Not taking population growth into account is distorting the debate about greenhouse gas reduction targets says Rod Sims of corporate strategy advisory firm Port Jackson Partners Ltd.
Australia has a 1% population growth while Europe has a near zero growth rate reports theFin Review (20.11.08) and this distortion has major implications in assessing Australia’s relative contribution to greenhouse gas reduction and also to the chances that developing countries will sign on to a global scheme.
Not much has been said about per capita greenhouse targets by either the government or the media.
“Garnaut’s main recommendation was for the world to seek stabilisation of greenhouse gases at 550 million parts per million and for each country to have an emissions trajectory consistent with this and moving to equal per capita emissions between nations by 2050.”
To meet these objectives, Garnaut calculated that Australia’s absolute reduction over 2000 levels would need to be 10% by 2020, Europe’s 14%, and there would need to be a 15% reduction on average for all developed countries.
In per capita terms, these same reductions would have Australia reduce its emissions by 30% by 2020, Europe by 17% and all developed countries by 22%.
Following Garnaut’s recommendations Australia would be making the largest cuts per person – we do have higher individual levels of emissions to start with, consuming large amounts of energy, food, building materials etc.
To get developing countries to sign up developed countries should be discussing a global agreement to an eventual equal per capita emission allocation by around 2050. The media should cease reporting greenhouse gas reduction targets in absolute terms without including per capita reduction targets as well.
Will mainstream media take up this approach?