Emission trading: call for more science involvement
With the final Garnaut report due in late September, and the Federal Government’s White Paper and exposure draft legislation due later in 2008, the pace of ETS policy development has been rapid. Some experts feel that the decisions made now to appease business or electoral interests will have significant impacts over the coming decades.
The Garnaut draft report called for an Australian emissions trading scheme to initially include energy and transport but exclude agriculture, due to the difficulty of measuring greenhouse gas emissions from farming activity. The Government’s scheme design has been controversial so far for some commentators in excluding fuel and ‘downplaying’ methane.
ECOS presents commentary from RMIT’s Professor Alan Pears, former CSIRO environmental economist Dr Steve Hatfield Dodds, the University of Adelaide’s Professor Barry Brook and the University of Queensland’s Professor John Quiggan.
According to Professor Pears, while an ETS is an important element of climate change policy we need to be driving a lot of other elements as well. “Unless other policies are starting to reduce our emissions and change our demand, politically it will be very difficult for the government to bring in a good quality emissions trading scheme,” he says.
Professor Brook, and Deakin University’s Dr Matthew Clarke urge more active and formal involvement from the scientific community in the rapid evolution of the final White Paper to avoid ‘crude’ science and ensure relevant strategy elements are handled as well as possible.
Marine capability for climate change measures
Ocean monitoring is a key scientific technique for measuring and predicting large-scale impacts of climate change on the planet. ECOS looks at the powerful Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and Climate of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean project (CASO) programs monitoring Australian and Antarctic waters, both of which are providing data on oceanic processes at an unprecedented scale.
CASO is the leading project of the 250 planned to mark International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–08 – a global collaborative effort involving researchers from 63 nations and the world’s top oceanographic organisations. CASO aims to obtain the first circumpolar snapshot of the Southern Ocean over a single season.
ECOS also profiles permaculture – a sustainable farming concept, originally developed in Australia, that is moving into the mainstream and now enabling many developing country communities to become self-sufficient.
The principles of permaculture were first developed in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.
Holmgren describes the concept as a design toolkit aimed at teaching people how to feed themselves and live as energy-efficiently as possible.
These natural design principles – borrowing from organic agriculture, sustainable forestry, horticulture, agroforestry and indigenous land management systems from around the world – are now as applicable to suburban backyards and ecovillages as they are to broadacre farms or whole cities.
Other stories in ECOS 144 include:
Guiding Australia’s natural resources reporting: At a time when monitoring environmental change is more critical than ever, we look at the valuable work of National Land & Water Resources Audit, currently in limbo under federal funding revisions.
New management for Brisbane’s natural assets: Brisbane City Council is assessing the feasibility of using asset-based management processes, traditionally used for managing infrastructure such as bridges and roads, to define and manage natural assets such as wetlands, parks and water quality.
Rebuilding Vietnam’s war-torn forests: Nearly two-thirds of Vietnam’s tree cover has been destroyed by war, overharvesting and clearing for agriculture. Now, the Vietnamese Government has committed to planting five million hectares of trees with the on-going help of Australian tree species and forestry expertise.
The pursuit of happiness: In the fifth in our series on the definition of sustainability, two researchers put forward the idea that sustainable development is really about ensuring the planet is able to support human well-being over the long run: happy and healthy people, forever.
Mapping climate impacts on our coastal cities: With around 710 000 coastal homes at risk from storms and rising sea levels in future, researchers are helping local councils and state governments plan for the sea and weather impacts of climate change on key coastal areas.
Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action: ECOS reviews this new book in which authors Phillip Sutton and David Spratt conclude that the world has 10 years, at most, to take effective action to prevent catastrophic climate change impacts.
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- The latest issue of ECOS provides expert analysis of the draft report of the independent Garnaut Review on emissions trading and the Federal Government’s Green Paper, which outlines the differing proposals for a ‘carbon pollution reduction’ scheme
- The Garnaut draft report called for an Australian emissions trading scheme to initially include energy and transport but exclude agriculture, due to the difficulty of measuring greenhouse gas emissions from farming activity
- ECOS presents commentary from RMIT’s Professor Alan Pears, former CSIRO environmental economist Dr Steve Hatfield Dodds, the University of Adelaide’s Professor Barry Brook and the University of Queensland’s Professor John Quiggan