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Award-winning scientist slams Australia's climate change policy

Award-winning scientist slams Australia's climate change policy

The scientist whom Prime Minister John Howard officially named as Australian of the year on Friday accepted the honor but immediately accused the government of dragging its heels on climate change.
Tim Flannery was awarded the title on the national holiday Australia Day, for his contribution to the country's understanding of environmental issues such as global warming.
But Flannery said Howard was a major part of the problem because his government refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which caps carbon dioxide emissions for industrialized nations.
"There's no doubt this government has been dragging the chain," Flannery told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio Friday. "I've said in the past that Australia has been the worst of the worst in terms of addressing climate change, but I'm hopeful that we'll see ... some movement."
Howard bumped into Flannery as the scientist came out of the radio studio where the interview was conducted, in Parliament House in Canberra. They shook hands warmly, and Flannery thanked him for the honor.
In his interview, Howard denied Flannery's criticism was embarrassing.
"Does it embarrass me? No, it doesn't," he said. "We do live in a democracy and I'm not so thin skinned and so desiring in uniformity that I want every Australian of the year to engage in fulsome praise of the government or of me."
Flannery _ whose recent book, "The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth," made best-seller lists worldwide _ says the world has just two decades to avert catastrophic climate change.
"Hard steps are now required where a decade ago we may have been able to take smaller and easier ones," Flannery said. "We need to get the polluter to pay, and once that happens if the price is right we'll start seeing investments in a new energy economy."
Recent polls show Australians are increasingly concerned about climate change, and the issue is likely to be raised during campaigning for this year's election.
The opposition Labor party has stepped up calls for Howard to sign the Kyoto pact, but Howard has remained steadfast, saying the deal would harm Australia's economy by giving a competitive advantage to China and India, which are not bound by the treaty.
Nevertheless, Howard softened his stance last year, saying he would consider a system of global carbon trading _ a cornerstone of Kyoto _ if it did not damage Australia's fossil fuel-powered economy.
Howard acknowledged global warming was a problem.
"I am not as fanatical about it as others," he said. But, "the accumulated evidence is undeniable ... we do have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."


Updated : 2021-06-25 15:02 GMT+08:00