May 24, 1994 – Labor Foreign Affairs Minister on the UNFCCC

I’m as happy to bash the Howard government (1996-2007) for its egregious record of environmental vandalism as the next guy.  But let’s not pretend, please, that the Labor governments before and after them were wonderful.  This, from 23 years ago, showed Labor in less than full-throated commitment to what it had signed two years previously.  By the end of the year, they’d be openly talking about withdrawal…

 

Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. The Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, has thrown doubt over a long-standing Federal Government position on greenhouse gases in a move which will alarm the business sector.

The doubts on Australia’s response to the UN Climate Change Convention were compounded by Senator Evans’ admission that Australia had recently been “rolled” on its tough stand on the Basel convention on hazardous wastes.

At a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on Tuesday [24th May], Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth asked: “Has Cabinet agreed that Australia will not implement measures under the climate change convention which would damage our competitiveness, unless other countries also do so?”

Senator Evans replied: “It is premature to be drawing conclusions. Cabinet has not addressed the issue in those terms and it would be premature of it to do so.”

But Cabinet has considered the Government’s greenhouse gas response in those terms and the business sector has drawn some encouragement from the Government’s position that Australia’s economic growth would not be compromised by its response.

 

Also on this day

The Lavoisier group held a workshop which had been postponed from the highly appropriate date of  1st April  (Taylor, L., 2000, 11 April). This provoked a media release –Dinosaur business group is an embarrassment” from Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Australia

Media release – May 24, 2000

Australian environment groups have united in condemnation of a greenhouse meeting in Melbourne today, labelling it an embarrassment to Australia.

The meeting of the newly established “Lavoisier Group” is a move to discredit climate change science and bring together business groups in opposition to limiting greenhouse pollution.

These ‘climate sceptics’ fly in the face of the hundreds of global business players who gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos this January. This business group resolved that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world at the beginning of the century.

Speaking from the meeting today, Greenpeace Political Liaison Officer, Shane Rattenbury said; “This is an embarrassment for Australian industry. These people are five years behind the facts.”

Meanwhile, the BCA kept firing warning shots…

Keep the Finger Off the Greenhouse Trigger: BCA

24 May 2000

The Business Council of Australia today called on the federal government to develop a framework for a mature and productive debate about the establishment of a greenhouse trigger and other greenhouse measures.

The BCA’s Executive Director, Mr David Buckingham, said the differing views expressed earlier this week by federal Cabinet ministers graphically illustrated the need for such a debate.

“It is transparent the trigger has some very real issues associated with it, including the potential adverse impact on investment, jobs and regional development,” Mr Buckingham said.

 

 

Labor sent out a media statement too.

Government Fails The Greenhouse Challenge Nick Bolkus – Shadow Minister For Environment

Media Statement – 24 May 2000

“The government needs to put an end to its internal bickering on Greenhouse and start making some much needed progress towards meeting our targets” said Senator Bolkus today.

This morning’s report in the Australian Financial Review represents a wake up call to the Federal Government. Unless we get serious now, the next set of targets imposed on Australia will be a lot more onerous.

“With emission levels already some 19% over 1990 levels, how does the Government expect to deliver on its international Kyoto target commitment to constrain emissions growth to 108% over 1990 level?” said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for the Environment.

Today’s news shows quite starkly that the Government programs are not meeting the challenge, that the Government is not serious, and that to date Senator Hill has been concealing the truth. It was only a few weeks ago that he was telling the Senate that Australia would meet our targets.

“It is a myth that emission reduction will hurt the economy” said Senator Bolkus. “Efficiency improvements will strengthen the economy and make us more competitive. Investing in sinks will help combat salinity which is costing us billions each year.”

“Indeed, ABARE’s own research shows that under a very conservative costing analysis of greenhouse response, 85% of Australian industry will benefit.”(*)

“What Senator Minchin has failed to tell us is what it will cost us not to do anything. How much will we lose when the Great Barrier Reef is destroyed from coral bleaching within the next 40 years? How much will it cost to lose all our ski fields by 2070?(**)

Even the World Business Council on Sustainable Development has singled out Australia and highlighted our status on greenhouse:

“Australia has some specific challenges to deal with on climate change… Australia now needs to meet the targets and then be prepared to go further.”(***) ●

This Government has lost the bigger picture and is failing the Australian community.

