America, you are on notice! Following the landslide election here in Australia held just last week, the new Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Kevin Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol as his first act as leader of the country. This leaves the United States as the sole country that has not ratified this global treaty.

Rudd also announced that, unfortunately, Australia will very likely not be able to meet the commitments that the treaty sets for this country. It is believed that Australia will overshoot the targets by almost 1%. However, he did mention that the country remains committed to try and achieve this goal and will accept the penalties imposed by the protocol. With this ratification, Australia will now be accepted as a member by the end of March 2008.

The news coincided with the start of the post-Kyoto talks in Bali. While Australians have one of the highest emissions per capita in the world, the total emissions from the country remains relatively small compared to larger emitters. However, the country’s ratification of the treaty puts pressure on the United States to finally sign the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, it signals to the world that Australia is now ready to work with everyone to achieve the goal of curbing emissions worldwide.

“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,” Rudd said in a statement.

+ Rudd signs Kyoto ratification document