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New climate report myth-busting, says expert

The headline statements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new Synthesis Report – unequivocal climate change, almost certainly driven largely by humans, and an urgent need to cut emissions – “combat climate myths," says Professor Roger Jones of Victoria University.

“It is useful in addressing some of the scientific and economic misinformation flying around in political commentary and the popular press.”

In an article on The Conversation website, Professor Jones, a coordinating lead author of the Working Group II climate report released in April, says the myths are:

  • That climate action is a barrier to development, especially for the poor
  • That the planet hasn’t warmed since 1998
  • That coal will be the fuel of the future

But Professor Jones says the Synthesis Report, which sums up the finding of three earlier reports, has failed to make the economic case for taking action over climate change.

“The report contains an incomplete and flawed cost-benefit structure,” he says. “Cost-benefit analysis is the standard method for assessing whether a policy is merited. It is used for short-term decision making but is totally unsuited to decisions over century-long time scales.

“The lack of clear cost-benefit outcomes in this and previous reports has been used as a deny-and-delay tactic for the past two decades. This argument is nothing more than a red herring, and it’s getting very smelly.”

In the end, argues Professor Jones, “Acting on climate is ultimately an ethical, not an economic, consideration. Insufficient policy action is a declaration of self-interest, condemning our children, grandchildren and the planetary system that supports them to a dystopian future. That’s what the report should say.”

Professor Jones was a coordinating lead author for Chapter 2, Foundations for Decision Making, and a lead author on the Technical Summary and Summary for Policy Makers of the Working Group II climate report for the IPCC.

Available for interview:

Professor Roger Jones
Professorial Research Fellow
Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies
Phone: +61 3 9919 1992
Mobile: +61 434 543 425
Email: [email protected].

Media contact:

Karen Kissane
Media Producer (Research)
Marketing & Advancement
Victoria University
Phone: +61 3 9919 9513
Mobile: +61 423 605 313
Email: [email protected]

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