Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Falling EU carbon price should inspire greater mitigation efforts

Emissions growth in the 21st century was overwhelmingly concentrated in developing countries. My own calculations on “business as usual” emissions for the Climate Change Review Update suggested that in…

Trade in emissions entitlements has struck some large practical problems. EPA/MARK

Emissions growth in the 21st century was overwhelmingly concentrated in developing countries. My own calculations on “business as usual” emissions for the Climate Change Review Update suggested that in the absence of policy action to change established trends, developing countries would account for the whole of the increase in global emissions from 2005 to 2030. Developed country emissions as a whole were expected to remain steady between 2005 and 2030.

In the absence of policy action, China would account for 41% of global emissions in 2030 and developing countries 70%. Whatever weight were given to the requirements of historical responsibility and justice, effective global mitigation would require major and early reductions from business as usual emissions in China and other developing countries.

The Kyoto arrangements envisaged a comprehensive “top-down” agreement in which responsibility for constraining emissions would be allocated across countries and enforced internationally. This ideal would provide a firm basis for international trade in entitlements, to allow reductions in emissions to occur where they could be achieved at lowest cost.

A different approach to setting national targets began to emerge at Copenhagen, took firm shape at Cancun and was elaborated in subsequent UNFCCC meetings in Durban and Doha.

The big departure from the old regime is in the setting of country targets for constraining emissions. It has been accepted that substantial developing countries will make commitments to constrain emissions, in the form of reductions in emissions intensity or “business as usual” emissions. (Intensity targets are strongly preferred to business as usual, as they are capable of objective and unambiguous calculation.)

It is accepted if only by default that these and developed country commitments to absolute reductions in emissions are voluntary and represent serious domestic undertakings and are not binding under international law. The voluntary targets are set domestically rather than within a comprehensive international agreement. The pressures to make them ambitious come from domestic politics and review and commentary from other countries—a process that is known as ”pledge and review”.

The new process can be described as “concerted unilateral mitigation”.

It is a feature of the Kyoto arrangements carried over into the concerted unilateral mitigation regime that each country is free to use whatever instruments it chooses in meeting its targets. It is free to acquit its commitments through the purchase of international abatement to the extent that it chooses, or not at all. It is free to introduce carbon pricing in the form of an emissions trading system or a carbon tax or not at all. Whether or not it places a price on carbon, it can choose to regulate emissions-intensive activities and subsidise low-emissions substitutes to the extent that it chooses. International comparisons of mitigation effort are made in terms of the outcomes in reductions in emissions below defined baselines, and not in terms of how the emissions reductions are achieved.

For concerted unilateral mitigation to be effective, one major gap in the international regime needs to be filled. The regime needs some framework for guiding assessments of the level of mitigation in each country that amounts to a fair share of an international effort to achieve the agreed global effort.

It would be useful and probably necessary for heads of governments committed to strong global mitigation outcomes to appoint an expert group to develop such a framework for allocating the global effort among countries. Within the context of concerted unilateral mitigation, each country would be free to accept or reject guidance provided by such a framework. The framework would become a focus of international review of each country’s effort, and evolve over time in response to discussion and experience.

The Durban conference of the UNFCCC in late 2011 agreed to launch “a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”. The process, legal instrument or agreed outcome would be settled by 2015 and come into effect in 2020. Developed and developing countries would all accept obligations, although the form of those obligations could vary across countries.

The Durban decision was sometimes interpreted as a commitment again to seek a binding, top-down agreement, although the words allow other interpretations. At least there is no suggestion that we should return to seeking comprehensive agreement on the allocation of the required global mitigation effort across countries.

While there would be advantages in an internationally binding agreement if it were possible to achieve one without reducing mitigation ambition, the practical barriers to a good binding agreement remain as strong as they were at Copenhagen. It is important that we do not allow the search for excellent form to distract the international community from grasping immediate prospects for excellent substance.

