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63 responses to “Open Garnaut Review report thread”

  1. Darren Lewin-Hill

    It will be interesting to see whether Garnaut takes into consideration the strong corrective feedback he has received since releasing the draft final report, and what prime minister Rudd does with the final recommendations, particularly in response to the climate scientists’ open letter.

    The Age has published my letter today urging the prime minister to compare the scientists’ minimum 25 per cent cut on 1990 levels not with Garnaut’s meagre target, on which basis 25 per cent looks rather tough, but instead with the 25-40 per cent cut by 2020 that science says will help us avoid the worst impacts of dangerous climate change. That is to say, a cut of at least 25 per cent on 1990 levels is indicated as we approach international negotiations on climate.

    Will it be leadership and courage, or defeatism and climate inaction?

    P.S. Thanks for the post on the Lowy Institute poll, to which I have linked, along with this open thread.

  2. clarencegirl

    The Final Report will be released today at 9:30am. The report will be available on this website for download from this time:
    Garnaut Review

  3. Paul Burns

    defeatism and climate change inaction, after Rudd asks big business how high they want him to jump.
    btw, I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Mark

    Release of the report has been delayed as Rudd is briefed on the American financial markets crisis.

  5. Peter Wood

    In the Letter from Professor Garnaut to scientists and environmental groups he stated:

    If there were credible evidence that there are reasonable prospects of an effective agreement around 450ppm coming out of Copenhagen, I would be delighted to reflect this reality in my Final Report.

    Unfortunately I am not optimistic about whether he will change any of the targets, but it will be very interesting to see whether there are any more arguments about why 450 ppm (or less) would be desirable and achievable. It will also be interesting to see if he has anything further to say about how a comprehensive international agreement could be achieved, and if there is anything more said about the choice of convergence date.

    What will also be very interesting is what the Professor has to say about emissions from “land use, forestry and agriculture”. Some issues to look out for include:

    * what to do about native forests (the emissions from their logging are not accounted for under the Kyoto protocol);
    * what to do about methane emissions from livestock (responsible for 11% of our emissions, assuming a 100 year global warming potential from methane of 21 — the latest IPCC estimates are a tonne that methane has the same radiative forcing over 100 years as 25 tonnes of CO2);
    * what to do about rangeland degradation, and what policies should be put in place to sequester carbon in rangelands (many of these emissions are also not accounted for under the Kyoto protocol);
    * will the Professor discuss ways to apply a carbon price in these areas other than inclusion in an ETS;
    * what about biodiversity? (ecosystems are more reliable as carbon stores than most other forms of biosequestration, there is also a huge adaptation issue because global warming will conspire with habitat destruction to cause much more species loss)
    * could policies in Australia be used as prototypes for future REDD type schemes?

  6. Tim Hollo

    Garnaut quoted in the SMH today:

    “I am putting a pin in the delusion” that an ambitious agreement is possible.”

    What a devastating blow to anyone who actually had hope that Garnaut would deliver the goods. Instead, he’s essentially telling us to give up hope and resign ourselves to disaster. He should go down in history next to Neville Chamberlain.

  7. Robert Merkel

    Tim: what would be worse – a 550ppm deal that the world signs up to, or a 450ppm deal that the USA and China refuse to sign?

  8. Tim Hollo

    Robert, with respect, that’s a nonsense question and you know it.

    The point is that Australia going to the negotiations with a 550 position signficantly decreases the chance that we could get a 450 deal. Everybody needs to go into these negotiations prepared to go far – if any key player (and Australia is a key player) says no, the likelihood is everyone else will, too.

  9. Robert Merkel

    No, Tim, it’s not a nonsense question.

    Whether we like it or not, climate change is simply not a high priority in the United States. It wasn’t a high priority before the current market shenanigans, and it’ll be an even lower priority now.

    I absolutely agree that Australia should go in arguing – hard – for 450. Heck, I think our position should be that the long-term goal is to get greenhouse gases back to pre-industrial levels. And I reckon we should offer the developing countries lots of bribes to get us there.

    But we should sign up to a 550 deal if it’s the best we can get.

