Critical Scientific Review of Badly Flawed Australian Garnaut Climate Change Review

 by Dr Gideon Polya

Preface: I have been reviewing specialist scientific research papers for publication in national and international journals and specialist research proposals for national and overseas research funding agencies for 4 decades. I have a scientific background as a dedicated experimental researcher and university teacher in the areas of chemistry, biology and biological chemistry including the key climate-related areas of biochemistry, photosynthesis, agricultural biochemistry  and the biochemical targets of plant bioactive compounds. I have brought his experience to bear in the public interest in critically assessing the recent Draft Report of the Garnaut Climate Change Review (below).


Prominent Australian academic economist Professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned by the State and Federal Governments of Australia to review economic impacts on Australia of climate change, to also examine this in an international context and to recommend policy options.


The Garnaut Review (see: ) is GOOD in that it indicates (albeit inexplicitly) a serious climate change situation; the need to act now; and a “Cap and Trade” Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to encourage uptake of clean energy options (but unfortunately with none of the licene money going towards non-carbon energy plants and 80% going to subsidize business and domestic consumers i.e. to help them pay for more expensive "dirty" power)..


However the Garnaut Review is fatally BAD in that it IGNORES crucial major considerations e.g. the human cost of coal burning (it kills nearly 5,000 Australians annually); the “true cost” of coal-based power that is 4-5 times the “market cost”; the latest advances in low cost solar technologies; the urgent need to IMPLEMENT clean technologies;  the massive ecosystem and economic damage NOW (notably to the Arctic, Antarctic, tropical forests, ocean fisheries, tropical agriculture and the ALREADY DYING coral reefs (see: );  and the urgent  need to REDUCE atmospheric CO2 from the current 387 ppm to a safe and sustainable level of no more than 350 ppm as advocated by top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen and colleagues : ; ).

Unfortunately the Australian Government Terms of Reference for the Garnaut Review included the following disastrous position, quote: “The weight of scientific opinion that developed countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050 against 2000 emission levels, if global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are to be stabilised to between 450 and 550 ppm [effectively carbon dioxide, CO2] by mid-century”.

However the literature cut-off for the latest (2007) IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (on which Professor Garnaut heavily relies) was 2005 and climate science is moving rapidly. Thus it has been recently reported by top coral experts in the top scientific journal Science that above about 450 ppm CO2 (26 years’ time at current rates) the world’s coral reefs – including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – will start dying because of ocean acidification as well as from bleaching due to photosynthetic symbiont expulsion from increased ocean temperature. Top coral scientists say the “tipping point” for world coral death is in the 450-500 ppm atmospheric CO2 zone (see: Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742: ; ; ; ; see: also the latest 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report: and ) .

The world temperature increase is discontinuous and so is the increase in ocean acidity. World coral species are ALREADY DYING at the world’s current atmospheric CO2 concentration of 387 ppm. A 270 contributor Report on the world’s coral from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service (NOAA) says that nearly half of the coral reefs in areas from the Caribbean to the Pacific "are not in good condition and are continuing steadily on a long-term decline … even remote reefs are showing signs of decline ";  a major bleaching and disease event in 2005 devastated coral reefs across the Caribbean. In the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, scientists say an average of 50 percent of the coral was lost. Some areas lost 90 percent of their coral; a 1997 report in the science journal Nature estimated that the resources and economic benefits derived from coral reefs are worth $375 billion a year - scientists who study the medical benefits of coral reefs say there are about 20 compounds in clinical trials derived from the corals themselves or the many organisms that depend on them (see : ; ).

Further, atmospheric CO2 concentration will reach 500 ppm in. 46 years’ time at current rates assuming no acceleration of CO2 accretion in the atmosphere due to “positive feedback” effects (500-385 =115 ppm; 115ppm/2.5ppm per year = 46 years). At 500 ppm there is huge damage to the ocean phytoplankton system (crucial for ocean food chains and for global temperature homeostasis (balance) by sequestering CO2 and for light-reflecting cloud formation through production of cloud-seeding dimethylsulphide) and the Greenland ice sheet melts with a huge attendant circa 7 meter sea level rise (see: James Lovelock “The Revenge of Gaia”, Penguin, London, 2006; ; ).

According to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (Head, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, member of the prestigious US National Academy of Science) and 8 UK, French and US colleagues (my emphasis): “Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2, including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm, a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.” (see:  ).


The Garnaut Review recognized “risks” to economies and to peoples and biodiversity: “The weight of scientific evidence tells us that Australians are facing risks of damaging climate change. The risks can be substantially reduced by strong and early action by all major economies … We will delude ourselves if we think that scientific uncertainties are cause for delay. Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower-cost options. Delaying now is not postponing a decision. To delay is to deliberately choose to avoid effective steps to reduce the risks of climate change to acceptable levels”.  


Professor Garnaut reviewed the science, the economics and then came up with a “Cap and Trade” Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to commence in an initial form in 2010. The ETS involves selling CO2 polluters tradeable licences, thus making pollution more expensive and favouring non-polluting alternatives (geothermal and ultimately solar-dependent renewables such as solar, wind, wave and tide power). However his scheme (Cap uncertain) involves returning 50% of the licence fees to domestic consumers and 30% to business in an extraordinary subsidy of “dirty” power. The remaining 20% will be spent on Research and Development for “new” alternative technologies, notably the coal-burning with carbon capture and storage (CCS) favoured by Professor Garnaut.


