Garnaut (born July 28, 1946) AO BA (ANU), PhD
(ANU) is a professor of economics at the Australian
30 April 2007 the State and Territory Governments
of Australia at the request of the then leader
of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the
Opposition Kevin Rudd, who was elected Prime Minister
of Australia on 24 November 2007, appointed Professor
Garnaut to examine the impacts of climate change
on the Australian economy, and recommend medium
to long-term policies and policy frameworks to
improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity.
Garnaut Report is due to be handed down on 30
September 2008, with a draft to be released on
30 June 2008. Prior to receiving Professor Garnaut's
report, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd committed Australia
to ratifying the Kyoto Treaty.
Garnaut has also been Senior Economic Adviser
to Prime Minister R.J.L. Hawke (1983-85); Australia's
Ambassador to China (1985-88); Chairman, Primary
Industry Bank of Australia Ltd (PIBA) (1989-1994);
Chairman, Bank of Western Australia Ltd (BankWest)
(1988-1995); First Assistant Secretary (Head of
the Division of General Financial and Economic
Policy), Papua New Guinea Department of Finance
(1975-76); Research Director of the ASEAN-Australia
Economic Relations Research Project (1981-83);
and Foundation Director, Asia-Pacific School of
Economics and Management (1998-2000). His son,
John Garnaut, is a journalist for Fairfax Media
green man, by Stephanie Peatling - 21st March
The Sydney Morning Herald)
no soft touch, but Ross Garnaut's climate change
proposals may win more friends in the environmental
movement than the boardroom. Stephanie Peatling
a young career diplomat in Beijing in the 1980s
Kevin Rudd served for a brief time as wicket-keeper
for the Australian embassy's cricket team. His
captain was the economist turned ambassador Ross
decades on and the positions on the field have
been shuffled - the Prime Minister now relies
on his former boss to advise the Federal Government
on the potential economic impacts of climate change.
relative novice to the field, Professor Garnaut
says he has been "bumping into climate change"
for many years, as he has the Prime Minister.
came to him in Beijing as a rising star of the
Department of Foreign Affairs. Garnaut's star
was already shining brightly: he was plucked from
the world of academia in his mid-30s to be the
then prime minister Bob Hawke's senior economic
adviser at a time when the Australian economy
was being transformed by the floating of the dollar.
in his office at the Australian National University,
Garnaut remembers Rudd as "very conscientious"
and "a fine officer". Neither suffered
any lasting tarnish from a "lost in translation"
moment at an official event when Rudd reportedly
described Australia and China as enjoying "multiple
orgasms". The two men have kept in touch
with regular chats over the years.
Garnaut was not surprised when Rudd called him
last year and asked to see him. But Garnaut, expecting
the conversation to cover the usual subjects of
economics and foreign policy, was momentarily
surprised when Rudd asked him to return to the
world of public policy to take on one of its biggest
challenges: global warming.
thought about it a little while and thought I
had been doing the same things for a long time
and thought it would be interesting," Garnaut
Garnaut Climate Change Review, as it is officially
known, was commissioned by state and territory
leaders last year. All were publicly committed
to greater action on global warming but lacked
any comprehensive research on what needed to be
done and what risks could follow.
Opposition leader, Rudd promised he would back
the review if he was elected. He made good on
that promise and the review now has the job of
examining "the impacts of climate change
on the Australian economy and recommending medium-
to long-term policies and policy frameworks to
improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity".
week Garnaut presented his vision for an emissions
trading scheme which the Federal Government is
relying on to significantly drive down Australia's
high level of emissions without devastating the
economy. He will hand his final report to the
Government in the second half of the year.
is an Australian version of the 2006 report done
by Sir Nicholas Stern for the British Treasury
which found the cost of not acting to avert dangerous
climate change would be comparable to the combined
effects of both world wars and the Great Depression.
Stern concluded it was no longer possible to arrest
climate change developments over the next 20 to
30 years and instead opted for a strategy to reduce
the impact. Stabilising the atmosphere would require
cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of about 80 per
cent on current levels, a figure supported by
Garnaut in an interim report he released last
analysis so far and the papers Garnaut has already
produced have "put an H-bomb under the debate",
says one person familiar with the review process.
been a bit hot and cold. At the beginning he was
a bit wobbly, and interested in China and too
many issues that were at the margin. But he's
smart and he's challenging and he is outside the
box. He doesn't take any crap."
relative lack of knowledge about climate change
has turned out to be a plus, this person says,
because it has allowed him to have a completely
is fresh. He is challenging our assumptions. Being
from outside the box allows him to ask questions
like what will happen to Australia if the region
gets hammered, and what will happen to trade.
