Only a few weeks after the release of the Draft Report of the seriously flawed, pro-coal, Australian Garnaut Climate Change Review (4 July, 2008; see my critique on Green Blog, â€œPro-Coal, Australian Garnaut Climate Review Damns Coral, Australia & Worldâ€), the Australian Federal Government has released a so-called â€œCarbon Pollution Reduction Schemeâ€ Green Paper (16 July, 2008).
Unfortunately the Australian Federal Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) Green Paper is FATALLY FLAWED and if adopted globally would be a DEATH SENTENCE for the planetâ€™s biosphere.
Australia is referred to as â€œDownunderâ€ by people in the Northern Hemisphere but in so many things Australian mainstream media and politicians turn the truth upside-down as well - and this is outrageously so in relation to man-made climate change. The Liberal-National Party Coalition State and Federal Oppositions and the Labor Party State and Federal Governments (these major parties being referred to collectively as the Lib-Labs) pay public lip-service to the problem of global warming but their de facto policies support Australiaâ€™s world-leading coal exports and Australiaâ€™s 92% fossil fuel-based power generation.
This Orwellian absurdity has reached globally-significant proportions with this Australian Government â€œCarbon Pollution Reduction Schemeâ€ Green Paper which in REALITY means that Australiaâ€™s ACTUAL greenhouse gas pollution is set to DOUBLE by 2050.
In addition to this Orwellian absurdity of a â€œpollution reductionâ€ scheme that actually DOUBLES greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, the Australian Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) â€œlooks the other wayâ€ and â€œignores the elephant the cornerâ€ in numerous other ways. The Australian Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme:
(a) massively ignores leading scientific and economic advice on the urgent need stop greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and indeed to REDUCE atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from 387 ppm (parts per million) to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm;
( ignores two thirds of Australia-responsible greenhouse gas emission sources, notably coal exports (43% of the total Domestic plus Exported emissions), agriculture (9%), land-use and forestry (4%) and (effectively, via subsidies) transport (8%);
© adopts a â€œcap and tradeâ€ Emissions Trading Scheme with an atmospheric CO2 concentration â€œcapâ€ above 450 ppm (450-500 ppm will kill world coral reefs including Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef);
(d) ignores the reality that the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal burning-based power generation (taking the environmental and human impacts into account) is about 4-5 times the â€œmarket costâ€;
(e) ignores the reality that coal burning kills about 5,000 Australians every year at a risk avoidance-based valuation (EU) of $5 million per person x 5,000 persons = $25 billion per year;
(f) ignores the horrendous realities that Australiaâ€™s annual per capita CO2 pollution (27 tonnes CO2 per person per year domestically but 47 tonnes CO2 per person per year including CO2 from coal exports) is 10 times worse than that of China and the World and 40 times worse than that of India;
(g) hands nearly all of the collected pollution licence fees back to polluters, â€œdirty energyâ€ users and the poor - rather than using it to urgently construct clean energy power stations using current technologies that can ALREADY provide power at a cost LOWER than the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal-based electricity (taking environmental and human costs into account).
Using US Energy Information Administration data, and ignoring huge new Australian coal export infrastructure developments, Australiaâ€™s total Domestic and Exported CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning in millions of tonnes (Mt) are expected to climb from 698 Mt (2000) and 910 Mt (2007) to 1,277 Mt (2020, no mitigation) or 1,165 Mt (2020, based on the Australian Governmentâ€™s promised â€œ20% renewable by 2020â€; an INCREASE of 67% over 2000) and thence to 1,371 Mt (2050, based on the Australian Governmentâ€™s promised â€œ60% reduction of 2000 Domestic pollution by 2050â€; an INCREASE of 96% over 2000 CO2 pollution ).
The following 24 major criticisms are of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper (GP) Summary and appended Fact Sheets. These criticisms have been formally submitted with detailed documentation to the Australian Government (for a detailed version with carefully linked documentation see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup):
2. NASA experts ignored over 350 ppm CO2 limit. In advocating continued, high level, GHG emissions the Green Paper IGNORES the acute seriousness of anthropogenic climate change due to greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution (in contrast, top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen and his colleagues at NASAâ€™s Goddard Institute for Space Studies demand an urgent â€œnegative CO2 emissionsâ€ policy to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration from a present dangerous and environmentally damaging level of 387 ppm to a safe and sustainable level of no more than 350 ppm.).
