Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AIG puts the spin on Garnaut's reductions

As noted by The Age, Professor Ross Garnaut's proposed 10 per cent CO2 emissions reduction based on 2000 levels by 2020 is indeed defeatist. It is especially so when compared with the 40 per cent reduction (on 1990 levels) that science indicates is necessary by that year to help avoid the worst climate impacts.

As the Prime Minister has stated, however, Garnaut is but one of many inputs into his thinking, so we should also look to the influence of business and industry to see why Australia is leaning towards failure in the global climate challenge.

In a 5 September media release, and in comments reported by the ABC, Australian Industry Group head, Heather Ridout, says a five or ten per cent cut by 2020 based on 2000 levels 'would mean a reduction of between 20 and 25 per cent compared to current directions'.

Essentially, the AIG is proposing that Garnaut's reduction be considered not against known 2000 levels, but in terms of levels currently projected for 2020. Because we are roughly on track for 120 per cent of 2000-level emissions by 2020*, the fall down to 10 per cent below 2000 levels is a longer drop, and is a higher percentage of the projected total for 2020 - at about 25 per cent - than Garnaut's 10 per cent on the year 2000.

Makes his suggested cut look better, more substantial, doesn't it? The problem lies in justifying why Garnaut's target should be viewed against such a disastrous 2020 (projected) yardstick. The perverse implication is that the target of 10 per cent against 2000 levels looks better the steeper the trajectory to 2020 becomes. If the trajectory looked even worse, Garnaut's cuts would look heftier still. That is to say, a bad trajectory suits the AIG's spin down to the ground.

However, for purposes of saving our climate, compared with arguing for weak government action/compensation for business and industry, the ultimate target adopted by Australia should be measured not against a projection of our current profligate emissions, but against the science.

With his target set relative to 2000 levels, not a 1990 baseline, Garnaut's proposal is in fact less than 25 per cent of that necessary to save the planet. The Rudd Government needs to do much better.

*I've used the Government's Tracking to the Kyoto Target 2007 projection, and in particular, the green line on the graph in the summary on p.1. I estimate from this graph that a fall of 10 per cent from 2000 levels would take emissions down from roughly 550 Mt CO2-e to about 495 Mt CO2-e. Again using the green line, I put the 2020 projection at about 660 Mt CO2-e. To reach the 2000 10 per cent reduction level (495 Mt), that emission would need to fall about 165 Mt, or 25 per cent of the total projected emissions for 2020 (660 Mt). Looked at this way, Garnaut's 10 per cent cut on 2000 levels looks more substantial the worse the trajectory gets.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.