By Europe correspondent Emma Alberici
ABC News Online, Posted 5 hours 27 minutes ago
A leading economist has told the World Economic Forum in Davos that Australia should be leading the international community in the development of carbon capture and storage technology.
Nicholas Stern has called Australia's decision to cut emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 on the low side, given the world is aiming for a reduction of 80 per cent by 2050.
"I think a clear path too for all the heavy emitting countries, that includes Australia, the United States, the UK, a clear path for those rich emitting countries to cut by 80 per cent by 2015 is absolutely fundamental and we all have to ask ourselves, are we on a credible path?" he told the ABC on the sidelines of the forum.
"Australia is a rich country relative to the rest of the world and everybody has to tackle the transition and I believe Australia can be a leader in showing how that can be tackled."
Two-and-a-half years ago, the Stern report highlighted the devastating economic consequences for the world if it did not take immediate action on climate change.
The British economist said developed countries could no longer go on using coal without committing to the development of large scale carbon capture and storage facilities.
He said Australia should be building up to four such plants within the next decade.
"Australia has great opportunities. Australia could be a leader in carbon capture and storage both in the technology and in the application of the technology," he said.
"Australia has holes in the ground where you can put the carbon that is captured so I think this is an opportunity for Australia and I believe the leading thinkers on this like Ross Garnaut (The Government's chief climate change adviser) and (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd himself, understand these issues very well."
He said green projects would pick up the jobs that would be lost when Australia makes a greater shift to sustainable energy.
"In the short run, moving to alternative energy is actually going to be more labour intensive," he said.
"You can't switch away from coal quickly but you can switch towards carbon capture and storage for coal within a period of a decade or so."
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