The Garnaut Review leaves one with a series of paradoxes. The “Cap” is set at a CO2 level that will kill off the Great Barrier Reef at best (at 450 ppm CO2), devastate the planet at worst (550 ppm CO2) and, in between these posited extremes, kill off the phytoplankton system and hence ocean life as well as irreversibly melting the Greenland ice sheet with huge attendant sea level rise (500 ppm CO2). While Professor Garnaut follows Sir Nicholas Stern in decrying climate change as “the greatest market failure ever seen”, he insists on an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) “market mechanism” (albeit subverted with gigantic State subsidies) to fix the problem  and rejects any State implementation or State subsidy of renewable energy.


The Garnaut Review also FAILS to take seriously the impact of factors such as from human values (altruism, responsibility, respect for the irreplaceable ecosystems and species, respect for human life) to purely selfish considerations of peak oil. Thus a 2008 CSIRO report “Fuel for Thought” says that supply/demand problems due to “peak oil” may see petrol prices  increase in 10 years to $8/L from the present $1.70/L whereas even an ETS carbon price of $40-$100/tonne would only add 10-25 cents/L to the price of petrol (see: ).


The Garnaut Climate Change Review is a highly flawed Report that IGNORES major realities – it does not merely ignore an Elephant in the Room, it IGNORES a HERD of Elephants in the Room.  The most important reality it completely IGNORES in its prescription of CONTINUED fossil fuel-based pollution of the atmosphere is that at 387 ppm atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) the Earth  has ALREADY passed  “tipping points” for major ecosystem devastation, notably the  complete loss of Arctic sea ice (see:  )  and the death of the world coral reefs that support 25% of ocean organisms and are economically worth $375 billion annually (see: ).




Here is a succinct science- and needs-based Alternative Plan. The Garnaut Review (514 pages) indicates that a favoured (but long-term, expensive,  undeveloped, only partially effective at best  and uncertain) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology yields power at about the same price (6 c/kWh) as EXISTING wind power technology. To replace Australia’s 92% fossil fuel-based, 50GW (50 billion Watt) electricity-generating capacity with wind power at $2 per Watt would cost 50 billion W x $2/W = $100 billion (see: ) . However the existing “capacity factor” (reflecting ACTUAL electricity generation in practice) is about 50% (50 W capacity generating only about 250 TWH/year rather than the 500 TWh expected if there was 100% capacity) and if we assume a much lower 20% “capacity factor” for wind power then the realistic actual replacement cost would be $100 billion x 50/20 = $250 billion.


Of course that scenario is merely one “boundary condition” (one extreme in the range of the possible)  and the actual “mix” and rapid uptake path could involve a combination of the following (Garnaut Review 2006 estimates of cents/kWh in parentheses): geothermal (9), wind (6) and concentrated solar (20) as alternatives to brown or black coal (3) or the uncertain, HYPOTHETICAL  proposition of brown or black coal with combined Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Carbon Capture and Storage CCS (6-7) PLUS the latest, very low cost Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic technologies already being implemented around the world (see: ) .


Crucial matters (not considered in the Garnaut Review) are the human cost of fossil fuel- or coal-based power generation (5,400 and 4,900 annual deaths, respectively, at a cost at $5 million person i.e. of $27 billion and $25 billion, respectively, per annum); the morbidity costs (6 times greater); and the “true cost” of coal-based electricity  (estimated to be 4-5 times the “market cost”) (see: ;  and ).  Further, major reductions in costs of Concentrated Solar (Solar Thermal) Compact Linear Fresnel (CLFR) technology developed by Ausra mean that this could supply 90% of the US grid and auto fleet energy needs with cost estimates competitive with the “market price” gas-fired power plants and as low as 8c/kWh (see: ; ;  ). Other current renewable technologies already approaching the “market price” of coal-based power include US balloon-based solar collector for PV cells ( ; ) and CIGS non-silicon thin films ( ; ; ).  


The only “non-market support” that pro-renewable energy  “pure free marketeers” need from Government is (a) legal and legislative action over fossil fuel-burners who are killing an estimated 5,400 Australians annually from the effects of fossil fuel burning pollutants i.e. recognition of the 4-5 times greater “true cost” of coal-based power generation and (b) gross production feed-in tariffs for renewable producers as in Germany and Spain and recommended as “more accurate” by Professor Garnaut who concludes (p437) : “A feed-in tariff based on gross metering is thus a more accurate means of pricing these benefits [as compared to “net metering”].”


Of course those “NON-free-marketeers” who believe in use of taxes for the common good (as in hospitals, schools, emergency services etc) would like to see major Government intervention for urgent provision of low-cost, non-polluting, non-homicidal renewable energy options consonant with the prescription by top US climate scientist Dr Hansen and his colleagues of REDUCING atmospheric CO2 from a dangerous current concentration of 387 ppm to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm (see: ; ).


The major failures of the Garnaut Climate Change Review can be summarized as (A) incorrect premises and ignoring major realities; and (B) highly disputable assertions.