We should acknowledge that trade in emissions entitlements has struck some large practical problems. Within the European emissions trading system, the many regulatory and fiscal interventions are forcing much larger reductions in emissions than carbon pricing. These together with slow growth in economic activity and the realisation of unexpected opportunities for low-cost abatement have caused permit prices to fall to levels that are well below the economic cost of emissions and the value of abatement.

The low prices raise questions about the effectiveness of the emissions trading system. Although controlled in quantum, use of offsets at very low prices from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has pushed prices even lower. Low European and CDM prices would, if uncorrected, introduce low prices into other emissions trading systems with which Europe is linked, notably Australia from 2015. Already New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme has prices close to zero through allowing unlimited access to credits from the Clean Development Mechanism.

It is understood by economists that broadly based carbon pricing achieves more carbon emissions reduction at similar cost, or similar abatement at lower cost, than large numbers of separate regulatory and fiscal interventions. Considerable emissions reductions have been achieved in recent years in many countries through regulatory and differentiated fiscal interventions. However, the cost advantages of general carbon pricing become more important as mitigation targets become more ambitious, and are likely to be essential to achieving the deep reductions in emissions that will be necessary to achieve the agreed global objective.

The contemporary problems of uneconomically low prices in domestic and international trading schemes can therefore be seen as a threat to achievement of long term global mitigation goals. A tightening of emissions reduction targets is necessary to restore prices that relate appropriately to the cost and value of abatement in a world that is meeting its emissions reduction targets.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has emerged as the most important locus for international trade in carbon units, and for a number of years contributed substantially to incentives for investment in emissions reduction in developing countries. The NDRC has recently reported that to August 2012, Chinese certified emissions reduction under the CDM had reached 730 million tonnes per annum, a bit over half of the global total.

As analysed in the recent report of an independent review panel, the CDM is experiencing chronic oversupply of abatement units. Prices have fallen to levels that barely cover transaction costs. With recent and prospective reforms, the CDM is a legitimate offset mechanism with a potentially valuable place in a global system of climate change mitigation.

The review panel concluded that a major tightening of emissions reduction targets and widening of access on the demand side would be necessary to correct the chronic oversupply.

I would suggest as well a tightening of access on the abatement supply side, with only least developed countries having unconditional access. Other developing countries would have access if they accepted domestically binding emissions constraints and were living within those constraints without double counting of abatement for which CDM credits had been awarded.

If this approach were adopted by the international community, international mechanisms would need to be developed (perhaps through the established arrangements for Joint Implementation) to monitor double counting of emissions.

This article is excerpted from a speech given by Professor Garnaut to the National Development and Reform Commission in China. The full speech is available here.

Join the conversation

77 Comments sorted by

  1. David Clerke

    Teacher

    It seems Ross has made an excellent case on why Australia is wasting its time with a carbon tax. An excellent example of a conclusion not only not being supported by its argument but rebutted.

    report
    1. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to David Clerke

      It was Garnaut himself who in 2011 described an emissisions trading scheme (with an intitial fixed price) as 'an economic reform where the benefits far outweigh the costs' - and far superior to Government-imposed mitigation.

      It was also Garnaut who proposed the initial price of between $20-30, which is now law.

      You could suggest Garnaut misread the global economy, and gave terrible advice to the government.

      report
    2. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to James Jenkin

      It seems that capitalist carbon pricing has not worked so what Garnaut now recommends is Stalinist planning by international agreement from which countries will simply withdraw from once they fact sanctions as did Canada. Glad this guy did not mark any of my economics papers. Also seem to remember

      Climate Change Minister Greg Combet backed climate adviser Ross Garnaut’s judgment that Australia was falling behind the world’s biggest economies in dealing with climate change and said it was ‘’absolute…

      Read more
    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Clerke

      Mr Cochey, we have road rules in an effort to reduce the road toll. The fact that we still have some fatalaties does not indicate that the road rules were false, unnecessary or completely ineffective (nothing ever works completely or immediately) - if anything, every death on the road is a reminder of the importance of good road rules and certainly not a sign that we should slacken off.

