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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Garnaut Final Report

Ross Garnaut has released the final report of the Garnaut Review. The bottom line with respect to emissions targets is as follows:

Australia should indicate at an early date its preparedness to play its
full, proportionate part in an effective global agreement that ‘adds up’ to
either a 450 or a 550 emissions concentrations scenario, or to a corresponding
point between. Australia’s full part for 2020 in a 450 scenario would be a
reduction of 25 per cent in emissions entitlements from 2000 levels, or
one-third from Kyoto compliance levels over 2008–12, or 40 per cent per capita
from 2000 levels. For 2050, reductions would be 90 per cent from 2000 levels (95
per cent per capita).

Australia’s full part for 2020 in a 550 scenario would be a reduction
in entitlements of 10 per cent from 2000 levels, or 17 per cent from Kyoto
compliance levels over 2008–12, or 30 per cent per capita from 2000. For 2050,
reductions would be 80 per cent per capita from 2000 levels or 90 per cent per

If there is no comprehensive global agreement at Copenhagen in 2009, Australia, in the context of an agreement amongst developed countries only, should commit to reduce its emissions by 5 per cent (25 per cent per capita) from 2000 levels by 2020, or 13 per cent from the Kyoto compliance 2008–12 period.

Effectively, this recommends for a deferment on any decision on a target until after Copenhagen. Nevertheless, the costs associated with any of these different emissions trajectories are argued to be justified under a range of policy arguments (largely associated with the long-term damages of unmitigated climate change vs. the costs of mitigation).

The report also discusses the role of adaptation measures in addressing climate impacts, but does so from a fairly narrow perspective. While arguing for a local, bottom-up approach to adaptation, the report seems to overlook issues of adaptive capacity (the phrase doesn't even appear in the relevant chapter) and the role of social vulnerability in driving adverse climate outcomes. Instead, the report largely expresses adaptation in terms of technical fixes, infrastructure upgrades, and policy adjustments to influence water and food markets. But then, it's fairly clear that the Garnaut Review was never about comprehensive approaches to reducing the risks of climate change.

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