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Friday, July 04, 2008

Garnaut Report: No Pain, No Rain

The Draft Report: Garnaut Climate Change Review
available here.
I sometimes wonder if there will be a time when we look back on the eleven years of the Howard Government as a period of lost time, lost opportunities.
This is almost certain to become obvious in relation to Climate Change. Ross Garnaut, in to-day's speech launching the Draft Report: Garnaut Climate Change Review, said "Now is not the best time to start. That was years ago. "
In other words, even if we start doing all the things we should do right this very minute we are behind the eight ball. And if we daydream about putting all this stuff in the too hard basket or waiting for China and India to come on board, then Garnaut has news for us.
  • Postponing now is not avoiding a decision. It is making a decision.
  • Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower cost options.
  • Without early and strong action before 2020 we will realise the consequences of failing to take action.
  • Rich developed countries, including Australia, have undertaken to do something first prior to the developing nations coming on board.
  • We will not get developing nations to do what they need to do if we do not honour commitments first

In fact, on the question of how our own attitudes can put Australia behind the eight ball, Garnaut pointed out that our seven decades long adherence to:

  • Protectionism
  • Xenophobia
  • Bureaucratic trammelling of the market

set the nation back economically.

Now, Miss Eagle says a "yes, but" to the last statement. There were some sound values embedded in these policies: self-sufficiency, self-support, defending things we valued, establishing fairness and even playing fields. Trouble is that some of these sound values did not work themselves out in equitable ways. The untrammelling of the marketing, for instance, does not always support these values - and some of us find that hard to take.

Not that Garnaut does not recognise values. He points out that some of the economic modelling does not, cannot and will not tell the whole story. For instance, any future loss of Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef can mean an economic loss due to projected fall offs in international tourism. These can be modelled. However, Australians themselves would experience a loss which the economic modelling cannot reflect.

Garnaut also placed a shot across the bows of the deep green ecologists. Any slowing of living standards, he points out, is no answer here or in Asia or in developing nations Their decline would be quickly translated into our own.

Garnaut emphasised Australia's unique location and the opportunities it might generate. He quoted Putin's comment that perhaps Russia might benefit from a couple of degrees increase in temperature. Australia, Garnaut points out, would not.

We are already a hot, dry country.


When you can do nothing else: bear witness.