4 December 2007 - Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd became the country's 26th prime minister on Monday and immediately began dismantling the former government's policies by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Rudd had pledged to commit Australia to the landmark United Nations treaty on greenhouse gas emissions as his first priority. "Today I have signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol," he said in a statement after his official swearing in at Government House in Canberra.
Rudd, who ousted conservative John Howard in elections nine days ago on a platform that included reversing the previous government's policy and ratifying Kyoto, had taken the oath of office just hours earlier.
Ratification will come into force 90 days after the commitment is handed to the UN, he said, meaning Australia will become a full member of the Kyoto Protocol before the end of March 2008.
Rudd said Kyoto was considered to be "the most far-reaching agreement on environment and sustainable development ever adopted."
"Australia's official declaration today that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country's efforts to fight climate change domestically--and with the international community," he said.
Rudd said his government would do "everything in its power" to help Australia meet its Kyoto obligations--which are set at capping greenhouse gas emissions at 108 per cent of 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
Official projections point to Australia just breaching this limit, estimating GHG output at 109 per cent of 1990 levels by 2012.