  10. Tim Hollo

    Robert, it is simply not a choice between no deal at 450 and a deal at 550. If you follow the international negotiations it is blatantly clear that there are many key players who will reject any deal that does not target 550! The G77 plus China have put their position that they will not sign up to a deal unless the G8 heads towards 40% by 2020 as a minimum.

    It is at least as easy to present the case that there can be no global agreement less tough than 450 as that there can be no global agreement tougher than 550.

  11. Darren Lewin-Hill

    I agree with Tim on this point. What kind of pressure will be brought to the negotiations by a soft Australian target of 550ppm? We need to go in hard with the evidence and show leadership, not defeatism. As I said in a comment to another post, it’s not ‘ideal or no deal’ in any case. Any international agreement will be a negotiation. For the sake of the climate, let’s be ambitious about what we might achieve.

  12. Peter Wood
  13. Mark

    Update: The report has now been released and can be downloaded from here.

  14. Mark

    Sorry, Peter, crossed.

  15. Robert Merkel

    I’ve just had a quick look.

    One disappointment is that there doesn’t seem to be any further analysis or justification of the 2050 convergence target (something that Peter Wood has discussed at length). This represents a major weakness, in my view.

  16. Possum Comitatus

    The technical appendix isnt there.

    Bugger

  17. Peterc

    Hard to reconcile this from the synopsis:

    There are times in the history of humanity when fateful decisions are made.
    The decision this year and next on whether to enter a comprehensive global
    agreement for strong action is one of them.
    Australia’s actions will make a difference to the outcome, in several ways.
    The chances of success at Copenhagen would be greater if heads of government
    favouring a strong outcome set up an experts group to come up with a practical
    approach to global mitigation that adds up to various environmental objectives.
    On a balance of probabilities, the failure of our generation on climate change
    mitigation would lead to consequences that would haunt humanity until the end
    of time.

    … with setting 450ppm or 550ppm targets that lock us in to a climate emergency. Politics and economics is not going to solve the climate change challenge – they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    We need to look elsewhere – and at ourselves and our local communities – for effective action. Zero emissions by 2020 looks to me like the only course of action for a safe climate future.

  18. Robert Merkel

    We need to look elsewhere – and at ourselves and our local communities – for effective action.

    That won’t work either. Sorry, but it won’t.

  19. Peterc

    It certainly won’t work if you don’t try. You can reduce your personal emissions in a variety of ways. You can encourage others to do the same.

    I think that local councils are probably the best place to get real action going immediately.

    State and Federal governments are too polluted by business and union interests in favour of the status quo.

  20. stuart

    Climate change cannot be solved on an individual level, it needs to involve business and government, failure to do this will lead to failure to reduce emissions.

    Now back to emissions targets. 550 ppm is a cop out; we should push for an agreement on 450 ppm with eventual convergence of per capita emissions. We should set targets to achieve that goal and if that fails work with Europe and the developing countries to impose carbon tariffs on the countries that dont fall into line.

  21. Peter Wood

    The residential sector in Australia is responsible for about 20% of emissions. This includes emissions from cars, indirect emissions from electricity consumption, but does not include emissions from consumption by households emissions intensive goods such as meat. Voluntary reduction of emissions in the residential sector is clearly not enough. In order to avoid catastrophic climate change concerned citizens need to loudly and effectively participate in the policy debate. This includes research, writing and blogging, personal emissions reductions and their demonstration, lobbying MPs, writing to newspapers, writing submissions to policy reviews, talking to neighbours, attending demonstrations, non violent direct action and more.

  22. Peterc

    Agreed. Join a local climate action group to, and/or a network such as:

    Climate Emergency Network

    Climate Emergency Queensland

    Political pressure and information exchange are critical too.

    Stopping logging in our old growth forests could reduce our emissions by 10% next year too – a fact that Garnaut skirts around by labelling it as “preventing land clearing”.

  23. wilful

    It seems that most of the venom directed towards Garnaut is based on the fact that he’s decidedly pragmatic and realistic, didn’t turn out to be a crusading proselyte for some of the more extreme cases where Australia sacrifices it’s national interest for the sake of a moral victory.

    Personally I’m impressed both with the work and with the process. It’s deeply depressing that the world has gotten to where it is, but it’s right that Garnaut tells it how it is, rather than continue to hope for some magic solution.