3. EPA-style regulation ignored. The Green Paper IGNORES a â€œregulatoryâ€ course (e.g. it does not even consider actually progressively banning GHG pollution in the context of a Climate Emergency transition period and making GHG polluters pay the â€œtrueâ€ environmental and human cost of pollution (a course which is responsibly adopted and EPA-inspected in relation to OTHER major industrial sources of environmentally and socially damaging pollution e.g. asbestos, heavy metals, heavy oils, acids, toxic organics, microorganisms).
4. Flawed quasi-market proposal despite â€œgreatest market failureâ€. While both the Garnaut Report and top UK climate economist Professor Nicholas Stern describe the climate change crisis as the â€œgreatest ever market failureâ€, the Green Paper opts for a highly-compromised and flawed â€œclaimed market mechanismâ€ to discourage GHG pollution â€“ rather than â€œdirect actionâ€ of regulation of GHG pollution and emergency implementation action to dramatically speed conversion to â€œclean energyâ€.
5. Biologically disastrous CPRS â€œcapâ€ â€“ Carbon Tax & new technology needed. The Green Paper opts for a flawed â€œcap and tradeâ€ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with a â€œcapâ€ (at least 450 ppm CO2) disastrously higher than that recommended for a safe environment by top climate scientists (less than 350 ppm CO2) and IGNORES active government involvement in actually building or promoting renewable or other non-carbon power plants (e.g. top US climate economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, rejects the ETS approach and has advocated that Australia should introduce a carbon tax as a simpler and less rort-prone system, and invest the proceeds in the development of new technology).
6. Coral goes above 450 ppm CO2, ocean phytoplankton go above 500 ppm CO2. The Green Paper is based one supposes on the immediately prior Garnaut Report which was predicated on an Australian Government proposed outcome of an atmospheric CO2 of 450-550 ppm. However world coral dies above 450 ppm, the phytoplankton and the Greenland ice sheet go above 500 ppm and the world is devastated at 550 ppm.
7. Australia per capita CO2 pollution 10 times worse than China and World, 40 times worse than India. The Green Paper admits that Australiaâ€™s world-leading coal exports represent a major component of Australian coal mining but extraordinarily IGNORES the contribution this makes to Australiaâ€™s annual per capita CO2 pollution (27 tonnes CO2 per person per year domestically but 47 tonnes CO2 per person per year including CO2 from coal exports) â€“ 10 times worse than China and the World and 40 times worse than India.
8. Estimated 5,000 Australia deaths annually from coal-based power. The Green Paper IGNORES the estimated huge annual deaths from coal-burning and fossil fuel-burning for electricity in Australia (4,900 and 5,400, respectively) and the World (170,000 and 283,000, respectively). This carnage carries an economist-estimated price tag e.g. the US Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has recently re-estimated the risk-avoidanceâ€“based valuation of American lives at US$6.9 million each (US$ and A$ are close to parity) yielding 5,400 persons x $6.9 million per person = $37 billion.
9. â€œTrue costâ€ of coal-based power 4-5 times â€œmarketâ€ cost. The Green Paper IGNORES the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal-based electricity generation which is estimated from an Ontario, Canada Government study to be 4-5 times the â€œmarket costâ€ â€“ a reality that makes all existing, best-practice non-carbon energy sources cheaper than fossil fuel-based power.
10. Morbidity and mortality cost due to coal burning-based power generation. The Green Paper ignores the huge annually added cost to Australia due to coal burning- and fossil fuel-burning-related deaths (at $5 million per person [EU estimate], $25 billion and $27 billion, respectively) and the 6-fold greater cost of morbidity (illness).
