It is imperative that the Australian Government work constructively with other nations via the United Nations on a post-Kyoto agreeement to tackle climate change that includes tangible emission reduction targets. The current approach endorsed by John Howard, Alexander Downer and Malcolm Turnbull to set "aspirational voluntary targets" will be ineffective.
Self regulation of the most polluting industries carries a very real risk that short term profit motives will outweigh taking real action on addressing climate change - which science and our own experience now tells us is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today.
Here is a good quote from Al Gore on the important role governments have in setting real and binding emission reduction targets globally.
Quote of the Day: Al Gore on Climate Change Leadership, Montreal Protocol
All of the market initiatives are incredibly important. The market allocates more money in one hour than all of the governments allocate over a year's time. But governments set the rules of the road and determine how markets allocate capital and make decisions. And there should be no mistake that this crisis, the climate crisis, is not going to be solved only by personal action and business action. We need changes in laws; we need changes in policies; we need new leadership and we need a new treaty. We need a mandate at Bali during the first 14 days of December this year to complete a treaty not by 2012 but by 2009, and put it completely into force by 2010. We can do it and we must do it. ...
We face a genuine planetary emergency, we cannot just talk about it, we have to act on it, we have to solve it, urgently. ... Last week the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of a great success story. A hole in the ozone layer was discovered in 1985. And then, in the following year and a half, action took place. Some people said voluntary action will solve it; businesses will take the initiative. The Secretary of the Interior at that time said voluntary measures like wearing more sunglasses and floppy hats was the answer.
I would like to call on President Bush to follow President Reagan's example and listen to those among his advisers who know that we have to have binding reductions in CO2; we have to put a price on carbon, and the United States of America has to lead the world to solve the climate crisis."
—Al Gore, former vice president of the Untied States, in the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative, 26 Sept. 2007