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Garnaut review

February 21st, 2008

The Interim Report of the Garnaut Review is just out. Over the fold, I’ve attached the report and also a quick response from me for Crikey, largely based on hearing Garnaut a couple of weeks ago.

The interim report of the Garnaut Review on climate change shows how much thinking has changed in the year since the Prime Minister’s Task Force on climate change, led by Peter Shergold, examined the same issue.

In part, of course, this reflects the change in government. The Shergold report was tied to the Howard government’s rejectionist view on Kyoto, and spent a fair bit of time on spurious defences of positions that were obviously untenable at the time. This part of the report attracted a fair bit of attention, and was rightly derided.

But there was a serious component of the report, consisting of an attempt to balance economic and environmental risks. On the one hand, the report accepted the need for emission targets to manage the risk of dangerous climate change. On the other hand, the report was much concerned with the risk of economic damage if the cost of mitigation turned out to be high. As a result, it recommended both a leisurely start to emissions trading, delaying this until 2012, and an elaborate system of escape clauses designed to operate if the price of emissions rose too high.

As Garnaut’s interim report shows, the balance of risks has changed radically. Indeed, the thinking in the Shergold report, much influenced by US-based policy debates in the period immediately after Kyoto, was already out of date when the task force began its work.

Massive economic growth in China and India, at rates far higher than anyone anticipated when the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997, have produced growth in emissions at or above the highest ‘business as usual’ projections of the IPCC. At the same time, the news from climate scientists has mostly been bad. The evidence in the Fourth Assessment Report killed off any remaining hopes that the problem of human-caused climate change would turn out to be spurious or significantly overstated.

At this point, the risk of moving too fast on climate change is non-existent. As Garnaut shows, even moving fast, it is going to be very difficult to divert the global economy from a path leading to ever-rising CO2 levels, and increases in global temperature far beyond anything our species (or most species currently in existence has ever experienced. The consequences of such a path are hard to predict in detail, but highly likely to be disastrous.

Where to from here? At a global level, nothing substantial will happen until the departure of the Bush Administration in January 2009. The rest of the developed world, including Australia, needs to press the incoming administration for a rapid and unconditional commitment to cut US emissions, followed by immediate negotiations with China and other developing countries to achieve an agreement that will deliver a halt to global emissions growth by 2020, followed by a substantial decline.

To say this will be a challenging task is an understatement. Of course, everything would be dramatically easier if the US and Australia had ratified Kyoto, instead of rejecting it after the election of the Bush Administration in 2001. Those who supported this course have been utterly discredited by the course of events. They will, no doubt, continue to advocate delay and indecision, but they should be left to jeer from the sidelines while others get on with the job.

Garnaut report
exec-summary.pdf

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  1. Matt Canavan
    February 21st, 2008 at 16:01 | #1

    My first impressions of the report aren’t good. I accept that urgent action is required. But Garnaut’s solution (let’s cut and hope others follow) is poorly thought through. (The report is also rather sloppily written).

    Global warming is a serious problem and it deserves a serious response. But the debate has been hijacked by a thought that an ETS will solve all our problems. Why is this the case?

    To me an ETS as a framework is beset with incentive incompatibility problems such as:
    - what will keep developing countries in or adhering to the govt?
    - what surety do private investors in clean technologies have that govt won’t change policy when their long-lived investments are meant to payoff?

    Why are these issues rarely discussed?

  2. Hermit
    February 21st, 2008 at 16:26 | #2

    Paralysis by analysis. It’s like being on a runaway train with the next bridge washed out. The engineer promises to carefully sort through suggestions but reserves the right not to act on any of them. It’s hard to feel confident about the future with $100 oil, the 70% price jump in coal or the dire state of the lower Murray-Darling.

    Garnaut just lightly skims the options; why not float a couple of real world suggestions? Here’s mine..unilateral action backed by Australia’s clout in some international arenas. We introduce a loophole-free domestic carbon cap asap but with nanny state help for energy microsavings. Export coal and LNG customers have to cut back as well; we might give them more yellowcake instead or else slap a tariff on their goods. Rises in energy costs are offset by tax cuts paid for by slashing showpiece spending such as defence and sport. Just do something besides more reports.

