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ETS vote is premature; there's more work to be done
letter published in The Australian, 24 July 2009

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has used internal dissension within the Coalition on global warming policy to tease the Liberals for tackling each other rather than to "start tackling climate change". But in reporting such developments why does the media fail to recognise the many serious problems Rudd himself would face if the emissions trading legislation he has submitted to the Senate were to be passed?

These include coping with the disadvantages for Australian businesses if they had to compete with US businesses operating under the more generous proposed US emissions trading scheme submitted to the US Senate; the likelihood that those disadvantages will increase under any legislation actually passed by that Senate; and the simply enormous disadvantages if there is no substantive agreement at Copenhagen, as Rudd himself acknowledges to be likely.

With other developments since the legislation was passed by the House of Representatives, any case for urgency in legislating disappears. These include the establishment of a committee headed by Department of Prime Ministerial and Cabinet secretary Terry Moran  to consider the potentially dire situation faced by the all-important electricity industry; the acknowledgement by Climate Change Minister Wong, in answering Senator Fielding's three searching questions, that emissions of CO2 do not necessarily produce consistently higher temperatures; and by her UK counterpart, Hilary Benn, that the earth's failure to warm over the last decade is explained by the fact that CO2 is not the only thing that affects the climate.

Relevant too is that a panel of scientists assembled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts a weak solar cycle period out to 2013 and possibly beyond. With fewer sunspots and more clouds, there is very likely to be an extended period of lower temperatures. Some say out to 2030.

All this also strongly reinforces the case for an independent inquiry into whether the science being used to justify policies to reduce CO2 emissions has sufficient basis.

Des Moore
South Yarra Vic

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