Garnaut loses the plot

by Clive Hamilton

Ross Garnaut, who will report in June to the Rudd Government on its emissions trading system, is a former trade economist now spending a lot of time thinking about how to prevent powerful industries undermining the Government’s plans. He has come up with a radical solution. Let’s have one target, a carbon budget aimed at a 60 per cent cut by 2050, locked in and shored up by various devices, and let the market sort out how and when it will cut emissions to get there. It would be the ethical judgements of a handful of central bankers that would determine prices. Managing the stability of the money economy is a doddle compared to managing the Earth’s climate. If Australian firms cannot participate in international emissions trading, as they could not under the Garnaut “let the market rule” proposal, where does that leave his claim that his proposal would be more efficient? Garnaut’s proposal is unrealistic and poorly designed.

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