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Garnaut Interim Report

Executive Summary

[Full report here] 

This Interim Report seeks to provide a flavour of early findings from the work of the Review, to share ideas on work in progress as a basis for interaction with the Australian community, and to indicate the scope of the work programme through to the completion of the Review. There are some important areas of the Review’s work that are barely touched upon in the Interim Report, which will feature prominently in the final reports.

Adaptation to climate change, energy efficiency and the distribution of the costs of climate change across households and regions are amongst the prominent omissions from this presentation.

Many views put forward in this Interim Report represent genuinely interim judgements.

The Review looks forward to feedback from interested people before formulating recommendations for the final reports.

Developments in mainstream scientific opinion on the relationship between emissions accumulations and climate outcomes, and the Review’s own work on future “business as usual” global emissions, suggest that the world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has generally been understood. This makes mitigation more urgent and more costly. At the same time, it makes the probable effects of unmitigated climate change more costly, for Australia and for the world.

The largest source of increased urgency is the unexpectedly high growth of the world economy in the early twenty-first century, combined with unexpectedly high energy intensity of that growth and continuing reliance on high-emissions fossil fuels as sources of energy. These developments are associated with strong economic growth in the developing world, first of all in China. The stronger growth has strong momentum and is likely to continue. It is neither desirable nor remotely feasible to seek to remove environmental pressures through diminution of the aspirations of the world’s people for higher material standards of living. The challenge is to end the linkage between economic growth and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Australia’s interest lies in the world adopting a strong and effective position on climate change mitigation. This interest is driven by two realities of Australia’s position relative to other developed countries: our exceptional sensitivity to climate change: and our exceptional opportunity to do well in a world of effective global mitigation. Australia playing its full part in international efforts on climate change can have a positive effect on global outcomes. The direct effects of Australia’s emissions reduction efforts are of secondary importance.

Australia has an important role to play alongside its international partners in establishing a realistic approach to global mitigation. Australia can contribute to the development of clear international understandings on the four components of a successful framework for global mitigation: setting the right global objectives for reduction of the risk of dangerous climate change; converting this into a goal for stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a specified level; calculating the amount of additional emissions that can be emitted into the atmosphere over a specified number of years if stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations is to be achieved at the desired level; and developing principles for allocating a limited global emissions budget among countries.

Australia should make firm commitments in 2008, to 2020 and 2050 emissions targets that embody similar adjustment cost to that accepted by other developed countries. A lead has been provided by the European Union, and there are reasonable prospects that the United States will become part of the main international framework after the November 2008 elections. Some version of the current State and Federal targets of 60 per cent reduction by 2050, with appropriate interim targets, would meet these requirements.

Australia would need to go considerably further in reduction of emissions as part of an effective global agreement, with full participation by major developing countries, designed to reduce risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels. Australia should formulate a position on the contribution that it would be prepared make to an effective global agreement, and offer to implement that stronger position if an appropriately structured international agreement were reached.

The process of reaching an adequate global agreement will be long and difficult.

Australia can help to keep the possibility of eventual agreement alive by efficient implementation of its own abatement policies, and through the development of exemplary working models of cooperation with developing countries in regional agreements, including with Papua New Guinea.

Australia must now put in place effective policies to achieve major reductions in emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) is the centre-piece of a domestic mitigation strategy. To achieve effective mitigation at the lowest possible cost, the ETS will need to be supported by measures to correct market failures or weaknesses related to innovation, research and development, to information, and to network infrastructure.

Establishing an ETS with ambitious mitigation objectives will be difficult and will make heavy demands on scarce economic and finite political resources. The difficulty of the task makes it essential to use the most efficient means of achieving the mitigation objectives. That means efficiency both in minimising the economic costs, and in distributing the costs of the scheme across the Australian community in ways that are broadly seen as being fair.

To be effective in contributing as much as possible to an effective global effort to avoid unacceptably high risks of dangerous climate change, soundly based domestic and international policies will need to be sustained steadily over long periods. Policy-makers will need to eschew short-term responses that seem to deal with immediate problems but contribute to the building of pressures for future policy change. The Review aims to provide the basis for steady long-term policy at Commonwealth and State levels, and for productive long-term Australian interaction with the international community on climate change policy


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We should not waste taxpayers' money on CCS.

As NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies head James E. Hansen puts it: "If we continue to build coal-fired power plants without carbon capture, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate tipping points."

The question is whether we accept Hansen's position, especially given the support for carbon capture and storage by experts from a range of research groups, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is in Australia's interests to hit 2020 with a diverse portfolio of clean energy options. Policies such as the 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 were a huge stride towards the goal of ensuring all new electricity load generation comes from clean energy. These policies are needed to bring renewable energy sources into commercial operation quickly. But, to maximise our chances of achieving deep cuts, we should not ignore the other promising technology that uses CCS to achieve very low and near zero emissions.

(This article by John Connor, who is chief executive of the Climate Institute, is in today's Australian.)

CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) has problems which may never be resolved:

Capturing and compressing CO2 requires much energy, significantly raising the running costs of CCS-equipped power plants. In addition there are added investment or capital costs. The process would increase the energy needs of a plant with CCS by about 10-40%. The costs of storage and other system costs are estimated to increase the costs of energy from a power plant with CCS by 30-60%, depending on the specific circumstances.

Suitable geological formations are often hundreds of kilometres from the power stations. Are we going to have C02 pipelines criss crossing the country? If so at what cost?

Geological formations are currently considered the most promising sequestration sites, and these are estimated to have a storage capacity of at least 2000 GT CO2 (currently, 30 GT per year of CO2 is emitted due to human activities). IPCC estimates that the economic potential of CCS could be between 10% and 55% of the total carbon mitigation effort until year 2100

There is no project anywhere in the world storing CO2 stripped from the products of combustion of coal burnt for electricity generation at coal fired power stations.

The government should not be wasting taxpayers' money on pipe dreams. We should be increasing taxes on C02 emissions and let industry come up with any low emission solutions. It is not up to government to try and pick winners. Until industry has successful CCS at a competitive cost, we should phase out all coal mining.

The coal age is over.

AGL CEO Michael Fraser said it is unlikely any new coal generators will be built without significant improvements in technology and the ability to capture and store carbon.

Mr Fraser says he is accelerating the company's investment in wind, hydro and gas power in anticipation of a carbon-constrained future and that policy will require selling existing assets.

At last industry is reading the writing on the wall: the future of coal is very much in doubt and alternative energies are the answer. It is time to phase out the coal mining industry.

Future of coal

John Pratt, the future of coal is not in doubt as long as China and India keep building power stations at the rate they are doing. We will build them here in Australia as the technology improves. AGL CEO Michael Fraser only said it is unlikely without any improvements.

