The Minister for Greenwash

The Rt Hon Ian McFarlane, MP
Image source: outlook2002/image.htm

I had to smile the other day when I read that the Australian Energy Minister, Ian McFarlane, was reported to have told a conference organised by the coal industry in Sydney that they should clean up their publicity act, saying the future fuels issue had been taken over by a so-called green media machine. Meanwhile, his buddy, Ian Campbell, the (so-called) Minister for the Environment is trying convince Australian business that it isn’t losing out from the non-ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. As The Australian reported at the weekend, Australian businesses are having to resort to joint ventures with companies from New Zealand (a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol) in order to participate in the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism project. (See below if the hyperlink is broken.)

Aussies sidestep Kyoto ban
The Weekend Australian
Amanda Hodge
April 09, 2005

AUSTRALIAN companies hoping to invest in clean energy projects in developing nations are being forced to find backdoor channels to get around the ban on countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

The federal Government has continuously denied suggestions business would be disadvantaged by its refusal to join the international agreement on greenhouse gas reductions.

But New Zealand Transport Minister Pete Hodgeson said yesterday one of the most significant measures the two countries were taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing nations was to foster joint ventures between Australian and New Zealand businesses that were keen to invest in clean energy for Third World nations. The New Zealand Government convened a conference in November to bring together Australian and New Zealand companies that wanted to participate in the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism project.

As a non-ratifying country, Australian businesses are prohibited from participating in the CDM, which provides carbon credit incentives for developing nations and businesses wanting to invest in them.

At a joint forum on climate change in Sydney yesterday, called to discuss greenhouse gas reduction measures beyond the Kyoto protocol, Mr Hodgeson said the New Zealand Government was happy to act as the conduit for companies from both countries to forge partnerships in the CDM sphere. “One of the features of (CDM) is you have to be a ratifier and Australia is not,” Mr Hodgeson said. “Certainly the future will include Australian and New Zealand businesses working through a New Zealand rubric to undertake a bunch of projects which will then benefit the companies that take part in them.”

Top legal analyst Martin Wilder, from Sydney law firm Baker McKenzie, said a dozen Australian companies were already using backdoor means, such as joint ventures, to participate in the CDM.

But federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell denied Australian companies would be disadvantaged by the Government’s refusal to ratify.

Senator Campbell said Australia would use its US free trade agreement and strengthening ties with countries such as China and India to work closely on existing and future environmental schemes.