(A) Incorrect premises and ignoring major realities


1. The Review is predicated on an outcome of an atmospheric CO2 of 450-550 ppm. –however world coral dies above 450 ppm, the phytoplankton and the Greenland ice sheet go above 500 ppm and the world is devastated at 550 ppm (see ).


2. The Review admits that Australia’s world-leading coal exports represent a major component of Australian coal mining but extraordinarily IGNORES the contribution this makes to Australia’s annual per capita CO2 pollution (27 tonnes CO2 per person per year domestically but 47 tonnes CO2 per person per year including CO2 from coal exports) (see: ) .


3. The Review IGNORES the estimated huge annual deaths from coal-burning and fossil fuel-burning for electricity in Australia (4,900 and 5,400, respectively) and the World (170,000 and 283,000, respectively) (see: ).


4. The Review IGNORES the “true cost” of coal-based electricity generation which is estimated to be 4-5 times the “market cost” – a reality that makes all existing, best-practice non-carbon energy sources cheaper than fossil fuel-based power (see: ; ; ; ; ).


5. The Review ignores the huge annually added cost to Australia due to coal burning-and fossil fuel-burning-related deaths (at $5 million per person, $25 billion and $27 billion, respectively) and the 6-fold greater cost of morbidity (illness) (see: ).


6. The Review prescribes MORE CO2 pollution and IGNORES the position of top UK, US and French climate scientists from top institutions who argue that we have already reached a disastrous “tipping point” and must reduce atmospheric CO2 from the current 385 ppm to no more than 350 ppm i.e. a “negative CO2 pollution” policy that can implemented by energy efficiency, cessation of fossil fuel burning, implementation of best-practice existing non-carbon energy sources, re-afforestation, return of biochar to soils, and (if necessary) use of global dimming sulphur oxide aerosols (see: ; ).


7. The Review IGNORES the findings of top biologists and environmental economists that the total economic return from major biomes (ecological systems) studied can be typically about 50% greater when there is sustainable use and that the economic return from preserving what is left of wild nature is over 100 times the cost of so doing (see: ).


8. The Review IGNORES the enormous current rate of species extinction that is ALREADY 100-1,000 times greater than normal and which is impacted severely by climate change(see: ; ). 


9. The Review asserts (following similar assertion from top UK climate economist Sir Nicholas Stern) that climate change is “the greatest market failure ever seen”, but then prescribes a “market mechanism” (an Emissions Trading Scheme”) that is grossly subverted by huge non-market taxpayer subsidies for use of “dirty energy” while rigorously denying any such non-market incentives for “clean energy”.


10. The Review IGNORES International and National Law in relation to illegitimate commercial impositions on other people (especially when mass suffering and death involved) and IGNORES the real prospect of litigation, Sanctions, Boycotts, Green Tariffs, Reparations Demands and national and international criminal prosecutions (e.g. see: ) .  


11. The Review IGNORES the enormous advances made in already commercial solar energy technology, notably  silicon-based photovoltaics (notably improved efficiency , sliver technology, balloon-based solar energy collection), CIGS and other non-silicon thin film photovoltaics (California, Switzerland) and Concentrated Solar Power of Solar Thermal (notably the commercial, Australian-derived Ausra Compact Linear Fresnel (CLFR) system) – all of which yield power at a cost less than the “true cost” of coal-based power and in many cases approaching the 4-5 times lower current, heavily subsidized  “market cost” of  coal-based power (see below ).


12. The Review has clearly IGNORED detailed, expert, well-documented, scientific representations about most of the above issues (e.g. see: ; ).


(B) Highly disputable assertions


1. Garnaut Review, Chapter 1, pp1-22, Australia’s Climate Change Challenge – according to the Review (p12): “In the discussion of climate change much is made of natural wonders – of the Great Barrier Reef, the wetlands of Kakadu, the karri forests. We know that we value them highly, and now we will need to think about whether WE [my emphasis] are prepared to pay for their preservation” – Australian nor indeed any other species and ecosystems are NOT negotiable; further, International and National Law state that, for example, mining companies are responsible for their pollution i.e. while a  highly flawed  ETS scheme can  increase the cost of coal-burning what is crucially needed are criminal prosecutions over the appalling, existing environmental and human impacts of coal burning (see: ).  


2. Garnaut Review, Chapter 2, pp 23-46, Policy Change about Climate Change Mitigation – according to the Review (pp 25-27): “2.1, Risk and uncertainty” section weighs in on the “uncertainty” side of the risk-uncertainty spectrum (an indeed the whole Review)  ignores the actual realities of 0.3 million  people dying each year world-wide and the 5,400 Australians who are estimated die from the effects of pollutants from fossil fuel-based electrical power generation; the 16 million people who die avoidably each year from deprivation that is increasingly climate change impacted; the “billions” who, according to UK Chief Scientist Professor John Beddington FRS are threatened by food prices rises driven by biofuel diversion, global warming, oil price rises, globalization and speculation; and the estimate by top UK climate scientist Professor James Lovelock FRS that over 6 billion people will die this century due to unaddressed man-made climate change (see: ) .


