Thursday, 11 October 2007

Beef & aluminium cuts

Cattle graze in the shadow of a US Nuclear Power Station

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald

Mark Diesendorf has released a study showing what his data predicts it will take to achieve a 30% reduction in Australia's emissions linked by many to climate change. [What, exactly happened to the 60% target, I do not know - but let's leave that for now. This particular piece of fruit is hanging low enough.].

The report found that greater energy efficiency in residential, commercial and industrial sectors, using the cheapest forms of renewable electricity, such as wind, an increase in generation and co-generation with natural gas, modest improvements in public transport and a shift to hybrid and all-electric vehicles would, by 2020, cut emissions to 13 per cent below 1990 levels.

Even with a report commissioned by Greenpeace [implying all assumptions regarding renewables are somewhat rosy], still only 13%. Additionally, to achieve a 30% reduction - according to Dr. Diesendorf's study - Australia will have to:

  • eliminate or offset emissions from aluminium smelting "One possible response for the aluminium industry would be to move offshore," says Diesendorf,
  • 20 per cent cut in beef production,
  • 50 per cent cut in business and professional immigration and
  • end land clearing

[NB - are we trying to solve a global problem here or just make Australia feel less culpable? To this end, how would moving aluminium smelting offshore address the former? I guess these facilities will be relocated to a country where the energy is not derived from coal... say Russia? However, as the industry departs, so will our GDP. This will have little impact on Australian carbon intensity - i.e. tonnes carbon per unit GDP.]

And we've got another 30% to go after this to reach the 60% goal currently being promoted around the world. May we infer that the proposed cuts will just continue until a goal is achieved? Is this a sustainable approach to emissions reduction? Is it at all consistent with human nature?

Am I to take this report seriously?

Or Australia could adopt nuclear power, keep our comfortable lifestyles, make some significant cuts to emissions and - with efficiency and renewables - meet the targets mentioned above.

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