Tony Walker has a piece in the AFR where he argues that Australia is the odd man on climate change policy in the G20.
International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde drew attention this week to reputational issues involved in Australia stepping back from its role as a global leader in efforts to build a climate consensus, bearing in mind Labor’s own stumbling efforts in putting in place an emissions trading scheme. The scheme foundered when European carbon prices collapsed.* “Australia was pioneering in this field, and I would hope that it continues to be a pioneer,’’ said Lagarde.
This is not a matter of whether you believe the science of global warming or not, but of what prudential measures might be taken to lessen the risk to future generations of weather disturbances caused by anthropomorphic climatic change. Dealing with the problem is a risk management exercise. In essence, argument revolves around actuarial calculations about the risks of action versus inaction. This is separate from debating points about whether you’re a “warmist’’ or not a “warmist’’, a “denier’’ or not a “denier’’, a “sceptic’’ or not a “sceptic’’. We should all be sceptics, and that goes for the arguments being advanced by zealots advocating on either side.
Notwithstanding rhetoric and posturing the fact remains that Australia is not just the odd man out, but well ahead of Europe – as this 2012 graphic in Nature: Climate Change makes clear (ungated version here).
When you look at that graphic it becomes very clear why the price floor had to be abandoned and exactly how out of step Australia is compared to the Europeans – who talk a good talk, but don’t pay nearly as much tax per tonne of CO2e as we have been paying.
* To place that collapse in context, the data source for the graph is Bluenext.fr – that organisation itself collapsed in December 2012.