British Protesters Target Australia

February 25, 2002

Friends of the Earth campaigners will picket the Australian embassy in London at 10am today to protest Australia's role in hindering the international climate negotiations by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Australia in bed with the USA with placards reading "Don't Screw the Climate" will be the main focus of the protest, which is being held to put pressure on Australia in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Kate Hampton, Climate Co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth International stated "Prime Minister Howard is hiding behind President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto treaty to avoid taking action on climate change. Global warming is already destroying the Great Barrier Reef and threatens many of Australia's wildlife features and tourism sites. Howard's attitude is an insult to Commonwealth countries whose existence is threatened by climate change. The people of Bangladesh and Tuvalu will be forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries due to rising sea-levels. Howard should use the Commonwealth meeting to show leadership in the fight against climate change and commit to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol."

Friends of the Earth has also written to the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair asking him to raise the issue of climate change and the Kyoto Protocol with John Howard at CHOGM.

The United Kingdom has already committed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD/ ?Rio+10') meeting in Johannesburg in August, 2002.

The Commonwealth has committed itself to ?a more equitable international society' and ?protection of the environment through respect for the principles of sustainable development' and member countries are pledged to ?consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples'.

"Australia is clearly not meeting the commitments it has made as a member of the Commonwealth," said Friends of the Earth Australia climate spokesperson, Tristy Fairfield, "Climate change is expected to have severe adverse impacts on the majority of Commonwealth countries, especially non-industrialised country members. Sea level rise is predicted to put millions of Commonwealth citizens at risk and developing Commonwealth countries are expected to suffer from an increased spread of tropical vector-borne diseases as well as reduced crop yields. Many developing country members of the Commonwealth do not have the resources to respond and adapt to the threat of climate change."

"It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to support the US position on climate change on the one hand, yet consider itself a responsible Commonwealth member on the other. Australia should use the opportunity of CHOGM to change its policy on Kyoto so show its support for true ?common wealth' rather than just its own short term economic advantage."

For further information contact:

Kate Hampton
International Co-ordinator
Climate Change Campaign
Ph: +44 (0) 20 7566 1723
Mob: +44 (0) 77 4896 7323