Written Thursday 21-Feb-08:
The interim Garnaut report was released today. Ross Garnaut spoke to it, and said all the right words: climate change is happening faster than had been envisaged; the cost of doing nothing is more expensive than the cost of doing nothing; emission cuts have to be bigger; and solar is the way to go.
And he warned that low incomes households would be hit worst as electricity supply costs inevitably rose.
Therein lies the rub for the Rudd government. They had hidden behind the writing of that report, saying they wouldn't act until released. Sounded to me like they knew the outcome, but they didn't. So far (today Thursday), they said it would be business as usual for emission cuts, which meant sticking to a 60% reduction by 2050. Yet Garnault had said it needed to be more.
No problem for those of us who are already on 100% solar-sourced electricity? Think again - of the flow-on costs from other goods and services: the inflation costs. This when inflation is the thorniest issue this year as far as the government is concerned.
Lateline tonight: it was announced they could not get a government minister to interview, which is highly unusual. They must be hunkering down. They could have foreseen this, but that doesn't mean they have the answers.
It's going to take imagination and radical action on the part of any government. I'd like to be optimistic, but I'm not. Worst case scenario: policy that causes pain but doesn't achieve the climate change objectives.
Update: Greg Hunt, opposition environment spokesman, was on Lateline just now. It's easier to be in opposition and support doing the right thing, but Hunt did come across as a sincere believer in the urgency of the issue facing us. If nothing else, that will help keep the blowtorch on the government's response. (Gosh, I never thought I'd be barracking for the Liberals to press Labor to act on climate change!)
Update 22-Feb-08: According to one report, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says she is now deferring action until the release of Treasury modelling in June.