  3. February 21st, 2008 at 17:05 | #3

    1. Put a tax on CO2 emissions in the domestic electricity sector.

    2. Modify the fuel tax to match the price impact on most transport emissions of CO2.

    3. Sell any emission credits to foreigners.

    4. Use the revenue raised to increase the tax free bracket for income tax.

    5. Move on.

  4. February 21st, 2008 at 17:31 | #4

    Terje: You’re talking sense mate (for a change :) )

  5. gordon
    February 21st, 2008 at 17:46 | #5

    Did I see banking and borrowing of emissions credits? Did I see Shergold’s lovely phrase “trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries”?

  6. February 21st, 2008 at 18:23 | #6

    Just watched the ABC TV News. After ploughing through 10 minutes of Iemma Govt corruption scandals (yawn) they finally got around to Garnaut. Apparently Garnaut is calling for a 90% reduction on 2000 levels (!) but Rudd, Wong et al are already running a million miles from it. The Garnuat Report is no longer definitive road map for climate change policy, but merely one of several “inputs” to the policy making process.

    I hate to say I told you so, but when politicians are confronted with the reality of what’s required to address climate change, they get very cold feet.

  7. February 21st, 2008 at 18:45 | #7

    you can say i told you so, i told you so, anyone with any grasp of social mechanics can say i told you so.

    insanity was redefined a couple of years ago, as expecting a different result from the same input through the same system. the change from howard to rudd is presented as ‘different input’, and i will agree to this extent: the drop is less, but the noose still kills.

    incidentally, the discussion of corruption is not entirely separate from global warming. the same social structure that makes corruption endemic also makes substantive action impossible.

  8. observa
    February 21st, 2008 at 20:44 | #8

    ‘Of course, everything would be dramatically easier if the US and Australia had ratified Kyoto, instead of rejecting it after the election of the Bush Administration in 2001. Those who supported this course have been utterly discredited by the course of events.’

    As have those who have opposed and still oppose nuclear power by the same logic. Similarly with Labor Premiers(take a big bow Brumby) and the Murray Darling, forcing SA to produce desal CO2 by the megalitre now. Talk and targets beyond electoral cycles are cheap rhetoric. It’s abandoning old tired shibboleths that’s the really hard part.

  9. observa
    February 21st, 2008 at 20:53 | #9

    Thaks for your ‘input’ there Ross-
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23252788-29277,00.html

    “”The challenge here for government is to really turn this into what I would describe as a climate of opportunities,” Victorian Premier John Brumby said.”
    Bloody priceless!

  10. observa
    February 21st, 2008 at 20:56 | #10

    “They will, no doubt, continue to advocate delay and indecision, but they should be left to jeer from the sidelines while others get on with the..” climate of opportunities eh John?

  11. Ikonoclast
    February 21st, 2008 at 21:38 | #11

    What we face here ladies is an extinction level event (ELE). Yet we are still arguing about it, still mining coal at ever increasing rates and still subsidising fossil fuel consumption.

    The behaviour of the entire system demonstrates that the system does not and will not alter its course on the basis of rational evidence.

    This indicates that the system (late stage capitalism) will only change when forced to by the laws of physics.

    A reductionist view has considerable validity here. The economy is contingent upon the environment. The environment is contingent upon the basic laws of physics. When all else fails(for example, rational perception of an unviable future and timely action based on that perception) then the “correcting mechanism” is pushed to the bottom of the chain of causation.

    It will be our failure to find sufficent energy for useful work (food and power) coupled with a change in ambient conditions to a less hospitable range that will trigger the ELE.

    Here we are like Frodo and Sam trapped on the slopes of an erupting Mt Doom. Maybe we too can say to our closest loved ones, “I’m glad I am here with you, at the end of all things.”

    Tolkein’s ending of course presented the “eucatastrophe” – the good outcome that is delivered just when all looks utterly hopeless; a happy ending in common parlance.

    But at my age, I know happy endings only happen in fairy tales.

  12. jquiggin
    February 21st, 2008 at 22:03 | #12

    Indeed, observa, you’ve been jeering for so long that I’ve long since stopped clicking on links or trying to work out what point you think you’re making.

