Saturday, December 08, 2007

More on Rudd on climate change

Further to the post I made yesterday on Kevin Rudd’s position on climate change, the following argument by Paul Kelly is persuasive:

Rudd made progress towards Kyoto ratification his first executive act, a sharp way to symbolise the break from Howard's era. Delegates to the UN conference in Bali applauded when informed (most such delegates represented nations that have no binding targets under Kyoto anyway). But by week's end the reality of climate change policy was superseding the switch in Kyoto symbolism.

As expected, Rudd said his Government's 2020 emissions target would not be decided until the mid-2008 report from Ross Garnaut. Australia has no intention of being trapped into the 25-40 per cent emissions cut by 2020 that the IPCC proposed for developed nations.

This betrayed the real political moral of the week: how quickly the gulf is opening between the Rudd Government and the scientific or green lobby groups in Bali and elsewhere demanding radical outcomes. This conflict, sooner or later, will assume epic dimensions.

The policy test for Rudd at Bali is how much he changes Australia's negotiating position. That position under Howard was to argue for obligations of some sort to be accepted by developing nations as conditional on a post-2012 regime in which developed nations agreed to steeper binding commitments. This put Australia, as chair of the umbrella group (of developed non-EU nations such as Japan and Canada), at odds with the EU and with most of the developing world.

The logic of Australia's position is sound and it has much support. This seems, broadly, the strategy that Rudd wants to pursue. It is, however, not the stance favoured by much of the scientific-green lobby in its ideological demand that the main burden must fall on developed nations, a view undermined as more of the emissions problem comes from developing nations.

Rudd goes to Bali an optimist. He will discover the reality: the unbridgeable gulf between green lobby demands for radical action and establishing any single viable multilateral regime for the post-2012 period. (my bold).

I agree with much of this. What I find galling, in view of the recent election, is that Rudd achieved prominence by presenting John Howard as someone 'going slow' on climate change. Rudd is replicating the Howard position along with some inconsequential rhetoric relating to targets in 2050. There will be more of this. My substantive disagreement is that I think both Howard and Rudd get it wrong on the need for shorter-term targets. The Bali Declaration by Scientists suggests we have at most 15 years to get carbon emissions falling and keep temperature increases below 2 degrees C even by 2050. It will be very difficult to get developing countries to agree to cuts if they see developed countries procrastinating and asking for more time to make adjustments.


whyisitso said...

The real threat comes from these hyperbolic threats made just to get attention. Amazing how so many "scientists" can be take in by computer models with questionable guesses called assumptions. Climate warming in this cycle peaked in 1998, by which time the average global temperature had climbed 0.7 degrees C in 100 years.

hc said...

The 'hyperbolic' attention-seeking 'threats' you refer to were made by 200 leading scientists. Could you give me a link to a comparable group of reputable scientists prepared to reject this possibility out-of-hand?

whyisitso said...

Hardly the point Harry. I've no doubt that my list would eventually be far shorter than yours. We skeptics know we're supporting a minority view. So what? Perhaps there was a time when what ultimately prevailed in science was necessarily determined by the majority. Although I suspect there have been cases where a minority of one eventually overcame the objections of an overwhelmingly universal consensus.

Spiros said...

Harry, you can't really be claiming that Howard was just as committed to addressing climate change as Rudd, can you?

Howard was a resolute denier until late last year when public opinion suddenly forced him to do an abrupt about face (but he still refused to sign Kyoto. And his cabinet contained deniers like Minchin and McFarlane until the bitter end.

As for whyisitso, there is no point in trying to convince people like him. You might as well try to convince Mohammed al Fayed that the car crash that killed his son and Princess Dianna was an accident caused by a drunk driver. Some people are just impervious to evidence.

hc said...

I think the outcomes each party would produce were probably the same - neither pressed things.

There were some very nasty denialists in the Liberal Party - I argued with them on a personal level and criticised them strongly on this blog.

There are also denialists in the ALP - Martin Ferguson for example.

The Liberal Party needs to better sell its environmental credentials. It says it emphasises the individual and many Australians are saying they care a lot about the environment and such things as climate change.

There is an inevitable role for substantial government intervention to correct what might be the most serious market failure in human history.

whyisitso said...

"nasty denialists"

Goodness gracious me, this is really getting religious isn't it? Any skeptic is now a "denialist" aka "heretic" and should of course be burnt at the stake. We mustn't keeping asking obvious questions must we? We must all get with the Lord Thy Gore and BELIEVE. Woe to the unbelievers!

Irrationality be thy name!

Spiros said...

Of course you are right about Martin Ferguson, who is a space waster, and not 1% the politician hos father was.