Climate Change Authority’s plan ‘a dog’s breakfast’

A dissenting report from two members of the government’s Climate Change Authority has been dismissed by the Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Climate Change Authority released the third and final report in its Special Review on the actions Australia should take to meet its obligations in the Paris climate agreement. In short, the report recommended the government keep the chief pillars of its current policies, but tweak it in places.

A week later, however, it emerged two members of the 10-strong authority would not be endorsing the report: Charles Sturt University Professor of public ethics Clive Hamilton, and University of Melbourne Professor of atmospheric sciences David Karoly.

The minority report calls for full emissions trading scheme and closure of brown-coal-fired power plants.

The pair said they could not “in good conscience” put their name to the majority report, which they said privileged “political feasibility” over environmental effectiveness and economic efficiency.

“We believe that the effect of the majority report will be to sanction further delay and a slow pace of action with serious consequences for the nation,” the two members wrote in their 24-page report published on the Climate Council website.

“Treating our ‘Paris commitment’ as if it were only the 26-28 per cent target and not the commitment to hold warming to well below 2C is convenient for the current government’s domestic agenda, but it contradicts the nation’s international legal obligations and national interest in avoiding dangerous climate change.

“We believe that the effect of the majority report will be to sanction further delay and a slow pace of action with serious consequences for the nation. Those consequences include one or both of: very severe and costly emission cuts in the mid to-late 2020s; or, repudiation of Australia’s international commitments and free riding on the efforts of the rest of the world. The latter would weaken global momentum for an effective response to climate change and harm the nation diplomatically.”

What’s more, Professor Hamilton and Professor Karoly suggested the Climate Change Authority has ignored its previous recommendations based on a “carbon budget” approach.