    I hope Garnaut is just being pessimistic and the world community is more responsible than he’s anticipating. But I don’t see why that would be.

  24. Robert Merkel

    Garnaut’s concluding paragraphs are quite eloquent for a crusty old economist:

    So the fateful decision at Copenhagen will follow many decisions in Australia and elsewhere between now and then.

    And after Copenhagen, there will be more big decisions to be made. If there is a comprehensive and effective global agreement, the scene will be set for reconsideration of ambition once it has been demonstrated that mitigation is consistent with continued economic growth.

    If there is no such agreement, the outlook is an unhappy one.

    On a balance of probabilities, the failure of our generation would lead to consequences that would haunt humanity until the end of time.

  25. Mark

    Update: From Crikey, Bernard Keane on Garnaut at a glance and Clive Hamilton on politics trumping science.

  26. patrickg

    I find it a bit strange, really. Of course politics is going to trump science. It’s a political stage, with politicians deciding on an issue that has been politicised, like it or not, and it’s inevitable that the (political) problem will have an _political_ solution.

    If it was simply a scientific problem, we would be on the way to a solution now.

    Whether you agree or disagree with Garnaut’s targets, you have to respect his reasoning behind it. I personally would love to see a minimum of 450ppm being advocated, however, I understand the realities of international relations.

    People expecting a clear cut turn-around and change are not students of history; these big decisions are always hotly contested and slowly acted upon. It sucks sometimes, to be sure, but it’s the way things go, and in some ways a strength of democracy, imho, that change is gradual.

  27. Mark

    patrickg, Hamilton is using the “politics trumps science” argument to make a political point. Presumably he knows that, even if he doesn’t say it!

  28. Peterc

    I think Hamilton’s closing paragraph says it all:

    The Garnaut Review is being too clever by half: it is trying to preserve the Review’s political relevance even though what is proposed involves terrible risks for us all. The bottom line is that the Garnaut report provides the Rudd Government with the excuse it’s been looking for to go soft while pretending otherwise, bids down the likely ambitions of developed and developing countries at the negotiations leading to Copenhagen, and erodes the chances of Australia playing a leadership role.

  29. Spiros

    Everyone seems to think that what Garnaut says is what the government will do. Garnaut was commissioned by Rudd in opposition as a political strategy to make himself look prime ministerial. Once Rudd won the election, he couldn’t decommission Garnaut, so his inquiry has rolled along. But the government, especially Wong, have been very careful to distance themselves from him.

    Forget Garnaut. He is surplus to requirements for the government, which is taking its advice from the Department of Climate Change on the environmental policy, the Treasury on the economics, and DFAT on the international negotiations. The action is in the Green Paper and the White Paper that will follow it.

  30. Peter Wood

    Table 22.2 – Potential for emissions per annum reduction and/or removal from Australia’s agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors (Chapter 22, pp 542-543) is very interesting.

    Garnaut states:

    It is recognised that these potentials are calculated in a context of
    uncertainty and will in many cases not be easy to realise without substantial
    investments in proving and developing the systems. Further, since some of
    the identified processes overlap, their mitigation potential is not intended to be
    aggregated.

    Aggregating these numbers anyway (by not double counting the obvious overlaps) leads to some very interesting numbers.

  31. Darren Lewin-Hill

    Thanks for the Keane and Hamilton links – both articles are excellent. My own position is that this sends a terrible international signal of defeatism in the lead-up to the negotiations (Poland this year and Copenhagen in 2009).

    As Clive Hamilton points out, to flag one’s intentions in advance of climate negotiations seems totally at odds with the game theory Garnaut so often trundles out. To use a mundane example, it seems a bit like jumping in at an auction with a silly bid, or talking with a blasted real estate agent beforehand about how much you can afford to pay.

    Again with Hamilton, I agree there is a harsh discord between the science and the position Garnaut espouses, despite a more effective target costing only marginally more according to the modelling.

    Imagine if the climate consequences were closer in time to Garnaut’s recommendation,that there was but a short interval between the adoption of a weak target, the consequent watering down of an international agreement, and the impacts we know are likely given an inadequate response – consequences that will especially impact the world’s poor. How well would it go down then if Australia said it had adopted a weak target just to get us a little bit more a bit more quickly?

