It’s simple mathematics

Ian PENROSE, Kew, Sep 1, 2023

Mike Scrafton is right. Our government is failing to address the climate crisis adequately because of its “obsession with growth” (The intergenerational report – a climate fairy tale, 26/8). The unholy link between the crisis and growth is evident from mathematics, my former discipline. It is found in the long-established equation, I = PAT, which describes an environmental impact (I) as the product of three factors (P, A and T).

Here’s how it applies to CO2 emissions from Australia’s energy industry. ‘I’ is the level of emissions, ‘P’ our population, ‘A’ (affluence) our per-capita use of energy, and ‘T’ (technology) CO2 per unit of energy.

The government’s effort is all about decarbonising our energy industry, the ‘T’ factor. But, as the equation shows, any improvement there is readily negated by increases in the other factors. Unless we simultaneously stop growing our population and energy usage, emissions reduction is impossible. It is simple mathematics.

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