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20 responses to “Emissions vs. Allocations”

  1. Ambigulous

    So, what do you think of it, Robert?

  2. Robert Merkel

    I haven’t had time to go through it in detail (paper deadline Monday).

    The major new bit is apparently the “what happens if we do nothing” scenario, but that one is not of much interest to me. You don’t need to be an economist to realize we’re screwed if we don’t act.

  3. myriad

    “You don’t need to be an economist to realize we’re screwed if we don’t act.”

    I’ll say; in fact it sure would be helpful if more economists would realise this!

  4. Required

    …but at least an economist can point out that we may well be screwed even if we do.

  5. wilful

    I just hope there are that many foreign permits available to Australia for genuine emissions reductions.

    But aren’t we supposed to be better placed than others to undertake reductions? Where are these permits going to come from??

  6. Idiot/Savant

    The short version: “in around 2060, a miracle happens, and emissions magically reduce”.

    That’s not policy – it’s wishful thinking.

  7. Robert Merkel

    Idiot/Savant: I don’t think so.

    While you’d probably have to take a look at the very detailed modelling, I suspect what happens is that in 2050 most of the cheaper opportunities to reduce emissions in the developing nations are assumed to have been taken.

    At that point, the available mitigation opportunities are about the same everywhere, and thus mitigation takes place here at about the same rate.

  8. Idiot/Savant

    Robert: I think the dry-up in foreign permits is because we’re all supposed to be contracting and converging by then. But its still an astonishingly steep part of the curve compared to the rest of it; he seems to be assuming a cut of ~250 MT, or almost 50% of Australia’s current emissions, in only a decade. And when push comes to shove, that is going to create enormous political problems for the governments of the day.

    We need to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. But seting pathways like this is setting us up for failure. Better to go steeper now, so we don’t face such sharp transitions later.

  9. Robert Merkel

    Idiot/Savant: there will still be permits available, they will just be more expensive.

    The second thing to keep in mind that by the second half of the 21st century, it’s pretty likely that “backstop technologies” will exist that will take essentially as much carbon as you want out of the atmosphere.

  10. Idiot/Savant

    Expensive permits will drive emissions down, sure. But by about 90% in a decade?

    The second thing to keep in mind that by the second half of the 21st century, it’s pretty likely that “backstop technologies” will exist that will take essentially as much carbon as you want out of the atmosphere.

    Which is just a longer way of saying “in around 2060, a miracle happens, and emissions magically reduce”.

    Policywise, it would be safer to rely on the technology we actually have (which is actually good enough to do the job), and set the allocation so that it is taken up and used quickly, rather than relying on a miracle conveniently beyond the political (or indeed, actual) lifespan of any current politician.

  11. Sam Clifford

    Relying on potential future technology to avert disaster is a pretty bad idea. We’ve got what we need now to reduce our carbon footprint, just ask Mark Diesendorf.

  12. Ed

    In Chapter 20, Garnaut seems to be betting the farm on carbon-capture for significant ongoing use of coal as well as gas within the relevant scenarios. My concern is that many large, heavy emitting countries follow Australia’s lead and adopt a faith-based approach to back-stop technology development.

    What happens if we arrive in 2050 and carbon capture has not arrived with us? Garnaut has an answer to this – and surprisingly is does not include the word ‘screwed’.

    He recommends – ‘as a matter of priority’ that Australia determine the feasibility – if any – for carbon capture in the very near future.

    I’m looking for other signs as well. For example will industry increase the recent $100 million committment to a carbon capture research initiative by an order of magnitude, will they double it, or will they even contribute at all? What about other countries or external industries/NGOs? Will they anti-up?

  13. wizofaus

    Robert, I’m curious on what basis you’re so sure that “backstop technologies” will be able to take “essentially as much carbon as you want out of the atmosphere”. I agree that such technologies will exist, but you can’t do much about the laws of thermodynamics that mean such technologies will require huge amount of energy to extra CO2 from the atmosphere. It’s not clear at all to me that we will be able to even supply the energy needs of 9 billion people expecting high standards of living by 2050, let alone the additional requirements that sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere will require.

  14. Robert Merkel

    Sam: environmentalists do it all the time. They call it “affordable solar cells”, or “second generation biofuels”.

  15. Andos

    Maybe the mid-century drop in emissions is due to the maturation of the Kangaroo for meat industry:

    Roo the answer to meat demand

    It’s good to see this kind of stuff on Garnaut’s radar.

    The reference in the report is here. Section 22.2.3.

  16. Razor

    This is a complete waste of time and money.

    There will be no effective global agreement in Copenhagen that will lead to a global reduction in carbon dioxide production.

    The world cannot even agree on global trade or human rights.

    Climate is not able to be modelled accurately, nor is the global or national economy.

    Anyone who believes it will happen is deluding themselves.

    Anyone who thinks Australia should reduce our economic growth for this unachiavable nirvana really need to get out in the real world a bit more.

    This is straight out faith based gambling.

  17. dk.au

    Angling for Paul Kelly’s job there, Razor?

    Tip: fluff it up with some hyperbole about ‘Green-Science’ conspiracies

  18. Razor

    dk.au – apart from the smart alec comments, do you actually have any believable rebuttal to the points I have made?

  19. dk.au

    Climate is not able to be modelled accurately, nor is the global or national economy.

    Models aren’t ‘accurate’ by their nature but the expression of the assumptions of their authors. In that sense they’re also political. The rest of your stuff reads like it’s written in the Opposition Organ – all too hard, don’t try, gonna cost us jobs and money anyway. All demonstrably rubbish.

    We did have a global deal in Kyoto in 1998, but it was never meant to be a panacea.

    The basis for an agreement in Copenhagen is there. Progress is being made in vital areas in the runup to the talks. eg. headway was made at the latest round of UNFCCC negotiations in Accra on forestry accounting.

  20. Peterc

    Razor,

    A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception. In psychiatry, the definition is necessarily more precise and implies that the belief is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process). As a pathology it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information or certain effects of perception which would more properly be termed an apperception or illusion.

    [link]

    Those who chose to ignore the science on climate change – and the extreme peril that faces us – are delusionists (or denialists).