February 26, 2008 | Graham

Garnaut super-wedges Nelson

Everyone seems to have missed the obvious. Garnaut’s radical position on greenhouse gas reductions also radically reduces the room for Nelson to manouvre in. Now Rudd’s fairly robust position looks conservative, and the possibility of running a more conservative credible position on greenhouse has virtually disappeared.
The usual suspects will pick-up the Garnaut targets, which means that Rudd can take-up a principled ground of opposition to the alarmists on greenhouse while remaining within his undertakings at the last election.
The Garnaut committee is starting to look like a very clever, but slightly tawdry, exercise. Garnaut’s career suggests superior political skills, and an affinity for the Labor side of politics. He is also probably close to Rudd, having been his superior in the Australian embassy in China. His taking a line which helps the government should not surprise.
It certainly helps to make sense of his radical position that we must reduce our greenhouse emissions by 90% by 2050. This is based on an assertion that the effects of greenhhouse warming are accelerating, despite the fact that there is little evidence of this and it is not borne out by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. This is even stranger because he refuses to deal with any of the scientific issues in favour of deferring to the IPCC report. So on the one hand he asserts the supremacy of the IPCC, and on the other relies on un-footnoted scientific observations outside the IPCC framework, whilst claiming not to be prepared to make a call on the science.
Most analysis has been a variation on the theme that Garnaut is a problem for Rudd. This misses the point because while elite opinion might favour radical action, the public only favours the idea of it, but they want someone else to pick-up the tab. Garnaut puts Rudd squarely on their side, and whatever costs Rudd puts on Australians he can always argue that it could be much worse.
This isn’t an antipodean version of Stern, it’s a ratcheting-up of debate, and it represents much smarter politics.

Posted by Graham at 10:09 pm | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I have no doubt that the politics of this will work pretty well in the way you’ve indicated, Graham, but it’s largely because the Liberals still can’t make up their minds about this stuff.
    The question is, would Ross Garnaut really risk his professional reputation by cooking the books on this? Not saying the results of his inquiry shouldn’t be scrutinised, but it’s hard to believe someone like this would knowingly cut their own throats by fudging, even to help a “maaate”.

    Comment by Jason — February 27, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  2. Well, Nicholas Stern did. In Stern’s case it was a ludicrously low discount rate which meant the cost of future action was much more expensive in real terms than it should have been, thus putting up the cost of action.
    Garnaut’s gone the other route – he’s put costs up on the cost of inaction.
    You see this sort of manipulation all the time in professional reports. A standard is the accounting firm who do a study on a major event, like a car race, and tote up all the income and then declare that figure will be the benefit to the state, without taking account of the costs, including the opportunity cost.
    This sort of professional fudging is so common that it generally has zero effect on reputation.

    Comment by Graham Young — February 27, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  3. Just seeing if I’ve been suspended from here also, by Adolf Young.

    Comment by Leigh — February 27, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  4. You got suspended for being out of line and off-topic, as well as abusive, but that was the On Line Opinion forum. You can still post here as long as you show a bit of respect to tohers, in which case this post isn’t encouraging.

    Comment by Graham Young — February 27, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  5. Hi webmaster!

    Comment by Kazelyym — March 1, 2008 @ 1:49 am

  6. Hi webmaster!

    Comment by Kazelacq — March 1, 2008 @ 1:55 am

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