Australia to the World: 'You Start -- We'll Catch Up"

Tue, 2006-10-31 08:18Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

Australia to the World: 'You Start -- We'll Catch Up"

Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, won't begin to cut its own carbon emissions until China and India begin to cut theirs first – despite the fact that the Kyoto Protocol calls on industrial countries to begin the process and developing countries to join in a subsequent round.

Previous Comments

That is not what the BBC piece says.   It says nothing about cutting emissions, it is about the signing the Kyoto Protocol.  Australia is actually on target to meet its Kyoto commitments from the negotiation, notwithstanding that it did not ratify it.   Kyoto doesn’t even call for Australia to reduce emissions from 1990 anyway, the targets were for a modest increase.

Wrongheaded as they may be, the statements about growth in China’s power sector versus Australian power capacity are factually accurate.

Re: “Australia is actually on target to meet its Kyoto commitments from the negotiation.”

Ottawacon, do you have any proof of that allegation?  Can you cite me a source or two which confirms this? 

Here you go  http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/projections/

 Obviously, cannot definitively confirm a future event, but this page shows Government projections, and I am not aware of any controversy about the numbers.  Lots of controversy about policy and Kyoto, but not the numbers.   The States have been very active in developing a wide range of GHG mitigation policies, and the Australian Federal government has done quite a bit as well - and not much love lost between the two levels.

 Froma Canadian point of view, somewhat embarassing.

It appears as if the reductions are not really occurring.  The Aussies seem to share the fixation with “energy intensity” jargon to which the Harper and Bush Administration refer.  While there are reductions in “energy intensity” (GHG emissions per GDP or GHG emissions per capita), there is still an overall increase in national GHG emissions.

You do realise, Ottawacon, don’t you, that “energy intensity” reductions will not result in GHG reductions.  You do realise, don’t you, that it is a cop-out to make Harper’s and Bush’s fossil fuel friends happy.  You do realise, don’t you, that it makes the public think something is being done when, in reality, no definitive steps are being taken to combat this urgent issue.

Don’t be patronizing, or I will respond in kind.

 First, the Australian federal government chooses to state its targets by intensity, and reductions accordingly.  Nonetheless, Australia is more or less on track to reach what its Kyoto targets (absolute) would have been - which as I noted in the first place, allowed for an increase.  However, take a look at South Australia or New South Wales climate change offices, and you will see their reductions stated in absolute tonnes.

Second, analytically speaking your claim about intensity targets is ridiculous.  If we say current intensity is 1.0, a reduction to 0.99 will not result in absolute reductions.  A reduction to 0.01 will result in far more dramatic reductions than anything envisioned in Kyoto, or any other discussion I am aware of.

Intensity targets are flawed because they require a massive amount of bureaucratic work to arrive at, meaningless or otherwise.  Worse, they lack transparency - it is very difficult to know if there are real reductions occurring.

Politically, I agree with your view that the reason one chooses an intensity target has normally been to utilize this inherent lack of transparency to avoid putting a real constraint in place. 

It’s sad to think of Kyoto as being reduced to a game of chicken.   Someone show some leadership. Sheesh.