Given the prominent part that climate change has played in the election, it is fortuitous indeed that the first major set piece of the new government will be the upcoming climate change summit in Bali.
It’s wrong to say that the ratification of Kyoto will leave the United States completely friendless in its continued opposition. while Canada signed some time ago, current conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was indulging in greenhouse denialism almost as recently as Howard, and thinks the Kyoto protocol was a “mistake” in its differential treatment of developing nations.
But from Rudd’s perspective, it’ll be a great and rare opportunity to have an impact on the international stage; it will be noted around the world that the second-last holdout amongst the developed nations has joined the Kyoto club, leaving only the United States out of it.
As for the summit itself (discussed in some detail by Brian a little while ago), it will likely be mainly about process for the negotiation for the post-Kyoto treaty, rather than too much negotiation in itself. But then, determining the process can do a lot to determine the outcome, and so there will be plenty of tea leaves to be read. The headline issue is what the nature of the targets imposed on the developing countries will be – the USA’s position (and, possibly, Australia’s, given Rudd’s micromanagement during the campaign) is that the big rapidly developing countries will need to face binding targets. Those countries have been resisting this strongly. Given that emissions have to start falling, in absolute terms, fairly soon, it’s hard to see how that can happen without the developing countries at least capping their emissions, but we’ll see what happens.
It’ll be nice to have a PM who’s not going to a climate change meeting dragging along a retinue from the coal industry with the purpose of sabotaging the meeting.