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conflicting messages « Previous | |Next »
December 13, 2007

Michael Richardson in an op-ed in the Canberra Times addresses the problem posed by coal for global warming. He says that:

Because coal is cheap and relatively abundant, it accounted for 25 per cent of the world's commercial energy supply last year, second only to oil. But due to its high carbon content, coal was responsible for about 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide or CO2 released from fossil fuels, despite supplying only 32 per cent of fossil fuel energy. CO2 accounts for about 80 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. It is the monster of global warming.

To prosper we need energy security but if we persist in using fossil-fuels with current technologies, our prosperity will founder. The world's current climate policies are simply too weak to stem the onrushing tide of emissions that is melting the Arctic ice at the North Pole melted at a record rate in the northern summer. This latest sign that climate change has accelerated, indicates that the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012.

Canberra Times

My understanding is that the Australia delegation at Bali has been all over the place--going from supporting the isolated Canada, Japan, US position of no specific targets to reduced greenhouse emissions for themselves and absolute emission reductions by all major emitters.

That hardline position is a surefire way to ensure deadlock. Then the Australian delegation latter supports the European position of a 2020 target---cuts of 25-40%. Now we hear that the Australian delegation does not support the European position of a 2020 target of specific cuts of 25-40%.

Conflicting messages.

The UN talk at Bali is to forget talk of targets in Bali and keep our eyes on launching a process that would culminate in a final agreement in 2009. The Bali Conference is talks about talk--a climate-negotiating process as it were. 2009 becomes the deadline.

The indications are that Australia could reduce its emissions by 30% by 2020 mainly through energy efficiency without damaging the economy. So why cannot Australia point the finger at the US and offer to help developing countries with technology and investment? So it is possible for Australia to commit to specific targets and endorse the 2009 deadline for deciding each nation's cuts to carbon emissions.

Update: 14 December
Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald observes that:

The Howard government, as a courtier to the Bush Administration's intransigence on global warming, put Australia on the wrong side of history. Kevin Rudd has acted swiftly to put the country on the right side. He is working to make Australia a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem...Rudd has already pledged to cut Australian emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.And this week he has committed to an interim target too. But he has declined to specify what this might be. Rudd is awaiting the report he has commissioned from the eminent economist Professor Ross Garnaut.

The Liberals, on the other the hand, appear to be locked into just saying that it's absolutely essential that we don't end up exporting jobs and industries from Australia to other parts of the world. So how does that deal with the destruction of the great Barrier Reef and the loss of tourism and jobs. Or the negative impact on Kakadu National Park and rainforests, the drying up of our rivers and more frequent and ferocious bushfires.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 05:58 AM | | Comments (0)
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