      I think the situation on China is of this kind.

      report
    4. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      It does not matter what your name is Felix but in the ACT in past decades we had compulsory annual inspection of vehicles each year on the empty justification that it reduced the road tole. Since it was abandoned accidents have decreased, not increased. One reason may be the reduction of tariffs allowing people to buy imported vehicles which have higher safety features at a lower price. Think sideways if you can think and solve problems not make religious observance.

      report
    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Clerke

      Well, that must win the award for irrelevance. You argue that one particular piece of regulation in one particular jurisdiction may have been counter-effective as if that somehow disproved the concept that the fact that road rules (that's plural) don't always fix all problems was not a reason to abandon them.

      By the way, your example actually, if anything, disproves what you're suggesting. The ACT abandoned annual inspections and the road toll went down. As you note, there's no evidence that this…

      Read more
  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    It's bizarre that still 'developing' China is now burning half the world's coal yet selling the most CDM offsets, regarded by some as dodgy. Are they pulling our leg?

    Some EU linked offsets are selling for as low as $5 a tonne of CO2e. If Gillard is re-elected these will be purchased up to the limit (was it 12.5%?) by Australia's big emitters. That's if they aren't largely exempt already. Minister Combet said a few months ago that residential PV saves CO2 at a cost of $400 per tonne. Various…

    Read more
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Newlands

      Fair point, John, but there is some evidence of recognition of the problem within the EU and, at least, some discussion of the need to correct the situation...not theer yet, but it's still a couple of years away.

      report
  3. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    We do need greater efforts on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, which requires greater political will from many countries.

    But I'm wondering about the other side of the coin. Economically, shouldn't smaller economies like Australia be pushing hard on new technologies (like renewables and energy efficient tech)? Future demands for power and industrial processes that are a new generation of technology will be important and would make more sense for Australia to invest in these now instead of "mine Australia".

    report
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, couldn't agree more and we have some good academic/technical expertise on Oz - particularly in solar pv. Unfortunately, we have a rather small and not particularly brave corporate sector to commercialise the expertise.

      Hopefully, however, some of the funding flowing from the Clean Energy Future programs will start to reverse this problem.

      report
    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I agree, Felix.

      Just before I posted I also read the HSBC investment recommendations about fossil fuels. Whilst they were actively recommending moving away from fossil fuels (which they regarded as a high risk future investment), they were also still treating it like a distant problem.

      That's why I'd like to see some serious investment and push in Australia, especially from the financial sector. We have a huge opportunity to not only deal with climate change, but to also become an economic and technology powerhouse.

      report
    3. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The manufacturing industry is on it's knees and we have twaddle suggesting that the corporate sector is not-so-brave if they do not embrace technologies which have no commercial value without massive government subsidies such as the Clean Energy slush fund which will probably disappear in 8 months time.Meanwhile the green carpet-baggers will be out in force with their snouts in that particular trough without any real benefit to this country.
      Ross Garnaut is just another failed doomsday prophet and no one should seriously listen to him. The Chinese certainly aren't!
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/29/china-is-burning-nearly-as-much-coal-as-the-rest-of-the-world-combined/

      report
    4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Yes, like nuclear power.

      report
    5. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, The corporate sector is good enough to keep Australia afloat financially. It (we) can sense a scam from miles downwind. It is the overall low standard of climate work and the control of University funding by (non-neutral) interests in the Commonwealth Government that needs attention. Sure there is some gold in those Universities, but there is a lot of dross as well. They teach our descendants, which is disturbing.

      report
    6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      What climate change? An overall agreed 15 years of essentially constant global temperature is hardly global warming. Secondary measures, like glaciers and ocean level changes, are still being investigated and are not firmed up enough to draw conclusions with a certainty needed to make the large diversions of expenditure that would be needed if and when proof arrives.

      report
    7. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoff, please stop with the denial rhetoric. There has been warming in the last 15 years, 0.16 degrees per decade, as reported by many sources, including the UK Met Office. This rate is faster than anything that happens naturally.

