Australia isn’t doing its part for the global climate …

… Sooner or later we’ll have to pay our share. That’s the headline for my latest piece in The Guardian. The more important message is in the “standfirst” text that runs before the article proper.

The cost of responding to climate change is trivial compared with the benefits

To spell this out, here are the concluding paras of the article

The good news is that the cost of an emergency response, while large compared with an efficient policy, will be very small in relation to an economy with an annual output, by 2030, of $2tn a year or more. To see this, we can turn to the estimates prepared for the government’s election campaign by Brian Fisher of BAEconomics.

These worst-case numbers, higher than the costs of the most radical emergency measures, amount to around $50bn a year, or 2.5% to 3% of national income. That’s a lot of money – like adding a new program on the scale of the NBN or the submarine contract every year for five to 10 years.

At the same time, it’s small enough that it would barely be noticed against the background of the general fluctuations in the economy. The average household has lost far more from the wage stagnation of the last decade. As far as the government budget is concerned, the likely impact is comparable to that of increasing health expenditures arising from our increased life expectancy and the development of new treatments.

More importantly, the cost of an emergency response to climate change is trivial compared with the benefits of stabilising the global climate at a level that is livable for humans and the natural environment. We are currently shirking our contribution to this global public good, and free riding on the efforts of others. But sooner or later we will have to pay our share.

35 thoughts on “Australia isn’t doing its part for the global climate …

  1. Hello John,
    Thanks for your constant or persistent ?analysis of the coal and climate change issues.

    What you write helps me to understand the economic perspectives better. I was taken by your recent title in the Guardian …sooner or later we’ll have to pay our share.. It reminded me of a similar thought ( I think attributed to Mark Twain or R L Stephenson?) ‘ Sooner or later we will all sit down to a banquet of consequences’
    I’m feeling I won’t be able pay nearly enough and the banquet will be indigestible,

    Congratulations on your new book,

  2. Another good case for some hope. I’m concerned that rational argument and logic has passed it’s used-by-date in political discourse. Reality will surely start to assert itself at some point and the excuses for doing nothing will be harder to maintain.

  3. I am having trouble relating your post to this post by Physisist Manuel Garcia Jr. Your post seems much more optomistic than his outlook.
    Then more recently there is this.
    Yes one might be tempted to say that because the earth’s climate system is non linear we can not say that we are doooooooooomed.
    But there is at least one joker that is clearly a loaded and cocked gun pointed at the head of humanity. That is the carbon and methane locked up in the trunda near the Arctic Circle.
    If humanities carbon budget is already in a deficit level then a EMERGENCY response should have ALREADY been started. Of course most humans have not admitted that are carbon budget is already in deficit because that would mean humans have two choices, continue with what we are doing, which is slow change and certianly die, or take drastic action and probably die anyways because we did not change fast enough in the first place.
    It was easy for everyone to pretend that we had this third option of simply just replacing our carbon fuels with solar and or wind power and reducing our meat consumption and reducing population growth because that was sort of the middle way between the extremists on both sides of the debate. But I pointed out way back in 2003 in a debate on Information Clearinghouse that taking the middle path is no more likely to be the correct path than one of the extremes.
    Furthermore the reason that the middle was we need to transform our power grid as fast as possible was because that is how the ruling powers framed the debate. They knew that they could get away with that because in WW2 they framed the debate as, should we invade Italy or France after North Africa. No mention was made of the correct answer which was that Sweden should have been protected from the Nazis (OK occupied by the allies like Iran was). The rulers were gung ho about italy and France because that is where the communists were.
    The reason that the rulers framed the debate about global warming the way that they did was because they could clearly see that the consequences to them of successfully dealing with the problem would lead to their lose of relative position. The rulers decisively decided that it was better to be dead than red, or well read. They tricked us and most people have not figured it out yet.
    I would say that if someone has figured out that humanity has been tricked such a person would say, yep we may as well just continue on as usual because the chances of success are so small at this point humanity should enjoy what time it has left. Or someone how knows that we have been tricked should be saying something along the lines of, yes our chances are now slim. But the consequences are failure are so horrific that we have to impose martial law, shut down the world’s economy except for only the most crucial goods and services. We have to outlaw private automobiles. We have to outlaw family pets. We have to outlaw more than 2 children per family. We have to encourage 1 child per family.
    We have to shut down the airline industry. We have to take some sort of action to counteract the rise in tempretures that will occur once we shut down the airline industry. We have to redesign agriculture and fast. We have to shut down all military activity other than maritial counseling.

