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Australia gets new PM - Kyoto Protocol ratified PDF Print E-mail

© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Dec 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was sworn in as the 26th prime minister of Australia Monday, nine days after he rode to power in elections that ended 11 years of conservative rule in the country.

And soon after assuming office, Rudd signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol as a "first official act".

"This is the first official act of the new Australian government, demonstrating my government's commitment to tackling climate change," Rudd said in a statement.

A major policy shift from his predecessor, the move by Rudd's centre-left government isolates the US as the only industrialised country not to ratify the greenhouse reduction treaty.

The ratification will come into force in 90 days, making Australia a full member of the Kyoto Protocol by the end of March 2008.

"The governor-general has granted his approval for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at my request," the prime minister said.

"Australia's official declaration today (Monday) that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country's efforts to fight climate change domestically - and with the international community."

Rudd said the federal government would do everything in its power to help Australia meet its Kyoto obligations, including setting a target to reduce emissions by 60 percent on 2000 levels by 2050. It also would establish a national emissions trading scheme by 2010 and set a 20 percent target for renewable energy by 2020.

Earlier, the new Australian cabinet -- that also has Julia Gillard as the first woman deputy prime minister of the country -- was sworn in at Government House in the capital Canberra.

The new ministry includes 10 cabinet ministers, an outer ministry of 20 and 12 parliamentary secretaries.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Governor-General Jeffery said: "With a clear majority of members in the house of representatives, Prime Minister Rudd and his government are now charged with the responsibility to implement its election policies and in the process to govern for all Australians."

Rudd had campaigned for the Nov 24 elections on a platform of ratifying the Kyoto agreement.

Rudd would leave for Bali in Indonesia where the two-week UN Framework Convention on climate change conference opened Monday.

The prime minister along with Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong, Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Treasurer Wayne Swan will sign the mandate at the Bali conference.

So far, 175 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, drafted in December 1997. Although Australia didn't ratify the Protocol, it agreed to limit greenhouse emissions growth to 108 percent on 1990 levels during the 2008-12 commitment period.

New findings released by The Climate Institute in Sydney show Australia can afford to introduce tough pollution and carbon reduction targets as part of a commitment to curb global warming with little economic impact.

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