The central task arising out of the findings of climate science,
according to Ross Garnaut, is “breaking the connection between economic growth and greenhouse emissions”.
In bowing out of his role as the Government’s climate advisor, he did take a swipe at the media which he described as irresponsible and “somewhat rabid”.
“Much of the media and public discussion of climate change policy over the past nine months has been about the crudest and most distorted discussion of a major public policy in my experience,” Prof Garnaut said.
“Facts are ignored, the rules of logic violated and it’s rare for people expressing very strong opinions on particular issues to go back and actually read the document on which they are commenting.”
In the Oz we got this:
His comments followed an appraisal by The Australian’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan yesterday that Professor Garnaut’s last report was “astoundingly poor, relying on various sleights of hand, misrepresentations and propaganda techniques”.
Sheridan said Professor Garnaut had “sacrificed his reputation as a serious policy intellectual and will be remembered for having produced a shoddy report in the interests of partisan campaigning”.
Sheridan would be qualified to know, of course!
Garnaut is firm that an ETS is what is required in spite of wobbles in the EU scheme.
And he thinks now is a good time for such a major reform:
Prof Garnaut said Australia’s climate of economic prosperity, a time when average incomes in this country exceeded those of Americans for the first time in 100 years, was ideal for structural change.
“A time when terms of trade are at record levels is the best of times for structural change – certainly the best of times economically,” he said.
Back in 2009 in my Senate submission (you might find it interesting just to read the pictures) I quoted Garnaut’s first draft report as saying:
The Review’s terms of reference require it to analyse two specific stabilisation goals: one at which greenhouse gases are stabilised at 550 ppm CO2-e (strong global mitigation) and one at which they are stabilised at 450 ppm CO2-e (ambitious global mitigation).
Then Garnaut says:
A stabilisation target of 450 ppm CO2-e gives about a 50 per cent chance of limiting the global mean temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels (Meinshausen 2006), a goal endorsed by the European Union (Council of the European Union 2005) among others.
Garnaut had obviously seen this in the Stern Review:
Describing the acceptance of a brief with these odds as “sad” and “outrageous” I said:
Garnaut, had he acted responsibly at this point, would have gone back to those who commissioned the report and asked for the reference to be changed so that he could develop a strategy for a safe climate. By engaging in the exercise as specified he tended to reinforce the false notion that the project was in fact sane.
That was just the beginning of my outrage. But Garnaut soldiered on.
On his way out, in an interview with Giles Parkinson of Climate Spectator, Garnaut says:
But the thing I’ll be most concerned about is the governance arrangements because they will determine the quality of the scheme going forward.
For Garnaut, the institutional arrangements are more important than the carbon price or compensation, and by inference the targets set initially. In the earlier post we saw that in his latest update five governance bodies were identified. Garnaut is stressing three: one to administer the scheme, one to decide on compensation and one to review targets periodically as we go.
If this ABC story about what Christine Milne said is correct, he may have achieved his aim. It’s worth reading in detail in the Parkinson interview what Garnaut said about the EU situation. It seems as you decarbonise the price of carbon credits can fall unless you lift the level of your ambition. It seems also that the EU is not well placed to do this. Setting the targets required a lot of detailed and patient diplomacy when Angela Merkel had the EU presidency back in 2007. Now the polluting Poles are taking over the presidency for the next year, with no interest in moving the targets.
What I called for in 2009 was a change in mindset:
I will argue that a change of mindset is necessary, FROM doing what seems appropriate to avoid dangerous climate change in a manner that as an overriding and determining condition does not upset the economy TO doing what is necessary as a matter of urgency to achieve a safe climate.
I was well aware that wouldn’t happen short of something like a big storm hitting New York and drowning a couple of million people.
Garnaut, the former diplomat, may now have charted an evolutionary path starting from where we are now to where we’ll need to go, at the same time removing deliberations from the immediate political sphere. If that’s what’s happened, I dips m’lid!
Elsewhere Wayne Swan spoke of the challenge of “growing the economy without growing carbon pollution”, but unfortunately only gave us glimpses of the reference modelling of the economy without a carbon price. I hope we get to see the full picture when the details of the scheme are released.
Abbott says all those economists who believe in a price on carbon are wrong. John Quiggin, “regarded as one of the nation’s most respected economic theorists” tells why they are not.