Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greg Combet

Today Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, spoke at the Crawford School on "Australia in a climate changed world – Moving forward to CancĂșn and beyond". Frank Jotzo and Carolyn Hendricks gave follow-up presentations on international and domestic aspects of the current climate change policy debate.

The Australian is emphasizing his reiteration of the 5% unconditional target and the strong conditions he put on Australia adopting the 15% target. He said that the latter would require verifiable restraint in emissions from developing countries and similar action to Australia by developed countries. The US at the moment doesn't seem likely to do the latter and China is resisting the kind of verifiability he probably wants. He said the 25% target could be adopted only with a legally binding international agreement to limit greenhouse gas concentrations to 450ppm or less.

He seems to be a pretty good speaker (better than some politicians I've encountered) and laid things out in a very clear fashion. He also answered extensive questions in a very forthright manner. I was impressed also by his emphasis on carbon pricing as the main tool throughout his speech and answers and the blame he placed on Greens for not passing the CPRS. He said they were now being given a second chance. He didn't understand their opposition, given that the level of abatement can always be raised in the future by reducing the cap. Given the nature of the Australian economy, he didn't think lobbyists had an undue influence on the design of the CPRS (there was less compensation than proposed in the US and implemented in Europe from my understanding, so I'd agree on that). He also claimed that the 5% emissions reduction proposed by Australia was a greater percentage cut in per capita emissions than was Europe's 20% cut.

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