Tuesday 28 Sep 2021 | 12:59 | SYDNEY

Climate change

Prediction: Saving the earth will be boring

Showpiece green building projects like the Bahrain World Trade Center (pictured), with inbuilt wind power generation, are pretty impressive to look at. But the big gains in greenhouse emission reductions are likely to come from less spectacular technical innovation and policy change, as

The ultimate swat

Yesterday, the Lowy Institute released a report on the effects of climate change on malaria and dengue to the north and in the north of Australia. The nub of the paper is that climate change will make a bad dengue and malaria story worse. I wish we had released it today, so we could have

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: 25% of the carbon solution

Terrestrial carbon (including trees, soil and peat) is a critical part of any response to climate change — up to 25% of the solution by one estimate. But keeping trees in the ground has proven a tricky issue right across the globe. To deal with the challenge, the Terrestrial Carbon Group

Obama style and substance

President-elect Barack Obama has recorded two video appearances in the last few days that are worth a click. His first post-election interview on 60 Minutes is enjoyable because it points to a future when it will be a pleasure to listen to the president of the United States. I know it’s

Reader riposte: Green subsidies

Kien Choong writes in response to my post and Fergus' post, both of which critiqued The Economist: The Economist leader is right to say that the US government should not be subsidising renewables per se. However, this is not to say there is no room for government funding to correct

The shape of Obama energy policy

Guest blogger: Fergus Green is a Lowy Institute intern. He has recently worked as a research analyst for an energy and resources consultancy in Melbourne and in the Asian Security Group at CSIS in Washington, DC.  Having argued recently that the next US administration is likely to face

What sort of climate policy do Australians want?

It can sometimes be hard to interpret Australian attitudes towards climate change. Lowy Institute polling over the years suggested most Australians are very concerned about it and want action. The ALP seemed to tap into this sentiment in the lead up to last year’s election when it portrayed

Climate change in the Lowy poll

Larvatus Prodeo is one of Australia's more prominent political blogs, and today it has some unkind things to say about the Lowy Institute's annual poll, released this morning. Specifically, the Institute is charged with push polling in regard to one question on climate change, which

Reader riposte: Why government should fund clean coal

Kien Choong sets me straight:  Mr Roggeveen's post suggests that he hasn't read the Garnaut draft report. Chapter 16 explains why public funding for R&D, particularly for clean coal technology, is appropriate.  If I can attempt to summarise the rationale, the benefits of

The clean coal initiative

When those with a free market orientation talk about how governments should tackle climate change, they tend to argue that the best thing is to create the right incentives for the private sector to act responsibly. If governments have to take direct action, it should only be to invest in basic

Nuclear Commission: How far and with whom?

Thank you to the Sun-Herald of 17 August for a memory jogger with the latest goss on what’s happening with the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament-ICNND for short-until someone can find a catchier name. It reports (no link available) on the 'new mini-empire

Reader riposte: What the IPCC says

Jim Manzi, who authored the piece that started our climate change thread (and who blogs at The American Scene) responds to Dominic Meagher's critique of his article: I would like to make a few quick comments in response to Mr Meagher’s letter: He may be well

Climate change modelling

Yesterday I invited commentary on a Cato Institute article advocating a 'do very little' approach to climate change. I'm grateful to Peregrine for taking up that invitation, but I confess I'm only a little wiser after reading Peregrine's posting. Peregrine first argues

Climate change: Would doing nothing really be so bad?

Some weeks ago Peter Drysdale at East Asia Forum gave me a gentle slap on the wrist for being too cautious in my support for higher carbon prices to spur development of low carbon technology. 'A higher carbon price is central to getting incentives right to encourage the massive investment in

The environmentalism of hope

Tim Dunlop is right on the money with his latest commentary on selling climate change to the public. In fact, Shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull made a similar argument on Q&A last night: you don't actually need to believe that climate change is happening or even to invoke climate change to

New Voices: Private sector leads the public

Andrew Ure has this contribution to our New Voices thread: Susan Park's thought-provoking article on global environmental governance raised the notion of private sector environmental standards, which can be highly effective. Global industry sector standards can often lead the

Technology and climate change

All Roads Lead to China sees the modern China story played out in the pages of this new report by the Commission on Growth and Development, on how countries can achieve fast and sustainable growth. But the graph featured on All Roads, taken from that report, might also have some relevance for

New Voices: Global environmental governance

Guest Blogger: Susan Park (pictured), a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sydney and a panellists at New Voices writes in with this contribution to the discussion kicked off yesterday.   How will global environmental issues be addressed in the future? Steven

Bush tries to break the tension

Various bloggers have criticised President Bush for this: George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan. The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate

The real reason Rudd is going to the Olympics

Thanks to reader John Hannoush for pointing me to this, from Canberra press gallery veteran Laurie Oakes: Republicans and Democrats I met in Washington recently told me Rudd can play a role in bringing the US and China together on climate change once George W. Bush is replaced in the

Do carbon reduction targets work?

