4 July 2008

Garnaut Climate Draft Report -- Full PDF link

Climate change is a diabolical policy problem. It is harder than any other
issue of high importance that has come before our polity in living memory.
Climate change presents a new kind of challenge. It is uncertain in its form
and extent, rather than drawn in clear lines. It is insidious rather than directly
confrontational. It is long term rather than immediate, in both its impacts and its
remedies. Any effective remedies lie beyond any act of national will, requiring
international cooperation of unprecedented dimension and complexity.
While an effective response to the challenge would play out over many
decades, it must take shape and be put in place over the next few years. Without
such action, if the mainstream science is broadly right, the Review's assessment
of likely growth in global greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of effective
mitigation tells us that the risks of dangerous climate change, already significant,
will soon have risen to dangerously high levels.
Observation of daily debate and media discussion in Australia and elsewhere
suggests that this issue might be too hard for rational policy making. It is too
complex. The special interests are too numerous, powerful and intense. The
time frames within which effects become evident are too long, and the time
frames within which action must be effected too short.
The most inappropriate response would be to delude ourselves, taking small
actions that create an appearance of action, but which do not solve the problem.
Such an approach would risk the integrity of our market economy and political
processes to no good effect.
We will delude ourselves if we think that scientific uncertainties are cause for
delay. Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower-cost options. Delaying now is
not postponing a decision. To delay is to deliberately choose to avoid effective
steps to reduce the risks of climate change to acceptable levels.
The work of this Review is directed at nurturing the slender chance that
Australia and the world will manage to develop a position that strikes a good
balance between the costs of dangerous climate change and the costs
of mitigation.
Australia has a larger interest in a strong mitigation outcome than other
developed countries. Our location makes us already a hot and dry country;
small variations in climate are more damaging to us than to other developed
countries. We live in a region of developing countries, which are in weaker
positions to adapt to climate change than wealthy countries with robust political
and economic institutions. The problems of our neighbours would inevitably
become our problems. And the structure of our economy suggests that our
terms of trade would be damaged more by the effects of climate change than
would those of any other developed country (see Chapter 9).

Full Report

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