Garnut review prompts debate

The Garnaut Review’s draft report released in July has contributed to the national debate about Australia’s response to climate change.

The Garnaut Review’s draft report released in July has contributed to the national debate about Australia’s response to climate change.

According to the Minerals Council of Australia’s acting chief executive Brendan Pearson, the report highlighted the potential economic and environmental risks posed to Australia by climate change and argued that only genuinely global action, including binding reduction commitments from nations like China, will prevent dangerous climate change. The report underlined the critical role of low emissions technologies, especially carbon capture and storage.

“The report raises some sensible new proposals including the establishment of an International Low Emissions Technology Fund, and the development of new global trade rules to ensure that climate change is not used as a pre-text for protectionism,” Pearson said in a statement about Garnut review.

“It is pleasing too that the Review appears to have quietly dropped its previous unrealistic suggestion that Australia should target emissions reductions of up to 90% by 2050.”

The minerals sector said they were disappointed by a number of the Review’s findings including continued support for ‘per capita’ targets as the basis for future international climate change agreements. Such an approach would disadvantage Australia, and has no prospect of winning broader international support.

The Review’s support for a fixed price cap in the early stages (2010-2012) of the proposed emissions trading scheme is also a significant step forward.

“This will help prevent excessive volatility and promote ease of adjustment to the trading arrangements. That said, the issue that will be most influential in determining the post 2012 carbon price – the scale of the interim 2020 target — is not addressed in this report,” Pearson said.

“The MCA is disappointed however that the Review continues to support full auctioning of emissions permits from 1 July 2010. In contrast, the European Union does not plan to move to full auctioning until close to 2020. The need to generate revenues from the ETS should be a secondary consideration of scheme design rather than the defining principle.

“The MCA particularly welcomes the Review’s strong backing for low emissions technologies, especially carbon capture and storage (CCS). This reflects the fact that if Australia halves its CO2 emissions by 2030 – global emissions would fall by approximately 0.3%. On the other hand, according to estimates by the European Union, CCS has the potential to contribute 14% of the global emissions reductions required by 2030 to prevent dangerous climate change.”

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