australia's National Greenhouse                                     
                   Strategy', prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee                             
                   on ESD with a deadline for submissions of 11 April 1997.                           

21-22 April 1997   The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT)                           
                   met in Berlin, Germany and agreed to adopt 'a more                                 
                   strategic approach' to reducing CO2 emissions from the                             
                   transport sector. ECMT's members include 35 European                               
                   countries plus Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand,                              
                   the Russian Federation and the USA.                                                

20 June 1997       European Union environment ministers adopted a 2005                                
                   target to cut 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 per                             

23-27 June 1997    Earth Summit II at the United Nations in New York, USA.                            
                   Australia, the United States and Japan argued that the                             
                   resolution passed at the United Nations Summit should                              
                   not restrict or define forthcoming deliberations in                                
                   Kyoto in December. President Bill Clinton of the United                            
                   States asserted at the Summit on June 27 that the                                  
                   science is clear and compelling, humans are changing the                           
                   global climate. Federal Environment Minister Senator                               
                   Robert Hill attended the summit and made a statement on                            
                   23 June which included a summary of Australia's effort                             
                   in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.                                            

20 July 1997       Prime Minister John Howard announced the appointment of                            
                   Mr Roger Beale AM, Secretary of the Department of                                  
                   Environment, Sport and Territories as the Prime                                    
                   Minister's Representative on Climate Change.                                       

28 July-7 August   The subsidiary bodies to the FCCC met in Bonn, Germany.                            

1-7 August 1997    The seventh meeting of AGBM was held in Bonn, Germany.                             

10-21 August 1997  The Countdown to Kyoto Conference was hosted by the                                
                   Australian APEC Study Centre and the Frontiers of                                  
                   Freedom Institute (based in the USA) in Canberra. The                              
                   Conference addressed the economic consequences of action                           
                   on greenhouse, comparing the European Union (EU) target                            
                   of a 15 per cent cut by 2010 relative to 1990 emission                             
                   levels with less onerous options.                                                  

3 September 1997   The Federal Government promoted the success of its                                 
                   program of voluntary greenhouse gas emission reduction                             
                   with the release of the first annual results of the                                
                   Greenhouse Challenge. The large companies committed to                             
                   the Greenhouse Challenge had made substantial progress                             
                   in emission reduction.                                                             

17-19 September    The 16 member South Pacific Forum meeting was held at                              
1997               Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and attended by Prime                                
                   Minister John Howard. Greenhouse and climate change                                
                   issues received significant media attention during this                            
                   meeting. Australia's position on the reduction of                                  
                   greenhouse gas emissions differed strongly from the                                
                   other 15 nations attending the forum. The AOSIS                                    
                   (particularly Tuvalu) demands were for a binding 20 per                            
                   cent reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2005,                           
                   while Australia aimed to avoid language calling for                                
                   binding targets. At the conclusion of the meeting the                              
                   Forum statement did not support the AOSIS proposal but                             
                   urged parties to consider it.                                                      

22 September 1997  Prime Minister John Howard named senior public servant                             
                   Ms Meg McDonald (formerly Australia's chief greenhouse                             
                   negotiator) as the Ambassador for the Environment for                              

1-12 December      The third session of CoP (CoP 3) is planned at the Kyoto                           
1997               International Conference Center in Kyoto, Japan.                                   
                   International negotiations aimed at developing a                                   
                   protocol or other legal instrument to provide for action                           
                   beyond 2000 and strengthen the commitments of developed                            
                   countries are due for completion. A range of emission                              
                   changes from an increase of 40 per cent above 1990                                 
                   levels to a decrease of 20 per cent below 1990 levels in                           
                   2010 are being considered for the formal negotiations.                             
                   The final text will be called the Kyoto Accord and is                              
                   likely to be open for signature on 12 December 1997.                               

1-12 December      The Australian government agrees that the outcome of      Press Release, Cost of   
1997               negotiations should be consistent with the FCCC and give  greenhouse gas cuts,     
                   full expression to all the components of the Berlin       Senator Warwick Parer,   
                   Mandate. However, the Australian approach does not        Minister for Resources   
                   support the concept of uniform targets, preferring the    and Energy, 26 November  
                   'differentiation approach' which emerged in the Berlin    1996.                    
                   Mandate. Australia's fundamental concern is that any                               
                   uniform  'quantified emission limitation and reduction                             
                   objectives' (QELRO) approach would deliver a non-uniform                           
                   economic outcome across the range of committed                                     
                   countries, and those countries feeling victim to the                               
                   system would be, as a consequence, less committed to the                           
                   Convention in the long term.  Australia wants to ensure                            
                   that the costs of mitigating climate change are                                    
                   distributed fairly and exhibit distributive justice.                               

1998-1999          A fourth session of CoP (CoP 4) is planned.                                        

2000               The third assessment report of the IPCC is scheduled for                           


  1. Climate Change Science : Current Understanding and Uncertainties, Steering Committee of the Climate Change Study, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, February 1995.
  2. Climate Change 1995, Summary for Policymakers, Technical Summary of the Working Group I Report, IPCC, WMO, UNEP.
  3. Climate Change 1995, Summary for Policymakers, Technical Summary of the Working Group I Report, IPCC, WMO, UNEP.

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