Friday, 4 July 2008

Greens urge swift response to Garnaut draft

Professor Ross Garnaut will hand down his draft report on an emissions trading scheme today.

The Greens say the Federal Government can not be worried about electoral popularity and must move quickly when it responds to economist Ross Garnaut's draft report on climate change.

Professor Garnaut hands down his draft report today on an emissions trading scheme that would mean a massive reshaping of the Australian economy.

The Government wants to cut greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Professor Garnaut proposes putting a cap on emissions and then trading permits for those generating them.

How the permits are allocated - either auctioned or given away is a key question - another is how ambitious the scheme should be.

It will be be more expensive if the target is to make deeper cuts and achieve them more quickly.

Professor Garnaut will discuss options for compensating households who will face higher electricity and other costs.

He will also touch on ways to ensure that the system protects areas most sensitive to the change like the coal producing regions.

Professor Garnaut will hold forums around Australia in the next few weeks and the Government will release a discussion paper later this month.

The Greens say there is no time to waste on the issue and Senator Christine Milne warns against a gentle introduction.

She says she is worried the Government will want a low carbon price for the start of the scheme, to ease the community into the changes.

"We don't have time for that, if you want to be a leader on climate change, you must set a high target," she said.

"This emissions trading scheme must be broadly based, rigorous, and at the start up be serious about reducing emissions, not have one eye at the outcome of the 2010 election."

"The worst thing that could happen would be a slow start based on Kyoto targets which would mean that we would [have] virtually no reduction in emissions in the first few years," she said.

"For the scheme to work it has to be as broadly based as possible so it must include the transport sector and hence fuel."

But the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said he will not be deterred by a scare campaign.

"This will be a tough decision we recognise that and we won't be walking away from it," he said.

The Opposition is calling for a cautious response to the draft report with resources spokesman David Johnson saying it will be a much bigger change than the GST was.

"The processing of fruit and vegetables requires energy and transport, now there's just a huge knock on effect here," he said.

"A very, very significant bottom line budget threatening compensation package for ordinary Australians is going to be required."

Australia must lead climate fight AUSTRALIA will suffer more from climate change than any other developed nation and must take the lead in global action to tackle the problem, Professor Ross Garnaut will argue in his report today.

The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is designed to illuminate the costs of inaction. It is expected to find that global warming is proceeding faster than projected, and that doing nothing will be far more costly than expected.

Like the report by Britain's Sir Nicholas Stern, the Garnaut research is designed to raise public awareness. It is the first of several documents that will enable the Government to design systems to cut emissions.

The Opposition is arguing that Australia should not cut emissions before other countries because this would needlessly punish households and industry.

But Professor Garnaut's report will make a strong case for Australia to be at the forefront of international action to reduce emissions from carbon-based fuels and to stem the felling of carbon-absorbing trees.

Professor Garnaut, an economist from the Australian National University, will list three reasons why Australia will suffer more than any other rich economy.

First, because Australia is hotter and drier, small variations in temperature will have a bigger effect.

Second, because Australia is in a region that contains some of the most vulnerable, poor countries in the world, such as Indonesia and the small states of the South Pacific, it can expect to be affected by their problems.

Third, because the structure of the economy means that export prices will be punished severely by the climate-related slowdown in poor countries.

And the Garnaut report is expected to make the case for Australia to act urgently, even if big developing nations such as China and India do not.

Inaction would in effect be a veto on action by poor nations, Professor Garnaut argues.

The reason is that the existing global framework for dealing with climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, enshrines the principle that developed countries must move first. There can be no real progress in having developing countries make binding commitments to cut emissions until developed nations do the same, the report will argue.

"The task is to make it clear that the developed countries have gone beyond blocking," Professor Garnaut has said previously.

Sir Nicholas has expressed disappointment that the media has focused on a single number in his report, published in October, that the effects of climate change could cut economic output by 20 per cent a year from current levels by 2050 if no action was taken.

Professor Garnaut will go to lengths to emphasise that there are four categories of likely damage to the economy.

Today's report, a draft whose final version is due in September, will quantify only one of these, the conventional macroeconomic cost that can be estimated by economic modelling.

The second category will be the effect on particular aspects of the country. For example, Professor Garnaut has commissioned research into the medical consequences of climate change, including deaths from heat stress.

The third category will be the cost of mitigating the effects of global warming.

The fourth will be a survey of how climate change affects things Australians value for more than just economic reasons - the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, the inundation of the Kakadu wetlands, and the loss of the West Australian karri forests, for instance.

