The crisis has clamped down on industry and production, which has put a lid on greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia's emissions have been rising every year, but are now some years behind predictions because of the financial meltdown.
"At this stage it looks like we've transferred two years ... it might turn out to be longer than that if this turns out to be an even worse economic crisis," Prof Garnaut told an agriculture conference in Canberra on Tuesday evening.
"We've got a little bit of breathing space."
"But we need it, because the world's a long way behind where it needs to be."
This follows the call by Nicholas Stern on February 11, this year, to spend billions on green investments now to reverse economic downturn and halt climate change.
A report published today, written by many of the team that prepared the influential 2006 Stern Review on the economics of climate change, says politicians should not delay plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions because of the global slowdown. Instead, action to tackle climate change could form a central part of fiscal packages to stimulate national economies.
Global Warning Climate Change Energy