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The letter below was compiled before I was aware that Garnaut’s “first update” would be published today. But from press reports of the claims made in that update, and on the ABC, the points made in the letter stand.

Indeed, they are more than confirmed.

Thus former “free trader” Garnaut is now even more strongly supporting emission reducing action by Australia regardless of what other countries are doing. The reports also indicate that he has attempted to bolster his case by making incorrect claims. For instance, that sea level increases are “tracking right at the top of range of possibilities” (they are well down the range); and, having two bob each way, that there would be more frequent “extreme” cyclones – though not necessarily more frequent cyclones – but that climate change cannot be “directly” blamed for the recent flooding, or for Cyclone Yasi (the Bureau of Meteorology web site says that “a growing number of studies indicate a consistent signal of fewer tropical cyclones globally in a warmer climate”).

Also relevant is that Bill Kininmonth has drawn my attention to data contradicting statements by some scientists that higher sea surface temperatures could have contributed to the strength and size of Yasi. Overall the tropical ocean surface temperature during January 2011 was slightly cooler than average (Source: US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Des Moore

Garnautís carbon call problematic
letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 4 February 2011

Ross Garnaut is reported as  claiming “we are dealing with a very high probability that unmitigated climate change would lead to very large damage” ; that we need to invest rather heavily to avoid this; and that Australia is falling behind both the United States and China in dealing with climate change (January 31).

Yet in his 2008 report Garnaut stated that with or without mitigation “Australian living standards are likely to grow strongly through the 21st century”, with mitigatory action improving GDP in 2100 by about 5 per cent above what it would otherwise have been.

Will his forthcoming report radically change that assessment, explain the urgent need for mitigatory action, and also explain why Richard Tol (an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a shared winner of  the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and classified as among the top 5% economists in the world) is wrong to put the cost of mitigatory action at about 40 times greater than the benefits?

Also, US President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union message indicated that neither an ETS nor a carbon price were on the US’s climate agenda but that nuclear power was; and that the latest projections by the World Energy Organisation show China’s emissions of greenhouse gases as being twice current levels by 2030.

It should be obvious to any sensible person that, whether through an ETS or carbon price, mitigatory action by Australia on its own would be equivalent to asking the rest of the world to impose tariffs on all imports from Australia. Will Garnaut and the climate change panel combine to recommend such action or its equivalent?

Des Moore
Director, Institute for Private Enterprise
South Yarra Vic

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