On the other hand we might stop coal mining here in Australia, but it will count for nothing in the scheme of things except more expense for "Gillard's working families".

Should Australia make the first and deepest cuts to C02?

At the moment, the centre of the ethical debate over climate change is whether the industrialised nations should cut their greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of any binding commitment from the big developing nations, such as China and India. In the long run everyone agrees that unless these emerging economic giants stop increasing their emissions, cuts by the industrialised nations will postpone, but not avert, catastrophe. But who should make the first, and deepest, cuts? On at least three plausible principles of justice, the industrialised nations should.

First, "You broke it, you fix it" isn't a bad rule for teaching kids responsibility. Why shouldn't it hold for nations as well? There's no doubt that the industrialised nations have caused the problem because most of the greenhouse gases they have put into the atmosphere over the past century or more are still there, and still contributing to climate change. So they are the ones that need to fix it, or at least make a start on fixing it.

Second, since the atmosphere is a common resource, everyone is entitled to an equal share of it. But on a per capita basis, we are using more than five times our share, whereas the Chinese are using roughly their share, and the Indians much less than their share. So we — and citizens of other industrialised nations — are the ones who are grossly in excess, and need to cut back first.

Third, those with the most should do the most. It is less of a sacrifice for Australians to do without some of our greenhouse gas-emitting extravagances — like driving big cars or eating so much meat — than it would be for the Chinese or Indians to slow the growth that is moving them to a more modest sufficiency.

If these three principles all point in the direction of nations such as Australia taking the first step, it is hard to think of any plausible principle of justice that points in the opposite direction. The fairness of giving every person on earth an equal share of the atmosphere's capacity to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions is difficult to deny. Why should anyone have a greater entitlement than others to use the earth's atmosphere?

But, in addition to being fair, this scheme, coupled with tradeable emissions quotas, has practical benefits. It would give developing nations a strong incentive to accept mandatory quotas, because if they can keep their per capita emissions low, they will have excess emissions rights to sell to the industrialised nations. Rich countries will benefit, too, because they will be able to choose their preferred mix of reducing emissions and buying up emissions rights from developing nations. It's the best hope we have of solving an otherwise intractable problem.

Peter Singer is laureate professor at the University of Melbourne, attached to the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, as well as professor of bioethics at Princeton University. He is speaking today at the University of Melbourne's conference on "Climate Change and Social Justice".

It is clear that the developed nations have caused the problem of global warming and should be the first to act to bring the levels down. 

Thanks Ian

Thanks Ian for correcting my carelessness. Glenfidden does that to one. As such apologies for wasting your googling time.

I actually don't drink Glenfiddich, prefer JW Black Label or Dewars.

Anyway they must be environmentally friendly; as such I would suggest we all drink scotch to save the planet.

If it doesn't work I'm sure we won't particularly care.

I was in Scotland a few years back and had the best New Year ever. Plan on going back in a couple of years so I have started a strict training programme to make sure I can last the distance, and save the planet.

As far as Malcolm B Duncan goes I would not worry too much about his fees. I have a lawyer and a barrister as clients. For some reason (and I'm sure our dear Malcolm would agree) people just hate paying their lawyers.

I supsect Malcolm has a lot of English gentlemen as clients, who think he is their tailor, but that's a story for Malcolm to tell.

Shee what is this world coming to?

Thanks for the links Ian; I had a quick peek and on the left side this appeared:

"Cans and bottles of carbonated drinks are still no friends of the environment – including the climate...continue »"

I will have a closer look later but at this point in time (as far as I'm concerned) it's dissenting voices 1; calls to action 0.

Now, how can one expect any dinky di aussie not to take the top of his bottle/can of VB or ale of choice?

Shee what is the world comming to. If it's gunna get hotter then we will need all the booze we can drink.

Maybe you are right to be cautious Ian, in which case I'll just replace my quota of VB with scotch and save the planet.

Methinks you have an agenda here and of course any Scot worth his scotch would sympathise.

You don't have shares in the Glenfidden company do you?

Richard: Grouse thinking, Justin.

Didn'a find Glenfidden

Justin: I thought "this is a new one on me," so I googled 'Glenfidden'. Well whatever it is, Harry Potter seems to drink it. But apart from that, I think you will agree it was the most useless google search in all history.

Strikes me that you might have been thinking of Glenfiddich. Ah yes, a lovely single malt. But while we're roamin' through the gloamin of the glens, can I suggest Glenlivet, Glenmorangie and top of them all, Glenfarclas. However, I am no expert. If you really want advice out of the top drawer, I suggest you contact Malcolm B Duncan, having first checked carefully what he charges for his learned advice.

That is yet another instance of the Precautionary Principle.

Richard: To those who give a Glenfarcas about peat, might I recommend Laphroiag?

At closing time

Richard, from your link:

"For five generations the Grant family have distilled a high quality malt whiskey of exceptional charachter. [sic] Glenfarclas Heritage will delight you with its smoothness and elegance."

Could be that the charachter [sic] who wrote that advertising copy had been into a drop or two of it on the side.

"What's this got to do with the thread topic?" do I hear someone ask?

I dinna give a hoot. Garnoot had best look oot for himsel' - if he kens wha' he's aboot.

Laphroaig? That too. And get your hands off me!

I've been thrown out of better pubs than this!

Richard: I'll be waiting for you in the gutter, thinking thoughts I couldn't utter, gazing at the stars.

Not In My Name

John Pratt: "Paul, I think it is pretty clear what sort of sacrifices we have to make to prevent the predicted damages due to global warming."

No it isn't, and you won't tell me any details. Like who is going to lose most.

And forget the "we", I am not in this - others can't save you from your own decisions. If you are perceived to be involved in taking away from a man/woman, and his/her family; they'll hate you for it. You are entitled to at least have the stones to use the letter "I".

If a bunch of pissed coal people (and numerous others) turned up at my house; the picnic hamper, and the "detailed" map to yours, would be an indication of where I stood on the issue.

I Think You Owe US That

John Pratt: "We must do this together and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Together with good will we can solve the climate crisis. It is time the nay sayers were seen as collaborators. A real threat to mankind."

How about before you, and Al, send us all off to war; you explain just what "sacrifices', you have in mind? And just who is going to be doing all this "sacrificing"? I mean, there is a lot of feel good getting written, and not a lot of detail.

It really is pretty simple

Paul, I think it is pretty clear what sort of sacrifices we have to make to prevent the predicted damages due to global warming. We have to put a price on all C02 pollution. This will make all fossil fuels more expensive and encourage the switch to alternative energy sources. The rich world that has done most of the polluting so far and spews more GHG into the air per captia than the less developed nations will have to reduce its demands. For example drive more fuel efficient vehicles and build more efficient homes and commercial buildings. We should phase out coal fired power stations and the export of coal, unless we can come up with a solution that dramatically reduces the  C02  emissions of coal.