    A bad outcome due to our actions is not rendered less bad because it is further removed in time. The later deaths and deformities consequent upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though they may have occurred years later, morally belong to the US just as much as the deaths and injuries inflicted on the days when the bombs fell.

    Such an example might seem drastic, but so, too, are the ultimate consequences of climate change, which may in the end kill more blameless people in low-emitting, developing countries.

    Coal is a slow bomb, if you will, and setting a meagre target partly to protect our markets for this dirty fossil fuel is akin to Canada attempting to preserve markets for asbestos simply because it has plenty of the stuff sitting in the ground (a similar argument applies to uranium).

    Climate change is a scientific issue. It is a moral issue. If politics cannot justly take these two into account, then it isn’t worth a damn. The question is: just what is our prime minister worth?

  32. Spiros

    “just what is our prime minister worth?”

    About $100 million, if you count his wife’s money.

  33. patrickg

    Sorry mods, I put a link to a good Scientific American article that appears to have been eaten by the filter monster?

  34. wilful

    to flag one’s intentions in advance of climate negotiations seems totally at odds with the game theory Garnaut so often trundles out. To use a mundane example, it seems a bit like jumping in at an auction with a silly bid, or talking with a blasted real estate agent beforehand about how much you can afford to pay.

    That’s not true at all and a false analogy. The way through this prisoners dilemma is to be clear what you’ll offer and where you’ll go, not to play games that you wont meet. Garnaut strongly urges a 450 target and says that if we can get enough others to sign on then that should be ours too. Seems pretty clear cut.

  35. Peter Wood

    I think Darren has a good point that signaling what second best options we would accept (or worse still, opening with an offer based on a second or third best option of 550 ppm) is a poor bargaining strategy. Although achieving emissions reductions in an ad hoc policy world is a prisoner’s dilemma, achieving a good outcome in international climate negotiations is a bargaining problem — a bit like a game of chicken.

    Thomas Schelling discusses these types of games extensively in his famous book The Strategy of Conflict. One of the most important bargaining tactics described is pre-commitment, and Schelling describes bargaining power as “the ability to bind oneself”. If we want a comprehensive international agreement based on 450 ppm or less, then we should signal that, and “bind ourselves” to that target by engaging in promises to other parties that increase our penalty if a comprehensive agremment based on 450 ppm cannot be achieved.

    Opening with a conditional offer of a 10% emission reduction based on 550 pm would not be consistent with such a strategy.

  36. Peter Wood

    There is also an open comments thread at BraveNewClimate.com.

  37. Mark

    patrickg @ 33, sorry, it doesn’t seem to be there. The volume of spam is enormous at the moment and sometimes when you log in and there are 300 spam comments in the filter, given other demands on your time, the only reasonable thing to do is to delete them all without looking at them. I suspect that may have happened to yours.

    Try to write something a bit longer than just a word or two of text and a link and you might get around it!

    Otherwise, please email me the link and I’ll post it.

  38. Tim Hollo

    A few posts up today at Crikey’s new enviro-blog, Rooted, from me (shameless self-promotion), Greenpeace’s John Hepburn and Crikey’s own Sophie Black.

  39. Mark

    Thanks, Tim, for the links. Are we the only bloggers left, though, that Crikey hasn’t colonised? 😉

  40. Tim Hollo

    And long may LP stand un-Crikeyed!!!

    I’m still blogging at GreensBlog, too, though. No exclusivity agreement for me!

  41. Mark

    Kewl!

    I’ll have to check my feed reader. I think I’ve been missing the GreensBlog feed since the url changed – will email you if I think it’s a problem, but it might be an oversight on my part.

  42. Mark

    Actually, the GreensBlog feed is fine, but there’s something wrong with the feed from Rooted – you might like to alert your Crikey web folks!

  43. Darren Lewin-Hill

    Hi wilful,

    The way through this prisoners dilemma is to be clear what you’ll offer and where you’ll go, not to play games that you wont meet.

    We can certainly be clear what we’ll offer and where we’ll go, but have that based on science, an obligation of leadership given our contribution to the problem, and an acknowledgment of the moral dimension of the issue.

    We shouldn’t be ‘playing games that we won’t meet’, but instead advocating effective targets that we clearly can meet, including through efficiency and renewables. If we Australia rejects this approach, it will be a failure of political will in the face of scientific reality.

