The Climate Institute interim reaction to the Asian Century White Paper Media Release

Oct 28, 2012 - 1:00pm

The Asian Century White Paper frequently mentions the risks of climate change to Australian and Asian prosperity but makes little new recommendations and mostly lacks the urgency to address the risks it identifies. 

The paper notes key risks to Asia likely to be conservative such as: 

  • Annual adaptation costs in South Asia alone from 2010 to 2050 of 2 degree warming of $15 billion per year;
  • Under sea level rises, the number of people affected could be up to 94 million; and
  • Climate impacts on Hindu Kush glaciers could affect water security for 1.3 billion people.
For Australia environmental sustainability – including climate change – is noted as a key risk to our underlying prosperity and one of the three forces driving Australia’s economic and social landscape. 

The Paper notes significant adaptation risks in Asia and references risks to Australian infrastructure but provides no new recommendation about increasing Australia’s preparedness for climate change.  

The Climate Institute is tomorrow launching a new reportComing Ready or Not: Managing climate risks to Australia’s infrastructure, which highlights how poorly equipped our infrastructure is. 

The restatement of Australia’s commitment to help mobilise $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries prepare for climate change is welcome and a crucial part of negotiations for a global climate agreement but we still lack detail from the Government of how we are to help. 

It should be acknowledged, however, that the White Paper appears to make a new commitment is for Australia to become “a world leader in the commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency.” Achieving this will require maintenance and improvement of current policies including at least maintaining the current 2020 renewable energy target as well as introducing a National Energy Savings Initiative. 

The recommendations note that Australia is prepared to reduce 2000 emissions by at least 5 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. Both the ALP and Coalition back 2020 targets of up to 25 per cent reductions dependent on global action. The report repeatedly notes examples of global action.  

Australia needs to be ready to do much more than the 5 per cent target and 25 per cent would be the least Australia should do to help avoid the 2 degree warming above pre-industrial levels to which it has committed to internationally. The new carbon laws provide a platform for greater ambition from Australia. 

This White Paper has much to commend in its recognition of climate risks and the need for active regional and global engagement by Australia in tackling the climate challenge but needs greater urgency and focus on our own preparedness. 

For more information 

John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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