  13. observa
    February 21st, 2008 at 22:35 | #13

    My point is John, if GW is THE number one burning issue then why haven’t Premiers like Rann abandoned their opposition to a nuclear power station to replace Leigh Creek coal and run Brumby’s forced new desal plant rather than being sorry and waffling on about climate of opportunities and ethereal targets down the track of new parliaments. Now we have the Rudd govt beginning to sideline their over-enthusiastic Garnaut, when clear, simple and immediate policy is staring them all in the face-
    andhttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080219.wbcbud0219/BNStory/National/home
    But that doesn’t exactly fit in with their new petrol and supermarket price police policy.

  14. SJ
    February 21st, 2008 at 22:52 | #14

    Hermit Says:

    It’s hard to feel confident about the future with $100 oil, the 70% price jump in coal or the dire state of the lower Murray-Darling.

    Two of these things are not the same as the other. I get the general impression that you’d be happy with something that reduced carbon emissions. Guess what? Huge price increases in carbon containing commodities is one of those somethings.

    Of course, there was a missed opportunity a few years back for the governments of certain countries to do this as a tax, and keep the revenue internal to the country. Instead, it’s now being done as a transfer to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.

    Were these right wing governments far sighted or what?

  15. jquiggin
    February 21st, 2008 at 22:54 | #15

    Maybe because nuclear power is a stupid distraction in the Australian context, suitable only for the kind of wedge politics practised with such success by our departed leader.

    Maybe in 20 years time nuclear power will be a goer here, but there’s lots of lower hanging fruit for us, as will be shown as soon as we get a proper price for carbon.

  16. Peter Wood
    February 21st, 2008 at 23:23 | #16

    I have only read bits of the report so far. There is some interesting discussion of uncertainty on pages 10-13; it is also good that he discusses overshooting scenarios (page 20); he makes the point that an ETS should have as broad coverage as possible (page 47).

    It will be interesting to see whether in the final report whether he relates the discussion of uncertainty to the significance of overshooting scenarios. In my opinion the issue of uncertainty is one of the main reasons why ambitious stabilisation scenarios that would require overshooting need to be taken seriously.

    I like how Garnaut has a strong focus on the question of Australia’s role in getting the world to reduce its emissions, and the game theoretic questions related to achieving cooperation. He makes a good case for ‘dual carbon budgets’ (page 40).

    Strategic as well as policy considerations argue for multiple carbon budgets: one representing what Australia is prepared to do initially as part of the developed country contribution to keeping open the possibility of effective, comprehensive global agreement; and the others representing what Australia would be prepared to do in the context of effective, global action. The more effective and ambitious the agreement(s) reached, the more Australia should be prepared to move towards its full share of a fully effective agreement.

    There is no risk that an emissions reduction schedule culminating in a 60 per cent reduction from 2000 levels by 2050, will be more restrictive than would be required as Australia’s contribution to enforcement of an environmentally satisfactory global budget.

  17. Peter Wood
    February 21st, 2008 at 23:25 | #17

    The last two paragraphs in the post above are supposed to be in quotes – unfortunately xhtml or whatever it is is a bit too much for my brain at the moment..

  18. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 00:19 | #18

    Well speaking of proper price of carbon and the new climate of opportunity provided by the quantity control freaks, I’ve been doing the groundwork on solar to the grid vis a vis Ranny’s new solar feed-in scheme. Looks like it’s about 30sqm of thin film 25yr warranty Kaneka panels putting out an average of 9kwhrs/day for my spacious accommodation. Better bang per kwhr cf polycrystalline and they hold efficiency better with temp, although they take up twice the space per kw produced. That’s $13,200 net to me plus $400 for ETSA’s new feed in meter, $13600 total. Now if I put all that back into the grid at 44c/kwhr, that’s 9×0.44×365= $1445.40 pa or a 10.63% return. However it doesn’t quite work that way, because during the day the fridge, clocks, standbys, microwave, stove, etc are working and they’re using up about 20% of that generation so they say. In other words 20% of 9kwhrs/day is only returning the 22c/kwhr peak price forgone. Working that back gives a lesser return of around 9.3%, which is still pretty healthy for a risk free after tax return. Thanks struggletown, et al for bathing me in greenness. But here’s the O’s special rub and the typical problem for all such communard type controls. The O being of adequate means indulged himself and bunged on 3 phase power when expanding the leafy McMansion, just in case. Now solar panels produce single phase and that’s what the feed-in meter will read, so naturally it will be incumbent upon the O to hitch that to a dedicated phase for lighting only, or indeed a phase not used at all except if he uses 3 phase equipment, which he doesn’t. So it’s back up to that 10.63% return again, unless ETSA come up with some special 3 phase averaging meters, which is hardly worthwhile and by the time they do, no doubt the O’s special circumstance will be long forgotten. Furthermore, O’s current supplier Tru-Energy doesn’t have solar feed-in and more taxeaters will need to be employed to work out how they’ll be treated to square the ledger for AGL and Origin which do, particularly as word gets around about this new climate of opportunity. Can’t have some suppliers paying 44c/kwhr and passing that on while some don’t, or some major switching will occurr as the inevitable happens. Of course in British Columbia(link above but not for JQ) they have a different view of these things and are opting for the level playing field approach, rather than our bright new climate of opportunity.