      Secondary measures are pretty conclusive as well. When 90% of the world's glaciers are losing mass, when the Arctic and Antarctic are both losing ice mass to record lows, and sea levels are measured to have risen noticeably, then saying we are still drawing conclusions is really saying you want to wait until there is no ice left.

      The time for denial in this discussion is over. Climate change is happening, stop pretending it isn't and start being part of the solution.

      report
    8. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim Scanlon,.
      Thank you for confirming that on a scale of comprehension with a top score of 10, you are about at level 3.
      If the science was settled enough tp proceed with awesome expenditures, then we would not be expecting to have new papers that have the capacity to overturn past important concepts.
      Try, for example:

      Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1039-1056, 2013
      www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/1039/2013/
      doi:10.5194/acp-13-1039-2013
      .Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation…

      Read more
    9. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Good to see you can cut and paste your ideas from any denial source, saves on you having to do any thinking or actual reading.

      For example, the first paper you cite does not overturn any climate change concepts. What it offers is a potential better understanding of air movements and this would allow better predictive ability into the future and at a local level. But of course, this would have required you to read the paper to understand this fact. The other papers on wind movements still don't…

      Read more
    10. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      The right to claim, “The time for denial in this discussion is over.” is merely paraphrasing Garnaut. To include reference to, “wait until there is no ice left.” and, “sea levels are measured to have risen noticeably”, is an irrelevance and wishful thinking. Short of destruction of our planet by some other catastrophe there can never be the situation of no ice in any scenario in which man exists, nor can any attempt at estimation of an absolute sea level succeed. Bear with me and learn why.
      Garnaut…

      Read more
    11. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      What a load of irrelevant anti-science rubbish. Have you even read any science on this subject? Because your statements show a blatant ignorance of the studies that have looked into geological scale climate and drivers. That is how we can make the statement that the last time the Earth increased its mean temperature by as much as it has in the past 100 years it took over 50,000 years.

      Talking about cosmic cooling and referring to anything less than geological time scales as meaningless shows you don't have the background on orbital cycles, sun and sunspot cycles, glacial/interglacial periods, and atmospheric system changes from geological and developmental phases. The fact that these have shown the past million or so years to follow a relatively stable cycle alone, illustrates that your point is moot. Let alone the fact that stored gases in fossil fuels being emitted on mass in a short geological window being an unnatural, unprecedented and damaging event.

      report
    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Yeah, I think the corporate sector is far from unaware, stupid or evil - just everyone is a bit scared of moving first - that's where a solid, helpful shove from government policy could go a long way.

      report
    13. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      If the manufacturing sector is on its knees, it's the exchange rate, elevated by the mining boom that put it there.

      report
    14. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Was the above dictated to you in a cave by an angel who warned you it would be beyond mortal comprehension, Whyn?

      report
    15. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Thanks for sharing your obvious erudition, Tim. you certainly seem to know something about everything.

      report
    16. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Sorry to disappoint Felix, I really don't believe in angels, tooth fairies or MU's latest Vice Cancellor's Fellow. He collects titles and appointments like a dog collects ticks. Haven't got the time to overcome your lack of comprehension..

      report
    17. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Whyn, you obviously have the time - you just don't have the rational arguments.

      report
    18. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Here's what we need to do.
      1. Start cutting taxes.
      2. Make up the revenue shortfall with a consumption tax on fossil fuel.
      As with the GST, we 'zero-rate' exports for fossil fuel consumption tax, and apply a border adjustment to imports to allow for the fossil fuel consumption embedded in their manufacture AND TRANSPORT TO Australia.
      This way, we set a carbon price without penalising Australian industry.

      3. Cut more taxes, and continue making up the revenue shortfall by increasing the…

      Read more
    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey, here's all the proof you need.

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an optical surface temperature of around 255K.

      Earth's surface…

      Read more
    20. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      None of them refute the fundamental reality established by Tyndall in the 1850's. None of them have the potential to be a game-changer.

