‘Late Start’ on Climate to Boost Costs, Australia’s Adviser Says

The cost to the Australian economy of tackling climate change will increase because of a “late start globally” in efforts to curb carbon emissions, the federal government’s climate change adviser Ross Garnaut said.

“The costs of some low-emissions technologies appear to have been falling faster than anticipated,” Garnaut wrote in the first of eight reports today updating his 2008 analysis. “However, a late start globally on mitigation has raised anticipated costs of both climate change and its mitigation.”

Julia Gillard pledged to restart an effort to combat climate change after replacing Kevin Rudd as Australian prime minister in June and has said that lawmakers must decide in 2011 on a way to put a price on carbon emissions. Rudd had shelved an emissions-trading plan, citing opposition in the upper house Senate and a lack of action by other countries.

Garnaut, commissioned by the government in November to update his climate change review, is considering “whether the case for the conclusions drawn in 2008 has been strengthened or weakened,” analyzing issues such as developments in technology.

Since 2008, the “climate change science has developed, mostly in ways that heighten rather than ease concerns,” he wrote today. Garnaut added that “the case for substantial and well-designed Australian action to encourage international agreement on climate responses remains compelling.”