3. Garnaut Review, Chapter 2  p29: “The amount of fossil fuel in the earth’s crust, in the forms of petroleum, natural gas, coal, tar sands and shale, is obviously finite. However the amount is so large that its limits are of no practical importance for climate change policies” – this is utterly incorrect from the perspective of top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (head , NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, member of the US National Academy of Sciences and Professor, Columbia University) who in a detailed letter to PM Rudd accompanied by a superb technical summary of the situation said the complete OPPOSITE because the largely untapped coal , tar shale, and methane hydrate reserves are vastly greater than the oil and gas reserves: “Reserves are hotly debated and may be exaggerated, but we know that enough oil and gas remain to take global warming close to, if not into, the realm of dangerous climate effects. Coal and unconventional fuels such as tar shale contain enough carbon to produce a vastly different planet, a more dangerous and desolate planet, from the one on which civilization developed, a planet without Arctic sea ice, with crumbling ice sheets that ensure sea level catastrophes for our children and grandchildren, with shifting climate zones that cause great hardship for the world’s poor and drive countless species to extinction, and with intensified hydrologic extremes that cause increase drought and wildfires but also stronger rains, floods and storms” (see: ; ).


4. Garnaut Review, Chapter 2, p29: “Concerns about the availability of fossil fuel resources was one element in the analysis and cautions of the Club of Rome, and their ill-fated prophecy about limits to growth in the early 1970s (Club of Rome, 1972)” – the Club of Rome was absolutely CORRECT in a big picture sense e.g. the atmosphere and the oceans are finite; “peak oil” has arrived; at 385 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere the Arctic sea ice may be completely gone in 5 years; data sent by NASA’s Dr Hansen to PM Rudd indicates that a substantial proportion of limited oil and gas resources have already been consumed and that the vast preponderance of major carbon fuel sources left (and which simply cannot be used because of the excess atmospheric CO2 problem) are coal, shale oil, tar sands and methane hydrates (see: ).


5. Garnaut Review, Chapter 3, pp 47-86, The Science of Climate Change – the Review in section 3.3.2, pp60-69: the sections dealing with of Fluorinated gases do not mention nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) which as 17,000 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas and is used in manufacture of plasma and LCD TVs (see:  ).

6. Garnaut review, Chapter 3, p82: “Captured CO2 could be stored underground or used [via photosynthesis] to produce biofuels” – the “stored underground” is hypothetical, expensive, and not ready for immediate implementation – indeed the US Department of Energy has scrapped the major $1.8 billion FurureGen Carbon Capture and Storage coal-burning power plant project (see: ) . And as for biofuels, except for those involving non-crop biomass and algae, biofuel production (e.g. from growing wheat, sugar cane, canola and palm oil on former forest land) is a major net CO2 emitter and the UK, US, and EU legislatively mandated biofuel production is a major threat to human survival through using food to drive cars and driving up food prices (see:; ; ;,25197,23336840-11949,00.html ; ; Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 – 1240: ); Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1235 – 1238: ).

7. Garnaut Review, Chapter 3, p82: Dr Hansen and colleagues are quoted in relation to biochar production but the Review ignores the major demand of these top US climate scientists for “negative CO2 emissions” i.e.  removal of CO2 from the atmosphere to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm - a position that  is completely OPPOSITE to that of the Terms of Reference of the Garnaut Review which posits continued coal exports  and increasing atmospheric CO2 to a globally disastrous “target” of  450-550 ppm (see: ).


8. Garnaut Review, Chapter 3, p82: “Today, there are no large scale commercial technologies that capture carbon from the air” – yes, there are: this technology  is called “forestry” (see: ).


9. Garnaut Review, Chapter 4, pp 87-110, Emissions in the Platinum Age: the rapid, recent and projected growth of greenhouse gas emissions – the Review (Fig. 4.2, p89) gives Australia’s annual per capita CO2 -e pollution in tonnes per person per year (2004) as about 26; however this figure ignores Australia’s world leading coal exports (this coal is burned to generate CO2    that pollutes the global atmosphere) which lifts this figure to a world-leading 46 as compared to China’s 5 and India’s 1 tonnes CO2 -e per person per year (see: ).


10. Garnaut Review, Chapter 4, Figure 4.12, p102: there have been huge increases in the price of carbon fuels since 1999, about 5 times for thermal coal and liquefied natural gas and about 8 times for crude oil. As Professor Garnaut correctly observes “Continued high fossil energy prices, if across the board, will cause reductions n energy consumption and a substitution towards non–fossil-fuel energy sources.” However this data certainly weakens the argument for an ETS and especially for an ETS that will direct 80% of the licence fees   to huge subsidies for “dirty energy” users and of the 20% left one supposes that at least half will go towards CO2 sequestration-related research (note that the price of petrol is projected to increase a further 5-fold within the next 10 years: ).


11. Garnaut Review, Chapter 5, pp111-142, Observations and projections of global climate change – according ot the Review (p111): “much of the research literature on observed and projected has been summarised and evaluated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC 2007). Here the Review summarizes the key observations illustrates some of the main possible changes. Where relevant the discussion makes use of research undertaken since the Fourth Assessment Report was compiled and considers alternative views.” However (a) the literature cut-off for the IPCC Report was 2005; (b)  the most recent work quoted of Dr Hansen’s group at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) is a paper published in 2005; (c) the Review fails to present the “alternative views” of these outstanding US climate scientists, specifically   that we must reduce atmospheric CO2 from a currently dangerous 385 ppm to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm (see Hansen et al, 2008: ).