  4. The linked article says

    “At the same time, the existing coal fleet will need to be closed down as rapidly as possible.”

    Closed by whom? Clapped out Liddell is one thing, and it’s closing anyway in a few years, but the newer coal fired power stations, like Kogan Creek, are barely a decade old and have a working life into the mid 2040s. And they have no evident trouble competing with renewables in the NEM. Of course if we had a carbon price things would be different, but any government present and future is as likely to bring back one of those as it is to order compulsory injection into school children of the gonorrhea bacteria.

  5. +1 Christina.

    JQ, imho a couple of graphs would have allowed for both impact and ameliorating effects to be understood visually.

    I do not believed in “we’re doomed”, but I would like a commet JQ, on the social externalities of;
    “These worst-case numbers, higher than the costs of the most radical emergency measures, amount to around $50bn a year, or 2.5% to 3% of national income. That’s a lot of money – like adding a new program on the scale of the NBN or the submarine contract every year for five to 10 years.”.

    A lot of money – taken of forsaken from other programs?

    Economics shows even an emergency is doable, but what effect and costs on society of welfare, healthcare etc?

    Maybe technological recycling to the rescue?
    “The economist Michael Munger also argues that it is a bad idea to leave waste disposal to the free market.
    “If you charge people what it costs to safely dispose of their rubbish, you tempt them to dump it illegally instead, and that is much worse.”

    “Or perhaps technology will come to the rescue.
    “One UK start-up says that it can turn mixed plastics – notoriously difficult to recycle – back into the oil from where they came.
    “A mall in Australia recently gave a debut to an artificial intelligence-enabled trash can which senses what is put in it, and sorts it accordingly.

    State-of-the-art sorting facilities use robots, lasers, magnets and air jets to separate different recyclable streams.”

    But less people working… robot tax now please…
    “By using machine learning, computer vision, and a network of sensors, TrashBot helps to reduce wastes, in an ecologically friendly environment and lessen sanitation workers’ burden. ”
    View at

  6. “Pay our share”? Don’t you mean do our share? Paying is not the problem.

  7. Smith9:
    “any government present and future is as likely to bring back one of those as it is to order compulsory injection into school children of the gonorrhea bacteria”

    Wait, are we talking public school or private?

  8. all depends Smithy,

    Ross Garnaut suggests there are reasons to think Solar PV costs will be $30/ MWh by 2025.

    If this eventuates then maybe old coal won’t be producing as much as electricity as some think

  9. nottrampis

    On those numbers there will be no new coal fired power stations (unless Canavan gets his way and they are subsidised to buggery). But the existing ones will be able to carry on.

  10. While it’s realistic to assume the LNP won’t do anything in the short-term to reduce emissions or facilitate a transition away from fossil fuels they may have to in the medium term. The current consensus that the ALP lost the “climate change” election and Australians are wedded to coal will collapse eventually (probably with the next “rare” weather event).
    The government with its thin majority doesn’t have a strong mandate for anything with the exception of maintaining the status quo taxation arrangements (also to collapse in the longer term when reality bites). The disarray and incompetence that has been its energy policy accompanied by the infighting within the coalition will continue to damage the party and the urgency to do something will continue to grow from the public, who can change their attitudes a lot faster than the politicians and media give them credit for. Maybe even the moderates within the LNP will grow a spine, although I won’t be holding my breath.

  11. Where they socialise the loss…
    “unless Canavan gets his way and they are subsidised to buggery)”

  12. If Australia cut its emissions to zero there would be no effect whatsoever on climate. The world’s big emitters, China, India and the US are increasing their emissions each year by more than Australia’s total emissions, so no matter how much we cut emissions, it would still have no effect on climate.

    There is a lot to be said for Australia doing nothing on climate until the main emitters cut their emissions. Doing nothing on climate would lower power prices so our economy can become more competitive, employing more people and increasing wages.

  13. “We are currently shirking our contribution to this global public good, and free riding on the efforts of others. But sooner or later we will have to pay our share.”

    We’ve been free-riding and getting away with it ever since the negotiation of the Kyoto agreement over 20 years ago. What is going to change and who is going to make us pay our share? Everybody who is big enough and ugly enough to force us to do something if they were of a mind to is either inwardly focused (the Europeans) or doesn’t care what we do/don’t do (the Americans) or approves of what we do/don’t do (the Chinese).

