Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Per-capita CO2 Emission Standards?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-02

Stephen Bartholomeusz is being dangerously shortsighted in Cautious carbon approach will ensure the economic apple cart stays upright in The Age 2007-06-02, touting the ingenuous line of the Howard government apologists that Australia produces about 1.5% of the world’s carbon emissions, is close to meeting meeting Kyoto targets, and therefore should not have to do much.

He fails to note that Australian’s per-capita emit more CO2 than any other nation apart from the US, and that our economy relies on increasing the emissions from other nations, burning our exported coal.

If these proxy emissions are taken into account, the Australian economy and lifestyle depends even more on CO2 emissions than the US, which is a net importer of carbon-based fuels.  These considerations might force Australia to accept even tighter controls than most nations.

What Bartholomeusz fails to take into account is the legitimate push in treaty negotiations from developing nations to demand the greatest sacrifices from the nations that have been behaving irresponsibly and causing the problem in the first place.

Their logic is that while their emissions are rising now, if the developed nations had not had such a high per-capita emission rate over the last century or two, the world would not be in crisis.

Thus, the developing nations will probably push for a cap-and-trade between nations based on per-capita emissions.  Given the rising economic power of developing nations (notably China and to a lesser extent India), they have the ability to force such controls by sanctioning nations such as the USA by selling off treasury bonds and crippling their economies.  (See my China v US and Oz economic wargames post).

The "cautious" approach of Howard (and Bush) will not serve Australia well, as we will be ill-prepared for the likely sanctions imposed on us within 10 years as US (and by proxy, Australia) loses economic clout.

See also:
Beyond Kyoto: – A New Global Climate Certificate System by Prof. Dr. Lutz Wicke (ESCP-EAP, European School of Management)
Australia’s CO2 emissions in the global context CSIRO Media Release 2007-05-22
See Also:
Desperately seeking new economics (2007-06-03)
Climate change crisis to reduct poverty? (2007-06-05)
China pushing for per-capita CO2 – well derrrrr 2007-06-09


4 Responses to “Per-capita CO2 Emission Standards?”

  1. […] Per-capita CO2 Emission Standards ? […]


    Submited post on – “Per-capita CO2 Emission Standards?”

  3. Raf said

    Hi Dave,

    At some point we have to work out this issue in a global commons framework. It simplt cannot be left to individual countries to opt out and continue business as usual. We managed it with the ozone layer so i don’t see why we can’t manage it with greenhosuse gases.

    Firstly though we need to agree a global cap on emissions. If that can be done then the rest is just negotiating around equity issues.

    Some frameworks worth looking at are C+C (Contraction and Convergence), Kyoto 2 and Sustento Framework

    I like your mention of sanctions through the treasury market (a la Tom Clancy “Debt of Honour”?) especially as China, Japan and other surplus nations hold a lot of $ assets. I’ll have a look at that post and check back.



  4. Nigel said

    I suggest chatting to Richard Deniss (Australia Institute)..they gave this a good shot a few years ago and quoted OZ carbon emissions per capita somewhere vicinity of 23 tonnes per capita (US then about 26 tonnes) but the omissions in the emmissions throws the question into faeryland…like bunker fuel for exports and imports was not included in the figures…and given the location of this fatal shore..i can only guess that we are the dirtiest bastards in the world. Add to this the mining boom of the intervening years and my guess would be that OZ holds the prize but who is to complain when we so diligently supply coal and underpriced resources for the rest of the world?


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