  19. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 00:44 | #19

    You know this old RWDB keeps on resisting the inexorable urge to throw up his hands and give in to you communard, gaia, greeny types, but you do make it bloody hard with your special brand of economics and that $9500 in subsidies and RECs tax clawbacks. You’re killing me with all this kindness.

  20. mugwump
    February 22nd, 2008 at 01:55 | #20

    Maybe because nuclear power is a stupid distraction in the Australian context

    Well put. We could have a nuclear power plant up-and-running in SA within in a few years if not for the distractions created by the stupid environmentalists.

  21. Donald Oats
    February 22nd, 2008 at 03:28 | #21

    Garnaut’s interim report actually mentioned the concept of overshoot and the tie in to some paths being more risky than others in that context. That in itself was interesting to see. I can’t remember that being mentioned in other reports (eg Shergold).
    I notice quite a few people are keen on nuclear as an option in Australia. Anyone know what the going subsidies are for nuke power? Decommissioning? Transport of fuel and waste through urban/coastal areas? Locations of stations and dump sites? Water supply guarantees? Shergold’s report left a lot to be desired in regards to this.

  22. Hermit
    February 22nd, 2008 at 05:30 | #22

    In my opinion one of Garnaut’s key notions is seriously misconceived; that of paying Indonesia and PNG modest amounts to conserve forest. We want immediate emissions cuts, not lower (but still growing) emissions than otherwise would be. It’s like getting off parking fines by paying a bank robber to refrain from his trade. In an internationally co-ordinated scheme the deforesters would be penalised, thus eliminating the blackmail option. Even if the principle was valid, it would be difficult to monitor allowed and disallowed clearing. This creates the temptation not to look too closely.

    SJ – it could be that rapid depletion or price rises in fossil fuels achieves the cuts that politicians can’t. Not sure what future generations will use for energy though.

    As to real or imagined difficulties with nuclear
    by ruling it out early we’ll be at the back of the queue if we change our minds.

  23. February 22nd, 2008 at 06:01 | #23

    do we have an endless supply of yellow-cake? or are we being urged to shift to another ephemeral quick-buck ‘fix’ to what is a long term problem.

    since we are going to be running on hot-rocks, windmills and solar sooner or later, the quicker we start, the more leisurely the change-over can be.

  24. Hermit
    February 22nd, 2008 at 06:44 | #24

    al
    at the risk of thread derailment even the UIC concede only 50 years supply of yellowcake, but Australia has the lion’s share. Charity begins at home as they say. Adherents of the ‘nuclear bridge’ concept point out that fuel recycling technology could greatly improve during this time, or if not the high yield energy could be used to smelt silicon, build wind towers etc. If solar and wind is all we have it is difficult to see how a lot of heavy industry could be sustained.

    However it looks like Australia will need a crisis before building the first nuke a decade later. That’s exactly what I’m predicting. The connection with Garnaut is that we are still in port and cigars mode ..just mulling it over not thinking in crisis terms.

  25. February 22nd, 2008 at 07:10 | #25

    Maybe in 20 years time nuclear power will be a goer here, but there’s lots of lower hanging fruit for us, as will be shown as soon as we get a proper price for carbon.

    I agree entirely, but what chance Rudd raising energy prices (and therefore the price of pretty much everything) when he just declared a “war on inflation”?

  26. mugwump
    February 22nd, 2008 at 07:30 | #26

    I calculate 70 years given current known Uranium deposits, and another 100 years after that using Thorium in fast breeder reactors, both of which Australia has the lion’s share. Australia should be pushing the nuclear option for all it is worth: we’ll be the next Saudi Arabia, but without the icky politics.

