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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 3086 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the United Nations sponsored body of scientists from around the world charged with the responsibility of assessing the scientific evidence on climate change, reported at the start of this year that there is now clear evidence that human activity is affecting the global climate. The ultimate effects of this climate change are still not known, but there can now be no denying that climate change is real and must be addressed by the governments of the world.

Ms Follett: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I draw your attention to the state of the house and most particularly the state of the Government; they have given up and gone.

MS TUCKER: It is a great indication of their interest in the subject.

Mr Hird: No, they have not. They are just out there. There are two Ministers talking out there, Mr Speaker. As usual, you are wrong, Rosemary, which does not surprise me.

(Quorum formed)

MR SPEAKER: I remind members that the chamber is the area bounded by the rails behind the crossbenches.

Ms Follett: It does not include the corridors; is that what you are saying? Mr Hird was wrong?

MR SPEAKER: That is right.

Mr Hird: No. I was saying that they were just outside, talking.

MR SPEAKER: You are correct. It certainly does not include outside. Continue, Ms Tucker.

MS TUCKER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If governments are serious about ecological sustainability and about preserving the world for future generations, then they must take a precautionary approach to the greenhouse issue. The lack of full scientific certainty cannot be used as an excuse for not taking action that may prevent irreversible harm to the human and natural environment.

Internationally, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into force in 1994 and has now been signed by over 120 countries, including Australia. The convention places special responsibility on the developed countries of the world to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. There has been an ongoing debate among the parties to the convention over the need to strengthen the convention by including a greenhouse gas reduction target that would be binding on countries. It was extremely disappointing that at the conference of the parties to the convention earlier this year, the Federal Liberal Government chose to side with a small number of oil-producing countries and not support calls from most other countries for a binding greenhouse gas reduction target. However, the ALP should not take comfort from this, as it also attempted to move away from its initial commitment to the Australian interim greenhouse gas reduction target during its time as the Federal Government.

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