Australia is setting itself against the US and will become a drag on global climate change efforts with the repeal of the carbon tax, prominent economist Ross Garnaut says.
The former government adviser says China, Europe and the US are gearing up for another big effort to address climate change and by scrapping its detailed and sophisticated carbon laws, Australia is going against this.
“With our existing policies, we’re not ahead of any game yet but we’re part of the game. We will be doing our fair share,” Professor Garnaut said on Wednesday.
“With the repeal of the carbon laws, and in the absence of anything in their place, then we won’t be doing our fair share.
“We will be a drag on the international system.”
He said the move was particularly puzzling when the world’s two big emitters, China and the US, whose inaction had previously been a problem, were committing themselves to very strong action.
“We have set ourselves against our ally the United States on a major question of policy in a way that we haven’t done since the Ottawa conference in 1931,” Prof Garnaut said.
The comments came at the release of a report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) into the economic trouble Australia could face without an appropriate response to climate change.
The report says Australia faces the risk of growing repair bills from extreme weather and barriers to major project investment.
CEDA chief executive Stephen Martin said policy makers need to recognise climate change is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue.
“Statistics show that the number of catastrophic weather events is increasing and the economic losses associated with these events are also trending up,” Prof Martin said.
He said Cyclone Yasi, Black Saturday, the Queensland floods and other weather events have had a direct impact on industry and on most Australians’ hip pocket.
Professor Martin said the federal government needs to introduce a national risk register that includes strategies to manage risks of extreme weather.
“Australia is reliant on foreign capital to fund major projects and new developments in international climate change policy are likely to impact international capital flow and investment decision making,” Prof Martin said.