Abbott out of step on climate change, says Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Professor Jeffrey Sachs. Photo: Angela Wylie
Australia's reversal on climate change action will ultimately
not stick because the rest of the world will make clear that it is
unacceptable, globally renowned economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs says.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Professor Sachs said the extreme
shocks and pain of climate change were now being felt across the planet
and governments acting in an ''anti-scientific perspective or an
extraordinarily short-term perspective'' will be surprised by the
response from other countries.
''This government was surprised this week with the reception
to the budget,'' Professor Sachs said. ''And I think it is going to be
surprised by the global reception of its climate policies as well unless
it begins to understand the real situation in the world and what's
really expected of a country like Australia.''
Professor Sachs is perhaps best known for his work on poverty eradication, including his bestselling book The End of Poverty. He is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He is in the country to launch work on the Australian section
of a global project for the UN to map paths for 13 countries to make
deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions that are consistent with keeping
global warming at relatively safe levels of below 2 degrees.
The first stage of the project - led in Australia by think
tank ClimateWorks and Australian National University economist Professor
Frank Jotzo - will be fed into a September world leaders climate
meeting in New York that has been convened by Mr Ban. The meeting is an
attempt to build momentum towards December 2015 climate negotiations in
Paris, at which countries are due to finalise a new global climate
treaty to take effect from 2020.
Professor Sachs pitched the Paris meeting as the ''last chance'' for the world to keep global warming below 2 degrees.
He said while business as usual on climate change could be
seen as the most likely outcome, it was dangerous and the planet would
be led towards massive climate feedback loops that would carry us well
beyond the 2-degree threshold.
He said ultimately Australia was not a smaller player in
stopping climate change and was among a handful of countries that
mattered because of their fossil fuel use and production, including
China, the US, the European Union, Canada, India and the Gulf states.
Professor Sachs said he had told Foreign Minister Julie
Bishop this week Australia should join other major coal producers to
develop technologies that captured and stored emissions from burning
coal because the world needed to know soon whether it would work.
Along with cuts to renewable energy, the Abbott government
cut $440 million from carbon capture and storage programs in last week's