Being an Australian citizen has been a tough time recently. I mentioned last week that my great country was only a few days away from a general election. I mentioned the embarrassment that friends had felt upon hearing that only we and the United States were Kyoto Protocol holdouts.
Well, a glimmer of hope has arrived, and it has come in the most unlikely of shapes.
You would have to be a special breed to find Kevin Rudd attractive. But his promise to the people that he would immediately ratify Kyoto and attend the Bali summit in December made him very attractive to me.
John Howard, who has served our country diligently for eleven years, was ousted this Saturday. He was relegated to second choice as our leader, and was also ousted from his own seat of Bennelong. As a result, the man who has stood side by side with George W. Bush has officially stepped away from politics.
The international press is describing Howard as a conservative who has lost the post of PM. But in all reality, there is very little difference between Howard, and the new man, Kevin Rudd. Fluent in Mandarin as a result of being posted in Beijing, China, with our Department of Foreign Affairs, Rudd was definitely a new face. But in many regards, his and Howard’s opinions did not vary.
For me though, the biggest difference between the two was Rudd’s seemingly apparent knowledge that global warming is a current crisis. Howard always seemed to be in the Bush realm of thinking, that is, “It’ll be a problem one day, but for now, our economy comes first.”
Sunday morning saw the Prime Minister-elect seeking advice on how to ratify the Kyoto protocol. He also spoke to Indonesian Prime Minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who officially invited him to the Bali summit.
Rudd also spoke to President Bush, who congratulated Rudd on his appointment. “I emphasized to President Bush the centrality of the U.S. alliance in our approach to foreign policy,” Rudd announced Sunday in his first media conference as Prime Minister-elect, adding he would visit the U.S. early in the new year.
In his election campaign, Kevin Rudd announced that he would radically change the countries policy on climate change, and push for a target of 60% cut in emissions by 2050. This decision has left the United States once again in the cold. With the summit in the Indonesian paradise of Bali only weeks away, this can only be a good thing.
But Rudd’s appointment came at the same time that a meeting of commonwealth members took place in the capital city of Uganda, Kampala; The Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) failed to come to any lasting decision.
Some believe that this may have had to do with the polarizing views of small island states that are currently facing rising tides that will eventually sweep over the top of their countries and Canada, who believes
Others speculate that in the advance of the Bali summit, it is not necessary to come to a final declaration, taking the wind out of the summit.
All in all, the last part of 2007 is going to hold many stories for generations to come to look back upon. The question remains as to whether they will retell those stories in praise, or as horror stories.