NewsMail - - OPINION -

ON Tues­day, De­cem­ber 4 you pub­lished an opin­ion piece by An­drew Bolt ti­tled, ‘Less march­ing, more learn­ing’, which in­cluded a ref­er­ence to me ‘ad­mit­ting’ that we “could stop all Aus­tralia’s emis­sions – junk ev­ery car, shut ev­ery power sta­tion, put a cork in ev­ery cow – and the ef­fect on the cli­mate would still be ‘vir­tu­ally noth­ing’”.

Those are An­drew Bolt’s words, not mine, and they are a com­plete mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of my po­si­tion. They sug­gest that we should do noth­ing to re­duce our car­bon emis­sions, a stance I re­ject, and I wish to cor­rect the record.

On 1 June 2017, I at­tended a Se­nate Es­ti­mates hear­ing where Sen­a­tor Ian Macdon­ald asked if the world was to re­duce its car­bon emis­sions by 1.3 per cent, which is ap­prox­i­mately Aus­tralia’s rate of emis­sions, what im­pact would that make on the chang­ing cli­mate of the world.

My re­sponse was that the im­pact would be vir­tu­ally noth­ing but I im­me­di­ately con­tin­ued by ex­plain­ing that do­ing noth­ing is not a po­si­tion that we can re­spon­si­bly take be­cause emis­sions re­duc­tions is a lit­tle bit like vot­ing, in that if every­one took the at­ti­tude that their vote does not count and no-one voted, we would not have a democ­racy.

Sim­i­larly, if all coun­tries that have com­pa­ra­ble car­bon emis­sions took the po­si­tion that they shouldn’t take ac­tion be­cause their con­tri­bu­tion to this global prob­lem is in­signif­i­cant, then no­body would act and the prob­lem would con­tinue to grow in scale.

Let me be clear, we need to con­tinue on the path of re­duc­ing Aus­tralia’s car­bon emis­sions. The fact re­mains that Aus­tralia’s emis­sions per per­son are some of the high­est in the world. In re­sponse to the re­cent IPCC re­port, I urged all de­ci­sion mak­ers – in gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try, and the com­mu­nity – to lis­ten to the science and fo­cus on the goal of re­duc­ing emis­sions, while max­imis­ing eco­nomic growth. I was up­front about the mag­ni­tude of the task: it is huge and will re­quire a truly global ef­fort. DR ALAN FINKEL AO, Aus­tralia’s Chief Sci­en­tist

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