      The Makarieva et all paper was mentioned on 'The Conversation' https://theconversation.edu.au/forests-are-key-to-wind-and-rain-patterns-11856#comment_112803

      I commented on that page, noting that the paper has been doing around for years before satisfying EGU's rather liberal standards. Having skimmed through the paper, my comment is that Makarieva et al over-egg their case.

      report
    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Read and understand this:

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an optical surface temperature of around 255K.

      Earth's surface cools by…

      Read more
    22. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim Scanlon,
      In typical unscientific fashion (that is, with no data), you seem to know that
      1. I cut and paste my ideas from any denial source. (No, I read them and select those I consider to have significance. Sometimes there is a delay in reading because of paywalls and pre-publications).
      2. I know what you mean from a denial source. (No, I have no idea. I do not use the word 'denial' myself, because in science all data needs evaluation.)
      3. You know how much reading and thinking I do. (This…

      Read more
    23. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      A person in Canada devised a solution that should have been adopted by all countries who thought that global warming was a problem. Prof Ross McKitrick of University of Guelph proposed that a tax on GHG emissions be related to global temperature change. The tax increased if the temperature rose, a refund was given if the temperature fell. He called it the T3 tax. Read at
      http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/t3tax.vv-online.pdf

      The tax collectors would have a lean time. The global temperature has hardly changed in 15 years. For data and graphs, scroll down to the lower part of

      http://www.climate4you.com/GlobalTemperatures.htm

      You want to argue the Stefan Rahmstorf way? "The temperatures would have risen but some effects stopped them? And we are sure that no effects would act in the opposite direction, ya?"

      report
    24. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      David Arthur,
      Prove that the Earth is a black body radiator, please?

      report
    25. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      David Arthur,
      I did a literature review last week looking for absolute affirmation that atmospheric CO2 had changed the pH of the oceans by an amount stated as firm, to within given confidence intervals. I did not find one that was free of caveats, but then it's a large subject and I might have missed one or two. Perhaps you could oblige with a reference? The last 50 years, or even less, will suffice. I've read , I think, all of the CDIAC work, which is quite qualified, past the point of certainty that I seek. BTW, I once wrote a Masters' Thesis about the measurement of pH in diverse solutions and suspensions, so there is no need to talk down to me.

      report
    26. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      David Arthur states "Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight."
      That is absolutely wrong. Earth is warmed by sunlight of all wavelengths that make it through the atmosphere.
      Where do you find the thermostat thet returns the same outgoing as incoming, to maintain a stable temperature like we are having in a mini state now?

      report
    27. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "The tax collectors would have a lean time. The global temperature has hardly changed in 15 years."

      Why would that mean the tax collectors would have a lean time? Global temperature was already high enough back then for a good tax harvest. Global temperature has increased 0.1 deg C in those 15 years anyway, even starting from your shamelessly blatant cherry-pick: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1998/trend

      report
    28. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I don't use uncouth language like that, why drives you to it?

      report
    29. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Thanks Mr Sherrington. To continue you remedial science lesson, a comparison of spectral distributions of incoming solar radiation and outgoing earth radiation shows that the former is predominantly at much shorter wavelengths than the latter.

      Greenhouse gases disrupt transmission of the latter to a much greater extent than the former.

      I trust that clarifies the point.

      report
    30. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Ocean Acidification calculation

      First, we need to estimate how much CO2 has been added to oceans from atmosphere. To do this, I used historic fossil fuel use and cement production data (Oak Ridge National (US) Laboratory Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center) to find that industrial CO2 emission from 1800 to present would have been enough to raise atmospheric CO2 from 280 ppm to 430 ppm.

      Now, we now that atmospheric CO2 is currently around 390 ppm. Assuming all the 'missing' CO2 has…

      Read more
    31. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      There are several explanations for the slowing of the rate of atmospheric temperature increase over the last 15 years.

      1. Rapid heating of the atmosphere means increased net heat transfer from atmosphere to ocean; alternatively, if there is net heat transfer from ocean to atmosphere, then there is decreased net heat transfer from ocean to atmosphere (that these two expressions are equivalent seems beyond most Denialists).

