Climate Change and the Environment: Introduction

In December 2007, Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali after Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement by world leaders to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change – particularly carbon dioxide. Emissions are gases that are released into the air. Kyoto is the name of the city in Japan where the agreement was originally signed in 1997.

Greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, have always been part of our environment. The gases help to keep our planet at a constant temperature. However, increases in carbon dioxide emissions are causing the planet to warm and leading to changes in the world’s climate.

By endorsing the Kyoto Protocol, the Australian Government has agreed that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions will not be higher than 8 per cent above 1990 levels.

Australia was the second-last developed country to agree to the greenhouse gas emissions targets. The United States is yet to agree to any such targets.

The commitment by the Government to reduce greenhouse emissions will have an impact on all Australians – in our homes, schools and places of work – and determine the products we buy and the transport we use.

For the teacher | Introduction | Overall Aims | Investigation: Tuning in | Investigation: Research | Investigation: Analysing | Investigation: Taking Action | Evaluation and assessment | Resources