Published October 28, 2008 08:48 AM

Australia's Stern review warns of runaway global warming

Carbon pollution levels are rising so fast that the world has no realistic chance of hitting ambitious climate targets set by Britain and the G8, an influential report to the Australian government has warned.

The report, from economist Ross Garnaut, says existing carbon goals, such as those in Britain's climate change bill, are based on out-of-date emissions figures, and are so ambitious that they could wreck attempts to agree a new global deal on global warming.

Garnaut says that nations must accept a greater amount of warming is inevitable, or risk a failure to agree that "would haunt humanity until the end of time."

The report, billed as the Australian Stern review, uses recent estimates of booming carbon emissions that were not included in last year's report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), or the 2006 report from Sir Nicholas Stern on the economics of the problem.


Since 2000, the Garnaut report says, global carbon emissions from fossil fuel use have grown by 3% each year, as economies of developing countries including China have boomed. This compares to annual growth rates of 2% through the 1970s and 1980s, and just 1% in the 1990s.

The report, published today, predicts that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise by more than 3% each year until 2030.

The worst case considered by the IPCC was that world carbon dioxide emissions would rise by 2.5% each year — a scenario often criticised as too pessimistic. Most government projections and discussions are based on the milder IPCC "median" scenario, which sets an annual growth rate of just 2%.

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