  14. I would have thought that as a country we would be sufficiently mature to formulate our own energy policy without having to take guidance from China, India or the US.

  15. Tony, you are really wrong. You are wrong about China’s emissions. You are wrong about the US’s emissions. You are wrong about India’s emissions. Where are you getting your information from? To be that wrong it would have to be some sort of joke site or one that just contains made up numbers or something.

    I mean, just think about what you’re saying. Australia’s population is roughly 8% of the United States and you think their CO2 emissions are increase at a rate of 8% a year in a time of improving vehicle fuel efficiency and expanding renewable generation? Clearly that doesn’t make sense.

  16. Ronald says: “Tony, you are really wrong.” Wrong and mendacity is showing as you Tony said: “If Australia cut its emissions to zero there would be no effect whatsoever on climate.”.

    What is the debating term for an absolute nullification of an obvious fact Tony?

    From your comment I perceive you won’t care about facts yet here are some for you. A retraction would be nice Tony. Go on. Or will you continue with “no effect whatsoever on climate.”

    Even an abbott in an abby knows:
    “Australia has one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world, with 0.3% of the world’s population it produces 1.3% of the world’s greenhouse gases ”

    And our potential 14 coal projects would see 50% of China’s 1400mt.

    “But emissions from Australian coal growth would be eclipsed by proposed coal production in western China, projected to result in 1400 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions by 2020.”

    Know Tony, we are effective.

  17. Thank you for your reply Ronald,

    The information comes from the International Energy Agency and the ABC.

    “global carbon emissions reach a record high in 2018″

    The report said coal use accounted for 10 billion tonnes of carbon emissions in 2018, with China, India and the US accounting for 85 per cent of the net increase in emissions.”

    Australia’s emissions are about 1% of the global total. Yet total world emissions went up up 4% in 2017 with the US , India and China contributing 85% of that increase.

  18. I see that the new minister, Angus Taylor, is using the ‘per capita emissions are falling’ argument and sticking with it.

    This style of argument that has been resisted by the Treasurer, who has successfully avoided acknowledging the per capita recession.

  19. Smithy,

    New coal costs will be around $80/MWh. the plants take between 8-10 to build.
    It would need a 50 year public subsidy to well electricity to retailers.

    There are obvious reasons why no-one wants to build any.

  20. Ok now that everyone agrees that we are doomed because we are all sitting in a bus headed towards this place:
    I think that I should take the time to outline some additional measures that need to be taken this minute, worldwide.
    1.) The law enforcement authorities in each country on the planet need to search every single home.
    They need to remove every iron and ironing board. They need to remove every dryer. People can keep their washing machines for the time being as it is my judgement that these devices provide a good return on their energy usage. But since the world economy needs to be shut down most people will have a lot more time on their hands. People no longer employed because their employment was not in some crucial field such as food production or emergency services or the education of children should probably have to go back to washing their cloths by hand.
    2.) Every deep freeze needs to be confiscated except for people living in remote locations.
    3.) A study needs to be done to see what how much energy will be saved by replacing all previously manufactured refrigorators and fridge-freezer combinations with a maximaly energy effecient small refrigorator that has a freezer comparment large enough for an ice tray and perhaps one other item.
    Again with exceptions for people living in remote locations.

    Now I can imagine that a European might bitch and say look these household appliances that run on electricity are not the problem as we can create a fully functional grid powered by renewable energy.

    Wrong Wrong Wrong. That electrical grid needs to have space made available for to do things that it was not asked to to before. For example to run alot more trains and street cars. And to power prison electric chairs for those small time war criminals and profiteers who are not famous enough to suffer more public punishments. Such as those involved in the punishing of the whistle blower Chelsea Manning.

    I am assuming that a debate about the death penalty is not grounds for censorship. But maybe I am not talking about the death penalty. My reference to electric chairs could really be a reference to chairs that will carry very old prisoners around the prison yard because they have been in prison for such a long time that they are to frail to walk.

  21. Here is a topical link to the website of Bill Mitchell of MMT fame.
    Because my comments are no longer allowed to appear for some reason on his site I have linked here so that I can make a comment on his conclusions of the report that supports my idea that the world economy needs to be shut down.
    1.) High inflation is acceptable
    2.) Inflation can be fought with
    A.) Rationing
    B.) Tax Policy
    C. Additonal measures that I can not figure out by myself
    3.) It seems to me that subsidies would likely add to inlationary pressures yet subsidies can be used anyways to protect the most vulnerable.

