The boosters

  • Foreign Minister Alexander Downer: “An enormous diplomatic breakthrough.”
  • Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile, Insiders: “[T]his is a significant achievement in this forum…”
  • Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull: “… a major breakthrough that heralds a new era of cooperation for international efforts to address climate change.”
  • Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister: a “big, big step” toward reducing greenhouse-gas emissions
  • Paul Kelly, Australian columnist, speaking on Insiders: “This is a success for John Howard, it’s a good result for APEC, and it’s also a small step for the international community in terms of working towards a post 2012 framework … I think John Howard can claim with a degree of credibility that this APEC meeting has helped to bridge the gap, although in a small way, in terms of climate change.”
  • The Australian editorial, 10 September: “The Sydney Declaration … is a real advance in the struggle to get all nations to agree to shoulder the burden of reducing greenhouse gases. The fact that developed and developing nations have committed to setting a long-term aspirational goal for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is an important breakthrough.”
  • The Age, editorial, 10 September: While some scoff at the summit as a $330 million talkfest, no agreements between representatives of countries that account for 56 per cent of the global economy and 40 per cent of the world’s population can be lightly dismissed.

The detractors

  • John Connor, Climate Institute, speaking to Crikey: There’s a reason why the actual text of the Declaration wasn’t released until 24 hours or so after the press conference with the Prime Minister. It was then you saw that the agreement was to work towards a common agreement on aspirational goals with no targets mentioned. It is an exercise in spin. I think ultimately is has been mostly harmless to Kyoto process, and it has underscored that the Kyoto framework and negotiations are the main game.
  • LA Times: Hu … in the diplomatic tradition of Chinese leaders, politely told Howard to drop dead. He emphasized that the United Nations, not APEC, was the appropriate forum for negotiating climate deals, and that although he welcomed the discussion in Sydney, any agreement at this week’s summit must acknowledge that different countries have ‘differentiated responsibilities.’ Translation: Don’t expect much from China.
  • Greens leader Bob Brown: The idea that we’ve saved the planet, [US President] George Bush and John Howard, is so absurd. The Sydney declaration is vacuous, it’s just hot air, it’s not action.
  • Abigail Jabines, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner: Without legally binding targets for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the Sydney declaration is irrelevant and meaningless in addressing climate change. If this is the platform for future climate action, then the world is in trouble.
  • Chinese President Hu Jintao, prior to signing the declaration: “Developed countries should face their historical responsibility and their high per-capita emissions.” He insisted, those nations should “strictly abide by their emission reduction targets set forth in the Kyoto Protocol”.
  • Former Australian diplomat Richard Broinowski: “This is a sideshow. It’s not a breakthrough at all.”