12. Garnaut Review, Chapter 5, p134,  Carbon feed-back effects - missing from the list of important feed-back effects are the ACTUAL, current  feed-back effects of the “albedo flip” (the effect of replacing light-reflecting ice and snow with light-absorbing dark sea water in the Arctic and Antarctic) and  the lubrication of glacier movement  by melt water (see:; ;  ); the major loss of ocean phytoplankton above 500 ppm CO2 (the ocean phytoplankton are crucial for temperature and CO2 homeostasis through sequestering CO2, being the initial solar-energy-driven part of the ocean food-chain including carbonaceous organisms, and also produce dimethyl sulphide crucial for cloud seeding ( see: Professor James Lovelock FRS “The Revenge of Gaia”, Penguin, London, 2006; ; ); forest burning associated with climate change, drought and misplaced biofuel perversion (see: and ). Further, the Southern Ocean has ALREADY suffered major decline as  a CO2 sink due to global warming-exacerbated storms (see: ; ). 


13. Garnaut Review, Chapter 5, p135: “Himalayan glaciers … are receding faster than any other glaciers around the world, and current estimates project that may disappear altogether by 2035 (WWF Nepal Program, 2005)” – this is a huge threat for the several billion people who depend on the South Asian, South East Asian and Chinese rivers flowing from the Himalaya highlands which makes the default “continue coal exports and continue CO2 pollution” position of the Review incomprehensible (one can well understand the pessimism of Professor James Lovelock FRS in asserting that over 6 billion people will perish this century due to unaddressed climate change (see: ; ; ).


14. Garnaut Review, Chapter 5, p137 - Notwithstanding the 450-550 ppm Terms of Reference position of the Garnaut Review it states: “At a  carbon dioxide concentration of 450 ppm, the diversity of corals on reefs will decline under the continued affect (sic) of elevated temperature and ocean acidity. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as low as 500 ppm will result in coral communities that no longer produce calcium carbonate or are able to maintain coral reef structures” (huge damage is already happening: ; ).


15. Garnaut Review, Chapter 5, p137 Risk of species extinction: “Risk of species extinction” - the extinction rate is ALREADY 100-1000 tmes greater than in the past, this is clearly related to human activity (and hence, quantitatively to GDP which is directly proportional to CO2 pollution) and Dr Cynthia Rosenzweig of GISS (quoted by the Garnaut Review) and her colleagues, including Austtralia’s Professor David Karoly of the University of Melbourne, show that  climate change as a major contributor to physical and biological changes in global ecosystems (see: ).


16. Garnaut Review, Chapter 6, pp143-160, The Australian Context to Climate Change – this chapter has a sub-section on bushfires (p151) but fails to mention  other biological consequences of man-made warming for Australia e.g. the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef above 450 ppm (even though the latest authoritative paper on the subject is quoted elsewhere in the Review: Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742: ) or  the risk to human life (especially of elderly people) due to heat waves (see: ).


17. Garnaut Review, Chapter 7, pp161-198, [Health and Economic] Impacts of Climate Change on Australia -  the Review (pp169-171) FAILS to mention that the rice growing has already collapsed (production down by 98%; see: );  that the Murray River fruit industries are gravely threatened already; that  Mining (ignored in this chapter) will be severely affected when the World eventually bans Australian coal exports (see: ); and that Health will benefit enormously (fossil fuel-based power generation pollution kills an estimated 5,400 Australians annually at a cost of $27 billion annually; morbidity costs may be 6 times greater: ).


18. Garnaut Review, Chapter 8, Australia’s emissions and the economy, pp199-210 – the Review notes (p199) that Australia’s 2005 “annual per capita CO2-e pollution” in tonnes per person per year was 559 Mtonnes/21 million = 27 tonnes per person per. However the Review IGNORES Australia’s world-leading coal exports that in 2004 via the end-users yielded about 424 Mtonnes CO2  year, this giving a “true” estimate of 559 + 424 = 983 Mtonnes/21 million people = 47 tonnes per person per year (as compared to  China’s 5 and India’s 1 tonnes CO2 -e per person per year in 2004; see: Garnaut Review, Chapter 4, Fig. 4.2, p89 i.e. on a true, per capita basis Australia is 10 times worse than China and about 40 times worse than India) (see: ).


19. Garnaut Review, Chapter 9, The Modelled Economic Consequences of Climate Change in Australia, pp213-247: extraordinarily the Review quite deliberately IGNORES the economic cost of damage to Nature and Human Health in this Chapter, notwithstanding expert advice that sustainable use of Nature is typically 50% more profitable than unsustainable use and that the economic value of preserving wild Nature is over 100 times the cost of so doing (see: ); and that an estimated 5,400 Australians die each year from the effects of pollutants from fossil fuel-based electricity generation at a cost of $27 billion, with morbidity (illness) costs being 6 times greater (see: ). INSTEAD the Review states (p214): “The modelling presented in this chapter … precludes the assessment of non-market effects, such as the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems [annual Total Economic Value of Nature is estimated at US $33 trillion: ]  and some aspects of human health [coal-burning pollutants kill 170,000 people globally each year,  corresponding at $5 million per person [EU valuation] to about $1 trillion per annum:] . Section 6.3 and Chapters 2 and 10 discuss the implications associated with excluding non-market effects from an economic evaluation of climate change.”