    4.) All of this leads to a deep philisophical question. It is the question of people getting what they deserve. In short one could say that some people deserve to suffer because they have acted irresponsibly. Others deserve to be rewarded because they have acted responsibly. The crux of the problem is that in the end there is no objective standard by which to measure what someone deserves or does not deserve.
    Humanity can not afford to dewell on this problem now because if we do not survive we can no longer try to answer the micro economic question of what someone deserves any more than we can answer the macro economic question of socialism or capitalism and if socialism what kind.

    Hmmm, maybe that it a good enough reason to pray for the extinction of humanity. So we are not faced with answering those difficult to answer questions that lead to conflict and frustration. Maybe it would be resonsible to bitch and complain and go on strike at every opportunity to try and sabotage any attempt to rescue humanity.

  22. Ok below I have posted some of the comments from Bill Mitchell’s web site that trash my point of view.
    I have responses that trash their trash. But I will refine from writing them for the moment to see if anyone else has any comments about this issue.

    Mr Shigemitsu
    Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 21:16
    “Pathways… …would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems (high confidence). These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options…”

    OK, for a start, how on earth are these massive and radical transformations to infrastructure and industry going to be implemented when everyone in the country is working just one fifth of their current hours each week?

    As far as a tripling of weekly leisure time is concerned, a walk on the beach is perhaps the *only* leisure activity that *doesn’t* also require workers on the supply side – even parks and wilderness need tending, maintenance, and the transport to arrive at them, let alone the labour-intensive work involved in the production of mediated entertainment such as film, theatre, TV, or leisure activities like food and drink consumption. Even the production and repair of musical instruments and their consumables requires labour!

    One person’s spending is another’s income, as we know – and that applies to leisure as much as in the consumption of manufactured goods.

    Can they really see banks and building societies, energy companies, and transport and food suppliers reducing their nominal prices by 80% – or alternatively, employers effectively increasing their wage payments by 500%?

    In addition, the abdication of any attempt to mitigate the social effects of existing un- and under-employment, or offer any hope of improvement to those suffering from them, is appalling. Scratch a hippy – find a fascist.

    This must be a joke – but it really isn’t funny.

    Mike Hall
    Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 21:43
    “.. OK, for a start, how on earth are these massive and radical transformations to infrastructure and industry going to be implemented when everyone in the country is working just one fifth of their current hours each week?.. ”

    Nail on head, Mr Shigemitsu. That is the real challenge. We can always make the ‘money’ work.

    Crippling our human labour capacity at the very time we need it most is not the answer, even besides the rather obvious ‘nominal’ flaws Bill’s pointing out.

    I have to wonder sometimes if humanity actually does have the cognitive capacity to survive 😦

  23. Just a short comment that does not deal directly with shutting down the economy but with the idea of a Green New Deal which will lead to a sustainable economy.
    To put the question in to a military-economic perspective we are in Germany, metaphorically speaking and it is not 1941. It is not even 1943. It is January of 1945. Trying to make a transition to a sustainable economy now, without shutting down the economy first is like Germany dividing its forces and trying to capture Lennigrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad all in the same offensive. It could not be done in 1942. It was way to late by January of 1945.
    If humanity has a chance to make a successful transition, it can not do it while letting people fly across Continents for a vacation. It can not do while ever more a larger cruise ships are being built to allow people to go on a Carribean or south Pacific Cruise.
    1.)No at this point we have to think small not big. We have to concentrate on building a solar powered electrical system that can support an electrical powered transportation system. While everything else gets put on life support, figuratively speaking.
    2,)Tranforming the way that humanity does agriculture should actually not require a large input of material resources if I understand correctly what needs to be done.
    3.) The confiscation of irons, dryers, and automobiles (and firearm firing pins) will provide a huge resivoir of natural resources with out the need to mine these materials.

    (Screw you second amendment nut case. We will not be taking your guns, only the fireing pin.)

  24. Calmly surrender or to revel that is the question. Another question is are there a lot of people who are censoring themselves and not saying what they really think about global warming?
    I think that if we want to give those under 20 hope that they can have a future, whether or not they really have one, I think that those who are in a position to deliver the saffron should deliver the saffron. Then they should carry on with the proposals that I outlined above. It is only be doing those things that those under 20 can be lead to believe that they have some reason to actually go to school.