It not hard Paul, just takes the will to act. Some jobs will be lost and some jobs will be gained. Life will go on. Just as we passed from the horse and buggy we will leave the Carbon age behind. There will be winners and losers. Those that act first will most likely be the winners.

Just ask Mr. Ford. 

The One Stop Climate Debate Shop

Those participating in this thread might be interested in a new site called Climate Debate Daily edited by Douglas Campbell and Denis Dutton, the latter being also the editor of Arts & Letters Daily. Both in my opinion very worthwhile sites.

Garnaut is (quite rightly in my opinion) operating on the assumption that the globe is getting warmer, that the rising concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere is responsible, that the answer lies in reduction of GHG discharges to the atmosphere, and that Australia cannot afford politically or economically to lag behind the rest of the world in this.

However the Climate Debate Daily site provides the visitor with a huge range of (on the left side of the screen - where else?):

"Essays and research supporting the idea that global warming poses a clear threat to humanity, that it is largely caused by human activity, and that solutions to the problems of climate change lie within human reach", and (on the right):

"Essays and research challenging the view that the world warming that began around 1880 is caused by human activity, that it poses a serious threat, or that the vagaries of earth’s climate are within human control."

I counted about 110 items ("essays and research") on each side of the debate - about 220 in all. My initial impression is that much of the evidence presented by the skeptics (eg that the atmosphere is right now getting cooler) fits with the GW-GHG model (eg, if there is more energy in the atmosphere and more heat being passed to the polar icecaps tending to melt them, we would expect cool and intense winds coming off the poles as a result.)

Sorry skeptics, but I'm with the Precautionary Principle:

"The precautionary principle is a moral and political principle which states that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. It aims to provide guidance for protecting public health and the environment in the face of uncertain risks, stating that the absence of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason to postpone measures where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm to public health or the environment.

An alternate formulation states that the lack of certainty regarding the threat should not be used as an excuse to do nothing to avert that threat. Says P. Saunders, all this principle actually amounts to is 'if one is embarking on something new, one should think very carefully about whether it is safe or not, and should not go ahead until reasonably convinced it is.'"

It should be noted here that it appears that if the "burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action" then the Greenies would have to shoulder the burden of proof. However, I think it could be said that this principle should have been observed before the first oil well was drilled or the first coal mine opened.

Not simple

John Pratt, it is not as simple as you make out. You nailed it when you said "The rich world that has done most of the polluting so far".

Now it is the turn of the Chinese and Indians. The way they are growing and building coal fired power stations whatever we do will be cancelled out. Add to the this the growing ownership of cars in these two countries and you can see the problems we all face. What do you think would happen, John, if you headed off to China and stood in the street and protested at what the Chinese were doing. You would be thrown in the pokie and the Chinese would laugh at you.

I watched Insight tonight and everybody was facing the facts and talking sense except that fruitloop Green MP from NSW. All he could suggest was that we ditch the car and move to public transport, and this despite the fact that he lives in NSW where we have the worst public transport system in Australia.

Alternative energy has always been feared.

1865 - Red Flag Act

Progress in the development of cars saw stiff opposition from companies running horse-driven coaches. In the mid-1800s turnpike charges (similar to toll charges) for the "early cars" that which were then plying on road, were steeply hiked. These heavy and crudely built steam-driven vehicles must have badly damaged roads, and to some extent the increase was possibly justified.

The 'Locomotives on Highways Act' (Red Flag Act) was passed by the British Government in 1865. It was intended to regulate the use of heavy traction engines pulling large loads. The Act limited speeds to 6.4 kms per hour in the country and 3.2 in towns. It also required that every road locomotive must have three attendants - one to steer, one to stoke and one to walk 50 metres ahead of the vehicle, bearing a red flag, signaling the driver when to stop.

The Red Flag Act discouraged further developments of road-steam-vehicles. A subsequent Act passed 13 years later in 1878 did away with the red flag, but nevertheless the vehicle still had to be preceded by a man on foot to warn drivers of horse-driven coaches.

As can be seen from the piece above the introduction of new or alternate forms of energy have always been opposed by vested interests and fear mongering. 

Fear not Scott, we will bring in the age of alternative energy and the world as we know it will not collapse. 

$327 million to mobilise Americans on climate change.

AL Gore, former US vice-president, Academy Award winner and Nobel peace laureate, today launched a $US300 million ($327.6 million), three-year campaign to mobilise Americans on climate change. "We can solve the climate crisis, but it will require a major shift in public opinion and engagement," Mr Gore said.

"The technologies exist, but our elected leaders don't yet have the political will to take the bold actions required. When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they'll listen," he said.

A longtime environmental activist, Mr Gore chairs the Alliance for Climate Protection, which unveiled the "We" campaign with a series of videos, a website - www.wecansolveit.org - and a television advertisement set to air during such programs as American Idol, House and Law & Order.

The first ad likens the battle against climate change to US troops storming the beaches at Normandy during World War II, the struggle for civil rights and the drive to send humans to the moon.

"We didn't wait for someone else" to tackle these historic problems, the actor William H Macy says in the spot. "We can't wait for someone else to solve the global climate crisis. We need to act now."

A massive ad campaign is needed in Australia to inform the nation and create the common will to face the challenges of climate change. We must do this together and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Together with good will we can solve the climate crisis. It is time the naysayers were seen as collaborators. A real threat to mankind.

Out In The Cold For You

Scott Dunmore: "Just what has this idiot have in mind to replace the energy source?"

With at least a child's level of rational thought, forward thinking, and a sign of concern for what would happen if the lights do go out (permanently); in just one sentence, you've totally nuclear bombed your greenie credentials. Take heart: it was never meant to be easy having a functional brain (better known as sense).

Green, Moi?

Paul, what I have written in the post to which you refer is entirely consistent with everything else I've written on the subject. Yes, as it happens I am "green" if you like, (and how anyone with at least half a brain can be otherwise I cannot fathom) I'm just not mainstream. For instance I've never bought GHG theory, suspecting it was a convenience. Read my previous posts. At the same time I despise people who carelessly leave their waste where they stand; fishing line left behind, the Sargasso Sea which hosts a plastic island the size of Britain. I've seen the evidence of people having pigged out on junk food in their car dump the detritus on the carpark, too bloody lazy to walk to the nearest rubbish bin. No better than pigs. 150 years ago or there about, this was written:

The white man is like a man dying for many days; numb to his own stench. One night he will suffocate in his own waste.

My views should be apparent to all who come here; I'm not about to repeat myself. You will also not be thanked for your condescension.

