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Emissions aims take place of Kyoto targets

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Industrial relations reform on G20 agenda

Taxation, the digital economy and the need for structural reforms to create more jobs will be on the discussion table at the G20, announces Treasurer Joe Hockey.

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It's Kyoto all over again.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change embraced ''binding targets'' for emissions reductions in 1997 only to discover some years later that they weren't binding at all. But they felt good.

The G20 finance ministers' communique is actually weaker than the Kyoto Protocol.

It doesn't even use the word ''target'' - preferring the weaker word ''aim'' - and, whereas each of the signatories to the Kyoto Protocol agreed to individual targets, it is not yet clear that's what will happen when the world's 20 leading economies regroup in Brisbane in November.

Agreeing to the sum of the parts without agreeing to the parts themselves would be like agreeing to let other nations do all the work.

It's one of the arguments that was used against Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol. What would it matter what Australia did? The other bigger nations would have to do the heavy lifting.

This time, the conference chairman, Joe Hockey, was having none of that argument. Australia had an important, pivotal role to play in demonstrating to the world what can be done to boost growth. Each of the G20, regardless of size, had to do its part.

Behind the scenes, big advances were made in sharing information about tax, reorienting and refinancing the International Monetary Fund and ensuring central bankers work together rather than in opposition.

The summit was brilliantly organised and the brainpower assembled in the conference room was awesome.

It might have achieved even more if it had lasted more than two days and it might achieve more still if it happened several times each year. But just assembling so many leaders and officials in one room was an astounding achievement. Hockey and the Treasury served Australia and the world well.

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36 comments

  • so, let me get this straight, The G20 conference was a mastery class in doing nothing, and we are the masters (on the world stage) of doing nothing except brutalised refugee torture

    Commenter
    Axis
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 7:00AM
    • The Libs are just completely repulsed by the word "sustainability".

      Everything is hype about "growth", which they see as more coal mines and scraping the guts out of the reef.

      Backwards thinking.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 7:21AM
    • Yes they always give the host country a tidbit to make them feel the whole thing wasn't a waste of time before getting on with the business of completely ignoring them.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 7:59AM
    • Actions will speak louder than words. I will be the first to applaud if the multinational tax evasion is eradicated. Globalisation cannot be a pathway for tax avoidance.

      Commenter
      Good Logic
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 8:28AM
    • I don't know what all the fuss is about. Weren't people happy with the work of the State Environment Protection Authorities, and the Australian and New Zealand consultative body ? We must have spent millions on them, and provided many happy hours of people attending conferences on the environment. We still have debates on the environment with no mention of ISO14000 Environmental Management System certifications for polluters. 'The system runs on bullshit' ?

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 8:51AM
    • @Good logic. Nor is Globalisation the way to look after the people and the planet. The economy can't do it. Neither can the markets. Only people, you know, alive and breathing, are able to do something positive for our future. G20 is just a 'big boys' puerile p' ing club.

      Commenter
      Jump
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:21AM
    • Good logic

      Agree. Transfer pricing and the likes are seeing tax revenue disappearing into a black hole.

      Axis, the world still exists outside of your pet topic. Your look over there comment added, well, not much.

      Commenter
      $keptic
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:40AM
    • G'day Axis - mate, you were gentle.
      This feel good do little high CO2 emissions gathering was doomed to be just that.
      Whether the meeting is related to economic or climate matters, this sort of outcome seems to be pretty much the standard fare.
      It is a marvellous concept - but, perhaps we should be more realistic about what to expect from these things.
      However, being the eternal optimist, I wouldn't want them to stop - you just never know.

      Commenter
      Howe Synnott
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:49AM
    • Axis, your summation makes far more sense than, "just assembling so many leaders and officials in the same room was an outstanding achievement. Hockey and the Treasury served Australia and the world well."

      OMG! I think thus qualifies as the most ridiculous statement I've read in SMH! Okay, there are a few contenders, including the editorial that said we should give this lot a go. Have we lowered our expectations so much,,,are so desperate for something that doesn't resemble an utter farce, that we applaud the gathering of people in a ROOM! I guess we could have stuffed up the invites or sent them Manus instead. But given we managed to host the Olympics twice, is this really such an achievement? I guess we should take whatever tiny success we can get with the Abbott government.

      Commenter
      Passionfruit
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:51AM
    • Australia "stands tall?" The Australian government are intellectual pygmies.

      Commenter
      Jennifer
      Location
      Carlton
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:02AM

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