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Aust to be hit hard by climate change

Published: 8:11PM Saturday February 23, 2008 Source: ONE News

Australia stands to be one of the worst hit countries economically affected by global warming, according to a new report.
The country is facing a drastic rise in living costs as electricity prices skyrocket and now Australians could be up for the same changes New Zealanders are facing to cut greenhouse gases.

With Australians now getting used to dealing with flash flooding, its making it all the more  harder to convince them that the future of life on the world's driest continent looks harsher than ever.

"Without action we're running towards dangerous points more quickly than a lot of the earlier analysis had suggested," says Ross Garnaut, an economist.

Garnaut was hand picked by Australia's new Prime Minister to study the economic impact of climate change, before he won office.

Now he is running the show.

"Failure to act is in fact consigning the future of our children to a very dismal destiny indeed," says PM Rudd.

Rudd's adviser is telling him Australia must make deeper cuts and sooner to the levels of greenhouse gases emitted by a runaway, coal-fired economy.

Instead of 60% by 2050, the new advice suggests 90% cuts will be needed and interim targets are to be hit sooner.

The problem is that the same economy has inflation running hot and measures now suggested are sure to push that higher, with wind and solar energy and so-called clean coal being expensive right now.

"What that means is the wholesale price of electricity would double and so retail prices would roughly increase by 50% and that's on top of inflation," says John Boshier, the Australian National Generators' forum.

Temperatures are peaking around 30 degrees in Sydney at this time of the year and the economic forecast of letting it rise further, permanently, is sobering.

But in Australia as in New Zealand, people are being warned that dealing with climate change could force financial sacrifices now.