The announcement by the UK government (Conservative-LibDem coalition) that it would aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent, relative to 1990 levels, by 2025 has had a significant impact on the Australian debate and is likely to have a greater impact as time goes on.
In part this reflects the fact that, understandably if not entirely justifiably, Australians pay a lot more attention to news and ideas from the UK and US than from, say, France or Germany. The British announcement cuts the ground from under many of the claims being made by the denial/delusion/delay lobby in Australia.
* The idea that “Australia risks getting out in front of the world” is obviously false. Even assuming we get a carbon tax, leading on to an emissions trading scheme later this decade, we will be a decade or so behind the UK and other EU countries, which introduced an ETS in 2005
* The view that it is impossible, in a modern economy to reduce emissions substantially without a radical reduction in economic activity is obviously not shared by the UK government which (unlike the critics) has actually done the analytical work required to show that large reductions can be achieved at very little economic cost, and is now implementing the required policy. I’ve demonstrated this point over and over on this blog, and the negative responses have amounted to little more than “La, la, I’m not listening”, but hopefully a practical demonstration will have more effect
* As part of the longstanding intellectual trade with the UK, we get a regular flow of delusionist speakers like Lord Monckton out here (fair’s fair, we did send them Clive and Germaine after all). Demolition jobs like this one, from a leading British Tory, might make their audiences a bit more sceptical
Like Australia, Britain has a Climate Change Committee, but unlike us, theirs is already in full swing. The recent reports concern targets for the Fourth Climate period, from 2023 to 2027. The Committee has already prepared carbon budgets for three earlier five-year period, with budgets set at least three periods in advance. The first three carbon budgets run from 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022. These apply to the “non-traded sector” which falls outside the EU-wide ETS
Astute readers will have noticed that the first of these periods is nearly over, and wonder how it went. The answer is that, in part because of the GFC, emissions are well below the target level. The response has not been to relax but to tighten targets even further