Yesterday Warwick McKibbin argued some countries which have set greenhouse gas reduction targets are not meeting them. That debate — and the related question of whether the Kyoto protocol is working in Europe — is continued on Global Dashboard, with a defence of Kyoto. Make sure you read

Emissions targets alone are counter-productive

The Garnaut review, based on targets and timetables for emission reduction, will delay action on climate change at the global level. Most of the world has no clear policy framework, and most countries are not taking on targets and timetables because they don't want to commit to a system

The electric car

Alex Evans from Global Dashboard is cautiously excited about the potential for electric cars to make a difference to carbon outputs, but he has two lingering doubts: (1) plug-in cars may overstretch the power grid, and (2) if the grid generates power from carbon-intensive sources, we may not make

Climate and uncertainty

The science and policy of climate change is devilishly complex, and not just for the non-experts. As the newly released Garnaut report says: Climate change is a diabolical policy problem. It is harder than any other issue of high importance that has come before our polity in living

Reader riposte: Cars and climate change

Colin writes in reponse to Fergus' post on climate change: While 75 percent of us regard climate change as an important issue, according to a poll, we just don't think it should impact our need for speed, power and adulation from pedestrians as they desperately dodge and weave

Climate change face off

Today and tomorrow look out for the battle of ideas taking place over Australian climate change policy. At 12.30 today, the Lowy Institute's Warwick McKibbin will be delivering an important speech at the ANU setting out his proposals for responding to climate change. His talk comes a day

Caps off to carbon

Interesting to see that a part-Australian-owned company is having some success in the US renewable energy market, opening its solar cell factory in Las Vegas recently. But Fortune magazine's green business blog reports that the venture is under a cloud because Congress has to agree to continue

The profits of climate change

You need to set up a free subscription to read this McKinsey report (h/t GSI online), but it's worth it. Here's the headline conclusion from McKinsey's study on what can be done to cut carbon emissions in four major economies; the US, UK, Germany and Australia: ...each of

General Motors sees the future

This seems like a pretty big deal. The world's biggest car maker, General Motors, has just announced a major shift away from large car production (it's closing four truck plants and reviewing its super SUV Hummer brand) and towards what Americans call 'compacts' (hatchbacks to us

Climate change: The cost of our convictions

Andrew Norton long ago put his finger on the real greenhouse denialism, which is again evident in our latest domestic phony war about petrol prices. Andrew cites public opinion research that, while showing record levels of awareness and concern about climate change, also shows low tolerance for

GM boss: 'Global warming a crock of sh*t'

This kind of talk from General Motors (GM) boss Bob Lutz will depress a lot of greens, and plays right into stereotypes about the American obsession with gas-guzzlers. But it's actually encouraging in its own way, because despite his personal beliefs, Lutz is still steering his company (or at

Climate change and security

Foreign Policy published this piece of contrarianism on its website in August last year, so I'm very late in linking to it, but it is nonetheless worth comparing what author Idean Salehyan says with the 2006 Lowy Institute Paper, Heating up the Planet: Climate Change and Security, by Alan

Email of the day: A climate sceptic replies

Michael Fullilove's post got this reaction from Alex Avery: Your comments about my father’s book are lacking in any substance whatsoever. Spelling errors and perceived lack of 'authoritative feeling' aside, where is any mention of the reams of cited peer-reviewed research

Climate skeptics tilting at windfarms

A few weeks ago I, along with most of my colleagues on the staff and the board of the Lowy Institute, received a complimentary copy of a book called 'Unstoppable Global Warming – Every 1,500 Years', by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. When I arrived at work there was an enormous pile

Climate change: Still more low-hanging fruit

Low-hanging fruit is everywhere, with the juciest in the tropical developing countries. In Jakarta, every business, small or large, and many middle-class households, have their own small electricity generator, to cope with the frequent brown-outs. If the PLN (the state-owner electricity generator

Climate change: More low-hanging fruit

Back in December I noted University of Queensland economist John Quiggin’s argument that adjusting our economies to cope with climate change need not be too painful because there is so much ‘low-hanging fruit’; that is, relatively easy ways we can reduce carbon emissions without changing our

The $2500 car: Is this really a good idea?

One of the toughest aspects of the global environmental debate is that when rich countries insist that developing countries must curb emissions and improve standards, it looks to those developing countries like the rich want to deny the poor the opportunity to improve their lot. Which is why it is

Climate change: One to bookmark

Via Foreign Policy's blog, Passport, I see that Denis Dutton, editor of the marvellous and popular Arts & Letter Daily, has developed a spin-off site devoted entirely to the climate change debate, Climate Debate Daily. It has a similar format to its parent site, with frequently updated