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October 31st, 2008:

Scientist Warns Emissions Trading Scheme Too Little, Too Late

Article from: The Courier-Mail, By Greg Stolz | October 31, 2008

  • Flannery pessimistic about ETS
  • Predicts catastrophe within a decade
  • Impact will be unexpected

AN emissions trading scheme will not be enough to stop a potential climatic catastrophe on the same scale as the global financial crisis within 10 years, Australian scientist Tim Flannery has warned.

Dr Flannery told an international carbon market conference on the Gold Coast yesterday that emissions trading schemes alone could not save the planet in time.

The 2007 Australian of the Year said he had a “sense of foreboding” about what lay ahead if more was not done to tackle climate change.

“I suspect that within the next decade, we are likely to see some dramatic climate shift a bit like we’ve seen in our financial systems over the last few months,” he told the Carbon Market Expo Australasia conference.

“It will be swift and it will have many unintended consequences. The problem is a lot closer than we imagined.”

Dr Flannery said the catastrophe could be a large-scale methane release which would cook the planet or major ice sheet destabilisation.

He had not seen the Rudd Government’s economic modelling for the proposed emissions trading scheme but said critics should look to Europe as a guide.

“There has been no impact in Europe and there is likely to be a small impact if any in Australia in my view,” he said.

One of the best ways to slow climate change was to harness the planet’s huge natural power to suck carbon pollution out of the atmosphere, he said

Air Quality Targets Dangerously Inadequate For Public Health

SCMP – Updated on Oct 31, 2008

We agree with views expressed by Anthony J. Hedley and Wong Chit-ming, of the University of Hong Kong (“New air quality measures inadequate“, October 25).

We are extremely concerned that the government is proposing to use the very lowest tier of the WHO air quality targets as our air quality objectives.

The World Health Organisation interim target-1 is not much of an improvement compared with our 21-year-old air quality objectives, and far from what is needed to drive air quality improvements.

For example, the annual mean concentration (the 12-month average) for PM10 (particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers) specified in the interim target-1 is 70 micrograms per cubic metre, while our air quality objectives specified an annual mean of 55 micrograms per cubic metre.

International and local studies have shown that, among all the criteria pollutants, particulate matter is by far the most significant contributor to both the chronic and acute health risk.

Let us not forget just how far behind Hong Kong’s particulate matter standard is when compared with European cities. In Europe, the PM10 standard is now 40 micrograms per cubic metre, while the WHO air quality guideline of 20 micrograms per cubic metre will take effect in 2010.

After all the hype and public expectation in Hong Kong about strengthening our air quality objectives, a recommendation to take a backward step to 70 micrograms or staying with our outdated 55 micrograms is just unbelievable.

We must set targets that protect public health, and not arrive at a target which is dictated by some limited vision of what can or cannot be done in a few years.

What is being set is a loose target which shows the government is abrogating its responsibility to push hard for a policy of public health protection.

This is wrong-headed and dangerous because we will all be paying the price with our health.

Alexis Lau, director, atmospheric research centre, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Wong Tze-wai, professor, community and family medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong