Damn Lies in Australia & Damning Indictment from Oxford


The report by the Oxford
University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment is a damning
indictment of the efforts of Australia, along with the US and Canada and a
couple of Middle East countries, as doing the least in the world on deviating
from business-as-usual emissions. This analysis of international climate change
negotiations by the former chief scientist of the UK, Sir David King, rather
than setting targets and gradually winding them down, this method sets the
ultimate goal (seeking to limit global warming to 2°C) and works backwards.

Giles Parkinson in
Climate Spectator (19 July 2011):

Julia Gillard enjoyed
a special treat Monday last week. She spoke to a large group of people who
actually agreed with her climate change policy and applauded her with genuine

Given the polls that
were released that morning, this is a rare event and does not reflect the
nation’s mood. And the question the audience of 400 or so gathered at the Green
Capital event wanted answered most of all – in their discussions with the PM
and in private discussions afterwards – was “why?”

The answer lies as
much in the past as it does in the present. The manner of Gillard’s ascendancy,
the ditching of the CPRS, and whoever advised the PM to agree with the
proposition that the carbon price is a tax rather than an ETS with a fixed
price have played into the hands of opponents.

All that is well understood
and unchangeable, but what is exasperating in the current climate debate is the
ability of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his entourage to successfully cut
through with crap – the word he once used to describe the climate science, and
which Gillard has adopted to describe much of the public debate.

Abbott may pretend
not to be a climate denier, but he certainly sings from their song-book. Many
of his one-liners, like yesterday’s about the rate of increase in China’s
emissions, and its comparisons with Australia’s meagre reduction efforts, come
straight from climate sceptics’ blogs.

But Abbott
understands all too well that if you produce enough crap, as incoherent and
contradictory as it might be, enough of it will stick. And in this media environment
it only needs to last five minutes to be effective. As the Climate Institute’s
John Connor told the audience on Monday, “it’s like trying to nail jelly to the

Abbott’s comment
about China, and his dismissal of Australia’s bipartisan reduction target of 5
per cent as “crazy”, reveals his true instincts on climate change. He doesn’t
believe it, and he doesn’t accept the need for action: anything that Australia
does is too much in the context of global efforts.

This is not how
things are viewed outside Australia’s conservative fishbowl. The map and report
published by Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
is a damning indictment of the efforts of Australia, along with the US and
Canada and a couple of Middle East countries, as doing the least in the world
on deviating from business-as-usual emissions. China is ranked among the
“good”, along with Europe and the other key nations of the powerful “BASIC”
nationals – Brazil, India, South Africa, as well as Indonesia.

The report comes from
an analysis of international climate change negotiations by the former chief
scientist of the UK, Sir David King, who is part of a growing and influential
chorus that is rekindling a version of the “contract and convergence” theory on
global abatement efforts. Rather than setting targets and gradually winding
them down, this method sets the ultimate goal (seeking to limit global warming
to 2°C) and works backwards.

That translates into
a per capita allocation of just 2t of CO2-e by 2050, which means Australia
would need to cut its emissions of 26t per capita by more than 90 per cent.
Whether you are aiming for a 60 per cent target, an 80 per cent target or a 92
per cent target, a 5 per cent cut over the next decade would seem to be the minimum
effort required.

Unless, of course,
you don’t believe in climate change. Or unless, like Abbott, you’ve
“twigged” to the fact that CO2 is invisible, it’s weightless and it’s
odourless. “How are we going to police these emissions,” he asked on
radio a fortnight ago. Probably in the way the John Howard designed when he
introduced the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act in 2007. It’s
nearly as easy as counting votes.

The other scare
campaign from Abbott and his loyal servant, the climate change spokesman Greg
Hunt, has been on international permits, and the supposed handing out of
billions of dollars each year to carbon traders in Equatorial Guinea and
Kazakhstan. Best not to let facts get in the way of a good scare campaign, but
just for the record there are no carbon traders in those countries, because
they do not have any approved emissions abatement projects.

And rather than
handing out money to carbon traders in dark and foreign lands, the Coalition’s
Direct Action policy has altogether more worthy recipients of its largesse –
the French government and a Hong Kong billionaire, the owners of two of our
most polluting coal plants that they propose to buy out.

