For years climate change sceptics and their political fellow travellers in Australia have argued that large carbon emitters like the United States and China have not acted on climate change and, therefore, nor should Australia.
This argument is now crumbling as both the United States and China move to implement a carbon price system, based on an emissions trading system like Australia’s.
President Obama made clear to the US Congress in his State of the Union address last month that he will intervene to break the deadlock on climate change action.
“We must do more to combat climate change,” he said. “It’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.
“Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense.
“We can choose to believe that super storm Sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it is too late.
“I urge this congress to get together to pursue a bipartisan market-based solution to climate change. But if congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
The United States isn’t the only place which is now looking to follow the path on climate change action marked out by Australia over the past few years. China is well advanced in implementing an emissions trading system similar to ours.
Its largest cities and industrial centres such as Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin, Guangdong and Hubei, have developed regional emission trading systems. A national scheme will be implemented from around 2015-16.
China’s emissions reduction target (40-45% below 2005 levels) is significantly more ambitious than Australia’s (5-25% below 2000 levels).
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is an annual get together of the world’s richest and most powerful. Its central focus is usually economic growth and how to get richer. This year Davos was different – climate change was a central concern among the world’s plutocrats. Here is what some of the participants had to say:
“unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.”
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND.
“I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse. this is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. the risks for many people are existential.”
NICHOLAS STERN, AUTHOR OF THE GROUNDBREAKING STERN REPORT, WHICH PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN PUTTING GLOBAL WARMING ON TO THE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL AGENDA. “Just how many apocalyptic signs are required before global leaders get serious about preventing climate change? I am deeply concerned about the Alice in Wonderland perception of the big picture of what is happening in our world.”
JIM HARRIS, CORPORATE KNIGHTS, A MEDIA AND INVESTMENT RESEARCH FIRM.
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