Dr Hansen calls for a halt on mining and export of coal.

NASA chief climate scientist James Hansen has written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asking him to consider halting plans for mining and export of coal in Australia.

Dr Hansen is one of the world's leading climate scientists and in a letter addressed to Mr Rudd, he has asked him to show leadership on the issue.

He says the "continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and the construction of new coal-fired power plants" should be halted and a transition is needed to solve the global warming problem.

A challenge for Kevin Rudd: it is time to get serious on climate change with Dr Hansen calling for a halt on mining and export of coal.  It will be hard for a Queenslander to call for halt to all coal mining: we will soon have to see some real leadership skills from Kevin from Heaven.

More spin

John Pratt, I wonder if James Hansen has also written to the Chinese and Indians asking them to stop building coal-fired power stations. If he has I'll bet he does not get an answer. If you are waiting for Kevin from Heaven to do something you are going to wait a long time. He has signed Kyoto and that's as far as Rudd will go. Can you imagine Rudd telling the coal miners that from next week they are out of a job? He has conned you with his plan for the Murray-Darling and he will sweet talk you on climate change too.

What a load of old bollocks

Just what has this idiot have in mind to replace the energy source?

Alternatives to coal

Scott, how about the following replacements for coal?

1. Solar

All scientists ultimately believe solar has to be the answer,” he said. On Thursday, he laid out his “big idea” as a formula: “If you take sunlight plus water, that equals oil plus coal plus methane.”

The night before, he described what he said was an achievable energy future — if the world engages seriously in pursuing scientific, technological and policy advances that are needed to make sunlight into usable energy cheaply.

2. Wave Power

Wave power devices extract energy directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. Renewable energy analysts believe there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity. (A terawatt is equal to a trillion watts.)


3. Wind Power

Wind energy can be produced anywhere in the world where the wind blows with a strong and consistent force. Windier locations produce more energy, which lowers the cost of producing electricity. Moderate to excellent wind resources are found in most regions of the United States.

4. Geothermal

The Earth's heat, which constantly flows outward from its core, provides an enormous source of energy called geothermal energy.

You can use geothermal energy—no matter where you live

5. Hydrogen

Hydrogen can be separated from hydrocarbons through the application of heat—a process known as reforming. Currently, most hydrogen is made this way from natural gas. An electrical current can also be used to separate water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. This process is known as electrolysis.

Currently, hydrogen has great potential as a power source for fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells can provide heat for homes and buildings, generate electricity, and power vehicles.

Hydrogen can also join electricity as an important energy carrier. An energy carrier moves and delivers energy in a usable form to consumers.

6. Efficient use of energy.


Energy efficiency is a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it also helps households, businesses and governments save money on energy bills. Energy efficiency improvements can result in cost savings of 20 to 50%.

Being energy-efficient can be as simple as shutting off equipment when not in use, or it can be more complex, like installing more efficient technologies, or finding a use for waste heat.
Renewable energy is generated from energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydro power, that are renewable. Renewable energy sources can be used to deliver energy as electricity, heat, or transport fuel. The use of renewable energy sources is increasingly important in meeting present and future energy needs - both in Australia and around the world.

Will that do for starters? 

Point by point

John, I like you, you're a good fella but I must repeat, you're a starry eyed optimist. When are you going to accept that our civilisation as it currently stands has been built on the back of cheap energy and that it must fail sometime in the mid future.

1 "All scientists ultimatey believe solar has to be the answer."

Certainly it can make a difference but it is not sufficient. In the last century we have squandered billions of years' worth of solar energy.

2 "Wave Power". Agreed but at what cost and and how do you service major inland centres? Not to mention the environmental pollution of coastal areas.

3 "Wind Power"  As with 1 but the sum of this all does not add up to future requirements. A post a few days ago asked where the extra n terrawatts was coming from.

4 "You can use geothermal energy—no matter where you live." No you can't. I've written before in the "Peak oil" debate about the use of  geothermal energy and while it can produce local solutions, the earth's crust is too thick in almost all land mass areas to be viable and requires large amounts of water to transfer the energy. (Incidentally the AQIS building in Symondston ACT has an air conditioning system that uses the ambient temprature of the bedrock underneath to maximise the use of energy.)

5. Hydrogen can be separated from hydrocarbons through the application of heat." It certainly can, similarly methane, it's called "cracking" but what a waste of the carbon component.

6 "cost savings of 20 to 50%." No argument from me there but it's only going to delay the inevitable.

In this John I am a nihilist. Simply put, there are too many people on this planet and a reckoning has to come.

Ruddaway airlines

Now that Climate Change has been recognized as a threat to human rights and to life itself we all have a moral duty to make the necessary changes. We must support governments that are will to act on Climate Change.

Please John, you all voted for either Rudd the dud of Johnny rotten, not sanity or progress but more of the same. Garnaut is an elitist economist and lacks a real brain. Nothing will be done as we are already seeing, as Ruddaway airlines fills its seats with hot air and burns the people's money.

Climate change a threat to human rights.

“Ultimately climate change may affect the very right to life of various individuals,” she said, pointing to threats of hunger, malnutrition, exposure to disease and lost livelihoods, particularly in poor rural areas dependent on fertile soil.

Kang, a South Korean, said countries had an obligation “to prevent and address some of the direst consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.”

This may include providing safe housing, ensuring good sanitation and water-drinking supplies, and making sure citizens have access to information and legal redress, and take part in decision-making, she said.

Environmental disasters and natural resource scarcity have long been seen as contributors to displacement, for instance in Sudan’s Darfur region where 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes by conflict rooted in part in access to water.

The United Nations has declared that Climate Change is a human rights issue.

The United Nations has officially declared that climate change is a threat to the human rights of people living in small island states.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that tackling climate change is one of his top priorities, and now the UN Human Rights Council has made it official.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously in Geneva, recognises that climate change is not just a threat to the global environment and economy, but to life itself.

Now that Climate Change has been recognized as a threat to human rights and to life itself we all have a moral duty to make the necessary changes. We must support governments that are will to act on Climate Change.

Where do we get 18 additional terawatts?

Dr. Nocera said human activities, in energy terms, right now are essentially a “12.8 trillion watt light bulb.” Our energy thirst will probably be 30 trillion watts, or 30 terrawatts, by 2050 with the human population heading toward 9 billion.

If that energy is supplied with coal and oil, an overheated planet is almost assured, he said.

