Australia 'should lead on emissions cut'
By BEN KRUZINS
Australia should lead large polluting countries such as China and India in emissions reduction rather than wait for them to be involved in an internationally binding agreement, according to ANU climate economist Professor Stephen Howes.
Contrary to arguments from the conservative side of politics who are against taxing heavy polluters on their use of carbon and setting targets on emissions reduction when there is no binding agreement, Professor Stephen Howes says Australia needs to be leader in emissions reduction.
“You can’t require everyone to cut by the same amount because countries are so different,” Professor Howes said.
“There are very poor countries out there with some living on an average income of a couple of dollars a day. Australia’s emissions are 25 tones per person. India’s are only two tonnes by person. .
“So countries like India and China can still grow their emissions, but have to do it more slowly while Australia as the leader needs to do it by more. So whatever the world target is, we have to do it by more.”
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries, who believes five per cent is the likely world target emissions reduction, agrees that Australia needs to pressure other countries for stronger targets but certainly should not act for stronger targets for itself, until the rest of the world has signed up to the same targets.
“I think what we have to do is act in unison, there’s no point in having an international consensus on reducing emissions if countries like India, China and the United States are not part of that deal,” Senator Humphries said.
“If the rest of the world set targets and those countries for argument’s sake were not part of that deal, it would be pointless.”
Professor Stephen Howes worked on the Ross Garnuat Climate Change review and has released several papers on the matter including The Politics of Climate Change: Waiting for Copenhagen.