Monday, April 30, 2007

Climate Change and the Precautionary Principle

With apologies to Crikey I want to quote in full one comment from last Friday's edition.

Cameron Bray writes: Re. "Liar: Howard backs Bracks into a corner" (yesterday, item 8). There has been some talk about the precautionary principle at play in working out what to do about climate change -- on the basis consequences of doing something and being wrong about climate change are way less than doing nothing and being right. Taking this one step further, Australia is vulnerable if other countries decide to pursue the precautionary principle, regardless of what we do. John Howard's endless wittering about how he won't risk jobs to address climate change is dependent on other countries pursuing his blithe “she'll be right” approach as well. If the international community decides to take it seriously then some of our key industries may be in big trouble. To grab a few examples: There is already some evidence of a global downturn in long distance tourism. If other countries decide to tackle air travel as a way of reducing CO2, then the Australian tourist industry is stuffed, no matter if warmer water destroys the reef or not. As for the coal industry, if the rest of the world decides to pursue drastic change in power generation towards greener options, then our fat dirty brown coal mines will have no markets. And as for the logging industry, if international agreements pursue serious carbon sequestering and make agreements on the purchase of old-growth timber or products that industry is cactus too. So the Howard government’s approach is a double-ostrich stupidity; not only does the climate not have to change, but the structure of trade and markets have to remain as they are now as well.

What Bray is - rightly - saying is that Howard's line about any action being designed not to harm the Australian economy is just that, a line. It is inaction that will harm the Australian economy.

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