A leading United Nations climate change official has said Australia is not in “a lonely desert” as the only nation reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but is an emerging leader in the field.
Compellingly Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), added that there was no Plan B on climate change “because we don’t have a Planet B.”
“Nothing could be further from reality,” she said in a speech at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in the New South Wales capital, Sydney.
“Every one of Australia’s top trading partners has something already in place.”
Ms Figueres said China had pilot emissions schemes in place in seven large cities, which would go national in five years time.
She said that at the same time it was already number one in the world in renewable energy.
The European Union had 40 per cent of their emissions covered by a carbon trading scheme, South Korea was becoming a leader in green growth and India, Singapore and other countries had set impressive reduction targets, Ms Figueres said.
“Australia is not alone in acting on climate change, in fact Australia is a major player and an emerging leader.”
She challenged Australia to sign up to the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying it was in the country’s national interest to do so.
All nations that were acting on the problem were not doing so to save the planet, Ms Figueres said, but to better their own interests in energy security and trade.
She said nations wanted to be competitive in “the low-carbon economy that’s coming down the pipe”.
In acting in their own national interests, nations were opening political space for a global agreement on climate change, Ms Figueres said.
Australia was a country “blessed with renewable energy capacity” and had a great opportunity to be a model for both industrialised and developing countries as to how to a harness such energy, she said.
“The world is looking very closely to see how Australia progresses with its clean energy policy.”
Ms Figueres said if climate change was allowed to go on unchecked it could wipe out all the development that had taken place over the past 25 years.
“There’s no plan B because we don’t have a planet B,” she compelling added