No time to lose on climate change


Ross Garnaut | The

THERE are moments in history when fateful choices are made. The decision on whether to take strong action to mitigate human-induced climate change is one such moment.

Is it possible to secure effective international action to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels?  If so, what targets and trajectories for emissions reduction would produce the best possible outcome for Australia, and what would be an appropriate Australian contribution?

What should we do if it takes time to secure effective international action?  The impact of unmitigated climate change on Australia would be severe. Australia’s aim should be to work to secure a global agreement around a firm emissions stabilisation goal. It should be prepared to pay its full, proportionate part in achieving that goal.

Pending the completion of post-Kyoto arrangements, it is better not to focus on a single trajectory, but to have in mind a set of possibilities, the choice among which will be determined in an international context.  Over the transition period, permits should be sold at $20 per tonne in 2010, rising each year by 4% plus the increase of the consumer price index.

This is more or less the price path that the modelling suggests would be followed if there were effective global agreement directed towards stabilisation of global greenhouse gas concentrations at 550 parts per million (ppm).

Beyond Kyoto, the review has considered two co-operative global mitigation scenarios, in which countries agree to share the burden and to work towards stabilising greenhouse gases at a particular level: at 550 ppm, or 450 ppm.

Australia’s target should be to reduce emissions net of international permit trading by 10% from 2000 levels by 2020 (a cut of 30% per capita), and by 80% by 2050 (90% per capita). A binding international commitment to the 2020 outcome would be made conditional on an effective global agreement designed to stabilise global concentrations at 550 ppm by mid-century.

Read on here.


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