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Scotch Presents: Ross Garnaut

News

12 February 2021

Scotch Presents: Ross Garnaut

Scotch Presents: Ross Garnaut

On Thursday night, Scotch welcomed Professor Ross Guarnaut to discuss the state of climate change within Australia, in relation to his latest book, ‘Reset – Restoring Australia After the Great Crash of 2020.’

The evening began with an overview of Professor Gaurnaut’s work thus far as he explained the progression of climate change research and its effect upon the development of policy throughout his career. Following this was a Q&A, with both students and parents asking questions that drew upon Professor Gaurnaut’s wide-spanning expertise in a comprehensive range of disciplines including science, philosophy, politics, international relations, economics, and the law. 

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Many of Professor Gaurnaut’s answers were related back to principles of philosophy and politics, something that enabled the advancement of the questions during the evening. The intersection between politics and climate change was discussed extensively, drawing the overall conversation towards broad questions about how we can best achieve a high functioning form of democratic capitalism, in the pursuit of climate change action. 

One of the most pivotal insights Professor Gaurnaut offered was that the most significant way to play an individual role in mitigating climate change is through voting in accordance with one’s values and morals.

For the students in attendance this was of particular importance, as whilst we all understand the impact that small actions, such as recycling and reducing waste, can have upon climate change, it can be easy to become disengaged in the larger policy discussions surrounding climate action. This is especially true when we cannot yet vote, however, Professor Gaurnaut highlighted that conservations and public discourse are equally as crucial to achieving large scale climate reform. Additionally, it was fascinating to hear how the small individual actions that we can all take to reduce the effect of climate change, are only truly beneficial within constructive Government policy frameworks. 

Professor Gaurnaut also addressed how we must all make these seemingly small everyday decisions to reduce our carbon footprints, in conjunction with voting in line with our beliefs surrounding climate change action, in order to successfully fulfill our moral obligation to both future generations and the planet. Once again, this was of high interest to the students, because it will be our generation who will one day have to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis. The extent to which we have to deal with this crisis depends entirely upon decisions made in the imminent future. Professor Gaurnaut touched on how we must act now, so that we can not only lead ethical lives, but so that the cost of solving this crisis does not continue to exponentially increase. Many of the predominant concerns around systemic change to the way Australia deals with the climate are centred around the belief that the cost of acting now is too large of a burden to place on current taxpayers. Professor Gaurnaut detailed his many studies surrounding these figures to refute this idea and furthered this argument through tying it to ethics. 

The night ended with a reflection from Professor Gaurnaut surrounding the attitude towards climate change in Australia. He concluded how much of the work that needs to be done on the climate crisis, is dependent on reforming the way that Australian politics currently operates, with the specific example of political donation laws. Overall, hearing from Professor Gaurnaut was highly educational for all who attended, giving everyone knowledge to take away from the event to reflect upon, and was an excellent way to begin the academic year at Scotch. 

Winter Birkett
Politics Society