Finding other options is a huge challenge, he added. To illustrate, he provided one hypothetical (and impossible) menu for getting those 18 additional terawatts without emissions from coal and oil:

- Cut down every plant on Earth and make it into a fuel. You get 7 terawatts, but you need 30. And you don’t eat.
- Build nuclear plants. Around 8 terawatts could be gotten from nuclear power if you built a new billion-watt plant every 1.6 days until 2050.
- Take all the wind energy available close to Earth’s surface and you get 2 terawatts.
- You get 1 more terawatt if you dam every other river on the planet and reach 30.

As he summed up, “So no more eating, nuclear power plants all over, dead birds everywhere, and I dam every other river and I just eke out what you’ll need in 40 years.”

Then he turned to the sun, his research focus, which bathes the planet in 800 terawatts of energy continually. “We only need 18 of those terawatts,” he said. But the current level of investment in pursuing that energy, he said, isn’t even close to sufficient.

A lot more research is urgently needed to get more energy from the sun.

But what about wave power? Part of the answer to our energy problems will come from the energy contained in the oceans.

On Friday it was announced that the CETO technology was shortlisted to supply power to Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

The Company is pleased to announce that it has been shortlisted to continue to the next stage of the contracts establishment process for the supply of the Tranche 2 Renewable Energy to the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant (“SSDP”) at Binningup in Western Australia.

The Company’s potential involvement in the SSDP is one of a number of potential commercial opportunities currently being explored by Carnegie for the CETO Wave Energy Technology.

Extra Power

The only reasonable explanation I can see is the power of the coal lobby.  We know how to build the solar and other alternative power generation options.  They aren't as good as they will be but with quick and dirty approaches we can do enough now I think

There are also other options.  There are houses outside Cairns built to be cool without using air-con.  They exist now.  We could build well designed houses and cut down emissions drastically.  We could also design industrial processes in a much better way.  Bill McDonough has done extraordinary things with his 'cradle to cradle' approach.  None of this is exactly secret.  The only explanation I can come up with for not getting on with it is the power of the coal lobby.

Where's there's smoke...

"AUSTRALIA and Papua New Guinea could reap benefits from merging an emissions trading scheme, the Garnaut interim report argues, but so too could Ross Garnaut's goldmining company."

Australia must phase out coal fired power stations now.

This opinion piece in The Age this morning:

In a submission to the Garnaut inquiry this month, the National Generator Forum aimed at getting special treatment for its members but succeeded only in shooting itself in the foot. The only possible justification for further investment in coal-fired generators is the prospect that geosequestration (capture, storage and burial of carbon dioxide emissions) is available within a few years to avoid global temperatures reaching the tipping point into catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

According to the submission: "Although there is a trend to improved generation efficiency through the use of super-critical and ultra-super-critical cycles, commercially viable, very low carbon intensity plants, using gasification and combined cycle technology with or without carbon capture and storage, are likely to be 15 to 20 years away."

Based on the most recent science, this is too late. A report by the Australian Climate Group released this week, which was sponsored by the Insurance Australia Group, concluded immediate government action is needed. The situation is so grim that the Rudd Government should adopt measures to "stabilise national emissions by 2010".

The actuary of the group, Tony Coleman, is quoted as saying: "Insurers are familiar with managing risks to our community that are often quite uncertain and sometimes potentially catastrophic. Yet Australia is tolerating a level of climate change risk that would be unthinkable if the nation was held to the same standards that we apply to safeguard the survival of the insurers, banks and superannuation funds that we all depend upon in our daily lives. These levels of risk — 0.5% p.a. or less — are completely dwarfed by the risk levels to our way of life that are now reliably attributable to potentially catastrophic climate change impacts, unless we act with urgency to rapidly reduce greenhouse emissions."

Australia must face up to phasing out coal-fired generators. Geosequestration will be too late, even if it can be done. Two proposed plants in North America have been scrapped before construction started, which suggests it can't.

We cannot rely on Geosequestration. We must phase out coal-fired generators and stop exporting coal. To continue to use coal will pose great risks to our kids.

Try Africa

G'day Ian. I would expect there would be a number of countries who would be happy to take the real sociological misfits for a fee and the cost to this country would be far lower than keeping them incarcerated for many years. Many African countries would jump at the chance, and no matter what anyone says about so-called compassion for repeat perpetrators I have no compassion for those who destroy other lives physically or mentally. How do you think an armed robber or someone who has decided to kill family members is going to feel when they know they will end up in a Sudanese or Zimbabwe jail when caught? Now they get a slap on the wrist and are out in a year or two.The politically correct approach of, it's not the criminals fault but some thing deep in their past or substance abuse as a mitigating condition, should hold no weight but double the sentence. An educated fully informed responsible populace that understands this is a free country as long as you don't cause harm to others, then it's deterrents which will make people think before they act irresponsibly. We need to develop compassion for our planet, country and the freedom to be. When you think abut it, it's really only ideologies which cause most of the social unrest in any country, because they always want to force their beliefs down the throats of others and try to disguise it as free speech and expression. Well free speech is fine, but free expression doesn't include social disruption just for the sake of implementing draconian or oppressive ideological insanities, as we see with many current monotheistic ideologists worldwide.

David, have you ever really wondered how they get so much illicit drugs into this country? maybe it has something to do with the depth of political corruption we are now seeing revealed country wide, from the supposed elite. These are the morons who represent the party system so lauded by most, which only really shows how enslaved humanity is to delusional concepts instead of reality. I don't think many people realise the biggest drug problems for society come form legal drugs, as they make up more than 95% of drug fuelled incidents. But nothing is done about them as they make huge profits for the elite, yet have very little bearing on improving health situations. Drug smugglers should be sent back to the country of the drugs origin for trial and punishment, that would slow them down a lot, unless the death sentence would be involved.

There's an answer

Thanks Basil, there is an answer, it requires a complete change from the cradle to the grave in human education and direction. It's not hard to do, it would require just a few pieces of simple legislation. The first step is to solar and or wind power every roof in the country, stop building freeways and construct solar electric light rail country wide, utilise native plants for biofuels as an interim, until other forms of fuel or transport can be established. Establish industry which will provide rational simple private transport and not the useless monopolised junk we have now.

Change the education system so children are taught how to live life responsibly and legally, then when they turn 16 put them into 4 years of community service across every department and local government, so they get a full experience of how life really is. At 20 they can chose their career or go on to higher education, this would solve many community problems. Give the education of the young to the mature and retired, who have real experiences of life and not just been to school all their lives. Young people constantly flowing through the bureaucracy and government departments would revitalise and make them cost effective, relevant and responsible. This would increase young peoples' understanding of responsible living and the consequences if they stuff up.

