Monthly Archives: February 2017

March 1, 1989 – Australian government calls for international treaty on #climate

Hard to believe it, almost 30 years later, but in 1989 the Australian Federal Government – caught up in the concern about climate change, and aware that Australia was vulnerable, and that the problem needed co-ordinated global action – favoured action. This was all in the pre-UNFCCC period (the negotiations for that did not start until January 1991). This below came a week before Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans went to The Hague for a conference on climate change, part of the flurry of the years 1989 and 1990…

Federal Cabinet is set to back calls for an international treaty to protect the environment, a move which could drastically alter the nation’s future pattern of trade and the development of its resources.
Australia would support an international treaty to guard against potentially dangerous shifts in the earth’s climate and atmosphere, under a submission expected to go before Cabinet’s structural adjustment committee today.
Dunn, R. 1989. Environmental pact backed. Australian Financial Review, 1 March.

Also on this day –
1990

“Products that pollute should be taxed to be more expensive than environmentally friendly goods, a leading environmental economist said yesterday.”
Polglaze, K. 1990. Polluting products should be taxed’. Canberra Times, 2 March, p10.

1995 (after the defeat of the carbon tax proposal)

Canberra — Conservationists yesterday called on the Federal Government to overcome its “policy paralysis” after Cabinet again deferred finalising a greenhouse emission-reduction package. On Tuesday night, Cabinet agreed to hold off on a decision to allow all Government departments to work out effective proposals to curb emissions.
Boreham, G. 1995. ACF Slates Greenhouse `policy Paralysis’. The Age, 2 March, p.8.

February 29, 2002 – Talking Kyoto…

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics had been a player in the Australian climate policy game for a very long time.  Despite having been slapped on the wrist for having created an economic model (MEGABARE) with fossil-fuel company money that ‘proved’ emissions would WRECK THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY WE WILL ALL BE LIVING IN CAVES, it continued to hold conferences at which sensible people would come and say sensible things. See for example –

G Andrews, ‘Climate Change, The current status of Australia’s response’, Proceedings of the National Agricultural and Resources Outlook Conference, ABARE, 29 February 2 March 2000, Canberra, vol. 1, p. 69.

Jotzo, F., et al,’ Kyoto Protocol, Impact on developing countries and some implications for the design of the Kyoto mechanisms’, ABARE, Natural Resources, Outlook 2000, New Directions Future Markets, Proceedings of the National Outlook Conference, 29 February 2 March, Canberra, p. 52.

Also on this day –

1992 letter to Canberra Times “act now to avoid catastrophe”.

1992-02-29-letter

We didn’t. Oh well.

Feb 28, 2003 – Business Council scraps its outright Kyoto opposition

The Howard government’s ability to constrain public pressure for climate change action had in part rested on the claim that business was united in its opposition to, say, Kyoto Protocol ratification.  This was always nonsense (do you think renewable energy proponents, or carbon traders, or insurers, for instance, would be opposed? What about the gas industry?).  But this appearance of unity was assisted by the Business Council of Australia.  Eventually, however, the internal ructions became too much, and it moved from opposition to ‘no position’.  Then Hugh Morgan became President.  And it was only at the end of 2006 that things shifted. Fortunately, we have loads of time to deal with climate change, so the additional wait didn’t matter. Oh yes…

“Business support for the Federal Government’s hardline position on climate change is crumbling, with the Business Council yesterday scrapping its outright opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.”
Garnaut, J. 2003. Business shifts tack on Kyoto. The Age, 1 March.

Also on this day –

Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February  p.2.
“A plan to take Australia about 40 per cent of the way towards meeting international obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed by the Cabinet today, with schemes designed to tempt top-level industry involvement.”

2007  The denialists got going, with a launch at Parliament House for this little doozy –  Nine Facts about Climate Change Ray Evans [Originally published in November 2006 as a PDF (click here, 1.5 Mb). Launched in Canberra by Sir Arvi Parbo on 28 February 2007](Parbo had been a founder of the Business Council of Australia, btw).

Feb 28, 2007 – Malcolm on Renewables – we’ve come full circle…. #auspol #climate

Ten years ago today Malcolm Turnbull

counselled an assembled pack of press gallery journalists, saying ‘You cannot run a modern economy on wind farms and solar panels. It’s a pity that you can’t , but you can’t.”
(Prest, 2007: 254)

Then he came unstuck (or rather, was taken apart) on support for Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in November 2009 (the best accounts I’ve read are Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise, and Phillip Chubb’s Power Failure).

He had enough momentum to then call the ‘Direct Action’ scheme of his usurper, Tony Abbott ‘bullshit.’ And in mid-2010 he happily launched Beyond Zero Emissions Stationary Energy Plan.

And now. Well, in his speeches Turnbull seems indistinguishable from Abbott (some take comfort in his mentions of energy storage, or his actions in installing panels and batteries in his Point Piper mansion).

What happened?  Well, Robert Manne reckons we should look the man’s history as a barrister

Malcolm Turnbull is a barrister by training and inclination. For him, causes are quasi-clients that he voluntarily and serially embraces – with the kind of sincerity barristers must routinely muster in a court of law – in order to advance his career. At a certain moment, however, Turnbull appears to realise that this or that cause poses a danger to his progress. At this moment, the cause is quietly dropped, with as much dignity and disguise as possible. It is dropped because in the end there is only one cause that ultimately counts for him – the cause of Malcolm Turnbull. Perhaps almost all successful politicians have this quality to some degree. But with Turnbull, it appears to be definitive.

