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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the international community must work together to resolve as a matter of urgency the outstanding issues of the Kyoto Protocol.
Senator Hill has addressed a special forum in Washington hosted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The Pew Center represents some of the largest companies in the US which have accepted that global warming is a reality and have committed to act to reduce their own greenhouse emissions.
Senator Hill has told the meeting the outstanding issues of flexibility mechanisms, compliance and sinks must be resolved to clear the way for nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
Senator Hill says a change of mind-set in terms of the economics of greenhouse could facilitate a breakthrough.
"We need to challenge the mind-set which says that it is necessary to sacrifice economic competitiveness to achieve a better environmental outcome.
"In fact, the contrary is the case. Strong economics is not only compatible with better environmental outcomes; it can in fact better ensure environmental improvement.
"The US experience, which is similar to Australia's, is that improved economic performance and growth has given industries the capacity to invest in new technologies which deliver better environmental outcomes.
"This is coupled with the growing awareness across all industry sectors that improved environmental performance through measures such as waste minimisation can deliver a better economic bottom-line."
Senator Hill has commended the Pew Center companies for taking a lead in greenhouse gas reduction efforts.
"Governments must support the efforts of such companies by facilitating abatement through a range of least-cost options.
"Australia, for example, has an opportunity in revegetation and reafforestation which would remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere but also help address other environmental and productivity issues such as dryland salinity.
"It is a perfect example of where an economic investment can deliver multiple environmental outcomes.
"In addition to this, Australia has committed almost $1 billion to greenhouse gas abatement programs which will help target emissions at their source."
Senator Hill says Australia will continue to work with other nations to resolve the outstanding technical issues in time for the next Conference of the Parties in The Hague in November.
April 26, 2000