Doha agreement in Australia's best interest

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The agreement of Doha is in Australia's best interest, Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told local media on Monday.

Australia and 36 other industrialized countries signed up for binding emission cuts by 2020 at the weekend as part of a package of agreements extending the life of the Kyoto Protocol in Doha. The summit put a deadline of April 30, 2014, for countries to declare their hand on emissions cuts.

"Progress was made on that front at Doha," Combet told an ABC program today "It's in our interest to be part of the agreement, and it also helps get us towards, a stepping stone towards, a wider agreement."

A spokesman for Minister Combet told local media that Australia supported the Doha outcome as an "important step" to a new agreement that would cover all major emitters.

Meanwhile, he also mentioned the new agreement would not leave Australia exposed to compensation claims. "The intent of the decision was to find ways to build understanding of climate risks and to manage the impacts of climate change." he said.

But Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said yesterday Australia should be willing to take financial responsibility for its pollution.

"You accept that human emissions are causing climate change and causing damage on a very significant scale, and these are the further costs of further inaction in cutting our pollution," he said. "We can't be allowed to free ride off the suffering of others."

Greens leader Christine Milne said Australia should be willing to outlay 2-3 billion Australian dollars (almost 2.09-3.14 billion U.S.dollars) a year to help developing nations and that the cash should be in addition to existing foreign aid.

"It's a good thing the world has recognized that some countries are already suffering loss and damage as a result of climate change," Milne said. "But the agreement doesn't create a new funding mechanism and the existing funding mechanisms aren't delivering."

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