11. Top US, UK, France climate scientists want â€œnegative CO2 emissionsâ€ policy. There are 3 clear options: (a) negative CO2 emissions, ( zero emissions and © positive emissions (more emissions). The Green Paper prescribes MORE CO2 pollution and IGNORES the position of top UK, US and French climate scientists from top institutions who argue that we have already reached a disastrous â€œtipping pointâ€ and must reduce atmospheric CO2 from the current 387 ppm to no more than 350 ppm i.e. a â€œnegative CO2 pollutionâ€ policy that can be implemented by energy efficiency, cessation of fossil fuel burning, implementation of best-practice existing non-carbon energy sources, re-afforestation, return of biochar to soils, and (if necessary) use of global dimming sulphur oxide aerosols.
12. Huge total economic value of sustainable biosphere use. The Green Paper IGNORES Agriculture (9% of Total GHG Emissions) and Forestry and Land Use (4% of Total Emissions). The Green Paper specifically excludes de-forestation from consideration (p18) and the findings of top biologists and environmental economists that the total economic return from major biomes (ecological systems) studied can be typically about 50% greater when there is sustainable use and that the economic return from preserving what is left of wild nature is over 100 times the cost of so doing.
13. Huge economic and irreversible ecosystem and species loss from Great Barrier Reef destruction. The Green Paper IGNORES the enormous current rate of species extinction that is ALREADY 100-1,000 times greater than normal and which is impacted severely by climate change. Irreversible environmental vandalism aside, the economic cost of the adumbrated destruction of the Great Barrier Reef (i.e. at atmospheric CO2 above the Governmentâ€™s proposed minimum target of 450 ppm CO2) has been estimated by a prestigious Access Economics report prepared for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Access Economics provides quantitative estimates of the economic and financial value of tourism, commercial fishing and recreational activities undertaken in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Catchment during 2005/06. The Great Barrier Reef is a significant element in the Australian economy which, along with other attractions in the region, contributes $6.9 billion annually. This comprises $6 billion from the tourism industry, $544 million from recreational activity and $251 million from commercial fishing. This economic activity generates about 66, 000 jobs, mostly in the tourism industry, which brings over 1.8 million visitors to the Great Barrier Reef each year. A 1997 report in the prestigious science journal Nature estimated that the resources and economic benefits derived world-wide from coral reefs are worth $375 billion a year.
14. International and National legal implications of GHG pollution. The Green Paper IGNORES International and National Law in relation to illegitimate commercial impositions on other people (especially when mass suffering and death are involved) and IGNORES the real prospect of litigation, Sanctions, Boycotts, Green Tariffs, Reparations Demands and national and international criminal prosecutions (however the Green Paper does advert to the possibility of international Tariffs).
15. Moral and legal implications of incorrectness by omission or commission. People are â€œentitled to their opinionâ€ as with politics (political freedom), religion (religious freedom) and scholars (academic freedom). However there are certainly moral constraints in relation to statements that are incorrect by omission or commission. Further, legal constraints on â€œfreedom of speechâ€ exist in relation to Courts (e.g. perjury), other law enforcement (e.g. perverting the course of justice) and in commercial law. Thus insider-trading and anti-price collusion legislation prohibit deception of investors and consumers and indeed apply draconian penalties. Similar legislation would dramatically clarify the Climate Emergency debate in Australia and the World in general which is heavily influenced by industry and politicians to the exclusion of expert climate scientists. Indeed Dr James Hansen in a recent address to the US National Press Club and a briefing to the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming Congressional Committee raised the issue of criminal prosecutions:
16. Major technological advances in low-cost solar and other non-carbon technologies. The pro-coal Green Paper Summary IGNORES the enormous advances made in already commercial solar energy technology, notably silicon-based photovoltaics (notably improved efficiency, sliver technology, balloon-based solar energy collection), CIGS and other non-silicon thin film photovoltaics (California, Switzerland) and Concentrated Solar Power or Solar Thermal â€“ all of which yield power at a cost LESS than the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal-based power and in many cases approaching the 4-5 times lower current, heavily subsidized â€œmarket costâ€ of the coal-based power favoured by the Green Paper. Thus the new, large-scale, commercialized, Ausra Concentrated Solar Power (Solar Thermal) Compact Linear Fresnel (CLFR) system technology is already HALF the "true cost" of coal-based power with lower cost to come with economies of scale. Thus Ausra claims that it can generate electricity for 10 cents/kWh now, and for under 8 cents/kWh in 3 yearsâ€™ time. It also claims that using Ausraâ€™s current solar technologies, all U.S. electric power, day and night, can be generated using a land area smaller than 92 by 92 miles.
