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A call for international climate change policy

James I Davison's picture

The Garnaut Climate Change Review, compared to other influential reports on the issue, factors in economic growth and intensifying emissions from developing countries.
As news of the financial crisis and U.S. presidential election has dominated headlines in recent months, I find it amazing how quickly other crucial issues can slip to the back of one’s mind. Specifically, I’m talking about the topic of climate change, a major area of concern, particularly for developing countries. As economies stabilize and Americans get ready for a historic change in leadership, the climate change issue will surely come back into focus as leaders around the world make the seemingly inevitable move toward policy reform. Last week, I listened to a man discuss his work, which may influence Australian and international leaders to take steps toward a new framework of climate change policy.

In 2007, state and national governments in Australia commissioned economics professor Ross Garnaut to conduct what ultimately become the Garnaut Climate Change Review. The final report was presented to the Australia’s prime minister in late September and is available for download online.

Garnaut says his work, compared to other influential reports on the issue -- such as the Stern Review and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- takes a more “realistic view” on the future of business-as-usual emissions, because it factors in the economic growth and intensifying emissions from developing countries like China and India.

Leaders in Australia, Garnaut suggests, know they are more vulnerable to climate change than other developed countries. The country’s climate is already dry, making agriculture difficult. Australia is also in a region of developing countries, which are expected to see the greatest impacts of climate change. The report suggests a feasible and appropriate global regime for mitigation of emissions, and Garnaut concludes that only a global effort to lower carbon emissions is worthwhile. More than anything, the review “urges humanity to act now … to develop the required policy response in time,” reads report’s Web site.

What do you think? Read the report here, and respond with your thoughts in the comment section below.