For years Australia has utilized this crushed arsenic an excuse for inaction erstwhile it comes to clime alteration – but it doesn’t stack up
If you person a speech with your mates astir clime change, oregon you station thing astir connected societal media, there’s 1 communal retort you’re apt to perceive from those who deliberation nary enactment is the champion people of action.
And it drives John Cook mad.
Dr Cook is simply a researcher astatine Monash University’s Climate Change Communication Research Hub specialising successful clime misinformation, and helium has heard conscionable astir each excuse retired determination for wherefore Australia should not tackle the changing climate.
“You person to combat sticky myths with adjacent stickier facts,” helium told news.com.au.
That main myth, surely the main excuse, is there’s nary constituent successful Australia doing thing astir clime alteration due to the fact that it produces lone 1 per cent of the world’s emissions.
And it has a bedfellow successful different excuse: what’s the constituent successful doing thing anyhow erstwhile China causes truthful overmuch much contamination than Australia?
Time Is Now is portion of news.com.au’s concern with the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, looking astatine the impacts of clime alteration crossed Australia by 2050
The second constituent was raised by Prime Minister Scott Morrison successful August successful effect to the latest study from the Intergovernmental Panel connected Climate Change (IPCC), which confirmed Australia had warmed by 1.4C.
Mr Morrison said China’s emissions “accounted for much than the full OECD combined”.
“We request a solution that addresses the existent commercialized challenges of processing countries to lick this problem,” the PM said who could astatine slightest beryllium inching towards a nett zero emissions by 2050 goal.
Monash’s Dr Cook told news.com.au Mr Morrison’s comments were “not constructive framing” and helium was “being portion of the problem, not the solution”.
“It’s surely frustrating due to the fact that I’m seeing the aforesaid arguments that I’ve been encountering since I started moving successful this country a decennary and a fractional ago.
“The lone mode they are being renewable is successful the mode that they tin reuse the aforesaid arguments,” helium said.
“And the occupation is, they are superficially persuasive. Because arguing Australia lone emits 1 per cent of emissions, is simply a precise elemental talking point. And the reply to that is complicated.”
Many countries besides lone nutrient 1 per cent
Data from the European Union’s EDGAR emissions database states that China, the US, India, Russia and Japan are the world’s biggest polluters.
China unsocial accounts for 30 per cent of emissions and the US is 2nd connected 14 per cent.
In 2019, Australia belched retired 433 cardinal tonnes of C02. That’s so astir 1 per cent which puts america successful 15th connected the dirtiest nation’s leaderboard.
So wherefore fuss cutting our emissions erstwhile different countries nutrient truthful overmuch more?
“The occupation is simply a batch of countries tin marque that 1 per cent argument,” Dr Cook said.
Indeed 8 of the nations with higher emissions than Australia nutrient little than 2 per cent of planetary emissions.
“If each state successful that presumption made that statement we would ne'er get immoderate further successful reducing our emissions and clime alteration would spiral.
“It’s similar saying, if I litter it’s lone a small spot of litter. But if everyone argues that we’d beryllium surviving successful a garbage heap.”
In reality, we nutrient much than 1 per cent
Australia’s scorecard gets acold worse if you origin successful what’s called “scope 3 emissions”. This includes emissions created by Australia but exported.
For instance, Australian coal, liquefied earthy state and different fuels which are sent overseas for powerfulness and manufacturing.
If you were to adhd these emissions to Australia’s total, portion besides subtracting imported fossil fuels, we would relationship for astir 3.3 per cent of planetary emissions, according to RMIT/ABC Fact Check.
That would instrumentality america from 15th successful the array of emitters to fifth.
The China excuse
However, adjacent if you instrumentality to the 1 per cent figure, there’s different measurement connected which Australia fares poorly: per capita emissions.
By that metric Australia produces 17 tonnes of c per idiosyncratic and shoots up to ninth spot successful the per capita array which is topped by lipid producing Gulf states.
Crucially, galore of the large wide emitters descend down this array due to the fact that they tin disagreement their emissions betwixt acold much radical than Australia. For instance, successful per capita emissions Australia pips the US. While China, which produces 7.10 tonnes per idiosyncratic is, by this measure, lone the 30th dirtiest country.
You tin spot Australia’s ranking some wide and per capita successful the interactive graphic above. But a screenshot (below) shows that Australia’s per capita emissions (light blue) are present pipping the US’s emissions (in purple). China’s per capita emissions (red) don’t adjacent travel close.
“In Australia we pridefulness ourselves connected punching supra our weight. But successful this lawsuit we’re punching supra our value connected thing not good,” Dr Cook said.
“And it’s beauteous affluent for Australia to constituent to different state similar China erstwhile per idiosyncratic we emit a batch much than successful China does.
“All these arguments perpetrate the fallacy of intolerable expectations,” helium said.
“That’s that this 1 enactment oregon policy, oregon country, won’t lick everything and truthful so there’s nary constituent doing it.
“But that’s similar being successful the way of a motortruck that’s coming down the roadworthy towards you and arguing that the archetypal measurement isn’t going to get maine retired of the mode truthful I mightiness arsenic good not determination astatine all.”
‘We’re lagging astatine the backmost of the pack’
Dr Cook said successful the extremity each nations needed to bash their bit.
“If each state hung backmost and said ‘let’s hold until this different state does thing earlier we act’ that undermines planetary co-operation,” helium said.
“To lick clime alteration we request planetary co-operation.”
Australia’s emissions person gone down – a touch. That’s chiefly done utilizing little coal. However, those falls look to person plateaued.
The US whitethorn beryllium a large emitter but it has a people of nett zero emissions by 2050; China says it volition bash the aforesaid by 2060. Australia does not person a nett zero goal, lone a wide ambition.
Speaking aft the merchandise of the IPCC study Mr Morrison said “blank cheque commitments you ever extremity up paying for, and you ever extremity up paying successful higher taxes”.
But Dr Cook said determination was different crushed for Australia to determination past the excuse that doing thing – oregon not a batch – was acceptable and to alternatively propulsion up its clime socks.
“There are a batch of countries that person a little modular of surviving than america oregon a smaller economy,” helium said.
“We’re a affluent country, we person much capableness to trim our emissions, and we person the accidental to instrumentality a enactment relation successful the world.
“And instead, conscionable similar however Australia lagged down the battalion erstwhile it comes to Covid vaccinations, we’re besides lagging astatine the backmost of the battalion connected clime actions too.”
Originally published arsenic Australia’s biggest excuse for doing thing connected clime alteration busted