Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in his first act after being sworn in this morning.
The ratification will come into force in 90 days.
“This is the first official act of the new Australian Government, demonstrating my Government’s commitment to tackling climate change,” Mr Rudd said in a statement.
Mr Rudd said the ratification was considered and approved by the first executive council meeting of the Government this morning.
“The Governor-General has granted his approval for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at my request,” he said.
Under United Nations guidelines, ratification comes into force 90 days after the instrument of ratification is received by the UN, making Australia a full member of the Kyoto Protocol by the end of March 2008.
“Australia’s official declaration today 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,” Mr Rudd said.
He 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 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.
It also would establish a national emissions trading scheme by 2010 and set a 20 per cent target for renewable energy by 2020.
“I will also lead the Australian delegation at the opening of the high level segment of the United Nations conference on climate change in Bali next week,” Mr Rudd said.
The Bali conference, which opened today, will set out a road map for the next round of action against climate change, starting when the current Kyoto targets expire in 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol was crafted in December 1997 and has been ratified by 175 countries.
Australia initially agreed to the protocol but later refused to ratify it, despite being on track to meet its target of limiting growth in emissions.
The new Labor Government today completed the first four of six steps necessary for ratification.
Mr Rudd signed an executive council minute recommending that Governor-General Michael Jeffery approve ratification.
The executive council – Mr Rudd, Major-General Jeffery and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard – then met to consider the minute and its associated explanatory memorandum.
Major-General Jeffery approved the ratification and Mr Rudd signed the instrument of ratification.
The remaining two steps are lodging the instrument with the UN and waiting 90 days for the ratification to enter into force.