18. The CPRS selectively ignores two thirds of Australia-responsible GHG emissions. The Green Paper is absurdly INEQUITABLE in its selective targeting of sources of GHG pollution. Thus major areas excluded or effectively excluded from the CPRS are Agriculture (90 Mt CO2-e, 9.0% of Total Domestic and Exported GHG emissions), Forestry and Land Use (40 Mt, 4.0% of Total), Transport (tax and re-pay cent-for-cent; 80 Mt, 8.0%) and Coal Exports (426 Mt, 42.5% of 1002 Mt total). This goes against considerations of reason, equity and expert economic advice.
19. Green Paper counterproductive and inequitable in return of licence fees to polluters and consumers. The Green Paper is absurdly discriminatory and INEQUITABLE in its return of nearly all the GHG pollution licence fee monies to domestic and industry participants. Thus those FAVOURED by the Green Paper through subsidies (variously including â€œfree permitsâ€) are the â€œdirtyâ€ energy providers, â€œdirty powerâ€ users, â€œemission-intensive trade-exposed industriesâ€ (this could conceivably include the un-taxed coal and liquefied natural gas exporters!) and the poor and elderly (who are acutely discriminated against through resolute non-provision of cheap, renewable technologies that are much cheaper than the â€œtrueâ€ cost of coal-based electricity). Unjustly, absurdly and counterproductively, those NOT receiving non-transport subsidies include â€œcleanâ€ industries (including renewable energy industries) and middle-to-higher income consumers (who are generally opposed to GHG pollution).
20. GP damaging to Older Australians. In its resolute commitment to fossil fuel-burning at all costs, the Green Paper is highly discriminatory towards older Australians in many ways, most notably because they are differentially threatened by elevated temperatures and because they are threatened by the impossibility of GDP growth in a continuing carbon-based economy. Thus retirement benefits require GDP growth, and carbon-based growth is no longer possible but cheap, non-carbon energy alternatives are already developed. For people who are self-funded retirees on superannuation schemes or people on government pensions it is necessary for GDP growth to compensate for outlays and inflation. However, the Climate Emergency requirement for urgent implementation of â€œnegative CO2 emissionsâ€ means that the present carbon-based energy economy in which GDP is directly proportional to CO2 pollution has to STOP. However the solar energy hitting the earth each day is 10,000 times the energy currently used by man and can ALREADY be cheaply accessed at a cost much lower than the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal-based electricity.
21. CPRS details not known till after Submission deadline. The Green Paper is a fore-runner of more detailed document but more precise details from Treasury will apparently only be available in October i.e. AFTER the deadline for Submissions on the Green Paper has closed in September 2008!
22. Green Paper policies reverse sensible feed-back inhibition and feed-forward activation. The Green Paper Summary (p29) states that â€œThe Government proposes to provide a limited amount of direct assistance to existing coal-fired electricity generatorsâ€ but will effectively punish â€œnon-carbon energy generatorsâ€, other â€œcleanâ€ industries and middle-to-higher income consumers who will bear the burden of increased costs due to the CPRS. This and other Green Paper pro-coal policies are mathematically absurd and CONTRARY to sensible models of â€œfeed-back inhibitionâ€ in relation to undesirable outcomes (e.g. inhibition of GHG pollution by constraining polluters by the amount they pollute) and â€œfeed-forward activationâ€ to achieve desirable outcomes (e.g. promoting renewable and geothermal energy to achieve lowered GHG pollution, and lowered atmospheric CO2).
23. Green Paper favours â€œdirty energyâ€ and fossil fuel exports over â€œclean energyâ€. While the urgently-needed installation of â€œclean energyâ€ is left up to â€œmarket forcesâ€, the Green Paper departs from a â€œlevel playing fieldâ€, â€œmarket forcesâ€ game by supporting â€œdirty energyâ€ and coal exports on the one hand while imposing increased costs on the renewable energy industry and middle-to-higher-income anti-pollution consumers on the other.
