Letter to President Bush

Prime Minister Howard

April 2001

Australia has for many years worked closely with the United States on climate change issues. The relationship began during your father's term as President.

Like you, I regard global climate change as an important matter. I have seen your letter of 13 March 2001 to senior members of the United States Senate in which you expressed your opposition to the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts developing countries from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and would be costly to implement. I have noted your Administration's intention to review climate change policy and domestic energy policy.

Australia remains committed to dealing effectively with climate change. We have a substantial programme of domestic policies in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will continue to implement that programme. My Government signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and since then has worked with other signatories to realise its potential as a global framework for addressing climate change.

I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.

In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.

I am of the view that United States' leadership is essential if efforts to address global climate change are to be successful. We hope the outcome of your Administration's review of its policy will contribute to overcoming the obstacles that remain to achieving a truly global and effective framework.

I welcome your intention to work with your friends and allies in developing ways of addressing global climate change. Australia and the United States have many interests in common on this issue and my Government looks forward to working closely with your Administration as you develop your policies, and in the context of potential international initiatives. The Umbrella Group, of which the United States is a key member, should continue to have an important role in negotiations. Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has briefed me on his recent meetings with members of your Administration and members of Congress and Australia's Environment Minister, Robert Hill, will visit Washington later this month.

I look forward to discussing this and other issues with you in the near future.

Yours sincerely

John Howard


The Honourable George W Bush

For the letter from President Bush to senior US Senate members, please click here: Bush Letter

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