While the economist Ross Garnaut continues to be promoted as the man who foresaw the bush fires we are witnessing it appears that there are some glaring accounting omissions in his work in addition to the problems with his modelling described on this blog.As mentioned, his target of 450 ppm by 202 has been achieved with the need for his expensive policy recommendations.
In 2014 CSIRO research published in the scientific journal Nature demonstrated how the heavy rainfalls experienced in 2011 had turned Australia into a " giant green global carbon sink".
According to CSIRO:
Land and ocean carbon sinks absorb around half of the world’s emissions from burning fossil fuels each year, which helps to slow the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from human activities.
In accounting terms the 2011 rains created an asset, a carbon sink, that Australia gained for a number of reasons but the sheer size of the continent meant that this was, in resource terms, a world class asset. The creation of that asset was clearly not a one-off; Australia regularly experiences periods of greening and drought.
Despite that fact, Garnaut, himself an economist, seems to have failed to account for Australia's carbon dioxide uptake when recommending that Australia go for zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.This is basic carbon accounting that has been ignored.
This failure to account for the carbon uptake has resulted in what is likely to have been a gross overestimation of Australia's net carbon emissions . Worse, there has been a failure to manage a national resource which has probably resulted in the bush fires that Garnaut says he had predicted 12 years ago.