20. Garnaut Review, Chapter 9, Coal mining, p239, Economic consequences for mining - the Review modelling quite extraordinarily IGNORES the compelling international demand for cessation of coal mining and consequent CO2 pollution: “The mining industries are also adversely affected by climate change …the coal industry is by far the most affected, with output projected to decline by almost 10% relative to the reference case [not climate change impacted] case by 2100. The result is mainly driven through changes in world demand, since the majority of coal produced in Australia is exported. The international modelling undertaken by the Review implies that world demand for coal falls by almost 19 percent, relative to the reference case” (NASA’s Dr Hansen has called for a moratorium on coal burning: ).


21. Garnaut Review, Chapter 9, p249, Health impacts: “The health-related impacts considered by the Review have relatively small economic effects” – however compare this assertion with the estimate that 5,400 Australians die each year from the effects of fossil fuel-burning power generation pollutants at a cost of $27 billion; the morbidity cost may be 6 times greater  (see: ; the Australian GDP in 2007 was about $1 trillion: ).


22. Garnaut review, Chapter 10, The Wider costs and benefits of climate change mitigation in Australia, p255, Human health: the Review IGNORES the huge positive impact on human health from cessation of fossil fuel burning (see item #21). Thus (p255): “While a significant proportion of the total adverse impacts on health from climate change were excluded from the economic analysis in Cha9ter 9, the Review does not consider this to be significant in terms of economic consequences. Even if the modelled cost discussed in Chapter 9 were to double to reflect the excluded impacts, the net economic consequences from climate change would still not be large. While the excluded health impacts are not considered represent large economic consequences they may represent considerable non-market effects”. The review makes  similar comments  in section 10.3 pp264-265  - however 7 x $27 billion = $189 billion  is the estimated annual mortality plus morbidity costs from fossil fuel burning power station pollutants (see: ) and corresponds to about 19% of GDP]. WHO statistics (see:  ) tell us that the “total medical expenditure” in Australia was US$3,001 and 8.8% of GDP in 2005, corresponding to 21 million x $3,001 = $63 billion.


23. Garnaut Review, Chapter 11, pp269-287, The International response to climate change to date - an assessment: the review faces up to the problem (albeit inexplicitly) : “Greenhouse emissions area global public “bad”. One country’s emissions affect all countries … To ensure compatibility, unilateral and regional schemes would need to be based around common guiding principles.” The really fundamental principles would be whether  you have (a) positive CO2 emissions to some “target”; (b) zero emissions; or (c) negative CO2 emissions e.g. to no more than 350 ppm as advocated by Dr Hansen of NASA’s GISS  and his colleagues (see: ). Unfortunately the Review ignores (b) and (c) without explanation – notwithstanding that these propositions are advanced by some of the world’s top climate scientists.


24. Garnaut Review, Chapter 12, pp289-308, Towards agreement on national and global emissions limits - the Review FAILS to posit the fundamentals of whether  you have (a) positive CO2 emissions to some “target”; (b) zero emissions; or (c) negative CO2 emissions (see comments for item #23). The Review (p292) plumps for various versions of scenario (a) that are disastrous for Australia and the Planet by yielding 450 ppm (death of coral) or 550 ppm (destruction of phytoplankton, most ocean life and the Greenland ice sheet; devastation of mega-delta regions and coastal cities): “The review models two global mitigation scenarios, one less ambitious, the other more. The strong global mitigation case is a stabilisation scenarionat which the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere approaches 550 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) and stabilizes at around that level thereafter. The ambitious global mitigation case is an overshooting scenario , which peaks at around 500 ppm CO2-e and then stabilizes at around 450 ppm CO2-e. Any lower stabilization objective, for example at 400 ppm,CO2-e would need to involve a longer period of overshooting”. 


Planetary disaster aside, this Review position has to be considered in relation to the expertly-informed EU position (p290): “The European Union, for example, has argued that global mean warming should not be allowed to exceed 20C from pre-industrial levels (Council of the European Union 2007)”.  Unfortunately, while the IPCC (2007) has concluded that the temperature increase from a doubling of pre-industrial 280 ppm CO2 to 560 ppm CO2 “is likely to be in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees with a best estimate about 3 degrees”.


At our present 387 ppm CO2 the average temperature has increased by 0.80C over the pre-industrial but there is a thermal inertia component of a further + 0.60C and positive feedback effects from the Arctic “albedo flip” may yield a further +0.30C i.e. we are already committed to about +1.70C at 387 ppm with global temperature increasing at about 0.250C per decade. Hansen and Sato suggest a “long-term” climate sensitivity of +60C (involving an ice-melting “albedo flip” as in the Pleistocene era)  rather than the Charney-IPCC estimate of +30C for a doubling of CO2 (see Chapter 5, “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton, Scribe, Melbourne, 2008; Hansen, Sato et al: ).


