Friday, April 06, 2007

The cost of doing nothing about climate change

Here is an excellent letter just published in the Age by Professor Ian Lowe on April 6, 2007

WE ARE continually being told by the Australian Government that we don't know what it would cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change last year published the results of independent economic modelling by Allen Consulting. It found that there is no significant difference in future economic outcomes between a responsible approach, cutting emissions by 60 per cent, and the irresponsible do-nothing approach that would increase emissions by 85 per cent. A 2003 government study found cost-effective efficiency measures would achieve 30 per cent cuts. Just half these measures would create 9000 jobs.

What we don't know, but a local Stern report could determine, is how much unchecked global warming would cost Australia. Some estimates suggest it is already costing us over $1 billion this year in lost agricultural production, increased costs of water supply and the costs of extreme events.

Any serious study will confirm that the costs of taking responsible action are small and the costs of continued inaction very large. So setting serious targets makes economic sense. It is also our moral duty to future generations of Australians.

As for the Government's push for nuclear energy, even the Switkowski report, with its pro-nuclear leanings, showed that nuclear energy is too expensive, too slow and makes too little difference to global warming. It is a distraction from the priorities we should adopt: a clear commitment to improving the efficiency of energy use, a price signal for greenhouse pollution and a mix of renewable technologies.

Professor Ian Lowe, President, Australian Conservation Foundation

Well said Professor Lowe. The Howard Government and the Rudd Labor opposition are committing massive funds towards dirty clean coal and are basically ignoring genuine renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Howard is stuck in a 19th century industrial economic paradigm, while Rudd in pandering to both the coal mining industry and the coal mining unions such as the CFMEU.

In addition, Howard is banging on the nuclear drum which will just dig more holes, use non-renewable resources and pose an intractatable hazardous waste problem. In addition, it would not actually lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions and would not be available within 10 years, which is 9 years too late.

So how do we get climate change addressed outside the political arena, where it is clearly being fudged by short sighted politicians who are prepared to gamble with the future of the planet and our children?

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