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How to deal with climate change

"Mitigation of the climate change problem will be inhibited without a truly global effort."

Professor Garnaut's presentation, The Challenge of Climate Change to Political Systems in Australia, China and the United States, examined the trajectory of emissions reductions in each country and how progress has been impacted by political and economic developments.

Professor Garnaut, author of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, spoke of the crucial importance of economic mechanisms in facilitating a behavioural shift toward decarbonization. He examined the emergent policy frameworks in each country, focusing upon the strategic global importance of the 2014 agreement between China and the United States on emission reduction targets for 2030.

Vice-Chancellor Jane Den Hollander said the presentation was timely given the continued debate about how to address the issue in Australia.

'Climate change is one of the more important issues our world faces and the implications of not addressing it are profound,' Professor den Hollander said.

'Successful organisations in the twenty-first century, universities, not for profits, and corporate organisations, all need to develop better sustainability practises as we have responsibilities for the use of scarce resources.

'Deakin takes sustainability seriously and we are changing our practices to reduce our impacts where we can – our students and staff demand this care and attention.

'When we commit to change we mean it, we write it down and we record it. We were pleased to receive last year's Green Gown Australasia Award for reducing our transport carbon footprint as an indication that we are on the right track.

'Speakers such as Professor Garnaut assist to facilitate education, discussion and innovation in this area. Deakin is proud to have hosted such a distinguished academic on the topic.'

Professor Samantha Hepburn, Associate Head (Research) in the School of Law, who facilitated the event and introduced Professor Garnaut, said the seminar was very strategic and was aligned with developing research strengths in the law school. Professor Hepburn has completed a book for Cambridge University Press in which the impact of the mining and energy sector on climate change and climate change policy is evaluated.

Professor Hepburn said that the seminar, held on the same day that the media announced the climate change agreement between the United States and China, 'focused upon the importance of breaking what has become an inextricable connection between growth in living standards and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Stimulating emission reduction pathways through economic mechanisms is crucial in a post-Kyoto environment.'

The seminar was presented as a component of the new external seminar series, introduced by the Deakin School of Law and its industry sponsor, Sladen Legal. It was attended by a range of key stakeholders, including the Chairman of the Productivity Commission, Mr Peter Harris and the Managing Director of Infigen Energy, Mr Miles George. Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice Director, Richard Coverdale said the presentation was 'inspiring' and the range and scope of Professor Garnaut's knowledge was 'impressive'. 

The seminar highlighted the enormous changes occurring in China as a consequence of the Clean Energy Policy and in response to high levels of air pollution. Professor Garnaut spoke of the importance of big emitting countries taking the lead in emission reduction in order to stimulate a similar shift in other countries. In particular, the seminar focused on the importance, post-Kyoto, of implementing a collaborative and global response to the challenge of climate change. As Professor Garnaut stated, 'It is a simple fact of life on earth that there is going to be no successful mitigation of the climate change problem without a truly global effort.'

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