    170 years should be ample time to perfect fusion.

  27. jquiggin
    February 22nd, 2008 at 07:52 | #27

    #24 As various examples have shown, inflation can be redefined to overcome this kind of problem in general. Howard did it with the GST and the US Fed is doing it right now with energy prices, even though their rise is the product of demand pressure, not an exogenous or policy shock.

    All Rudd has to do is announce that he is targeting the underlying rather than the headline CPI.

    The trickier manoeuvre will be to raise petrol prices despite the silly rhetoric of the campaign . This will take a fair bit of political skill, but I wouldn’t estimate Rudd.

    My suggested line would be to impose a carbon price at the refinery level, then suggest that the oil companies should absorb some of it in those fat margins we’ve heard so much about. This wouldn’t be entirely unjustified – both the government and the fossil fuel industry deserve some pain, for different reasons.

  28. Salient Green
    February 22nd, 2008 at 08:51 | #28

    No mention yet of the cost effectiveness of curbing and reversing population growth for mitigation of future emissions.

    Reducing emissions while allowing population growth is like braking your car with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor.

    I didn’t see anything in the review about an import duty on non-carbon constrained goods.

  29. Salient Green
    February 22nd, 2008 at 09:06 | #29

    mugwump, we allready have a fusion reactor which transmits more power than we need from a nice safe 150 million km. Those who constantly tout nuclear as a solution are, in my opinion, compensating. They should all go rock-climbing without a rope or skydiving without a parachute.

  30. Ender
    February 22nd, 2008 at 09:12 | #30

    Observa – “However it doesn’t quite work that way, because during the day the fridge, clocks, standbys, microwave, stove, etc are working and they’re using up about 20% of that generation so they say. In other words 20% of 9kwhrs/day is only returning the 22c/kwhr peak price forgone.”

    You are missing the most important part of a renewable solution – demand reduction. Turn off the standbys, buy a more efficient fridge and aircon. Renewables need energy efficiency and that is one of their greatest attractions.

    “But here’s the O’s special rub and the typical problem for all such communard type controls. The O being of adequate means indulged himself and bunged on 3 phase power when expanding the leafy McMansion, just in case. Now solar panels produce single phase and that’s what the feed-in meter will read, so naturally it will be incumbent upon the O to hitch that to a dedicated phase for lighting only, or indeed a phase not used at all except if he uses 3 phase equipment, which he doesn’t.”

    Well that is not quite true. If you have 3 phase you can connect grid tie inverters to deliver 3 phase power.

    You also have to consider that electricity is not all the same. It’s value is critically dependant on the time of day and the weather conditions. One of the greatest advantages of roof top solar is that during times of greatest demand, hot sunny days, it is producing the greatest amount of power. For people with air conditioners, and the proliferation of these is the greatest threat to the existing grid, a rooftop solar panel will relieve the struggling grid of the effort of supplying the thousands of hard working aircons by supplying most of the energy required from the solar arrays. This in turn reduces the amount of peaking power the grid operator has to find from somewhere at the height of summer.

    While your rooftop solar plant may only produce a small average power the fact that is produces the most when you actually need it is one of its greatest advantages.

  31. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 09:16 | #31

    If you keep the big picture in mind always here, you’ll keep coming back to the overarching need for almost total reliance on resource taxing. I’ve spelled out a blueprint for that previously and the various threads here show why that’s becoming more of an imperative.
    At present we’re simply cherrypicking and indulging in the whimsical, not to mention picking winners with subsidies, giving households like mine an offer we can’t refuse and at the same time enmeshing more and more administartive complexity in the process. SA has container deposit legislation, currently 5c and with returns dropping want to up that to 10c, but the ‘Seinfeld’ problem rears its head for recyclers near the borders. We’ll probably ban plastic shopping bags as a conscience salve for all the other packaging we guiltily drag home from the supermarkets. Without overall resource taxing of water (and some previous inherited handouts) cotton and rice growers carry on their merry way, ultimately forcing Adelaideans to build massive desal CO2 generators. Well nukes may be the answer here without a resource tax reflecting its ‘recyclability’, then in the next breath we’ll make a cap and trade nightmare that makes Leigh Creek coal and its downstream power resources, so bloody valuable in the longer term, carbon credit wise, that any enterprising nuke power consortium would swallow it now, just like sovereign wealth funds are beginning to stir on the Rios and BHPs right now. If silly communard quantity control freaks don’t begin to wake up to the bleeding obvious that it’s overall resource taxing stoopids, then we’re about to embark on all sorts of cap and trade handouts and the like, that will be as difficult for our grandkids to unwind as MD water licence quotas. We need to plan for level playing field, resource taxing, overall right now and stop all this whimsical, feelgood, cherrypicking drivel. Begin to tax all resource use and slowly get rid of all the other taxes to compensate. Then let market forces decide what we all do. It’s the constitution of our marketplace that’s the problem and it isn’t solved with more divine rights of elected kings and their daily whims.

