Saturday, September 06, 2008

Garnaut pushes low-key target

The Garnaut report has finally been released. Will the Rudd government listen to the advice of Garnaut or will he be only one of a number of 'voices' that are in the Prime Ministers ear on climate change? Time will tell - but the government already seems to be down-playing his report.
Garnaut pushes low-key target
Lenore Taylor
September 06, 2008
The Australian

KEVIN Rudd's climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, has opened the way for the Government to adopt a modest greenhouse gas reduction target in a report that has won cautious business support and outraged environmentalists.

Releasing his latest report yesterday, Professor Garnaut recommended Australia set a low initial greenhouse gas reduction target of between 5 and 10per cent by 2020.

The finding is likely to form the basis of the Rudd Government's political compromise on climate change.

In controversial recommendations, Professor Garnaut has proposed that Australia only agree to bigger domestic reductions inside a much tougher international deal and that it set a fixed price of $20 a tonne for carbon in the first two years of its emissions trading scheme, between 2010 and 2012.

The long-awaited Treasury modelling partly unveiled in Professor Garnaut's interim report yesterday revealed that a 10per cent cut - within a global agreement - would come at a surprisingly low cost for Australia, about 0.1 per cent of GDP a year or a 1.1 per cent reduction in growth by 2020.

It would result in a carbon price of about $34.50 by 2020 and push up household electricity prices by 40 per cent over that period, although Professor Garnaut pointed out the Government's intention to compensate low- and middle-income households for the increased costs they would be forced tobear.

Business groups generally welcomed Professor Garnaut's support for a modest emissions reduction goal linked to the success of international talks.

But conservationists were horrified by Professor Garnaut's assessment that the only achievable global goal in the short term was to stabilise emissions at a level that could destroy the Great Barrier Reef and the economy of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Professor Garnaut defended his proposed "first stage" target of stabilising carbon in the atmosphere at 550 parts per million, saying it was his "reluctant conclusion that a more ambitious international agreement is not possible at this time".

"My aim is to nurture the slender chance that humanity can get its act together," Professor Garnaut told the National Press Club yesterday.
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