Immigration must be cut to tackle climate change, says study
By John Masanauskas
The Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia), July 23, 2008
Immigration must be slashed if Australia has any chance of seriously tackling climate change, says a Monash University study.
The report said Australia's high population growth would be a major driver of greenhouse emissions, and would counter tough government measures to reduce carbon output.
But the Rudd Government and its climate adviser Ross Garnaut were ignoring the population issue at their peril, said the study, entitled Labor's Greenhouse Aspirations, by Monash's Centre for Population and Urban Research.
The nation's migrant intake is at record levels, with the Government recently announcing an increase of 37,500 places for 2008-09.
Given current migration and fertility rates, the population will increase by at least 10 million to 31.6 million by 2050.
Monash researchers Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy used computer modelling to predict the effect of population and economic growth on greenhouse emissions.
If no carbon trading scheme is introduced, Australian emissions will reach 797 million tonnes – or four times Labor's target – by 2050, the researchers found.
Emissions would only fall to 502 million tonnes if the nation managed to cut carbon intensity levels by one per cent a year under a tough cap and trade scheme.
'The problem with radical decarbonisation proposals is the limited political feasibility of these measures,'' the authors said.
'It is hard to understand why the population driver has been ignored in the recent debate, including the work of the Garnaut climate change review.''
The authors said that net migration would contribute to most of the 50 per cent increase in Australia's population over the next 40 years.
'Like all Australians they'll be living at twice the standard of living of current residents if the Government's predictions for per capita economic growth are correct,'' they said.
'Clearly, it's not possible to achieve the Government's target of 60 per cent reduction in emissions at the same time we add an extra 10 million people living at twice the current income level.''
The authors called for immigration to be slashed, and the population stabilised at about 22 million by 2050.
Prof Garnaut has predicted the population will reach 47 million by 2100.
The Monash report, which appears in the latest issue of university journal People and Place, will be released today.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 'People and Place' is available for purchase online at: http://elecpress.monash.edu.au/pnp/