Monday, 3 October 2011

Citizen Garnaut slams carbon critics over 'extreme distortion'

28 Sep 2011, Page: 6

Ross Garnaut has fired back at critics of the carbon tax he helped craft, accusing its opponents of bringing "elaborate and extreme" distortions to the public debate. In a passionate appearance before the joint parliamentary committee considering the Gillard government's draft carbon legislation, Professor Garnaut yesterday said in, "egregious" incorrect claims had become prominent, potentially corrupting the democratic process.

"Australian public discussion of climate change policy over recent times has been the locus of more elaborate and extreme distortion of reality and abuse of truth than I have seen in an adult lifetime of interest in policy", he said. "Our generation risks condemnation in history for the corruption of our democracy embodied in this distortion of reality and abuse of truth".

Professor Garnaut, who is a professorial economics fellow at the University of Melbourne, conducted the Rudd government's climate change review, as well as more recent updates that have helped build the platform for the carbon tax package. He said he was appearing before the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Clean Energy Future Legislation as a private citizen. Professor Garnaut cited common errors including the "frequent assertion" that Australia would be doing more than its fair share by implementing the carbon tax.

"What is proposed for Australia's legislation cannot in any way be seen as more than a fair share", he said. "The policy that underpins the draft legislation currently before the parliament allows Australia to do its fair share at reasonable economic cost and a far lower economic cost than the main alternatives that have been put forward in public discussion".

He said there had been "particularly egregious distortion" regarding the lack of a national emissions trading scheme in the US, where individual states have introduced their own legislation to reduce emissions. "There will be no carbon price nationwide,,. but there will be very strong policies of other kinds", he said. "You can have carbon constraints without carbon prices. "In fact, the carbon constraints through regulatory processes that have been applied in China and the US in many cases impose more costs on businesses and households than carbon pricing to achieve equivalent reductions in emissions".