He's not just an economist."
61 and a grandfather, Garnaut is back in the thick
of political life and finds himself enthralled
by a project that neatly draws together the threads
of his professional life: academic, economist,
diplomat, bank chairman, director of mining companies
and part-time farmer.
review team has been hand-picked from around the
country and is formally based within the Victorian
Premier's Department. But Garnaut prefers his
office at the Australian National University with
its Indonesian wooden ox and wooden replica of
a Han dynasty horse.
staff like to warn people about the messiness
of his office while also saying he takes a certain
pride in it. There is no evidence of mess on an
unusually warm Canberra autumn day but piles of
papers, journals and books, all neatly stacked
or shelved, cover almost every surface of the
small office in a building named after the great
economist H.C. "Nugget" Coombs.
career was set against the backdrop of the Great
Depression and the complete economic collapse
that came to a country reliant on agricultural
commodity exports for its prosperity.
the 21st century Australia finds itself again
grappling with a huge problem created by its dependence
on another resource - coal - for both export to
energy-hungry developing countries such as China
and for its own power needs.
gave his first public lecture on his work the
day Rudd appointed Penny Wong as Australia's first
Minister for Climate Change. In that speech, and
since then, Garnaut has shown himself to be deeply
smitten by the intellectual challenge climate
change presents and willing to recommend much
tougher action than the Government may be willing
Ross Garnaut becoming Kevin Rudd's green Frankenstein?"
one tabloid newspaper asked recently. He has already
impressed the environmental movement.
executive director of the Australian Conservation
Foundation, Don Henry, says Garnaut has "taken
a lot of time to read the science, including all
the new science".
some ways he's giving us a rare gift of a thoughtful
perspective from outside of government. His reports
are well-grounded in science and the analysis
is good … His analysis is taking an international
view which is very important. It's in our national
interest that Australia is a global leader."
work is based on the economic impact of trying
to keep carbon in the atmosphere down to a particular
level. He is looking at several different levels
and the impact they will have, but no level is
below 450 parts per million, the point at which
scientists say the world has no better than 50
per cent chance of preventing dangerous climate
and other environmental groups say Garnaut should
at least model more aggressive scenarios. "We'd
say he should go further - at least tell us what
those lower levels would mean," Henry says.
clue to why Garnaut has chosen to model the higher-end
limits may come in the former prime minister Bob
Hawke's comments to The Australian Financial Review
late last year. Hawke could not fault Garnaut's
brain, but what fascinated him was that he "operates
within the bounds of the do-able not the unobtainable".
"do-able boundaries" are what Garnaut
has set himself. He knows the Government will
not accept a reduction in Australia's emissions
without an assurance that the economic good times
all his fascination with the subject and his cognisance
of the latest science which warns the pace and
severity of climate change is greater than anyone
can imagine, Garnaut is no greenie. He sheepishly
admits he still drives a "high-emitting Ford"
because he has not had time to switch to a more
only reason his house has energy-efficient light
bulbs is because his wife insisted on them; and
the choice of trees they planted on their property
outside Canberra was not motivated by carbon offsetting
concerns alone, Garnaut says with an apologetic
is not impressed with emotional calls to arms
that rely on pictures of polar bears adrift on
tiny chunks of ice or photographs of parched and
concerns for those things is part of what people
living in Australia value it's part of the reason
for doing something … Environmental issues
are very important to quite a few people. With
my background I think more about geosequestration
and economic issues but I acknowledge that many
Australians place a lot of value on the impacts
on the environment."
he says concern about the future of the Great
Barrier Reef or the vulnerability of species are
"part of our polity's reason for doing something"
they are not the type of concerns "that would
has to be analysis that follows the logical and
not the emotional … We're not appealing
to those emotional dimensions."
an essay written for the Herald earlier this month
the novelist Ian McEwan pondered whether the enormous
challenge of climate change would be enough for
people to act on a global scale for the sake of
the quality of life on Earth for future generations.
this the beginning, or the beginning of the end?"
he wrote before concluding on a pessimistic note.
says the "international community has a mixed
record on these things. It managed on some big
things to be successful." But he is not prepared
to say whether climate change will be one of the
things future generations can claim as a success.
a way through this. That's not the same thing
as saying that it avoids all prospects of dangerous
climate change. If we do things right there's
a chance of avoiding it.
by no means certain we will avoid those risks.
It's too pessimistic but I don't know more than
there's a prospect of humans getting this right."
Climate Change Review
and the environment