Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Climate Change Authority Report “Untrue and Dangerous”

By AusSMC

The Climate Change Authority has called for the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, but two members of its board, David Karoly and Clive Hamilton, have since issued a dissenting minority report calling for stronger measures to reduce emissions.

“Karoly and Hamilton point out that the Climate Change Authority’s report is inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations. In 2014, the Climate Change Authority recommended a carbon budget through to 2050. The new report rapidly blows our carbon budget. By accepting the current government’s targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts, it creates a crunch point for emissions reduction in 2030 that we can’t possibly achieve. The new CCA report is contradictory with the Authority’s 2014 report and with Australia’s role in keeping global warming below 2°C.”

Dr Sophie Lews is a Research Fellow in the Research School of Earth Sciences at The Australian National University.


“Professors Karoly and Hamilton should be applauded for their courageous stance. Their minority report highlights the discrepancy between the CC Authority’s plan and what is required to ensure Australia cuts emissions as quickly as possible. However, the current political impasse is unlikely to be resolved with partisan objections based on the science alone.

Therefore, it would be good to see them place even greater emphasis on the socio-economic potential and benefits of renewable energy generation in Australia. This tactic would undermine the Turnbull government’s existing rhetoric by demonstrating how the goals of research, innovation, jobs and growth can be achieved sustainably, rather than based on a business-a-usual approach.”

Dr Peter Tangney is a Sessional Academic/ Research Assistant at Griffith University.


“The dissenting report by Climate Change Authority board members Professors Hamilton and Karoly illustrates just how wide the difference is in informed views on the issue of climate change policy. It also begs the question of what the role of independent statutory bodies should be in this debate. Should the CCA give advice that is calibrated to political circumstance, or advice that is predominantly guided by science and economic fundamentals?

The Climate Change Authority has been known for strongly principled advice for ambitious climate policy, such as its recommendations for a carbon budget. Last week’s report on a recommended climate policy toolkit is much more pragmatic. Its recommendations are what many see as politically feasible in Australia now.

That pragmatism means a piecemeal approach. The report lacks a vision for the longer-term policy framework needed to get Australia on track to a low-carbon economy. It frames climate change action mostly as a cost, rather than as an opportunity for economic renewal.

The CCA’s intent clearly is to help policy progress in the medium term. But it risks locking-in a policy suite that will be costly or less effective. And if the CCA’s recommendations are misconstrued as being ambitious, we could end up with policy that falls far short of these recommendations.”

A/Prof Frank Jotzo is Director of the Centre for Climate Economics & Policy at The Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy.


“We recently published a global energy use model which has accurately tracked global energy use for the last 60 years (http://tinyurl.com/h3cffxl). The calculations are based on the global population, energy use per person and economic growth.

If we continue down the forecast population growth rate, average energy use per person and average economic growth rates modelled over the last 60 years, we may burn:

  • all the carbon we can and stay below 1.5°C by 2020; and
  • all the carbon we can and stay below 2°C by 2030.

As the Earth absorbs about 50% of global emissions, this means that we need to reach 50% emissions reductions at these time points.

The model accounts for all people (not just the wealthy) having average economic growth rates. Failure to do so would essentially mean that we condemn the 50% of the global population living on $2.50 per day to long-term poverty.

Australia has a wealth of solar energy and space. The debate is not just about cost, but also significant opportunities.

I should also point out that, globally, about 20% of energy is used in the form of electricity and 80% as fuels. So to reduce emissions below 50% we urgently need renewable fuel solutions.”

Prof Ben Hankamer is an Eisenhower Fellow and Director of the Centre for Solar Biotechnology at The University of Queensland.


“As highlighted by continuing increases in global temperatures and serious impacts such as the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef this year, substantially more ambitious emission reductions than are currently government policy are required to achieve the targets agreed to in Paris. The current government targets are clearly inadequate. Targets commensurate with the urgency and seriousness of climate change are required now.”

Dr John Church is a former CSIRO Fellow who led a CSIRO sea level team prior to his retirement.


“The Climate Change Authority’s report does not address further emissions reductions targets. In not doing so the Authority is acting contrary to the scientific evidence and contrary to the public interest.”

Tom Worthington is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Research School of Computer Science, Australian National University.