      2. Decreasing solar intensity over the last half century.

      3. There…

      Read more
    32. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Unscientific? Hardly. Unreferenced, yes, but that is mainly due to the PRATT principle which applied to much of your irrelevant and nonsensical post. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/PRATT

      I'll address each of your numbered points:
      1) It is quite clear from the spacing and listing that you in fact cut and paste a lot of your previous post. The fact that a Google search of your name happens to bring up pages of comments you have made on denial blogs that contain this information must be just coincidence…

      Read more
    33. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      Wow, I tried to make sense of explanation 1. above. Starting from the first word, it is bunkum. The specific heat contents of all gases is less than that of solids and liquids. The mass of gases in the atmosphere is orders of magnitude less than the solid earth and liquid sea below. The driving force for heat transfer from atmosphere to oceans is actually quite small, and negligible when compared to the direct transfer of radiant energy from the sun.

      report
    34. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      David you seem to assume the problem (if it is a problem) CO2 is only in the atmosphere. You ignore the huge quantities of CO2 being released direcly into seawater from suboceanic vulcanism and dissolved virtually instantly at the depths and pressures involved. Constant addition of CO2 to oceans will only drive up transfer to the atmosphere at the boundary layer. The small quantity of man-made CO2 emitted into the atmosphere could not be the cause of any perceived oceanic acidification.

      report
    35. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey and David, let us not forget the original article was by Garnaut as he tried to whip up support for his socialist economist's view on life and taxation.

      David, your half baked scientific 'truths', apart from adding confusion to warmists' attempts at demonising CO2, are drawing attention away from Garnaut's basic claims.

      Geoffrey is correct in pointing out that all the incident radiant energy from the Sun is intercepted, reflected, absorbed and radiated again in one way or another by the two classes of matter comprising Earth. CO2 and the other demonised GHGs have minimal effect on the total thermodynamics overall. How can Garnaut continue to claim the science is settled when the Davids of the world have it so wrong?

      report
    36. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      "You ignore the huge quantities of CO2 being released direcly into seawater from suboceanic vulcanism"

      He's ignoring your delusion. You can hardly blame him for that.

      report
    37. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Whyn, ypou have utterly failed to appreciate that the sun's energy is predominantly at relatively SHORT wavelengths, whereas the radiation that must leave the earth to maintain thermal balance is at relatively LONG wavelengths.

      It is at these relatively LONG wavelengths that greenhouse gases restrict transmission of energy through the atmosphere.

      Sure, these greenhouse gases have a small effect overall, but it is enough to regulate earth's climate. I recommend Spencer Weart's "Discovery of Global Warming - a History" available as a book or as a set of hyperlinked essays at the website of the American Institute of Physics. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

      Until and unless you understand this relatively STRAIGHTFORWARD point, you are not competent to comment on the scientific aspects of the issue.

      This misunderstanding also affects any interpretation of commentators such as Prof Garnaut, including my own criticism of what the Professor writes.

      report
    38. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Sure, specific heat of atmospheric gases may be less than specific heat of condensed matter below, but guess what? Heat exchange between sun and space on the one hand, and solid and liquid earth on the other is MEDIATED through the atmosphere.

      In other words, the atmosphere matters.

      It's no surprise that you struggle to understand.

      report
    39. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Was there submarine vulcanism before the Industrial Revolution? Yes.

      Did submarine vulcanism cause runaway warming before the Industrial Revolution? No.

      Does the earth's climate system include submarine vulcanism? Yes.

      Can we do anything about submarine vulcanism? No.

      Are anthropogenic CO2 emissions a significant perturbation on top of natural CO2 cycling? Yes.

      Could anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause ocean acidification? As it happens, I've done some calculations.

      First…

      Read more
    40. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      The argument that the primary effect on the intensity of solar radiant energy reaching the Earth’s surface, after traversing the atmosphere, is from the (bipolar molecule) CO2 content, is not borne out by the studies of others. Acknowledgement is due that atmospheric transmittance and absorption regulates where that energy evenmtually ends up, not only the preence of CO2.