References

Prest, J. 2007: The Bald Hills wind farm debacle. Pp.230- 261 in  Bonyhady, T. and Christoff, P. (eds)  2007. Climate Law in Australia. Sydney: The Federation Press.

Feb 27, 2002 – Australia and US launch a ‘spoiler’ partnership, alternative to Kyoto

George Bush was (s)elected President of the United States in late 2000. On the campaign trail he said he’d force coal-fired power stations to reduce their emissions. Once in office, oddly, he changed his mind.  He also, infamously, pulled the US out of the Kyoto Protocol. Australia hadn’t yet made a definitive statement on the matter (that would come on World Environment Day, 2002), but this ‘partnership’, launched by Environment Minister David Kemp at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC gave a clue to the direction of travel. Think of it as a dry-run for the AP6…

See also

2002 “Australia and U.S. Partner on Climate Outside Protocol”  ENS Newswire

2002 Bush and new spoiler outfit with Australia. Green Left Weekly

 

Also on this day- 

1988 Australian Academy of Science (1988) Global change, Proceedings of the Elizabeth and Frederick White Research conference 24-27 February 1988.

1995  Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February  p.2.  (It says that ACF and Greenpeace release UN data showing how dire Australia’s performance is, and meanwhile businesses, fresh from their carbon tax victory, put forward a “happy to do a voluntary scheme” submission

1997 Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill announced the release of a discussion paper, ‘Future Directions for Australia’s National Greenhouse Strategy’, prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee on ESD with a deadline for submissions of 11 April 1997.

2014 -Targets and Progress Review—Final Report released: The Climate Change Authority reviews Australia’s progress and recommends a minimum reduction of 15% in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 levels by 2020.

 

 

Feb 26, 1998 – “Clean Coal” centre opened

Clean coal.  For years it was tied to ‘carbon capture and storage’. But that is no longer seriously considered as an option (unless you count BECCS, which, um, is just another fantasy technology).  Before CCS, it was all about increased efficiency of coal fired power stations (sound familiar, reader in 2017?).  According to the Daily Telegraph, Bob Carr opened the Ian Stewart Wing of the chemical engineering laboratories at Newcastle University were opened on this day in 1998.

The story opens “RESEARCH laboratories where scientists will work to make Australian coal the “cleanest” in the world” will be opened today…”  Plus ca change…

Anon. 1998. Tests for green coal. Daily Telegraph, 26 February.

Also on this day

1988 Graeme Pearman in the Canberra Times

1988-02-26-canberra-times-dramatic-warming

 

 

Parkinson, G. 2014. Plimer leads IPA fund-raising push for new climate denial book. Reneweconomy, 26 February.

Leading climate change denier Professor Ian Plimer is leading a new fund-raising campaign from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite conservative think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, to raise money for a new book attacking climate science, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets….

Maclellan, N. 2016. Defence White Paper fails on climate change. Lowy Interpreter, 26 February…..

Former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Chris Barrie recently argued that ‘Australia’s defence force is lagging significantly behind its US and UK counterparts in preparing to deal with the challenges created by a changing climate.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 25, 1981 – Senator ponders the dangers of burning coal. Yes, 1981.

If you were paying attention in the 1970s, you knew there might be trouble ahead, not just for the whales, but the even stupider mammals; the ones on two legs.  Various green and scientific publications ran stories on the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the worrying trends throughout that decade.  The first World Climate Conference took place in February 1979.  Some Australian politicians (whom we will encounter as this project goes on) were aware of the problem. Still, props to Senator Stan Collard,  Country/National Party. On 25 February 1981 he had this to say –

“Our steaming coal exports are mounting. I have no objection to that, except for one thing. I ask: Just how much further can we go with burning these masses of coal and pouring the pollutants, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere? One thing that we are not sure of, of course, is the ultimate greenhouse effect that it will have on this continent, maybe even in our lifetime. I think we must consider quite reasonably just where to cry halt to the burning of masses of steaming coal and where we can bring in one of the cleanest methods of power generation, that is, nuclear power generation, until something cleaner and better comes along. I reject the suggestion that the Government is lacking in its planning, but I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate.

Also on this day – 

1992  On 25 February at UN headquarters (New York City, USA), 20 business associations from 9 countries released a joint statement to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The business associations, nearly half of which are from Australia, are in the fields of fossil fuel and energy production, manufacturing, and metals.

Anon. 1992. International Business Associations Issue Statement on Climate Negotiations. Global Environmental Change. Vol. 4, No. 5  13 March.

Fraser, A. 2007. Rudd unveils his ‘clean coal’ plan. Canberra Times, 26 February.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is giving Prime Minister John Howard a race for his ”clean-coal” money, unveiling a $1.5 billion plan yesterday to come up with breakthrough technology.  (see 26th March 2007 for  Lavoisier group response)

On this day in 2011, fresh from signing her own ‘death warrant’, Julia Gillard was on the breakfast radio show of Alan Jones.

“Or consider this excerpt from Jones’ 25 February 2011 interview with Gillard (which he began by berating the prime minister for being late). He concluded his line of questioning about her CO2 emissions policy saying: ‘Do you understand, Julia, that you are the issue today because there are people now saying that your name is not Julia but JuLIAR and they are saying we’ve got a liar running the country’ (cited in Barry 2011a).”
(Ward, 2015: 236)