[JURIST] Incoming Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd [official profile] said Monday that he has signed [statement] Australia's instrument of ratification for the Kyoto Protocol [PDF text; JURIST news archive], ending nearly 10 years of Australian opposition to the pact. Rudd was sworn in [AP report] as the Prime Minister of Australia on Sunday, replacing the more conservative John Howard, who he handily defeated in the November 23 general election. Rudd had promised to make climate change a priority [party backgrounder] and ratify the Kyoto Protocol while campaigning for the Australian Labor Party [party website]. When Australia becomes a fully functional member of the Kyoto Protocol in March, the United States will be the only industrialized nation not a signatory to the pact.
Both the US and Australia have faced intense criticism [JURIST comment] as a result of their opposition to the Kyoto pact, the first comprehensive international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by developed and developing nations. In October, both countries agreed to participate in talks [JURIST report] to create a new global agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. AP has more.