  44. patrickg

    If you want to be more depressed, there’s quite a few articles in the latest issue of Scientific American about climate change.

    The most depressing is undoubtedly this one, and ties in very closely with Robert’s other post today about the methane.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=global-warming-beyond-the-co2

  45. Peter Wood

    Possum @ 16, you might be interested to hear that the Garnaut Review Web site now says:

    Please note, the Technical appendix to the Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report will available from this web page shortly.

  46. Peter Wood

    Garnaut suggests that an appropriate 2020 target for Australia given a comprehensive international agreement based on 550 ppm is 10% less than 2000 levels. This is based on a reduction of emissions per-capita by 30% by 2020.

    Lets check this, the ABS released its latest population projections on September 4, 2008 — not long before Garnaut’s Targets and Trajectories report was released. The ABS released three projections: A, B, C, based on three sets of assumptions about immigration, life expectance, and birth rate. Given a per-capita emission reduction of 30% by 2020 (which is based on a 2050 convergence date), this suggests total emission reductions of: 10.15% for projection A — 24.58 million people in 2020; 13.5% for projection B — 23.66 million people in 2020; and 16.5% for projection C — 22.85 million people in 2020.

    This suggests that targets based on per capita emissions reductions should be purely per capita targets, rather than absolute targets based on uncertain population projections. Otherwise these targets can be thought of as Australia having special reasons to be treated differently, because our targets are based on the tail end of our own population projections.

  47. Elizabeth Hart

    If you guys are so concerned about global emissions, why don’t you do more to actually talk up real action we can take right now to reduce pollution and protect the environment?

    Chapter 10 – Deepening Global Cooperation in Ross Garnaut’s Final Report continues to push the idea of rich countries helping developing countries to reduce emissions. In particular, Australia should assist countries in our region such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

    Ziggy Switkowski also pushed this idea in this article in The Australian in March this year. (The Australian also published my letter supporting Switkowski’s suggestion that helping our regional neighbours is the key to carbon emission cuts.)

    In his Final Report, Garnaut notes that:

    Indonesia’s emissions are thought to amount to as much as two Gt CO2 per year, around five times Australia’s total CO2 emissions, with over three-quarters of that from deforestation (WRI 2008). According to one source, emissions from fires in peat land in Indonesia alone are estimated to be about 1800 Mt per year, about three times Australia’s total emissions (Hooijer et al. 2006: 29). Papua New Guinea’s annual LUCF emissions may exceed 100 Mt CO2 (WRI 2008), a quarter of Australia’s total CO2 emissions. Both countries would have a strong interest in reducing emissions from deforestation, provided they were compensated for the loss of economic opportunity such as through the sale of rights on an international market.

    (See Chapter 10 Deepening Global Cooperation, 10.8 Land-use change and forestry, Box 10.4 Regional partnerships for Australia: the potential for
    links with Papua New Guinea and Indonesia)

    Yes, Australia has to do more to cut our consumption, but we could make a real, substantial difference NOW, by helping countries like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea reduce deforestation.

    Garnaut notes that we are already working in this area with our International Forest Carbon Initiative.

    But are we doing enough right now?

    According to this Reuters report:

    the UN has just launched the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Program, or UN-REDD, (which) will assist nine developing countries, including Bolivia, Indonesia and Zambia, in establishing systems to monitor, assess and report forest cover.
    Norway, which is looking for ways to offset carbon dioxide emissions from its growing natural gas export business, donated $35 million to finance the initial phase of UN-REDD.

    Norway also recently donated $US1 Billion to Brazil’s rainforest fund.

    Norway is a major oil exporter, so it seems appropriate that it should try and offset the environmental damage caused by its oil exports by supporting the preservation of forests.

    Australia is a major coal exporter. We should follow Norway’s lead and contribute in a much more significant way to offset the damage caused by our coal exports.

    Is Australia planning to do more to assist with financing the initial phase of UN-REDD?

    We really need to be taking all the steps we can to reduce deforestation right now.

    We can’t afford to leave it until 2012.

    Note: There was a good report on forest protection on Foreign Correspondent tonight: Amazon Rainforest – Can Money Grow on Trees?