We would have to drop the global market and protect the country so we can choose our own direction whilst selling technology and techniques to increase profits for the still greedy. Regulate banking, control prices and interest rates so the economy becomes sustainable. Health should be about preventative and traumatic medicine, not elective and pharmaceutical medicine so the burden is reduced across the board and establish health training in all schools. Stop immigration completely and concentrate on very long term sustainable, ecological buildings and cities. Establish electric public transport and a legal system which re educates criminals, repeat or violent offenders should be sent to the worst countries in the world to serve their sentences or be dumped there permanently. Make people fully responsible for their actions, which would slow the crime rate down rapidly. If children were taught at school the consequences of their actions, they would learn to think rationally instead of selfishly.

Politicians should be elected on their business plan for the portfolios they are applying for and made fully accountable, as should senior bureaucrats and business heads. None of this will happen as people are so greedy and self-centred, they would rather see the country collapse than make changes. The best thing would be to introduce voluntary electronic referendum style voting for major policies and directions, whilst still keeping compulsory voting for general elections.

Finally break up monopoly control of all aspects of life and return to local private business and supply, which will reduce lots of unnecessary costs associated with single point control of food, energy and transport. You could have most of this up and running within a year and see the results within two, fine tuning would establish a direction everyone would be satisfied with, whilst the current insane approach has only one outcome and that's fatal for the planet and life. We need to utilise the brains of the entire country to make changes, not just the brain-dead ideologist elite who are currently destroying it.

Wrapping the planet

Starting with the following Wikipedia figures: total atmospheric mass is 5.1361×10^18 kg, density of liquified air is 870 kg/cubic metre, and taking Earth’s average radius at 6,367,442.5 m, in an idle moment today I calculated  that the atmosphere would form a uniform ‘ocean’  11.6 metres deep if it were liquified and the Earth’s surface was that of a smooth sphere. (I am sure I am not the first to have done this, but it's not much of a depth  when compared with the existing water oceans.)

What part of that depth would be carbon dioxide?

The atmosphere is presently 383 ppmv (or 0.0383%) CO2 by volume, and that 11.6 m depth is 11,600 mm. If the CO2 were a liquid layer separated from the rest of the liquified atmosphere, it would be just 4.4 mm deep in its own right (11,600 mm x 0.0383 / 100 = 4.4 mm.)

Common household ‘glad wrap’ has a thickness of about 1/100 mm or 1.0 x 10^-5 m. (I know this because I measured it with a micrometer.) So a 4.4 mm thickness of it would be equal to around 440 layers, which could be taken to represent the notional ‘thickness’ of the present atmospheric CO2 burden. An increase of just one ppmv CO2 would thus be the equivalent of laying a single sheet of ‘glad wrap’ over the world, at least in material terms, though the wrap’s greenhouse property would likely be different from that of gaseous CO2.  However, I would not be startled if it was not.

I hope that helps frame the global warming and greenhouse gas problems in more familiar terms.

Off to Bongo-Bongo

Alga, your suggested reform: "Establish ... a legal system which re educates criminals, repeat or violent offenders should be sent to the worst countries in the world to serve their sentences or be dumped there permanently."

Could you be a bit more specific? Which countries did you have in mind, and how much would you expect we would have to pay them for the service?

The worst country in the world

Having just finished watching Lateline's report on the record opium harvest, I guess we could send all our offenders to Afghanistan to tend the poppies ...

The world of dummies

Lucky I'm an uneducated dummy, otherwise I would have made sense out of “Garnaut's Interim Report”. But it just sounds like a load of elitist economic meaningless babble. If you think about it logically, the only thing which will turn the situation around is a total stop to polluting human economic operations. How do you stop something which allows life to exist, from desperately trying to remove the cancer destroying it? You wipe it out with whatever means are at your disposal, just as we humans destroy anything which gets in the way of our ideological insanity. Nothing else will work and that's the approach nature is taking.

An emissions trading scheme is not designed to reduce pollutants, but another way of getting a price rise for the elite. Sure they will have to pay to emit pollutants but it won't slow or stop them, it just makes thing more expensive. We need to stop point blank 90% of polluting industry and transport now and throw all our energies into sustainable non polluting outcomes so as to create real sustainable living and not just economic elitist insanity. Reading that report is like reading the policy directions of all political parties, high in rhetoric and semantic rubbish, yet empty of rational outcomes

No one is considering the effect on the economic approach of increasing destructive weather patterns, nor what will be the outcome when insurance companies collapse under the massive growing weight of claims. Nor the growing health crisis as humans continue to destroy their bodies with toxic foods which is why the health system is collapsing. Unless a lateral approach is constructed to change our direction, it's futile to leave it to the powers that be, which are clearly incompetent and fully enslaved to stupidity. Yet the populace voted for these fools. Kevin from heaven is definitely Rudd the dud and not one iota different to any other elitist ideological clone. I couldn't find one positive thing in the report, but then again, I am uneducated so may have missed the point, if there is any other than to provide more diversionary propaganda.

Good on you Alga

Good on you Alga. Apart from the personalities I think you are quite right. But we need an answer - a real one. I've just finished George Monbiot's book and the end of the matter is that there is no answer, other than a monstrous turn around from all the economic 'progress'  of the last century or two.

We are all in this together, governments and people. If we could all pull together we might just do it. But, if we don't we won't.

That demands an altogether new kind of self-government which has never been tried yet - a completely new democracy!

Ignore the lunatic fringe.

Ross Garnaut's interim report on climate change has put Australia back on track to develop an effective climate change policy, after the false start of last year's Shergold report. No one reading it can doubt Garnaut's commitment to design an emissions trading system that is effective, comprehensive and beyond rorting.

But not all key players want that. Ignore the lunatic fringe who argue that (a) global warming is a myth, and (b) if it's not, fossil fuels are not to blame, and (c) if they are, we should let Bangladesh sink rather than put up petrol and electricity prices. Those people will chirp on forever.......

In coming months, the battle will be on in earnest, between those who want Australia to commit to serious greenhouse gas reductions — ahead of any international agreement — and those who want as little action as possible.

The big issue will be the shift away from coal-fired power. Burning coal with existing technologies, in existing power stations, will not fit with any target that significantly reduces emissions. To survive, stations will need costly retrofits with less polluting technologies, or be shut down and replaced by a less polluting plant: most likely gas, but possibly clean coal, nuclear or renewables.

Matthew Ryan, a former senior Treasury economist and tax adviser to Peter Costello, now an economic consultant in Canberra, has opened up another front. In the latest Tax Policy Journal, he points out that we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions appreciably simply by getting rid of a lot of bad tax breaks.

Let's try some:

■End the freeze on petrol excise, which costs revenue $1 billion a year, and sends car buyers and manufacturers the wrong signal by cutting the tax in real terms.

■End subsidies to heavy trucks, which pay fuel excise at only half the rate recommended to recoup road user charges.

■Bring forward the tax rises on alternative fuels due in 2011, restore excise on heating, kerosene and fuel oil, and put off fuel excise credits for off-road uses (well over $1 billion a year).