(*) Evidence presented at the Senate Inquiry into Global Warming by the Sustainable Energy Industry Association (**) These scenarios based on CSIRO modelling (***) WBCSD-BCA Forum in Melbourne (May, 2000)

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media/pressrel/FDK16%22

The whole thing got picked up by Lenore Taylor in the Fin.

Industry groups yesterday began a public campaign to back the Federal Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, and the deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, who are fighting to quash Senator Hill’s greenhouse trigger plan.

Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

 

Meanwhile,

Strutt, S. 2000. Mining blasts Queensland freeze on coal-fired energy. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Moves by the Queensland Government to slash greenhouse gas emissions, including a freeze on new generating licences for coal-fired power stations, have been condemned by the mining industry amid widespread predictions of a hike in electricity prices…. But Mr Beattie said the industry had to realise it was a “political certainty” the Federal Government would move to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions in the near future.

Ha ha ha ha.

 

May 23,1980 Senator worries about climate change impacts…

On this day in 1980, a Liberal (yes, Liberal) senator from South Australia, Don Jessop, talked about the dangers of climate change in the Australian senate.  The whole lot is here.  And below a clip…

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) – “I also welcome the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Bill 1980 and will make a few brief remarks about it….

“The first article, entitled ‘World ecology is endangered’, is from the Melbourne Age of 16 April, and deals with an examination by a panel of internationally recognised scientists. They told the United States Congress: . . that the world could face an ecological disaster unless the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere is controlled.

The second article is older, having been written on 28 February 1977. It is entitled ‘Heating Up: Global Race for Antarctic’s Riches’, [From  U.S. News & World Report] and I wish to have only highlights of that article incorporated in Hansard.

We knew. Or should have. We blew it.

Jessop?  Came acropper in 87.  Grattan, M. 1987  SA Libs demote Hill, drop Jessop. The Age, 9 June. p 3

Also on this day

2000-

Senator Hill had been ambushed. It appears neither he nor his staff were aware the trigger proposal was likely to face such fierce opposition in Cabinet….  The anti-greenhouse, anti-trigger camp did not stop at this. The following day [23 May 2000] senator Minchin presented research he had commissioned from Dr Brian Fisher of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), a critic of the Kyoto Protocol, which found that meeting Australia’s Kyoto target could cost between 0.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent of Gross National Product at 2010. The fossil fuel lobby used this research as a springboard to back Anderson’s and Minchin’s position, suggesting the trigger would have significant adverse economic implications. Dick Wells, the executive director of the Minerals Council of Australia, was quoted in the Australian Financial Review as saying, ‘[w]e agree with John Anderson that the trigger would harm employment and regional growth…..

(Macintosh, 2007: 50)

2000 Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Industry started a strong campaign against the Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill’s, proposed greenhouse trigger yesterday. This follows a fiery Cabinet discussion on Tuesday [23rd] over new greenhouse measures proposed by the Senator.

The Federal Cabinet is understood to have reached a clear understanding on Tuesday that no extra greenhouse requirements should be imposed on the proposed $1billion Kogan Creek power station in Queensland.

It rejected a memo from Senator Hill that the project be forced to invest in greenhouse-abatement projects to offset its own emissions. However, a spokesman for the Environment Minister said the Cabinet had not made a final decision.

Taylor, L. and Skulley, M. 2000. Cabinet clash on greenhouse. The Australian Financial Review, 24 May, p1.

Federal Cabinet faces a showdown over greenhouse environmental issues after ministers yesterday heard alarming predictions that meeting Australia’s emission targets could significantly cut economic growth and boost fuel prices.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Industry, Senator Nick Minchin, both entered Cabinet yesterday armed with new evidence about the extent of Australia’s greenhouse problems.

Economic research commissioned by Senator Minchin found that forcing industry to meet Australia’s targets under the Kyoto international greenhouse agreement could reduce gross national product by up to 1.4 per cent in 2010.

(MINCHIN COMMISSIONED BRIAN FISCHER TO DO ANOTHER SKY FALL DOCUMENT)

 

 

2013  Ian Dunlop in Canberra (riff on BHP?)

 

 

 

 

May 22, 2009 – ‘skyfall’ economic modelling’ around the CPRS

The mining industry has been releasing economic “studies” about climate change since 1989, when CRA (later to be renamed Rio Tinto) started the ball rolling.  They are usually exquisitely timed around some important decision that the government is about to make – signing up to the UNFCCC, thinking about a carbon tax, whatever.