  48. Elizabeth Hart

    I’ve just left a comment at #47 with links, if somebody wouldn’t mind fishing it out of the spaminator…

  49. Elizabeth Hart

    Further to my comment #47, here’s another link re the UN-REDD program:

    Indonesia Fights Climate Change Through Norwegian-funded Initative
    http://www.scandasia.com/viewNews.php?coun_code=id&news_id=4722

  50. wilful

    No Elizabeth, Australian greenies would rather destroy a sustainable and carbon sequestering timber harvesting industry in Australia, and import timber from Indonesia, because that’s out of sight, out of mind, and they cant get memberships and donations for that sort of boring stuff.

  51. Rusty

    My view is that there is a fundamental disconnect between why we should be acting on climate change, and why other countries are, or should be acting.

    European countries and Japan use about 5 quadrillion BTUs per $trillion of GDP. USA & Australia use 2x and 2.5x more energy per unit of GDP respectively, with China (5x) and India (5.5x). Thus, any effort to cap carbon emissions ‘costs’ us more. This is why these nations joined in the Asia-Pacific partnership (AP6) to find technical solutions without carbon contstraints.

    Europe’s real issue is energy security. They see continuing strife in the Middle East and their gas reserves are running out – in 20 years time 80% of their natural gas will come from Siberia, and each country has a hand on the gate valve. Putin has demonstrated their power here by cutting gas to the Ukraine.

    European (esp Germany & Spain), California & Japan are investing heavily in solar and wind as a means to build industry capacity and thereby raise barriers to entry – a competitive solar manufacturing facility is upwards of EU500m.

  52. Peterc

    Australian greenies would rather destroy a sustainable and carbon sequestering timber harvesting industry in Australia,

    Wilful, that is a contradiction. Native forests logged are not sequestered – as noted by Garnaut and scientists – this has signficant net carbon emissions. Plantations however would be either carbon neutral or net sinks – which is obviously the way to go.

    What I find absolutely astounding is the Garnaut’s 450ppm (let alone 550ppm) writes off the Great Barrier Reef, most of Kakadu and snow in Australia. And industry of course is still not happy.

    100% renewable by 2020 and 380ppm is what we need to for a safe climate future and to stop Melbourne running out of water in 18 months.

  53. dk.au

    Elsewhere: Joshua Gans comments on chapter 14 (TEEIIs), once again calls for border adjustment tax

  54. wizofaus

    Er, Peterc, how could either of those goals possibly affect Melbourne running out of water in 18 months?

    As for wilful’s claims that the greenies would prefer us to import timber from Indonesia – the WWF and various other green groups here and elsewhere have long campaigned for an end to unsustainable logging through SE Asia. But I do agree that some of the Australian Green’s current policies on forestry are as much as anything what can be sold to voters with a strong bias towards saving Australian forests as opposed to what would actually help reduce environmental damage around the world.

  55. wilful

    wizofaus, if you look at the amount of time money and effort put into various aspect of ‘forest campaigning’ by conservation groups, you’ll see where their interest is. Right here.

    Peterc, leaving aside our tedious disagreement over the (to me, obvious) sequestration potential of native forests, why do you think China or the USA give a shit about Kakadu or the GBR?

    100% renewable by 2020 is a fantasy – can I have what you’re smoking? And it wouldn’t change Melbourne’s rainfall patterns one iota.

  56. wizofaus

    wilful, of course it is – how could it be otherwise? If groups based here didn’t primarily fight for the protection of local forests, who would?
    But to claim that greenies in general don’t care if environmental problems here are simply exported overseas is pretty unsupportable. The worst you can say is that a lot of them haven’t given it much thought.

    Again, like any other political party, the Green’s policies are shaped by what will win popular support as much as they are informed by reason or science. What matters is the degree to which they will be willing to drop the ones that prove to be ineffective or counterproductive. Unfortunately the Greens are also like any other party: dogmatically hanging on to certain policies as being “central to party doctrine” (e.g. no nuclear power), no matter how much evidence there may be that such policies are a bad idea. Hang on to principles by all means, but no policies.

