The Associated Press’s Man in Sydney reveals a fairly typical understanding of the politics of global warming that we are likely to hear more of on our own shores soon, announcing John Howard’s defeat at the polls:
“Australia’s SYDNEY, Australia (AP) – Conservative Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia’s combat troops from Iraq.
Labor Party head Kevin Rudd’s pledges on global warming and Iraq move Australia sharply away from policies that had made Howard one of President Bush’s staunchest allies.
Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the U.S. as the only industrialized country not to have joined it.”
Oddly, Australia’s government admits that it already signed Kyoto, in 1998, though its Parliament has yet to ratify it, just as the U.S. Senate has yet to vote on the duly signed pact (November 12, 1998, previously posted here though something to which our own government seems disinterested in admitting further as the announcement no longer appears in any form on State’s website).
It is true that under parliamentary systems prime ministers generally have more sway over whether his legislature approves such agreements — he controls the chamber, by definition — a procedural twist making this expression of factual ignorance mildly less glaring than when asserted in the U.S. as it most certainly will be with increasing frequency as politics 2008 accelerate. It is worth noting that members of Rudd’s party having insisted as recently as last week that “Australia should have signed Kyoto.” Now’s your chance.
Why is this of interest to us? At some point, after we hear anew shrieks of how mean Bush was for having “refused to sign Kyoto”, how this was responsible for why the French and Germans don’t like us — oh, right, we now need to find other “proof” that this “squandered post-9/11 goodwill”, by announcing the position 6 months before 9/11 — and so on, someone will get the bright idea to point out that not only are we signatories but, should the speaker be a member of the United States Senate, well, the Aussies have shown it’s not too late.
Shall we have at it, now that the lame shuffle of “well, it’s too late” has been overtaken by events (presuming Austrialia does, er, sign Kyoto)? That is, possibly we could actually glimpse the opportunity for those expressing the greatest angst to put their legislating where their mouths are. Or for the debate over the wisdom of “Kyoto” to actually occur, leading into a discussion of the wisdom of “post-2012″ Kyoto.