■End fringe benefits exemptions for company cars and parking spaces ($1.1 billion).

■End concessional tax on aviation fuel ($805 million) and duty-free airport purchases.

Tim Colebatch in The Age is on the money. It is time to ignore the lunatic fringe and get on with the first steps towards a cleaner world. Getting rid of tax breaks for those that cause some of the pollution would be a good start.

"What is to be done? Retreat into denial.

Theodore Roosevelt, who saw Pearson's predictions as a call to arms, urging his country on an imperial course of overseas expansion. He set a personal example of racial vigour by leading a team of Rough Riders into the war against Spain in Cuba.

Pearson's prophecy set alarm bells ringing around the globe. In the new parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, Prime Minister Edmund Barton held Pearson's book aloft as he spoke in support of the White Australia policy. "The day will come", he quoted, when the "Black" and "Yellow" races would become powers in the world. Australia, he said, must take action to defend itself against unwanted intrusions and expel those, such as Pacific Islanders, who would undermine racial homogeneity and the Australian standard of living. Evolutionary conceit cast Aborigines as a dying race, "an evanescent race", in Pearson's words, who would inevitably disappear. The White Australia policy signalled a retreat from the world, a determination to defend the standard of living in isolation, protected by tariff walls and a racially discriminatory immigration policy. As one overseas commentator observed, the new Commonwealth of Australia had become a "hermit democracy".

One hundred years on, as China takes its place as the leading economic power of the 21st century, Pearson's forecast seems prescient indeed, but China's booming economy now brings utterly unforeseen consequences and poses new threats of a quite different kind. As scientists issue ever more dire warnings about the pace of global warming and its disastrous effects, especially in Australia, they also note the contribution of developing countries, such as China and India, to this rapidly worsening scenario.

The day will come, warn the experts, when life as we know it will no longer be possible. As Ross Garnaut, professor of economics at the ANU, stated bluntly: "The show will be over." What is to be done? Retreat into denial, defensiveness and nationalist isolation is no longer an option. Who better to work with the new economic superpower of the world than our Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister? Kevin Rudd, who served as a diplomat in Beijing, has said he wants to "engage China" for Australia's benefit, especially as China will soon be our largest trading partner.

Writes Marilyn Lake in The Age

(Marilyn Lake is professor of history at La Trobe University and co-author with Henry Reynolds of Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the Question of Racial Equality.)

Some at Webdiary would like to retreat into denial. This is going to be a century of tremendous change and challenge. Australia should play its part. Denial of change will not be a choice.

Drastic change ahead

The probable ramifications of dealing with climate change stagger the mind.

Proposed reduction of greenhouse gases by 60% by 2020 implies enormous changes which we can barely visualise. But now we are told 90% reduction is essential. How can we meet such targets? Only with big dislocations of our economy.

Could we reduce our car use by such figures with more and more young people wanting cars?

Hydrogen cars? It has been suggested that they will cause wet roads. If so we will probably be driving through a fine mist! Anyway there would be a significant energy cost in producing hydrogen. 

Car racing will, of course, have to be outlawed – bushwhacking with 4wheel drives and trail bakes as well.

We will have to put a stop to 90% of air travel, instead of its regular increase. People will have to watch travel shows on DVD instead! And business people will have to conference on the net.

AGL offers to supply electricity to consumers from renewable sources costing about $90 extra per quarter on average. How many will bite the bullet? Government may have to intervene, making renewable energy mandatory. Big homes may have to be phased out to save energy. Perhaps we will see the rise of ‘long houses’ for the poor!

Suggestions that the suggested cuts in emissions will not require major changes in our economic lives are ludicrous.

Meaningful response will require severe government involvement. Will party government, with all its enemies and the pressures of those powerful interests which will be severely affected, survive the tsunami of political unrest, with people deprived of their aspiration for an increasing standard of living and now having to face the stark realities caused by our profligate use of resources and always wanting everything cheaper? They will now all be scarcer and dearer.

We are faced with a new standard of living – impossibly dearer and entirely different. We have always measured our standard of living in material and energy terms. But now we will need to look for joy in non-material pursuits - perhaps joining a local choir!

Welcome to my world

Hi Basil, nothing more here than to let you know I'm a kindred spirit.

Welcome to our world

Hi Scott, (February 22, 2008 - 6:07pm.)

Thanks a lot. You rescued my day! Sorry for the delay.

Not so drastic

George Monbiot's Heat sets out a programme for a 90% reduction by 2030 without drastic changes apart from the air travel bit, which will definitely have to reduce sharply.

I left my copy with my daughter in Guatemala, so can't list the steps as neatly as I might with it in front of me - but basically consists of obvious and straightforward steps on home insulation, renewables, and all that stuff.

The Good News and the Bad

There was a story on the ABC (probably the Science Show) a few months ago which discussed the enormous energy savings available from well constructed and operated buildings - relatively cheaply, with available technology and without drastic changes. That was the good news. The bad news was that retro-fitting the existing stock of houses, offices etc is horrendously difficult, practically and financially.

good and bad

The good news is that generally retrofitting older "heritage" houses is much easier than it is for new ones - those Federation guys already went for big eaves and small windows to keep the solar gain down.

The bad news is that, as Mark implies, most of the last century's buildings need to be knocked down and rebuilt. Good for the economy, though!

With hindsight, I cannot believe that it didn't occur to me, for example, to insist on double-glazing all the new windows in this house when it was renovated in 2001 - so easy to do then, so, hard to redo now ...

Guiding the current adhoc nature of mitigation and adaptation

Firstly, although K Rudd & Co. have said that they will listen to Prof. Garnaut; it was the combined efforts of all states and territories who put money forward to kick off the Garnaut Climate Change Review.

Secondly, NSW had the world's FIRST Emissions Trading Scheme with the advent by the Carr Govt's Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GCAS).  Victoria is investigating ways it can contribute; South Aust has promised to become 'a Carbon Neutral Govt'; Tasmania has created its' own "Office of Climate Change" which will drive state policy as well as Premier Paul Lennons decree that the state government will become Carbon Neutral.  QLD isn't being left behind with significant programs either in place or "in discussion".  And although I have yet to investigate NT, WA or ACT, I suspect their all doing their bit as well. 

Thirdly, thru the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) program hosted by ICLEI Oceania 230 local councils who represent in excess of 85% of the countries population; are taking active roles in reducing impacts and promoting sustainable action.

Just in case you missed it; my point is, that action is being taken, where it counts, by people who understand that the risk of doing something is far less than the risk of doing nothing.

One other point that quite a few have missed.  Every action that has or will be taken; actually makes your business or household more efficient, and quite a few of those same actions will actually save you more money than you will spend implementing them. 