NSW falls behind on cutting emissions
NSW is performing poorly in its greenhouse gas reduction program and is on track to miss its own targets, according to leaked cabinet documents.

The state is relying heavily on the introduction of the Federal Government's emission trading scheme to cut its carbon emissions 60per cent by the middle of the century.

The documents, prepared for cabinet by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, say the Government may have to introduce more modest plans.

"Current projections indicate we will exceed the 2025 target by at least [20 million tonnes of greenhouse gases] and stronger national and state strategies are needed," the documents say.

They signal that the Government's climate change policy will shift from large-scale greenhouse gas abatement and focus more closely on energy efficiency.

NSW had planned to stabilise carbon emissions at 155 million tonnes a year by 2025 and to reduce them to 62 million tonnes by 2050.

The documents say some areas of the state's approach to climate change were showing "solid progress" but acknowledged the national emissions scheme would be the "dominant abatement instrument".

Of the five main areas identified for attention in the cabinet documents, none deal with the mining and burning of coal, which contributes close to 40 per cent of the total carbon emissions for NSW.

"On the day the Garnaut draft report on climate change is due these documents signal that the NSW Government must fundamentally lift its game," said the Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon.

"These documents show how behind closed doors Premier Iemma has given up on climate change and is pinning his hopes on the Federal Government to make the hard decisions."

The State Government agreed it was relying on a national emissions trading scheme, the broad form of which is to be unveiled within days by the federal Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, to produce the big cuts.

The federal scheme will put a cap on total greenhouse gas pollution and penalise industries that release more than their allocated amount of carbon into the atmosphere.

But the NSW Minister for Climate Change, Verity Firth, said targets were set in 2005 in the knowledge that emissions trading was coming soon.

"We've always recognised that a national emissions trading scheme is the best way to make deep cuts to our emissions," she said. "During the wilderness years of inaction and denial by the Howard government, NSW filled the void and led the other states in developing a national emissions trading scheme."

Ms Firth said the state's GGAS scheme - a limited form of emissions trading in the electricity sector - had positioned NSW as a world leader in combating climate change.

"We set these targets in 2005 in the knowledge that we would need an emissions trading scheme to reach them - whether run by the Commonwealth or jointly by the states," she said.

Ms Firth pointed to the state's $150 million energy efficiency strategy, the Climate Change Fund, a government commitment to make its own operations carbon neutral by 2020, and some incentives for the development of renewable energy, as proof of its commitment to act.


“Global Disruption” More Accurately Describes Climate Change, Not “Global Warming”–Leading Scientist John Holdren Leading scientist John Holdren says “global warming” is not the correct term to use; he prefers “global disruption.” “‘Global warming’ [is] misleading. It implies something that’s mainly about temperature, that’s gradual, and that’s uniform across the planet,” says Holdren. “In fact, temperature is only one of the things that’s changing. It’s a sort of an index of the state of the climate. The whole climate is changing: the winds, the ocean currents, the storm patterns, snow packs, snowmelt, flooding, droughts. Temperature is just a bit of it.”

Losing Ground 1/3 -Shishmaref, Alaska- You Tube Video - The foottage depicts an Alaskan native village of Shishimaref on a small island. The island is at risk of being eroded by ocean wave due to the global warming [Climate-Change]. This film consists of a series of interviews with the native people in the village and scenes of their lives. Directed by Japanese photographer Ryota Kajita.

Greenpeace protesters shut power station

Eight Greenpeace protestors have chained themselves to a coal conveyor belt at Erarang Power Station on the Central Coast, shutting it down in protest against climate change.

Climate change fight needs political ardour: Greenpeace
Greenpeace says the only thing Australia lacks in the fight against climate change is political will.

Leaving petrol off emissions trading scheme 'dangerous'
The Greens say any moves to leave petrol out of the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme will render it ineffective.

Aust's ecological footprint one of biggest in world: index
The annual Climate Living Index, which measures humanity's demand on natural resources, has listed Australia's ecological footprint as one of the biggest in the world.

Climate change hot topic at youth 2020 summits
More than 500 schools held talks during the past month ahead of the Federal Government's Youth Summit in Canberra this weekend. Ms Gillard says she is not surprised the environment is the number one concern of many children.

Greenpeace to give Treasurer carbon capture petition
A petition with 30,000 signatures will today be handed to the Federal Treasurer's office urging the Government to abandon its investment in carbon capture and storage.

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