  32. February 22nd, 2008 at 09:21 | #32

    Regarding #26.

    If you want to cut CO2 emissions then raising petrol prices is hardly the first thing we should do. Firstly petrol is already highly taxed whilst coal generated electricity has no significant tax (other than the normal broad based taxes ie payroll tax + company tax + GST that apply equally to low emission alternatives). Secondly any move to plug-in hybrid or all electric vehicles is pointless in CO2 terms unless the electricity sector moves away from coal. Thirdly any desire to move towards greater use of public transport is better addressed through privatisation and/or direct investment.

    p.s. Check out “nanowire battery” on Wikipedia. We may have cost effective plug-in cars much sooner than expected.

  33. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:24 | #33

    Ender, I appreciate all the issues with power reduction, particularly as we have the peakiest summer demand in Oz ans smart meter tech, etc can help deal with that. When you say

    ‘You are missing the most important part of a renewable solution – demand reduction. Turn off the standbys, buy a more efficient fridge and aircon. Renewables need energy efficiency and that is one of their greatest attractions.’

    energy conservation is best promoted by overall price(ie truer social cost) and we should all face that same social cost curve, rather than some being more equal than others.

    Actually I’ve just spoken to another solar installer in the know and the issue of gross vs net metering of solar output is yet to be decided before July1. Clearly the industry wants gross metering for its clients.

  34. wilful
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:25 | #34

    observa, has anyone here ever actually strongly disagreed with you over carbon taxes?

    You keep banging on quite boringly and inaccurately about how it must be some evil plan of ‘teh Left’ to introduce subsidies and rebates etc. Why are you going on about this crap, no one really disagrees with you.

  35. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:47 | #35

    Ender, I appreciate all the issues with power reduction, particularly as we have the peakiest summer demand in Oz ans smart meter tech, etc can help deal with that. When you say

    ‘You are missing the most important part of a renewable solution – demand reduction. Turn off the standbys, buy a more efficient fridge and aircon. Renewables need energy efficiency and that is one of their greatest attractions.’

    energy conservation is best promoted by overall price(ie truer social cost) and we should all face that same social cost curve, rather than some being more equal than others. Or to put it another way, subsidising me with cheap solar power allows me to be more profligate, although it’s true that would ultimately be offset by struggletown’s increased sacrifice.

    Actually I’ve just spoken to another solar installer in the know and the issue of gross vs net metering of solar output is yet to be decided before July 1. Clearly the industry wants gross metering for its clients. Hear, hear!

  36. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:50 | #36

    “Why are you going on about this crap, no one really disagrees with you.”
    Funny how that’s not what we’re getting when it’s all been so agreeable. Should we all take to the streets or what?

  37. gordon
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:54 | #37

    I’m sort of looking at Garnaut (which by the way has its own website here) in passing while doing other things, so I might do a few comments over a few days. I was delighted (read amazed) to see the recurrence of Shergold’s “trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries� as a category of emitters to get special treatment. Sure, let’s give the major emitters special treatment, that’ll speed up the process of emissions reductions no end!

    I’m impressed also with Garnaut’s ingenuity in finding ways to reduce Australia’s carbon reduction target under virtually any scheme. One trick is to try to set targets having regard to per capita emissions, on the ground that Australia’s population is increasing through immigration whereas Europe’s isn’t, so over time a per-capita target will be easier for Australia to meet!