The Core body of science has already told us to "extract digit" and make changes now for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  Further refinement of science will only tell us how far and fast we need to extract said digit. Not "Oh... sorry we got it wrong..." 

The interim report does not need to give any answers,  it gave us exactly what was needed, "You're headed in the right direction, now pick up the pace!"

Fiona: Welcome to Webdiary, Darren.

Political Waffle On Climate Change

Hi Darren. Welcome to Webdairy, where we specialise in raining on each other's parades... :)

Whilst I admire the thrust and positivism of your argument, the truth is that neither the states nor the federal government have done much about climate change, other than to waffle on and appoint ineffectual referees. Emissions continue to rise dramatically.

This is from the SMH in 2007:

Australia scores badly on emissions growth report

AUSTRALIA is the ninth biggest contributor to increased global carbon emissions, a new World Bank report has found.

The bank report shows that between 1994 and 2004, Australia's annual emissions of carbon dioxide (the world's main greenhouse gas) increased by 107 million tonnes, or 38 per cent. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared yesterday that Australia was "leading the world on climate change".

Australia's emissions grew by more than the combined increase in emissions by Britain, France and Germany, which have 10 times our population.

In Denmark, which has become the world leader in wind energy, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 9 million tonnes, or 13 per cent.

The report, Growth and CO2 Emissions: How do different countries fare?, released in October, examined the trends among the world's 70 biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Australia was almost unique in being a developed country whose emissions are not only very high but growing rapidly.

This is from The Age in 2008:

Coal's still the one for Aussies

AUSTRALIA remains wedded to coal for electricity production with renewable energy accounting for only 2 per cent of energy production in 2005-06.

The Australia Bureau of Statistics, in its 2008 Year Book published today, said total Australian energy production amounted to 16,729 petajoules, with another 1549 imported.

Black coal accounted to 49 per cent of all Australian energy resource production (most exported), followed by uranium at 28 per cent (all exported). Of that energy production, 5641 petajoules was used used for domestic energy generation.

The yearbook said renewable energy production, including biofuel, hydro-electricity and solar thermal accounted for only 2 per cent (270 petajoules), a level little changed in three decades.

Energy imports mostly comprised crude oil and LP gas.

Australia's energy end-users comprised households and industries with use increasing 12 per cent since 2000-01. Transport consumed the most energy of any sector (1316 petajoules) followed by manufacturing (1209 petajoules).

Unfortunately, I do not believe Australia, under any government, will voluntarily adopt the necessary emission reductions. No-one wants to pay for it, and instead of doing so they employ a talk-fest of do-nothing nobodies.

Until someone has to pay for the higher cost of carbon, renewables, or so-called clean coal, this is a big, fat talk-fest. The only good point is that without the public focus at state and national levels, we would probably be even worse...

Let's Hear From The Cat

Malcolm, given your track record can we leave the prognostications to your cat.

Ian McPherson, I watched a very interesting doco on Montserrat recently. It appears that the local island government were given an expert report with explicit warnings ten years before the volcano destroyed half the island. In spite of having this very creditable information they chose to do nothing and even encouraged islanders to return to the fields in which a number were killed when the devastating eruption finally came.

This strongly suggests to me that our governments will do something between absolutely-nothing and as-little-as-possible to tackle climate change. If a bad scenario eventuates there will be no admission of responsibility and the blame-game will explode in earnest.


However, the blame can only point truly in one direction, us. The scope for making changes rests with what a population will allow to happen. I believe that very few will make any sacrifices or hard choices until there are no other options.

Roger Fedyk on February 24,

Roger Fedyk on February 24, 2008 - 11:31pm.

  • However, the blame can only point truly in one direction, us.

You are right Roger. Little thought is given to the fact that we are responsible for what government does. We are responsible. But we blame and complain  instead of finding the way to enable (intelligent) popular opinion to drive government. When much needs to be done, and done quickly,  party governments are hostage to the fear of the  uninvolved, self-centred and capricious electorate, so ...

The scope for making changes rests with what a population will allow to happen.

 Without adequate public forums, where intelligent public opinion can exercise influence and leadership, it is a fact, as you say, that

  very few will make any sacrifices or hard choices until there are no other options.

Perhaps being stung by these thoughts my interest in solar power on my unit revived. I pursued my unanswered email to the village CEO.

She informed me that, in the redevelopment of the village it is planned to include solar power for the whole village. She (naturally) laughed at my suggestion that it should be done tomorrow, to which I said that the real problem with climate change is that everything is just taking too long to get going.

Nevertheless, perhaps there is hope, as  alarm at the threat of climate change is spreading rapidly.

On the other hand, the isolation of the people from an active connection to government, as in a (right click) Real Democracy, leaves us at the mercy of 'stumbling elephant' government.  (Resurrecting Democracy thread)

Blaming Everyone Else But Australia...

Hi Roger: "This strongly suggests to me that our governments will do something between absolutely-nothing and as-little-as-possible to tackle climate change. If a bad scenario eventuates there will be no admission of responsibility and the blame-game will explode in earnest. However, the blame can only point truly in one direction, us. The scope for making changes rests with what a population will allow to happen. I believe that very few will make any sacrifices or hard choices until there are no other options."

I agree. In an international sense, Australia will continue to blame China and the developing countries. China will continue to blame the US and the west. The UK and the EU will blame everyone else, even though they cannot (in the main) meet their own targets. And India will be very, very quiet...

Australia should be ashamed, of course. Its emissions are around 16 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per capita. The OECD average is 11.5 tonnes and the world average only 4 tonnes. The highest emission per capita rates are in the Middle East, the US, Canada and Australia (other big emitters include Luxembourg, Brunei, Netherlands Antilles and Norway).

To meet Garnaud's expressed emission targets by 2050, at today's glacial pace of change, will be impossible. Australia is built on low-price coal energy and large coal exports. Anything we do to change that will affect consumers and exporters badly. So it won't happen without a fight...

Australians will not give up their current lifestyles lightly, let alone accept higher energy and petrol prices placidly; and that is mirrored in the debates here. Nothing in the future stands to be as politically dangerous as the requirement to cut consumption, force the adoption of energy-efficient products, and thereby reduce emissions.

There may be a path to an energy-efficient, low-emissions future. But it will be fought against by a majority of the population, already reeling from interest rate rises, lower investment returns and higher oil prices -- with more and worse to come in the next 5 years.

I'm pessimistic. I don't see the political bravery to take a better path.


Let's hope this is Australia's Stern report.


We have now discovered something entirely new: drivelbabble.

If anyone can explain to me what this ECONOMIST is proposing as a scientific alternative to the spectres he raises, I should be obliged.


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