The Fin published an op ed of mine this morning under this snappy headline.
It addresses the fantasies of Ross Garnaut, the beneficiary of ALP patronage and tireless booster of the party’s credentials. In an earlier piece, Garnaut had argued that the climate change meeting in Cancun, the least ambitious of a dozen or more such confabs, was successful in bringing about lower greenhouse gas emission levels.
Here is my piece
Ross Garnaut says that carbon dioxide emissions are on track to meet targets set at the 2010 Cancun international climate change meeting. Whether or not this is true it is irrelevant.
Unlike the 2007 Bali climate change meeting, where Kevin Rudd basked in international adulation by signing Australia up to the doomedKyoto agreement, Cancun imposed minimalist disciplines. Friends of the Earth described it as, “a weak and ineffective agreement (which) gives us a small and fragile lifeline.”
Recognising the essentiality of fossil fuel use, developing countries at Cancun simply committed to greenhouse gas emission levels based on business-as-usual. China is central to this. Soon after 2030,China’s dominance of world manufacturing will bring greenhouse gas emissions in excess of those of the US and EU combined.
But China is taking no steps to mitigate emissions. Its Cancun targets are expressed in terms of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, the aim being to reduce its 2020 emission intensity by 40-45 per cent compared with 2005. Meeting that goal will only take China to Australia’s current level of emissions per unit of GDP.
China’s emission reductions owe nothing to income-sapping carbon tax and mandatory renewable policies – in 2020 wind and solar will contribute only 0.3 per cent to electricity supply. Commercial decisions are the sole deliverers of lower carbon emissions per unit of GDP. These include closure of outdated plant and rapid expansion of new more efficient plant, a bi-product of which is lower emission levels. In addition, China, unlike Australia, has no moratorium on new hydro capacity and nuclear power. Zero carbon emitting nuclear power under the Five Year Plan will increase its share of electricity from one per cent in 2010 to 6 per cent by 2020. Although coal’s market share will decline, it will still account for over two thirds of electricity supply and its generating capacity will double.
Developed countries are also avoiding new emission abatement measures. While their politicians enjoy the accolades of the green commentariat, cold reality usually dominates policy actions. Thus, Canada’s Kyoto commitment was to reduce emissions by six per cent below their 2000 levels by 2012, but with emissions tracking at 30 per cent above this, Canada simply abandoned the pledge. Last month, Japan became the latest country to drop its greenhouse reduction targets, which involved a 25 per cent reduction in emissions.
Europe, the epicentre of climate orthodoxy, is now re-examining its greenhouse gas abatement policies. These are aggravating the region’s economic demise. They are hurtling it towards Angela Merkel’s nightmare where Europe becomes merely “an interesting place to visit”.
Like Europe’s emission policies, those in Australia are also causing economic damage. We have a carbon tax, which at $23 more than doubles the wholesale electricity price and is fivefold the EU’s carbon tax. Australia shares with the EU crippling requirements for the use of wind generated electricity which costs over twice as much as electricity from coal. The costs these measures do not effect emissions at the global level, but do cause relocation of industry and lower income levels.