In this crucial area the Review is not only IGNORING top US climate scientists but also the proscription of the expertly-informed EU.


25. Garnaut Review, Chapter 13, pp309-335, Deepening international collaboration - the Review states that “trade in emissions rights greatly to be preferred to trade in offset credits, which should be restricted”. However, while the “emissions rights” are “political” constructs that will typically IGNORE the real quantifiable environmental and human costs (e.g. as made quite clear in the Review itself), the “offset credits” are objectively and scientifically determined in terms of “net CO2 pollution”.


This point  illustrates the importance of CO2 pollution policies being determined objectively by scientists rather than by economists and politicians (thus the Review IGNORES many objectively and scientifically assessed matters and the carefully considered positions top climate scientists such as NASA’s Dr James Hansen and top UK climate scientist Professor James Lovelock FRS: ; ; “The Revenge of Gaia” by James Lovelock). 


26. Garnaut Review, Chapter 14, pp337-357, Australian mitigation: overview of the policy challenge – the Review borrows from Sir Nicholas Stern’s comment thus: “The Stern Review referred to climate change as “the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen (Stern 2007)”.  In section 14.2 “Addressing the greatest market failure ever seen” (pp941-942) the Review opts for a mixture of supposedly “market” and “regulatory” approaches: “The options for meeting the policy objective – reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that reflects the atmosphere’s true scarcity value – are typically categorized as being either regulatory or market based. Within these two categories, numerous policy instruments can be applied.” The Review in opting for an Emissions Trading Scheme with nearly all the licence fees being used to subsidize carbon-based power IGNORES what is done elsewhere in relation to use of scarce common resources e.g. water.


Water scarcity is dealt with (at least in the cities if not with agriculture which consumes most of the available water) by rigorous (and publicly supported) restrictions to increase water use efficiency and by pricing water appropriately – although, unfortunately, minority vested interests determine that the unique Murray-Darling ecosystems are being sacrificed to private greed and political cowardice prevents the recycling that occurs in much, much  wetter countries such as the UK.


Rational risk management involves a successive process of (a) accurate data, (b) scientific analysis and (c) informed systemic change. In relation to man-made climate change this would mean (s) recognizing expert scientific concerns e.g. the need to rescue atmospheric CO2 to no more than 350 ppm, the cost in Australian lives of coal burning, assessment of the “true cost” of coal burning based electricity generation (4-5 times the market cost); (b) scientific analysis of how to achieve this (e.g. cessation of coal mining and exports; cessation of subsidies for carbon-burning; cost-recovery for costs from coal burning; about $250 billion to make Australian electricity 100% non-carbon; energy efficiency and renewable uptake support measures; energy use restrictions; re-afforestation, biochar enrichment of soils) and (c) implementation.


The coal burning-dedicated Review IGNORES all of these rational risk management steps in favour of policies that permit continued coal mining and exports; a subsidy-perverted Emissions Trading Scheme as a mechanism to make non-carbon power more attractive; and continued enormous subsidy of coal burning .


27. Garnaut review Chapter 15, An Australian emissions trading scheme (ETS), pp359-402 – the Review describes a “Cap and Trade” ETS that is deeply flawed. Thus the “Cap” is an atmosphere CO2 concentration that ranges from 450 ppm (above which the Great Barrier Reef and indeed all coral around the world dies and 550 ppm (3-6 0C temperature rise and planetary devastation). The Review IGNORES expert US climate science opinion for a “cap” of no more than 350 ppm (that would mean ordering carbon polluters to clean up the mess of their making) or of the current 387 ppm (zero emissions; no pollution licences issued). A rational ETS would invest the licence fees in renewable or geothermal power (remember the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the Ord, the World War 2 national manpower and resources mobilization) – however the Review hands 80% of the fees back to subsidize “dirty energy” users and of the remaining 20%, half will go for research into “cleaner carbon burning”, leaving it up to “the market” to be encouraged to invest in non-carbon power.


2 critical flaws in the Review ETS are that (a) it IGNORES the reality that the “true cost” of coal-based power is about 4-5 times the “market price” (simple honest recognition of this would mean that an honestly informed market would rapidly implement a vastly cheaper non-carbon power system); and (b) it only deals with about half of the problem – it IGNORES Australia’s world leading coal exports that give Australia a “true” “annual per capita greenhouse pollution” of 47 tonnes per person as compared to about 5 for China and 1 for India (see: ).


Insider-trading and anti-price collusion legislation prohibits deception of investors and consumers and indeed applies draconian penalties. Similar legislation would dramatically clarify the climate emergency debate in Australia which is heavily influenced by industry and politicians to the exclusion of expert climate scientists. Indeed Dr James Hansen in a recent address to the US National Press Club and a briefing to the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming. Congressional Committee raised the issue of criminal prosecutions: “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term  consequences of business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” (see: ).


28. Garnaut Review, Chapter 15, p380 – the Review stipulates that polluters would be able to borrow money “to use permits from the future” but notes “Eligibility – borrowers must be credit worthy”. It is well established in International and National Law that polluters are liable for the cost of the clean-up. Inspection of the huge human cost alone of fossil fuel burning-based electricity generation (0.3 million deaths world-wide annually at a cost of $1.5 trillion, with Australia a major culprit as the world’s number 1 coal exporter) casts serious doubt on the credit worthiness of the polluters (see: ).


