Image: Karen Tagg
When Britain's chief bean counter came out and said climate change is likely to be equal to two world wars and the Great Depression rolled in together, people round the world started to take notice. The Stern Report has become credited, along with Al Gore's little movie, with providing the wake up call that most had been sleeping through.
A couple of weeks ago Australian economist Professor Ross Garnaut, who has been charged by the Australian government to detail the economic impact of global warming on the country, released his interim report. He wasn't the bearer of good tidings. He found that climate change is "exceeding expectations" and suggested Australia needed to reduce carbon emissions to "roughly 90 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050".And even though one state premier called the interim report "one of the most sobering briefings in my 22 years in office," and the new Prime Minister hinted at at a "global economic transformation to a low carbon economy of an order of magnitude that we have not seen since the great economic transformation of the Industrial Revolution," the impact of the report seems to have waned in the intervening period.
This might be due to the fact that the final report is not due until the middle of the year. It might also be that Professor Garnaut proffered his medicine with a spoonful of honey.
While acknowledging that Australia has an "exceptional sensitivity to climate change" and that the country will be "possibly the biggest loser amongst developed countries" if we fail to rein in emissions, he also found some solace in both our skills and renewable resources base. Saying Australia has "an exceptional opportunity to do well in a world of effective global mitigation", ie, to be a world leading exporter of zero emission technology. Via The Age, ABC and Lateline