  57. Peterc

    Wizofaus, neither 20% by 2020 or 380ppm will stop Melbourne running out of water in 18 months. Unfortunately, the climate damage, in terms of permanently drastically reduced rainfall for Melbourne, is already done.[link]

    There is however still enough rain (and stormwater/sewerage, if captured and treated) to meet Melbourne’s water requirements, if we also reduce consumption from a profligate 270 litres per person per day to 140 – as they have in SE QLD already.

    But the Victorian government is too busy building a massive carbon emitting desalination plant and a pipeline to take non-existent water from the Goulburn (and hence Murray Darling system) to Melbourne for domestic use.

    The Murray Darling Basin is suffering from a similar symptom – high usage patterns and drastically reduced rainfall.

    So we are already suffering dangerous climate change.

    Reducing CO2 to 380ppm might stabilise or rectify this situation – if we haven’t already reached tipping points that can’t be reversed.

    Anything less than maximum effort on this is playing Russian roulette our future and the planet’s biosphere.

    We have the technology and means to achieve substantive emission reductions and 100% clean energy by 2020, but we also have vested interests and politicians drinking champagne and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic too. Maybe they think the icebergs are already all melted? There are quite a few in denial too.

  58. wizofaus

    Parsing error then, Peter, although I think you could have phrased it better.

    100% renewable by 2020 is pure fantasy – 100% “clean” might be physically achievable (depending on your definition of clean), but still politically infeasible, as it would almost certainly also involve Australians being forced to reduce their energy usage substantially.

  59. Peterc

    I agree it is politically infeasible, which is why I think we need to find a way to get action on climate change out of the political arena and the vagaries of personal and populist politics.

    Some sort of taskforce with bipartisan support. They didn’t argue over pennies duing World War II.

    Climate change looms as a much larger problem that WWII was, or the current US economic mudslide is. Incidently, their $800m rescue pacakge could go a long way towards heading the US towards clean energy by 2020 too . . .

  60. OldSkeptic

    550 means we are under water. So it means (the management summary version), do nothing and die. Except the elite think (if they ever do) they can parachute out, watch Scottish highland and NZ land prices climb.

    He did his job, which was to do nothing that will change anything.

    Dudd can push more coal to his hearts content, while still rabbiting on about we are actually doing something for climate change, which we are not and won’t ever do, this is Australia after all. Now he can go back with a clean conscious to deal with the real issues, like banning free plastic bags, stealth tax cuts for his rich mates, sending our boys and girls into war and stopping unions and ordinary people doing anything about the environment (greatly helped by the Green party of course).

    Ok thats fine by me, I’m old and I’ll die soon, god help you if you are 20 years old though.

  61. Peterc

    After a presentation for David Spratt last night, I have revised down CO2 ppm acceptable levels.

    Given that at our current 380ppm we have already passed the tipping point for losing the North polar summer ice cap and limiting global temperature increase to 2C, we need to decarbonise and aim for 300-325ppm.

    Science supports this – James Hansen says a target in the 300–325ppm CO2 is necessary to restore the Arctic sea-ice and avoid the collapse of the Greenland and Himalayan ice-sheets, catastrophic sea-level rises and dangerous levels of ocean acidification.

    Losing the Himalayan ice sheets will remove dring water supplies for over 1b people.

    Garnaut, Rudd and Wong will put us on another much hotter planet if they stick with their current weak and ineffective response to climate change.

  62. mitchell porter

    “Garnaut, Rudd and Wong will put us on another much hotter planet if they stick with their current weak and ineffective response to climate change.”

    Can we please avoid talking as if Australia controls the fate of the world? The reality is that we are hostage to what happens in the northern hemisphere. We can lobby diplomatically, we can set an example, but unless we personally invent the new energy sources or the nanosequestration technologies which turn things around, the reality is that we have only a little more control over our future than those Pacific island nations have over theirs.

  63. Peterc

    Australia can display real leadership and demonstrate how we can get to zero emmissions for a safe climate future. We punch well above our weight in the Olympics – per capita the best in the world – and the rest of the world followed Turnbull’s banning of the incandescent lightbulb too (whether this move is actually effective is debateable).

    The point is we don’t need to wait for the rest of the world or worry that nobody will follow. It is incumbent on us to try our best.

    Reducing emissions by 30% through efficiency measures – thereby also saving money – would be a great place to start – a no brainer in fact.