Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Garrett: Put economy first by addressing climate change

Federal Parliament ALP member, Peter Garrett, places global warming in an economic context, looking at the positive and negative implications: :::[SMH: Economy put at risk by climate inertia]

Last week Michael Molitor, the principal of CarbonShift (a wholesale supplier of voluntary carbon units) and a former director of climate change services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, described the opportunity in this way: globally, we will need to prevent 600 billion tonnes of carbon emissions that will otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere over the next 43 years in order to stabilise atmospheric concentrations at or below 500 parts per million.

Using a low average abatement cost of $25 a tonne creates a capital-market opportunity of $15 trillion. This would be the largest global financial market opportunity in history. The question Australia needs to answer is: how much of that $15 trillion is coming our way?

And how do we get our hands on some of it? Well, something has to change.

Unfortunately, after a decade of inaction on climate change, the Howard Government has been left standing at the docks waving goodbye to Australian jobs, investment and technology. Last week the Australian company Global Renewables announced a $5 billion deal with Britain's Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council. The Lancashire project aims to cut greenhouse pollution by more than 4 million tonnes.

Global Renewable has had to go to Britain to realise its ambitions.

Four weeks ago another Australian company, Pacific Hydro - which has 1800 megawatts of clean energy assets around the world - announced its move into Brazil. Why?

Because according to its general manager, Rob Grant, the growth in Australian clean energy assets has been held back by Australia's decision to not sign the Kyoto Protocol. The company is looking internationally for investment opportunities in countries that are enacting positive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address global warming.

Zhengrong Shi, an academic from the University of NSW who was unable to realise his ambitions to develop solar technology in Australia, moved his business to China, where he is now that nation's third-richest man. His technology is helping reduce China's emissions. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that in a few years we might have to import these technologies, which were developed in Australia, from China. We should not be in the business of exporting jobs, technology or our brightest and best minds.

Peter's solutions are to create jobs developing and manufacturing the technologies for clean coal, biomass, solar and wind. And that we set up a carbon trading system as soon as possible.

We need climate change policies that will make Australia a regional hub for emissions trading and clean energy. Federal Labor has a suite of policies that will not only drive down our emissions but also create jobs in regional and rural Australia and open up the market potential of carbon trading.

He concludes with an indication of how Labor will be positioning itself on climate change in the yet-to-be-announced-but-already- campaigning election.

The Prime Minister insists that dealing with climate change is an either/or proposition: either we cut emissions or we grow the economy. The fact is we can and must do both.

How refreshing to hear, after all Howard's initial global warming denial, then his denial of the anthropogenic component, then his complete abandonment of the question to concentrate on some yet-to-be-developed saviour technology, and his dodgy Switkowsky report on nuclear.

Technorati Tags