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Why Cost/Benefit Study Needed on Climate Change Policies

Statement by the Galileo Movement & Institute for Private Enterprise, 6 March 2014

On 27 February the Chairman of the Climate Change Authority, former Treasury Head Mr Bernie Fraser, issued a statement calling for the government to adopt a policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.  The aim of the current policy is to reduce emissions by 5 per cent.

The justifications by the CCA for this major policy change include that “the accumulating scientific evidence that global temperatures have been trending upwards over the last 50 years”. It also claims “there are signs that momentum in other countries to address climate change is growing”, that “Australia should play its part in this global endeavour” and that the proposed reduction target “would be a credible response by Australia to the task of containing the rise in global temperatures”.

Research by the Galileo Movement and the Institute for Private Enterprise, and by many independent scientists, indicates that the foregoing and other claims made by the CCA are of dubious validity and that there is no sound scientific basis for the government to continue to effect expenditures and other policies designed to reduce emissions.  In particular, the allegation that a danger exists of ever increasing temperatures is highly questionable.  Insufficient account has been taken of naturally caused temperature increases and no definitive causal correlation can be established between past changes in temperatures and in atmospheric concentrations of CO2. We also believe that it is highly unlikely that any substantive global agreement will be reached on a meaningful reduction target and hence wonder at the justification for Australia to leading the rest of the world.

We also note that on February 25 the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, Ph.D. appeared before the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and stated, inter alia, “there is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years”.

Against this background, we submit that the Abbott Government should carry out a cost/benefit inquiry into the full range of current and proposed expenditure on climate-related matters.  This inquiry should include an assessment of the value to Australia and to the world of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Such an inquiry would be consistent with the Government’s criticism of the Labor Government for not conducting a cost/benefit study on the hugely expensive National Broadband Network.  We note that the Coalition itself continues to spend possibly as much as $15 billion p.a. on a wide range of measures to curb Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions, without undertaking any comprehensive review of the costs and benefits.

A petition has been lodged with the Standing Committee on Petitions of the House of Representatives calling on the Government to carry out this much needed cost/benefit inquiry.

Des Moore, IPE

Case Smit, Galileo Movement

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