  25. Sorry Tony, when you wrote, “The world’s big emitters, China, India and the US are increasing their emissions each year by more than Australia’s total emissions,” I thought you meant, “The world’s big emitters, China, India and the US are increasing their emissions each year by more than Australia’s total emissions.” But now I see you actually meant, “The world’s big emitters, China, India and the US are increasing their emissions each year by more than Australia’s total emissions.”

    (Someone who is good at English can tell me which way would have made sense for me to have interpreted it.)

    Anyway, what you wrote is still not correct even when interpreting it the way you intended. What you wrote isn’t happening. China, the United States, and Indian aren’t increasing their combined emissions by more than Australia’s total emissions each year. You are looking at just an uptick in the emissions. You’ve got to look at what happened the year or years before and — if you can get information — what’s happened so far this year.

    And when you wrote, “no matter how much we cut emissions, it would still have no effect on climate.” That’s wrong. Every molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere has the same effect on global heating. Trust me, the atmosphere doesn’t look at them and say, “Oh, that’s molecule’s from Australia. I won’t let that one absorb specific bands of infrared radiation because their population is only 25 million. But that CO2 molecule’s from Russia, it totally counts.”

    Now I’ve put it that way I’m sure you can see how silly your suggestion was and we can all have a good laugh about it.

  26. Hi Ronald,

    Thank you for the multiple times you reiterated my comment above. Someone famous once said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

    The assertion is clear, if Australia cut emissions by 100%, AGW would proceed unabated and climate change will continue regardless. The only way to stop climate change is to have a policy that can actually curb the emissions of China, India and the US. The figures categorically show the rest of the world is not reducing emissions.

    “You are looking at just an uptick in the emissions. You’ve got to look at what happened the year or years before”
    Ronald, thank you for pointing out a cherry pick in my data, but unlike the famous hockey stick; the trend figures conclusively back my assertion.

    Looking at the longer term International Energy Agency (IEA) data from the graph in the ABC article, it clearly shows total world emissions will continue to increase no matter what Australia does. So, until the rest of the world pulls their weight, Australia can have no effect stopping climate change and it makes clear economic sense for Australia to do nothing.

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) graph in the ABC article shows total world carbon emissions growing from 20.1 billion tonnes in 1990 to 33.1 billion tonnes in 2018. Total world carbon emissions have been growing at a compound annual rate of growth (CARG) of about 2% per year since 1990, or a total increase in world carbon emissions of approximately 622,000,000 tonnes pa in 2018.

    At present, Australia only emits 1.3% pa or approximately 404,300,000 tonnes pa of carbon emissions.

    If Australia permanently closed its economy and shut down carbon emissions 100%, in 2019 the increase in total world carbon emissions would still be approximately 217,700,000 tonnes (622,000,000-404,300,000). In 2020 with the Australian economy permanently shut down with 0 emissions, total world carbon emissions would still grow by 626,340,000 tonnes. This is more than the growth of emissions in 2018 with no shut down of the Australian economy.

    The facts are clear, if Australia cut emissions by 100%, AGW would proceed unabated and climate change will continue much the same. It is best for the Australian economy for Australia to do nothing until the big emitters, China, India and the US can be reined in.