But the real bottom
line of politicising the use of international credits and ruling them out of
Direct Action, is that while Labor’s plan can source cheaper abatement
overseas, the Coalition is locked into more expensive domestic abatement. That
means, if ever a Coalition government was forced to pursue a higher target, it would
simply would not able to allow growth in some emissions-intensive industries
where Australia has a comparative advantage, such as coking coal or LNG. On
this aspect, Abbott’s policy comes close to that of some of the more radical
green groups.

Cost, though, is the
Achilles heel of Abbott’ policy. His own allies tell us so. Malcolm Turnbull
did it effectively enough in May and on Monday got some help from the Victorian
Energy Minister Michael O’Brien, who launched a virulent attack against the
proposed closure of the Hazelwood coal fired plant and replacing such capacity
with gas, saying it would cause a huge rise in energy prices.

“If the Gillard
government was honest about this, it would be telling Victorians how many jobs
will be lost, how much their electricity bills will be going up by, and where
the gas is going to come from,” O’Brien said. Oops! Isn’t that also the
Coalition’s policy? Perhaps the question would be better put to Abbott and
Hunt, who have repeatedly claimed their policy will not lead to a rise in
energy prices.

The Abbott scare
campaign has enlisted the help of several compliant industry groups. The Food
and Grocery council has been the most hopelessly complicit, parroting Abbott’s
scares about rising food costs and then admitting it had actually done no modelling.
The same is true of the housing body.

Many at the Gillard
breakfast wondered why business was not more vocal in supporting the
government’s climate change policy, given that taking action is inevitable at
some point, and the sooner that the rules are known, the easier it is for
everyone. The response is all too depressing: some have been placated but many
are still lobbying for that extra dollar of compensation, and will do so until
the legislation is passed. As Ross Garnaut said when lambasting the vested
interests in his final report in late May: “As soon as the parameters of
the scheme are settled, business will focus on making money within the new
rules, rather than on securing rules that make them money.”

For that reason, the
passage of the legislation cannot come soon enough. First, however, it needs to

Source: www.climatespectator.com.au

The Smith School of
Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford has today, (18th
July) published a report that recommends that individual governments must take
more action to curb their own emissions and put pressure on other governments
to do the same.

The ‘International
Climate Change Negotiations: Key Lessons and Next Steps’ report, a detailed
analysis of international efforts to address the impacts of climate change,
also found that many of the current actions pledged by countries are still a
long way from what is necessary and that we need a refocus on the issue from
heads of state at G20 level, in parallel with the UNFCCC process, which should
focus on bilateral and national actions.

The report also puts forward a series of
actions that should be considered:

Limit emissions from deforestation through
incentive-based policies.

Increase R&D spend, particularly within
the energy sector, with public sector funding leveraging significant private
sector investment.

A significant price on CO2 emissions to
encourage investment in the green economy.

Bringing developing countries into the carbon
markets in order to encourage low carbon development, provide finance and make
the most of mitigation opportunities.

Professor Sir David
King, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said:

climate negotiations can only go so far. Systems such as pledge-and-review set
up in Copenhagen and Cancun are a useful way forward in the absence of an
internationally legally-binding agreement, but individual Governments must
provide urgent political leadership – that is not happening at present.

It is simply not
acceptable that major developed nations such as the US are not behind a global
agreement. The US, despite some good rhetoric and with the exception of
California, is still a blocker when it comes to reaching a global agreement,
with other nations, namely Japan and Russia, becoming increasingly vocal in
their resistance to a second commitment phase (post 2012) to the Kyoto

Dr Kenneth Richards,
Visiting Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said:

“A strong move
towards a green economy and global equity is central to the debate.  According to the IEA global energy demand is
predicted to grow by 55 per cent by 2030. Just over 90 per cent of the increase
in the energy demand from 2007 to 2030 is projected to come from non-OECD

Ideally, we would
have a global cap and trade system to engage the business and financial
community and generate financial flows from the developed to the least
developed world.  We would have a
seamless system to address forest carbon in both industrialised and developing
countries.  To reach that goal, strong
decisive steps are required from key governments to place us on a path to
long-term, stable and appropriate prices on greenhouse gas emissions. This will
send a clear signal to the corporate sector and stimulate investment to produce
innovative solutions”.

The report also
emphasizes that funding for mitigation and adaptation in the least developed
countries is critical. The Green Climate Fund set up in Cancun marked one way
in achieving this. Equity is also critical and needs to be properly considered
in any proposed solutions.

Source: www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk


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