I can unite world on climate, says Rudd
by Cynthia Banham
AUSTRALIA will take on a highly ambitious and activist role on the international stage under the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who has unveiled a grand plan for uniting the world on climate change.
Heralding a significant shift in foreign policy from the Howard era, Mr Rudd – former diplomat and China expert – told the Herald yesterday he intended to use Australia’s new position as a member of the Kyoto club to “bridge the gap” between developed and developing countries on future emissions controls.
In his first newspaper interview as Prime Minister, Mr Rudd admitted it was an enormous challenge but said Australia had a “national and international responsibility to the next generation” to do everything it could to counter the threat of climate change.
Mr Rudd will travel to Bali on Tuesday to join the UN conference on climate change, in what will be his first appearance on the world stage as Prime Minister.
While there, he revealed, he will also seek to enhance Australia’s relationship with Indonesia when he meets its President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
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The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, will play the key role as “principal negotiator” in Mr Rudd’s vision for Australia as the world’s new climate change broker, further underscoring her rapid rise in the new government.
“I fully recognise the difficulty of this because the distance between those two positions at present is enormous, but this is a gap which Australia in the past could not even hope to begin to bridge because we were not at the negotiating table at all in a substantive way,” Mr Rudd said.
“We now are, and Senator Wong’s brief, apart from arguing the Australian position, will be to do whatever is within her power and Australia’s power to seek to bridge the gap between the positions of the developed and developing world on future emissions controls.”
Having freshly ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Mr Rudd will personally hand Australia’s instrument of ratification to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
He will also meet the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, and the former US vice-president, Al Gore. In his talks with Dr Yudhoyono, Mr Rudd said he would cover the “entire spectrum” of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, including the adequacy of security co-operation.
Terrorism would feature in these talks. As opposition leader, Mr Rudd nominated the rise of militant Islam as one of the biggest issues facing the world.
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