Peter Garrett found himself in a policy pickle yesterday, first telling voters Australia might sign on to a post-2012 Kyoto agreement without commitments from major emitters, then backtracking. “Appropriate developing country commitments for the post 2012 period … would be an essential prerequisite for Australian support,” he later said.

We took the question to Crikey’s Cabbie Panel: Should Australia sign a post-2012 emissions agreement regardless of what the US and China do?

Ross Nelson, Sydney. I think the whole global warming thing is a bit of a scam. It’s a con by people with vested interests like Al Gore who flew out here in his private jet. But yes, I think Australia should sign an agreement to reduce emissions regardless of who else signs it. Down the track it could be good for Australian trade. France is already talking about favouring countries in trade deals which are signed up to Kyoto. Even though I think there is a lot of greenhouse gas scamming going on, any reduction in crap we pump into the atmosphere is a good thing. By and large I think we should be a party to these pollution reduction accords. Whether Kyoto is the best one, I can’t comment. But moving forward I think we should be reducing emissions as much as we can.

David Bradley, Sydney. Absolutely. I don’t now if I can put it this way, but if someone down the road wants to sh-t in the street, it doesn’t mean we need to as well. Of course we should ratify it. Just because the US and China doesn’t ratify does not give us an excuse. Let me put it another way. If the schoolyard thugs are acting like idiots there’s no excuse for us to act like idiots.

Paul Henderson, Brisbane. I’m a bit on the fence on this one. I don’t know if this is a symbolic gesture just to sign or whether it really does anything. Even if it’s a symbolic gesture, it’s interesting that Garrett has been pulled up by Rudd, which again shows that Rudd is the one holding the wheel on most big issues.

Bruce Tootell, Melbourne. No, we shouldn’t. I think we need to run our own race. While China and the US are going crazy, we shouldn’t ratify it, but we should do our own thing in reducing Greenhouse gases. We should be progressing in our own direction but we shouldn’t be intimidated by people who intimidate us. We should run our own race. I’ve got to say, one of the places we could reduce gases is late in the afternoon at the local TAB – these guys are farting something phenomenally. We’ve got to bring some salad in for the people in TABs and pub bars. We’ve got to reduce their gases. More salads – that’s just one positive way to meet our emissions targets.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey