Climate authority advice ignored

March 7, 2014

The Climate Change Authority, the body responsible for setting Australia’s carbon emissions, has recommended that the target for emissions be increased from 5% to 19% below 2000 levels.

It also said that in the decade after 2020 the emissions reductions target should be between 40% and 60% below 2000 levels by 2030.

The authority cited two main arguments for the proposed increase — reducing emissions now will mean less costly reductions that will inevitably have to be made at a later date, and international polluters such as the US and China are now doing more to cut their carbon emissions.

The chief executive of the Climate Institute, John Connor, said the authority’s report should “shatter the wilful blindness amongst political and business leaders that the current minimum 5% by 2020 reduction target is adequate or economically responsible”.

It should, but it won’t. The chief executive of the Minerals Council, Brendan Pearson, said the recommendation showed the Climate Change Authority needed to be abolished, which is exactly what the Abbott government intends to do.

The authority is hardly a hotbed of radical environmentalists — it is headed by the former governor of the Reserve Bank, Bernie Fraser, and its findings are driven by climate science. Professor Ian Chubb, the Chief Scientist, oversees the science input to its reports.

The Labor Party’s response to climate change was woefully inadequate, but the Coalition’s is wilfully destructive. Their key policy initiative is to ignore it.

Although their bill to repeal the carbon tax, which provides for the authority’s abolition, is now held up in the Senate, it is likely to be enacted into law when the new Senate starts in July.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded from all the available scientific evidence that most of the rise in global average temperatures since the middle of the 20th century is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, deforestation and other human activities.

Climate change is not an abstract thing, it is happening right now. The new low-carbon industrial revolution that is needed now has the capacity to guarantee us a decent future, but it cannot undo the damage of the past.

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