Well, in 2009, just after Kevin Rudd had released the CPRS legislation, there was a front page story on the Australian, faithfully reporting the “findings” of another study.

Taylor, L. 2009. Climate change warning: ETS to `cost 24,000jobs’. The Australian, 22 May p1.
THE Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme will cost 23,510 mining jobs over the next decade — almost half of them in Queensland — according to new modelling released as parliament prepares to decide the fate of the controversial climate change legislation.

On page 12 the then head of the Minerals Council of Australia got to say his bit too.
Hooke, M. 2009. Carbon plan will cause jobs carnage. The Australian, 22 May, p. 12.

Why change a winning strategy, I guess….

Also on this day-
Dunn, R. 1989. Plebiscite mooted. Australian Financial Review, 22 May.
The Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator Richardson, has floated the idea of holding a referendum to increase the Commonwealth’s powers to override the States on environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect.
He raised the idea at an environmental conference at the weekend.

2000
“Prior to a Cabinet meeting on 22 May [2000] where the greenhouse trigger was to be discussed, the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson publicly criticised the proposal, describing it as ‘unnecessary and inappropriate’ and suggesting it would harm the economy, particularly in regional [page break] areas. In a press release issued on 22 May, Anderson said that ‘it was not necessary or appropriate for the Commonwealth to effectively take over the State’s role in the environmental assessment and approval of major developments.”
(Macintosh, 2007: 49-50)

Dobbin, M. 2007. BP, Rio in clean coal power bid; Project based on Canberra research. Canberra Times, 22 May.
BP and Rio Tinto announced joint plans yesterday for a $2billion coal- fired power station at Kwinana in Western Australia that would be the first in Australia to capture and store its greenhouse gas emissions deep underground. The so-called clean coal station which could be completed within seven years would produce enough power to supply 500,000 houses.

May 21, 1998- Foreign Minister Downer extols emissions trading.

Australia had signed (but not ratified) the Kyoto Protocol in April 1998.  There was a push developing for some sort of emissions trading, if only to help rich countries look like they were doing something.    It is in that context that Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, gave a speech to the ABARE International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading, Sydney, 21 May 1998

It was called “Emissions Trading: Harnessing the Power of the Market”

It began;

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be here with you today to share with you my assessment of the opportunities and far-reaching role that international emissions trading will play in the successful implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. International emissions trading provides the means of harnessing the power of the market to provide cost effective solutions to emission abatement.

And you could read the rest here.  Your life, it’s short….

Also on this day-
“On 21 May 2009, 14 Greenpeace members illegally entered the site and thought they had temporarily shut down coal production after chaining themselves to an excavator. That ‘excavator’ was out for routine maintenance and again, no production from either mine or station was lost. All seven were later charged by Victoria Police.[9]   Source: Hazelwood wikpedia

May 20, 1977 Fraser says “Top Priority is Coal…”

1977 05 21 top priority to coal“Energy research funds would go largely to studies of coal use rather than solar energy the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, said in Hobart yesterday.
Mr Fraser, who was replying to questions from about 70 school students on television, said the Government was looking very seriously at funds for energy research.
Fix this textHe had been asked specifically about solar-energy research, but
devoted most of his reply to coal research

Davidson, G. 1977. Top priority to coal. The Canberra Times, 21 May, p. 9.

What gets supported and what gets ignored? There is an intense politics to who gets the subsidies and the grants…  We blew it. As a species, we blew it.  So it goes.

May 18, 2011 – Turnbull on “Direct Action” and broadband

Having lost his job as opposition leader at the end of 2009 because of his support for carbon pricing, Malcolm Turnbull almost quit politics.  By 2011 he was fully back in the fray. With climate change again/still a hot issue, Turnbull was on the ABC programme Lateline, on this day 6 years ago, explaining that

if you want to have a long-term solution to abating carbon emissions and to achieve – if you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government – where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.

Well, thank goodness that didn’t happen, eh?

Also on this day
18 May 1993 Australian National Audit office Implementation of an ‘Interim ‘Greenhouse Response’ Media Release’ (Crowley 2013)