24. Green Paper violates Rational Risk Management. Rational Risk Management (that, for example, has made aviation so safe) successively involves (a) getting accurate information; ( scientific analysis (science involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses); and © systemic change to minimize risk. Unfortunately this protocol is typically perverted at all levels of society through (a) lying and incorrectness by omission and commission, censorship, intimidation, and propaganda; ( anti-science spin involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position; and © blame and shame (which discourages requisite reportage) with typically no systemic change (which greatly increases the risk of adverse outcomes). A fundamental flaw of the Green Paper lies in its egregious departure from Rational Risk Management principles.
16 million people ALREADY die avoidably in the world each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease and this is already being significantly impacted by global warming according to the UN. In December 2007 in Bali the three Rome-based UN Agencies â€“ FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development â€“ warned that climate change is a major challenge to world food security and will increase hunger and malnutrition unless immediate action is taken. Unaddressed climate change already threatens billions and will kill over 6 billion people this century according to Professor James Lovelock FRS.
The Green Paper departs from the above Rational Risk Management protocol in all 3 key areas as described above:
(a) it ignores major realities (e.g. Australiaâ€™s world leading coal exports that contribute 43% of Australiaâ€™s annual contribution to global GHG pollution; the estimated 5,000 Australians who die annually from coal burning-based power generation; the reality that the â€œtrue costâ€ of coal burning-based power generation is 4-5 times the â€œmarket costâ€; the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 from the present damaging 387 ppm to a safe and sustainable level of less than 350 ppm (according to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen); the need for a carbon pollution tax and urgent implementation of clean technologies (according to top world economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs); and makes INCORRECT assertions (e.g. â€œthe scheme will cover the bulk of Australiaâ€™s emissionsâ€ (p15));
( as outlined in (a) above, the Green Paper has used information selectively to support a partisan pro-coal position; and
© the Green Paper Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme fails to significantly alter the system to the extent that â€œCarbon Pollutionâ€ from Australiaâ€™s domestic and exported GHG emissions is predicted to actually INCREASE 67% by 2020 and DOUBLE by 2050 under this prescription. The Green Paper fails to provide any substantial change in response to what eminent people now describe as a Climate Emergency. Thus on 17 July 2008 an outstanding new Australian book entitled â€œClimate Code Red. The Case for Emergency Actionâ€ by David Spratt and Philip Sutton was launched in the Queenâ€™s Hall of Victoriaâ€™s Parliament House by the Governor of Victoria, the eminent medical scientist Professor David de Kretser, who warned of the acute seriousness of man-made global warming and the existence of an emergency situation. Top US and World climate scientist Dr James Hansen (Head of NASAâ€™s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York) commented thus about â€œClimate Code Redâ€: â€œA compelling case â€¦ we face a climate emergency.â€
In summary, the Australian Federal Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) Green Paper is terminally flawed and if adopted globally would be a DEATH SENTENCE for the planetâ€™s biosphere. This is an extremely serious case of one of the Worldâ€™s major greenhouse gas polluters blatantly â€œturning the truth upside-downâ€. If the World wants to save the biosphere (including Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef) it should respond urgently to force terracidal, climate criminal Australia to rapidly reduce its annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution down to the World average and thence to â€œnegative CO2 emissionsâ€. Pressure can be exerted on climate criminal Australia through Sanctions, Boycotts, Green Tariffs, Reparations Demands and arraignment of Australia on charges of Climate Genocide before the International Criminal Court (e.g. through action by acutely climate change-threatened Pacific Island States and populous mega-delta countries.
Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). He has just published â€œBody Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950â€ (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com);
see also his contribution â€œAustralian complicity in Iraq mass mortalityâ€ in â€œLies, Deep Fries & Statisticsâ€ (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007). He is currently preparing a revised and updated version of his 1998 book â€œJane Austen and the Black Hole of British Historyâ€ as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a possibly 100-fold greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the "forgotten" World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others).