      Radiation emitted by the Sun follows Wien’s Law. Other causes of the wavelengths emitted are beyond this discussion ostensibly…

      Read more
    41. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      Now stopped struggling to understand your thoughts. In another place I have sought to clarify mine. I think you may mean attenuated not MITIGATED.
      I agree the atmosphere matters but can't follow your surprise or claim I am struggling to understand. I think I have understood what you are trying to get across. The outstanding thing I have trouble with is why you keep putting the same old same old forward.

      report
    42. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Thanks Whyn, I am NOT arguing that the primary effect on solar radiation reaching the ground is due to atmospheric CO2; I am pointing out that a small but persistent perturbation to EARTH radiation reaching SPACE is due to CO2.

      What part of "the sun's energy is predominantly at relatively SHORT wavelengths, whereas the radiation that must leave the earth to maintain thermal balance is at relatively LONG wavelengths.

      "It is at these relatively LONG wavelengths that greenhouse gases restrict transmission of energy through the atmosphere" do you not understand?

      report
    43. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      I put the same old same old forward because it is the crux of the matter, that you persist in not comprehending.

      Is your retirement due to some age-related brain impairment?

      report
    44. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Arthur

      "What part of "..."do you not understand?"

      Any part that he doesn't want to.

      report
    45. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Well you have now shown your ideological colours haven't you? Don't let the well-documented peer-reviewed science get in the way of your political leanings. Calling people who challenge you socialists says it all. If it does not fit with your view of the world the science must be wrong must it not?

      report
    46. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry Verberne

      It's a fact that the people who accept the extremists' propaganda about catastrophic man made climate change are the ideological Left, the socialists, and so called 'Progressives" .

      Rational people don't swallow the extremists' exaggeration and hype.

      It is the so called 'Progressives' who have been blocking progress and still are.

      The so called 'Progressives' are Socialists.

      report
  4. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Mr Garnaut

    I still remember the day after you announced the Garnaut report on climate change in Canberra, you popped up in Perth to deliver the same address. How did you get there? Courtesy of JetA1 fossil fuel naturally.

    The EU ETS is a joke, which makes linking the Australian Carbon Tax to it an even bigger joke.

    Remember that when the EU ETS price dropped below 10 Euro, Germany's Chancellor Merkel approved the construction of 20 coal fired power plants to replace the mothballed nuclear…

    Read more
    1. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Why is it that a lie can be said often enough and people believe it, but when the truth is quoted repeatedly, it gets ignored?
      As I have said before Gerard, airline flights account for less than 2% of CO2 emissions, so if someone flew around the world to get people to lower emissions, surely it would benefit.
      Why are you fixated on this?

      report
    2. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Hi Phil, I guess because many advocates of climate action are 'fixated' on air travel as well.

      The WWF: 'Air travel is a big contributor to carbon emissions ... the best solution is to try to avoid air travel wherever possible'.

      George Monbiot: 'Most of the aeroplanes flying today [must] be grounded'.

      Paul Watson: 'Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary'.

      etc.

      report
    3. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Well, Australia is only about 2% of the land area of the world, as is the USA48, so we get blamed for a lot.

      report
    4. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      We rank as one of the top 10 and top 15 emitters (depending upon whether you measure all time emissions or current levels) despite our relatively small population.

      We have much to gain by leading the charge on climate change. Science and technology are a currency we need to be involved in, since our labour rates (etc) mean we can't compete in other areas.

      report
  5. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Mr Garnaut

    You said, and I quote, ' The review panel concluded that a major tightening of emissions reduction targets and widening of access on the demand side would be necessary to correct the chronic oversupply.'

    So you want faceless, un-elected Eurocrats in Brussels, whose idea of Australia is a nice country with kangaroos, to manipulate the European ETS scheme to lift the price.

    Who decides? How much? When? How? Will the Eurocrats take Australia's battling exporting manufacturers concerns into consideration when making the changes? If the decisions they make wrong us, can we vote them out?