  27. Tony,
    It is true that any efforts that Australia makes towards solving the world’s global warming problem count for unless supreme sacrifices are also made by the USA, China, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Brazil Iran, Indonesia and so on. But Australia can play an important role in two respects.
    First of all, why should developing countries give up their goal of developing and industrial economy when those countries that are already industrial countries seek to maintain their industrial ecomies?
    Because of that it seems to me that those in industrial economies had choice. It seems to me that it is likely that it is now to late to make that choice. The choice was for industrialized countries to give up their auto based economies, and their air conditioners, minimize their home heating use, euthanize their pets, eat a lot less meat and when meat was eaten make it for the most part chicken and rabbit with some veal. I do not imagine that the dairy industry could have been completely shut down and a by product of the dairy industry would be veal. Mothers could have attempted when practical to breast feed their children longer before switching to cows millk.
    Those would have been first steps not to mention the verry obvious of maximizing investment in to wind and solar power, or just solar power, and continuing research on nuclear fussion power. Naturally if industrialized countries would have made this choice the oil field of Saudi Arabia and every where else would have become irreverent. Therefore no excuse for the existence of a US empire, a massive US military, and especially a massive US Navy.
    By not chooseing to power down sooner the leaders of the western world chose to live well until such time as the world heats up enough that there are massive crop failures and the die offs of marine life.
    They convinced enough people that the threat was distant enough that science would come up with solutions in the mean time.
    The western industrialized countries make the rules of the world economy. The US makes the rules for the western industrialized countries. China might be moving up in the world but it has a long way to go to catch up with the USA plus all of its allies. Despite what the common wisdom tells us there is no balance of power in the USA between the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch. The US military controls all three of the branches. There is no check on the power of US military leaders. Any events that occur that might indicate otherwise are simply staged to prevent the world from figuring out who is in charge.
    Under such conditions the leadership of Australia, or any faction that wants to become the leadership of Australia has to decide if there is still a large enough chance that the world can be saved to make it worthwihile to try.
    If the answer to that question turns out to be Yes, then the only thing that Australia can do is to gift Saffron to all US military officers when ever they have contact with them. Just to make sure that those on the recieving end of the Saffron get the message it shold be reinforced with Barberries.

  28. I guess that I meant to say little to nothing there up above where it is missing.

  29. I imagine that the only place that a person could find both Saffron and Barberries would be in an Iranian import store, maybe an Afghan one too. But I am nost sure about that.

  30. I imagine that the only place that person could find both Saffron and Barberries would be at an Iranian Import store, maybe an Afghan one too. But I am not sure about that.

  31. Here is a comment by Louis Proyect on Counterpunch. HIs closing comments in the book review about standards of living and carrying capacity closely align with what I wrote about at 12:34 am.

  32. Tony – “The facts are clear, if Australia cut emissions by 100%, AGW would proceed unabated and climate change will continue much the same.”

    Australia is not proceeding alone – it is one of many nations that are (to varying degrees) reducing emissions. If our contribution to emissions (leaving aside fossil fuel exports) – is (only?)1% then that 1% should be our goal.

    Around a quarter or more of global emissions come from “insignificant” nations with emissions similar or less – far too much together to rate as insignificant. Should all those nations refuse to act using the same (flawed and ethically bereft) logic Australia’s leading opponents of climate action use then we have no working agreements at all. Which only appears like a victory for Australia so long as you don’t accept decades of top level expert advice about how serious the problem can become if unchecked.

    Most of those “insignificant” nations are not amongst the highest per capita emitters in the world – as a high per capita nation we should do as much as we can, not the least we can get away with. I think it takes a lack of acceptance of how damaging and costly global failure on this is likely to be – science denial – to so willingly support ongoing responsibility avoidance and engage in the systematic undermining of what unanimity the global community has managed to get.

    We should be doing the most we can in combination with ongoing efforts to negotiate more effective international agreements, not less. Our government should be entering into international negotiations in good faith – something I don’t think we have been seeing so far. Our nation’s negotiation seem to me to be about doing the least that can be gotten away with and has included behind the scenes efforts to engage other nations in undermining the goals, the emissions targets and any hard won unanimity.


    The Australian economy would be $550 billion better off by 2030 through reducing carbon emissions to stem the impact of damaging climate change, a new report has found.

    Described as the first comparison of the costs of emission reduction relative to the potential damages from climate change under current policy settings, the report by the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute at the University of Melbourne finds Australia is on track for $535 billion in economic damage within a decade, if global emissions continue at their current rate.

    The cost – growing to more than $5 trillion in cumulative damages by 2100 – can be avoided with a “negligible” impact on GDP of 0.14 per cent, estimated at $35.5 billion from 2019 to 2030.

    The report’s authors say the costs are conservative and exclude the bulk of the impact from floods and bush fires, pollution, damage to environmental assets and biodiversity losses.

    “Overall, the costs of emissions reduction are far less than the damages of inaction – even with modelling underestimating damages from climate change and overestimating the costs of emissions reduction,” the report says. …

    Indicative potential damages from the status quo add up to $115 billion for Victoria and $171 billion for Queensland by 2030.

    The net present benefit is $16.2 billion, at a discount rate of 7 per cent, and finds even when the benefit of reduced emissions is excluded, the transition to a low-carbon economy would generate benefits outweighing the costs at 2.8 to 1…

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