Garnaut on Australia's aspirations to medocrity

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Garnaut on Australia's aspirations to medocrity

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Professor Ross Garnaut says it will be a big stretch for Australia to achieve even an average level of emissions reductions among developed nations.  We certainly won't be leading the way, in fact we are currently a laggard. Professor Garnaut made the comments earlier this month at a public forum in Darwin hosted by Charles Darwin University. Addressing an audience of about 270 people he said that it's incredible to consider that it's now seen as very ambitious for us to aspire to even mediocre targets for reductions in our emissions of greenhouse gases. We would not tolerate such a situation in sport.

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As forum moderator I was impressed by Professor Garnaut's mastery of his subject, although that's hardly surprising given his imposing CV. There seemed to be no question for which Ross lacked an instant, authoritative response - he had clearly heard all the arguments ad nauseum. He made a compelling case for a price on carbon, and a reasonable one for a fixed starting price followed by a trading scheme after a couple of years. Professor Garnaut sees this as a huge test of Australia's appetite for economic reform, which he sees as having been very weak, if not lazy, for most of the 20th century until 1983, and then again since the turn of the century. He said the drop in our productivity performance had been masked by unprecedented terms of trade due to the resources boom, which of course would end, as all booms do. It was encouraging to hear Professor Garnaut say that his latest report was downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first 24 hours, yet sobering that the quality of the overall debate and understanding of the issue in the media and wider community is still so abysmal. And it's appalling that climate scientists are now being subjected to such abuse, clearly intended to intimidate them - just as it is that this is also apparently being suffered by staff from DAFF and MLA in relation to the live cattle trade to Indonesia. These sorts of threats reflect very badly on all of us.