Nicholas Stern
Nicholas Stern

In an interview on the SBS Dateline programme, UK economist Lord Nicholas Stern, said that there are “very big international implications” in what carbon policy Austrlalia adopts.

Lord Stern pointed out that Australians emit “over 20 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per capita, compared with Europe with around 10, 11 or 12, China around 5, India below 2 and much of sub-Saharan Africa below 1 tonne per capita. I think the world will ask, ‘If Australia – with all its advantages – can’t cut back strongly, then how can anybody expect us to cut back strongly?'”

In contrast to Australia, which has a target of only a 5% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020, the UK now expects to have cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent (compared to 1990) by next year, and is targeting a 34% cut by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The new US Administration is also commited to an 80% cut by 2050.

“There is no way that Australia could be interpreted as going it alone by moving forward and now. That is absolutely fundamental.” said Lord Stern.

He added that “we must recognise the great advantages to acting early. The low-carbon technologies are going to be the technological and innovation drivers of the next two or three decades. High carbon growth has no future. On the other hand, there is going to be a great demand for the technologies which Australia is in a very good position to produce.”