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Media Release
Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

12 December 2003

Steps Agreed to Improve Global Climate Monitoring

Australian-led proposals to improve global climate monitoring systems and access to information on climate change have been accepted by the international community at the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP9), currently being held in Milan, Italy.

The acceptance of these proposals reflects Australia's role as a valued and supportive contributor in the international climate change arena.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage and Head of the Australian Delegation to COP9, Dr David Kemp, said the ability to document climate change, evaluate its impact and assess the effectiveness of policy responses depended heavily on sound, systematic and reliable observations of the global climate system.

"Substantial deficiencies exist in current global climate observing systems and this impacts on the ability of the international community to fully understand climate change and develop effective mitigation and adaptation measures," Dr Kemp said.

"As a result of one Australian proposal, an international cooperative mechanism will be established to identify and more effectively use existing resources to improve global climate observing systems, specifically addressing the needs and situations of developing countries.

"This is a significant step that will enhance international understanding of global climate change and variability."

Dr Kemp said the cooperative mechanism would operate through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The GCOS was established in 1992 to integrate the many millions of individual land, ocean and atmospheric climate observations that are undertaken each year, to assist decision making at all levels.

"Australia is already providing support to developing nations in the Pacific Region to undertake global climate observing activities and is looking forward to playing an active role in the new GCOS Cooperation Mechanism," Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp said a second Australian proposal adopted by the Conference of the Parties would enable countries to readily access and use emissions and socio-economic data about climate change. This would be done through clever computer software providing a web accessible data interface.

"Initially links will be made to existing international databases. From this, countries will identify the type of information they need to respond to the challenges of climate change," he said.

"Lack of access to information is limiting the capacity of some countries to develop their policy responses to this critical issue. Australia's proposal aims to help overcome this information divide by providing equal access to information to help improve the decision-making capacity of all parties to the Convention."

Dr Kemp said the Australian Government was committed to finding practical and effective ways to tackle this important global issue.

"Australia remains fully engaged in the international climate change effort through the UNFCCC and through our other bilateral and regional relationships," he said.

"We are committed to an effective global response to climate change, involving all major greenhouse gas emitters. Our own current greenhouse programs are expected to deliver annual emissions abatement of 67 million tones by 2008-2012 - the equivalent of taking all of Australia's cars, trucks and buses off the road.

"Without these measures, greenhouse emissions would have been 123 per cent of the 1990 level by the end of the decade, whereas our latest projections analysis shows Australia is on track to meet its 108 per cent target agreed to at Kyoto."

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty, the ultimate aim of which is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. The treaty commits parties, of which Australia is one, to take action to reduce the threat of climate change.

Note: A copy of Minister Kemp's Plenary Statement to the Conference of the Parties is attached.

Dr David Kemp - Plenary Statement to the Conference of the Parties

Commonwealth of Australia