India, China and the United States must be part of any real solution to climate change, the Australian prime minister said on Thursday, as he prepared to take up the issue at this week's summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Vietnam.
Prime Minister John Howard, who has recently made global warming part of mainstream debate in Australia after years of downplaying the issue, has said he would be willing to consider a carbon dioxide trading system to limit greenhouse gas emissions, if it doesn't harm key resource-dependent industries.
Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, and the United States are the only major industrialised countries to reject the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which commits 35 nations and the European Community to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Canberra and Washington say the 1997 treaty would unfairly hamper their economies while allowing developing countries like China and India - which are excluded from the 2012 target - to pollute freely.
Howard continued this criticism on Thursday.
"If we closed down every power station in Australia tomorrow, it would take China nine months of emissions to cancel that out," Howard told Sydney radio 2GB. "That is why you can't seriously address this problem on a global scale unless you have China, India and the United States, which together amount to close to 50 per cent of the world's pollution.