Chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery says Australians have been misled by “lies” about global efforts to tackle climate change, but they’re increasingly less fearful of Labor’s pollution price.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been attacked for breaking her promise not to introduce a carbon tax, but Professor Flannery says on the flip-side people have been repeatedly told the world isn’t acting, when it is.
The Climate Commission today released a report, which suggests that by next year 33 countries and 18 sub-national jurisdictions will have a carbon price in place.
“These schemes could be expected to cover around 850 million people, around 30 per cent of the global economy and around 20 per cent of global emissions,” the report, The Critical Decade: International Action on Climate Change, states.Advertisement
Professor Flannery said the report proved the world was moving.
“We’ve been misled here in Australia by a couple of lies,” the environmentalist told AAP.
“One is that the world isn’t acting and [the other is] what Australia does is not important.”
Professor Flannery said even he was “astonished” to discover the extent and diversity of action.
He was surprised Japan has emissions trading in Tokyo and Saitama, covering 20 million people, and that South Africa will introduce a nationwide carbon tax in 2013.
He was also impressed by the extent of Canada and China’s responses.
In Canada the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia have carbon taxes while Alberta introduced emissions trading in 2006. Quebec will follow suit in 2013.
The Chinese government will introduce trading schemes in seven cities and provinces from 2013.
The commission report also notes that China is a global leader in renewable energy.
“It’s doing hugely well,” Professor Flannery said. “It’s got half the world’s installed wind capacity.”
The report points out Australia is the 15th largest emitter in the world and the biggest polluter per person in the developed world.
It argues that, as one of 20 “carbon heavyweights” that contribute 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Canberra is influential.
Professor Flannery believes that, since Labor’s controversial carbon tax started on July 1, people have developed a greater understanding of its real-world impact and their earlier fears have faded.
“But since then the experience that we’re hearing back from a lot of people is that a lot of the fear has gone out of it,” he said.
Labor’s climate commission was established in early 2011 to promote the case for tackling dangerous climate change.