How to act quickly on emissions

The Garnaut report has strongly recommended fast action on climate change. This stands in contrast to usual approaches that are strong on the need for action but cautious on when that action should take place; arguing that there is value in waiting for more information and to ‘get the policy parameters’ right. It seems that, for all sorts of reasons that I won’t go into here, time has run out.

John Quiggin and I wrote a paper last year that addressed policy implementation. In it, we argued that there was no reason not to move quickly in some sectors. We singled out automotive because, even if you don’t worry about climate change, we need to get the prices right there anyway. And we also targeted electricity because grafting emissions trading onto the existing market would make sense and you would begin to get investment in a critical sector heading in the right direction, right now. After reading through the interim Garnaut report, I am more convinced than ever that we should begin tackling climate change sector by sector with policies that can be integrated at a later date.

6 thoughts on “How to act quickly on emissions”

  1. Interesting. One technical point – from what I recall that in terms of effect on climate, trees planted in different regions are actually not equal. As well as sequestering CO2, vegetation effects the albedo of the area in which it grows. Therefore, we can’t assume that a tree planted (or not cleared) in Australia has the same overall effect on climate as one in Indonesia.

    In fact, I gather that there is some doubt about whether reforestation in temperate regions of the globe will help slow climate change very much at all.


  2. For all of these ideas, and for those NOT going to the Australia 2020 Summit, the online community created a wiki called Oz Ideas to be our forum to list and vote on the best ideas to improve Australia. It’s free and anonymous. The site acts as a national online brainstorming session. It’s at

    See what you think, and if you like it, pass the link along. The ideas will only be as strong as the number and quality of the people using the site.



  3. I think this issue concerns not just Australia but the world as a whole. Look at the way climate changes in one region affects the eco situation in another. We need better implementation process.


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