    The Eurocrat schemers and rorters have made the EU ETS a joke, and now you want the same people to make it right again. If the Europeans can't vote these imbeciles out, why in heavens name are we linking our carbon tax to them?

    Gerard Dean

    report
  6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    Ross, you have been admitting, little by little, that you were wrong to rely upon greenhouse gases and their mitigation. Why not scrap the whole idea? The basis for your involvement has been shown over the years to be in serious doubt of being material, that is, GHG might have very little to do with climate. Nobody has shown neatly that they do.
    Please look at the animated .gif that follows to see how far the actual global temperature strays each year from the best of the IPCC predictions.

    The error term is vividly (but not quite cricket-wise) expressed a wrong by a factor of 2 to 5. That's no basis for major national economic policy making. That's a FAIL.

    report
  7. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    The key parameter is the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy (tonnes CO2 / $ GDP). The rate of decarbonisation of the global economy has been slowing over the past two decades. It has slowed from about 2% per year in 1991 to about 0.7% per year in 2007 (see Figure 2: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/decelerating-decarbonization-of-global.html )

    Global CO2 emissions intensity of electricity has hardly changed in 20 years (1990-2010) – down just 0.8% (p90 http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/CO2emissionfromfuelcombustionHIGHLIGHTS.pdf

    Read more
  8. Ian L. McQueen

    Retired

    Emissions. Emissions. Emissions. How many times was this word used in Mr. Garnaut's article? There is no need to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide. The need to reduce emissions is based only on assumerism- the assumption that it has already been proved that adding CO2 gas to our air is going to lead to some catastrophe or other, like "global warming". What is the reality? We have the situation that the amount of CO2 in the air (still less than four molecules in 10,000) has gone up about 10…

    Read more
  9. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    It is difficult to comply with The Conversation guidelines on personal comment re authors in this particular discussion with Garnaut's misleading and incomplete disclaimer at the top. Many of the current commentators expose his litany of misdirection.

    Garnaut is the epitome of the 'two-handed political economist', prepared to guess along in the hope of getting it right some of the time. While holding out as an Economist, one main source of his income is share trading and directorships, some in mining others in green eco-industry.

    Can't blame anyone for being unwilling to come out and say they were a wee bit wrong but silence now would be better in this case. The rest of the world has got past this thinking.

    report
  10. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    Ross Garnaut,

    You advocate a whole host of government interventions and regulatory approaches, whether imposed carbon pricing or other mechanism.

    Why don't you simply advocate removing the impediments to nuclear power? Nuclerar power could be cheaper than fossil fuels if not for the impediments imposed on it by restrictive regulations in response to 50 years of anti-nuclear activism.

    If (when) nuclear is cheaper than fossil fuels the CO2 emissions problem is well on the way to being solved…

    Read more
    1. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, My guess the answer to your first question is that Garnaut and his fellow travellers have not found a way to corner the Uranium deposit market in Australia due to Labour's anti-nuclear philosopy. This could change once Julia sees the resale value to the Chinese of our deposits.

      Just back from Namibia and they are fast tracking development of a big U deposit there, under Chinese assistance of course. It does not take years as we have been led to believe.

      report
    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      It's a fact that the people who accept the extremists' propaganda about catastrophic man made climate change are the ideological Left, the socialists, and so called 'Progressives" .

      Rational people don't swallow the extremists' exaggeration and hype.

      It is the so called 'Progressives' who have been blocking progress and still are.

      The so called 'Progressives' are Socialists.

      report
  11. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Professor Garnaut, what a falling EU carbon price demonstrates is the utter stupidity of top-down carbon emission allocation; as such it is completely irrelevant to mitigation efforts.

    The alternative scheme you discuss, whereby each country have its own emission permits determined, remains a "top-down" approach.

    A little thought would reveal that Europe and the US have out-sourced their CO2 emissions to China. This has been driven, in part, by the overly simplistic focus of mainstream economists…

    Read more