Monthly Archives: March 2017

1st April, 2001: Howard sends mash-note to Bush over dumping Kyoto.

In March 2001, President George’ hanging chad’ Bush had pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol ratification process, citing the ‘national interest’ (sound familiar?).  This was music to the ears of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.  Although Australia had wangled a sweet sweet deal at Kyoto (a 108% ‘reduction’ target and a land-clearing clause that was an enormous undeserved loophole, as early as September 1998 the Aussies had said they weren’t going to ratify unless Uncle Sam did so first.  Well…

Howard wrote

I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.

In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.32

Source – Letter from Prime Minister John Howard to United States President George W. Bush, see http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Howardletter.html [dead link] Cited in NSW Parliamentary Library thing, 2002 – The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change: An Update By Stewart Smith

Further info-

Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.  (which says that then Environment MinisterRobert Hill revealed letter’s existence on 15 April.  “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”.”

On the same day Labor’s Lindsey Tanner, later to be one of Kevin Rudd’s Gang of Four gave a speech…  According to Margo Kingston –

In a speech yesterday, Tanner opined that middle class voters of both hues cared about the environment. “If Labor allows the distinction between the Greens and the Coalition to become the dominant point of environmental differentiation in Australian politics, we will lose a major advantage over the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.

Tanner was concerned that the government would slip through the environment net through advertising glossing over its record. The big one going now is TV celebrity Don Burke extolling the Coalition’s Greenhouse credentials. Funny that, since most of the cash comes courtesy of the Democrats, who insisted on real money going into alternative energy research and rail as part of its price for supporting the GST. The Democrats got $400 million in extra funding for greenhouse gas projects over four years. In retrospect, lucky for the Coalition.

Kingston, M. 2001. Australia: green enough for Kyoto? Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April.

Also on this day –

2002 MRET in Australia 1st Mandatory Renewable Energy Target established (following speech by Howard just before Kyoto)  (on the 2% to 0% target shenanigans – see Kent and Mercer 2006…)

2009- 

The New South Wales Government has questioned the impartiality of a top-level Commonwealth adviser after he raised concerns about a planned expansion of Newcastle’s coal facilities.

Infrastructure Australia Advisory Board member Professor Peter Newman says the damage caused by coal will increase dramatically if Newcastle’s port facilities are doubled.

ABC. 2009. Anger at Rudd’s adviser over coal comments. ABC, 1 April.

 

 

March 31, 2007 – Climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”

On this day ten years ago the new Labor opposition Leader Kevin Rudd made a speech about “greatest moral challenge of our generation” at a climate summit he organised at Parliament House in Canberra, part of the strategy to make John Howard look out-of-touch and untrustworthy on climate change (which he was).

He was right.  And we did not raise to meet the challenge. Oops.

Also on this day –

1998 – “Greenhouse Beyond Kyoto: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges” Bureau of Resource Sciences, 31 March – 1st April 1998

2007 Gittins, R. 2007, ‘Carbon trading v taxes—a winner eases ahead’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March, p. 47.

2007 First Earth Hour’ – with lights ostentatiously going out all over the world….  Ray Evans was under-chuffed….” A recent example of intellectual corruption at the highest levels of Australian business was manifest when the Sydney Morning Herald teamed up with WWF to promote ‘Earth Hour’ on Saturday 31 March last. The idea was that, at 7:30 pm, everyone in Sydney should turn off their lights and shut down their TVs, and so on, in order to save the planet for an hour.”

March 30, 2000 – Environment Minister attacks industry over emissions

People who know about these things say Robert Hill was a lone voice of reason in the Cabinet of John Howard.  As Environment Minister from 1996 to late 2001, Hill did the best he could with the cards he was dealt.  He lost all of the big battles, of course, but that doesn’t reflect on him so much as on the Howard cabinet and the lack of prolonged noisy pressure from ‘Joe and Jane Public’… so it goes.  Anyway, on this day in 2000 Hill served a dish of complaint to (un-named) Australian companies.

