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Garnaut on ETS after accolades at ANU

13 December, 2009

The Australian National University has celebrated Ross Garnaut’s career by bestowing  an honorary doctorate upon him at  Friday’s conferring of awards ceremony, where he was guest speaker.

Professor Garnaut gave Latika Bourke an exclusive interview. She asked Garnaut how confident he was on achieving  a good outcome from Copenhagen. He highlighted the challenges to achieving an outcome and warned of the consequences of failing to secure an effective agreement:

The first thing we have to recognise that this is a diabolical policy problem, the most difficult policy problem that has come before our polity in living memory so you don’t start by expecting good outcomes. The consequences of not getting a good outcome is severe. Science tells us in the long run probably catastrophic. It is important to take action soon. So failure at Copenhagen will have large consequences for human beings, large consequences for Australians, and especially large consequences for rural Australians. So if you care about…the welfare of rural Australians you will be on the side of a strong outcome at Copenhagen.

This is always going to be difficult. International cooperation is required on a scale and complexity that humans have not managed before. This might be too big for our species…

Latika then asked how far away Australia was from getting an emissions trading scheme in place and would it be possible to overcome the potential catastrophic consequences from climate change without an ETS or carbon tax:

… it would be possible without an ETS or carbon tax but the cost of it would be very much higher. It would mean that Australians would have to have much lower standards of living, would have to accept lower wages,…lower health services, lower education services, less defence commitment. I don’t know why Australians would choose that, but they could…

Too big for our species indeed. At least too big for some of our species. In fact it was so big it caused not one but two motions for a leadership spill. The Coalition were unable to agree on the ETS legislation.  While this provided great sport and merriment for many, it now leaves the opposition with no certain policy on climate change. Tony Abbott has been a ‘weather vane’ on this issue and has said ‘climate change is crap’. Abbott would do well to heed the words of Garnaut, who is not an environmentalist activist, but rather one of Australia’s most distinguished economists.

Oh,  and congratulations to discontents who is now qualified to operate on philosophies.

Beazley bags some discontents

Update. Malcolm Turnbull on Copenhagen and an ETS.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 December, 2009 1:53 pm

    that’s Dr. discontents to you, ileum.

    If the heart of the ETS is a tax that is ultimately to reduce demand, I would like to know more about how different that is to a regulatory approach (restricting supply), other than providing tax revenue that could – potentially – be used to fund carbon offsetting measures. Or am I out of my tree here?

  2. 19 December, 2009 2:23 pm

    Ok, Doc.

  3. ribbet permalink
    22 December, 2009 11:15 am

    Looks like international cooperation at Copenhagen has been ‘too big for our species’. So now we wait for the ‘catastrophic consequences’. Thank you Mr Abbott on behalf of Australia. I for one would be willing to pay an extra tax to save the planet for my great grandchildren. So I don’t want to hear that tired old phrase anymore ..’a massive tax.’ Surely we all should be willing to sacrifice a bit of our lifestyle for a future for our children’s children????

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