Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Australia - UN Turns up the heat

Jacob Saulwick filed this report in the Sydney Morning Herald. Emphasis is mine.

IF EVERY person on Earth created as much pollution as the average Australian, we would need another six planets to cope, a United Nations' report says.

It [The Human Development Report, released yesterday] lashes the argument - advanced by Labor and Liberal parties at the election - that there is no point for rich countries to set reduction targets if big emitters in the developing world do not set them.

The report argues that, per person, rich countries remain the biggest emitters, and it is unfair [I would say unethical and immoral] for the developing world to pay the costs of emissions generated by the developed world's growth.

It is an excellent report and highlights the current goal of, not 60, but 80% reduction in emission by 2050 as well as reductions by 30% by 2020. Not only has Australia had a late start, but we are losing ground.

The report also suggests the economic impact will be 60% worse than just recently predicted in the Stern Review.

I couldn't have put it any better myself, but anyone who is current with this blog knows I certainly have been trying.

Of course nuclear power could help solve this dilemma - with huge power capability, 24/7/365 52 [tip o' the hat to Joffan] reliability, demonstrated safety performance and competitive costs. It's not likely that many could be built here before 2020, but then again, at that point, assuming we meet an already aggressive international goal - we've still got another 50% to go!!

No time to waste.


  1. I am in rebellion against 24/7/365. I suggest either 24/365 or 24/7/52.

    Meanwhile, thinking about these ambitious goals on carbon emission reduction, the goal for 2020 sounds positively simple compared to that for 2050. 30% reduction is not even dropping to half of current levels; but from there (70% of current) to 2050 (20% of current) means dropping almost three quarters of those reduced emissions.

    Minor tinkering and intermittent power sources will simply not suffice.

  2. You make great posts time and time again.

    How do you realistically see us convincing the public that we need nuclear? Getting Garrett off the front bench might help ;)

    I think though, because we're so small, that if we can't realistically or economically, switch to nuclear NOW, we should be a vocal advocate of it to the international community which means US, UK, Europe, China, India. But instead, we crap on about clean coal and other 'unproven' renewable sources.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys.

    You’re right, if every Australian – to the man, woman and child – went full throttle, pro-nuclear today, there wouldn’t be a plant constructed in Australia for, probably well over a decade at least. First we need to beef up the prerequisite technical as well as bureaucratic infrastructure. How’s the liability going to be handled? Who is qualified to review any license applications? And, for that matter, who is even qualified within the utilities to evaluate tenders? We’ve got a ways to travel down the nuclear path – we should get started ASAP.

    But we can, as suggested, advocate nuclear in other countries. I’m a bit shy of endorsing export to any country not participating in non-proliferation agreements. However, I think Australia is doing a lot to support nuclear expansion for countries that remain in the good graces of the IAEA and UN Security Council. Few recent actions compare with Labor’s agreement to toss the ridiculous 3-mines policy. This is an example of bi-partisan cooperation working efficiently to support what is becoming a global demand for Uranium [in an election year no doubt]. Australia may actually make a few dollars in the process. Not too bad.

    On a loosely related note, I have to laugh at the comparisons between money from Uranium and other exports, particularly coal. Of course there’s more money to be made from coal. Not only does coal dominate the world energy market, but the whole point of nuclear power is the cheap fuel costs. Not that much Uranium is required to produce a LOT of power. The principal advantage of Uranium is that we are exporting HUGE amounts of potential energy with miniscule carbon content throughout its entire lifecycle.

    The world is in the midst of a global paradigm shift. If it’s all about the money, game over.