    Another wheeze is to claim credit (via a carbon trading mechanism) for emissions reductions somewhere else, like Indonesia or PNG. While you might think this is part and parcel of any global emissions trading scheme, Garnaut has come up with a suggestion for “supportive regional agreements� (p.42) under which Australia would be “showing willingness to provide developing countries with greater financial opportunity and assistance in return for them adopting appropriate targets� and over which Australia could exercise “more influence�. The proposed agreements sound like a deal between Australia and the Govts. of Indonesia and PNG under which Australia can buy an exclusive option over their emissions reductions (mostly from slower deforestation) at an agreed price. So much for global carbon trading and the supposed economic advantages of an open market for emissions permits!

  38. observa
    February 22nd, 2008 at 10:55 | #38

    Naturally I’d just like to know before signing up for that solar to the grid thingy.

  39. February 22nd, 2008 at 11:02 | #39

    ‘socialism-averse’ readers ares advised to skip this post.

    roof-top solar cells are a social good, and should therefore be paid for by society. new houses must have a minimum area fitted, and a bonus paid for more. old houses should be retro-fitted at public expense. owners should volunteer their homes to be fitted. a bonus should be offered to compensate for whatever trouble arises from having a workman on the roof.

    power resulting should be fed into the grid, not the house. or, the home owner can pay for the installation and put the feed inside the meter.

    this won’t solve the base load question, but removing half the consumer load must be a good thing. in the long term, diffused power production has benefits over central production, line losses and damage limitation come to mind.

    consequently, the gummint should get busy in this area.

    solipsist readers may now stop squinting.

  40. February 22nd, 2008 at 11:17 | #40
  41. February 22nd, 2008 at 11:19 | #41

    Bugger, I really wish I could close that link tag above. My kingdom for an Edit button!

  42. gordon
    February 22nd, 2008 at 12:53 | #42

    Coal liquids? Synthetic coal-derived petroleum substitutes are pretty awful from a greenhouse point of view.

    This is from the Wikipedia article on the Fischer-Tropsch process: “Recent work by the United States’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that full fuel cycle greenhouse gas emissions for coal-based synfuels are nearly twice as high as their petroleum-based equivalent. Emissions of other pollutants are vastly increased as well, although many of these emissions can be captured during production. Emerging Carbon sequestration technologies have been suggested as a future mitigation strategy for greenhouse gas emissions”.

    The article discusses how the US military is beginning to use these synthetics, just as the Germans did in WWII. Obviously, peak oil trumps greenhouse for military applications.

  43. February 22nd, 2008 at 13:52 | #43

    #40

    Carbonsink – I agree that if you want to cut CO2 efficiently the price you place on it should be the same for coal, gas petrol etc. However the existing fuel tax regime already places a price on CO2 emissions from petrol. As such there is no point adding further taxes or costs to petrol until such time as the taxes on coal, gas etc have been brought up to par.

  44. mugwump
    February 23rd, 2008 at 00:13 | #44

    roof-top solar cells are a social good, and should therefore be paid for by society.

    If so, why wouldn’t the government just build vast solar collectors in the desert at taxpayer expense and pipe the electricity to the cities? That’s got to be way more efficient than a patchwork of rooftop solar cells.

  45. Ian Gould
    February 23rd, 2008 at 02:50 | #45

    “That’s got to be way more efficient than a patchwork of rooftop solar cells.”

    Ever hear of transmission losses?

  46. mugwump
    February 23rd, 2008 at 06:06 | #46

    “Ever hear of transmission losses?”

    Having worked for the local electricity utility a couple of summers as a student, yes. Transmission loss is inversely proportional to the square of transmission voltage, hence why long-distance transmission lines are high-voltage.

    There’s plenty of sunny, empty space reasonably close to most Australian population centers, so transmission efficiency shouldn’t be an issue.

    As for the efficiency I was talking about: that’s one of economies of scale. Installing, maintaining, and negotiating access to a gazillion solar roof panels spread out over the city will be ridiculously inefficient by comparison with a centralized facility.

  47. February 25th, 2008 at 15:53 | #47

    Regarding #44.

    More here: http://catallaxyfiles.com/?p=3445

  48. February 27th, 2008 at 12:49 | #48

    Gittins on Garnaut in today’s SMH:
    Hitting the ‘non-existent’ limits

    Limits to growth? Heresy! This man is not an economist!

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