Lessons of Tambora ignored, 200 years on

A giant cloud of ash and steam rises from the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia. The volcanic arc to the north of Australia poses the greatest risk to humanity. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Anthony Reid, ANU

Today Australia will commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, which for many Australians symbolises one of the greatest man-made catastrophes. But there’s another anniversary this April that gives cause for reflection: the bicentenary of the eruption on 10 April 1815 of Tambora Mountain in southeastern Indonesia. Read more…

The mixed blessing of Asia’s growing middle class

Queuing up at a Surabaya supermarket. Some analysts define the middle class as being made up of people who are ‘no longer poor’. (Photo: Chris Stowers, Panos Pictures).

Author: Adrian C. Hayes, ANU

Everybody seems excited about the rise of a new, global middle class — especially in Asia. A report from Deutsche Bank states that ‘the burgeoning of Asia’s middle class makes it an important consumer market, an engine of economic growth in the region, and an important global political force’. Read more…

Creating architecture to sustain Asia’s spectacular progress

The Asian Development Bank's Manila Headquarters. In the early stages of Asian integration governments relied mainly on global institutions and on unilateral dismantling of border barriers. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

Economic institutions, international and national, are key factors in Asian development strategies. Those economies which have exhausted the growth gained from the traditional mobilisation of capital and labour are now reforming the supply-side institutions that encourage new sources of growth from innovation and productivity. Read more…

Falling fossil fuel prices create a climate change opportunity


Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The recent and sharp fall in fossil fuel prices, thanks to new extractive techniques, will not last forever. It is high time to think about its threats and the opportunities.

In the short term, lower fossil fuel prices are terrible news for autocrats and kleptocrats whose survival depends on the resource rents created by higher prices. Read more…

Planning an efficient energy future for Japan

Members of the media inspect the damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant. (Source: AAP).

Author: Masakazu Toyoda, Institute of Energy Economics

The Great East Japan Earthquake, the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima on 11 March 2011 changed Japan’s energy future drastically. The revised Strategic Energy Plan, which the Japanese Cabinet approved in April 2014, outlines a new conceptual framework for Japan’s energy policy. Read more…

Will there be a China–US deal on climate change?

Chinese workers install solar panels on the rooftop of a workshop at a textile factory of Guanxing Group in Liaocheng city, Shandong province, China, 30 October 2012. China has become the world’s largest producer of solar panels and wind turbines. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

For many years China and the United States have faced off over climate change. Now, climate change action is one of the few things the two powers can agree on. A new view on the benefits of climate action goes some way to explain this shift. Read more…

India’s coal tax is not the best path to a low-carbon economy

An increased tax on coal will help to reduce Indian carbon emissions, but there are more efficient ways of achieving this goal. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Anshuman Sahoo, Stanford University

India’s 2014–15 budget doubled the rate of tax on coal from 50 rupees (US$0.82) to 100 rupees (US$1.64) per metric tonne. Though the additional revenue could accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies in India, the increase in coal tax is not an unambiguous step in the ‘right’ direction of lowering the carbon intensity of the Indian economy. Read more…