29. Garnaut review Chapter 16, Research, development and innovation, pp403-426 -  the Review (p406) repeatedly admits to climate change being “the greatest market failure ever seen” but insists on a “dirty energy”-subsidizing quasi-market scheme that discriminates against “clean energy”: “the emissions trading scheme [involving huge, non-market Government subsidies encompassing perhaps 90% of the licence fees] will create sufficient demand-pull for new low-emissions technology, and thus there is generally no need for any additional support for innovation at the market uptake stage.”


The discrimination in favour of “dirty energy” is enormous as proposed by the Review and is enormous now: (a) the “true cost” of fossil fuel-based power is 4-5 times the “market cost” i.e. carbon-based energy is hugely subsidized here in this sense; (b) there is a further $10 billion per annum in subsidies for fossil fuels; (c) the huge human cost is simply ignored; (d) the huge Australian contribution to global pollution through its world-leading coal exports is ignored. The reality – ignored by the Review – is that with the latest technological advances and economies of scale some already developed renewable technologies (notably CIGS and dye-based thin-film non-silicon photovoltaics, balloon-based solar collection for photovoltaics and  and Ausra solar thermal)  are now approaching the “market cost” of coal-based electricity generation – whereas the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) favoured by the non-scientist Reviewer is expensive, location-specific, only up to 90% effective, undeveloped and non-timely, and has underground leakage risks and significant liability risks (see: ).


30. Garnaut Review, Chapter 17, Network infrastructure market failures, pp427-442 – the Review wants infrastructure for electricity grids and “carbon dioxide transport” for the hypothetical CCS system but departs from the “pure market” by asserting that the Government (taxpayer)  “Building Australia Fund should be extended to cover energy infrastructure” i.e. not even encouragement or subsidy of non-carbon power but huge  Government subsidy (in addition to the existing and proposed subsidies for “dirty power”; see #29) for more carbon burning-based  power.


31. Garnaut Review, Chapter 17, p428 – the Review states; “An emissions trading scheme will make higher-emissions forms of energy generation more expensive, shifting demand towards lower-emissions sources, and towards technologies that capture and sequester emissions”. However Figure 20.2 of the Review shows that the cost in cents/kWh of EXISTING wind technology is about the same as for the HYPOTHETICAL Carbon Capture and Storage systems.


The Review DOES say something useful in relation to feed-in tariffs for domestic energy production (p433) “A feed-in tariff based on gross metering [as in Germany and Spain] is thus a more accurate means of pricing these benefits” i.e. while “dirty energy” and its hypothetical “cleaner” coal burning versions can be heavily subsidized according to the Review, the only “subsidy” advocated for “clean energy” is a gross metering-based feed-in tariff because it is “more accurate” than the net metering feed-in tariff that obtain in Victoria.


32. Garnaut Review, Chapter 18, pp443-468, Information and agency barriers -  the Review states (p443) that “There are significant  opportunties for low-cost reductions in emissions across the Australian economy through the deployment of existing technologies and practices. These opportunities include energy efficiency and fuel switching in homes, industry and transport … Two kinds of market failures … One relates to the externalities in the supply of information and skills”. Unfortunately the review IGNORES the opportunity to review INFORMATION on extraordinary advances in solar technologies that are bringing some very close to the “market cost” of coal-based electricity (however, by way of marked contrast, see the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group Climate Emergency Fact Sheets:; Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency: ; Climate Emergency Fact Sheets: ; “Climate Code Red” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton: ).


33. Garnaut Review, Chapter 19, pp469-478 – the Review admits (p469) that “Lower-income households spend much higher proportions of their incomes than other households on emissions-intensive products” and as a consequence allocates 50% of the ETS licence fees in a non-market scheme to subsidize the more expensive domestic “dirty” electricity consumption. More sensible and just would be for Government policy to favour uptake of the cheapest power technologies – and the cheapest non-carbon technologies are all cheaper than the “true cost” of coal -based power and in some cases approaching the “market price” of coal-based power (see #34 below).


34. Garnaut Review, Chapter 20, pp481-584, The Energy Transformation  – Table 20.2 is very revealing – existing technology wind power is about the same price – about 6 cents/kWh -   as hypothetical CCS coal-burning power technology but the Review shies away from reviewing the remarkable developments in “clean energy” technologies in favour of hypothetical “cleaner” coal CCS technologies. Why? Table 20.2 lists only one solar technology (Concentrated Solar Thermal) at 20 cents/kWh yet the new, large-scale, commercialized, Ausra  Concentrated Solar Power (Solar Thermal) Compact Linear Fresnel (CLFR) system technology is already HALF that with lower cost to come with economies of scale: “Ausra claims that It can generate electricity for 10 cents/kWh now, under 8 cents/kWh in 3 yrs. It also claims that using Ausra’s current solar technologies, all U.S. electric power, day and night, can be generated using a land area smaller than 92 by 92 miles” (see: ; ; ; ; ; ).