<a href="http://gmagazine.com.au/blog/14#">It&#039;s All About Energy</a>

It's All About Energy

Strategies for slashing CO2 emissions, by Alan Finkel.

Stop talking about targets and start taking action


Credit: iStockphoto

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It’s a classic case of the “Mine is bigger than yours” argument. The Europeans want a 50 per cent cut. Australia is talking about a 20 per cent cut, but then again, sometimes there is talk of a 90 per cent cut or a 95 per cent cut. Who will win the title for setting the most ambitious targets?

How can anybody keep a straight face when stating these aspirational targets? Where’s the beef?

Two things frustrate me. First, these targets rarely say what the baseline is. Is it 1990? Is it 2000? 2008? Or is the target what emissions might be expected to be in 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario?

Second, it’s easy to set a target, but what is needed is action. Time ticks away while targets are being discussed. Targets are meaningless unless they are accompanied by actions. Instead of arguing over numbers, I propose that the goal should be stated as follows:

"We aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as much as possible, and we will start now."

What I am suggesting is that governments should flip the process on its head. Do the best that we possibly can, measure what we achieve, then re-assess.

When I ran a company, instead of developing our products to meet a price target we developed the absolutely best product possible then set the price. Invariably, our product was more expensive than the competitions’ but our products sold well because they were better.

Sometimes, one has to stop talking, stop setting targets, and simply do the best job possible.