Industry has been slammed by Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill for its slowness to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m not inclined to reward those companies who make Australia’s emission reduction task more difficult,” Senator Hill said yesterday.

The blunt message came at The Australian Financial Review’s Third Annual Emissions Forum, being held in Sydney. But industry wants the government to provide better incentives to reduce emissions.

Hordern, N. 2000. Hill attacks industry over gas emissions. The Australian Financial Review, 31 March, p27.

 

Also on this day- 

George Bush Jnr had withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol negotiations in late March 2001.  This caused ructions –

The Prime Minister and his Environment Minister seemed at odds yesterday over the United States’s dumping of the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

2001 Clennell, A. and Kerr, J. 2001. Greenhouse Stand Puts Libs At Odds. Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March, p11.

By 2007, climate change was seriously on the agenda –

IN THE sometimes icy world of climate change politics, there appears to be a quiet hum of agreement about the desirability of an emissions trading scheme.

The visiting climate change economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, supports the idea.

The Prime Minister, after years of disinterest, has given it a tentative tick of approval by commissioning a task group on emissions trading, which will report at the end of May. And the state governments have set up their own emissions trading taskforce.

Even the big polluters – Qantas, Alumina, BHP – all endorse it in submissions to the two inquiries. But there are serious divisions about how an emissions trading scheme might work.

Saulwick, J. 2007. Climate change debate warms up in corporate world.  Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March.

In 2012 Nikki Williams of the Australian Coal Association gave a speech in Beijing extolling the virtues of carbon capture and storage.

“Having Carbon Capture and Storage technology at commercial scale deployed widely around the globe, is absolutely critical to ensure a sustainable future for fossil fuels in a restructuring global energy economy.”

Oddly, it was  8 long years after  O’Neill, M. (2004) Coal industry’s plans to clean up its act should not be lightly dismissed Canberra Times 30th March

And since CCS hasn’t happened, and won’t happen, what does that mean, given that it was ‘absolutely critical’…

March 29, 1995 – Greenhouse 21C launched, in aftermath of massive defeat for sanity

On this day in 1995, the Federal Environment Minister of Paul Keating’s government basically ran up the white flag.  The environment movement had tried to get a carbon levy/tax onto the statute box. They were defeated, comprehensively, by a very well-organised and strategically astute bunch of (fossil-fuel) industry lobbyists, who proposed a voluntary scheme instead. This became the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’, which is what John Faulkner, just before he hopped on a plane to the first meeting of the UNFCCC, in Berlin, held a press conference about.

I am pleased to announce the Federal Government’s additional greenhouse response package: Greenhouse 21C.

Greenhouse 21C delivers a whole of Government approach to climate change. My colleagues Brian Howe and Peter Cook have joined me today because there are some important measures in this response package which directly relate to their portfolio responsibilities. They will detail these measures shortly.

One of the critical elements of Greenhouse 21C is the active involvement by all stakeholders to successfully tackle the greenhouse challenge. Governments alone cannot deliver on climate change.

The active partnership between Government and industry is a significant feature of 21C. We expect that voluntary agreements will achieve in the order of 15 million tonnes of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 – and more in the long term.

Greenpeace,licking its wounds from the November 1994 Redbank decision,  knew what was coming.;

Greenpeace’s climate campaigner, Mr Keith Tarlo, said the biggest single item was the $25 million program to promote clean coal technology in India.

“This is a scandal. (It) is a transparent attempt to promote the Australian coal industry and can only lock India into escalating greenhouse emissions,” he said.

Boreham, G. 1995. Industry Says Yes, Greens Say No To Emissions Policy. The Age, 30 March, p.3.

and

Greenpeace said the biggest item in the package was $25 million to promote “clean coal” technology overseas. This was really meant to boost Australian coal exports and the “clean” meant only low sulphur content, it said.

Shehan, C. and McCathie, A. 1995. Bid To Cut Gas Levels – But It’s Voluntary. Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March, p.3.

 Also on this day- 

2007- At roughly the same time personal carbon allowances/trading were gaiing tradction in the UK, former NSW Premier Bob Carr predicted carbon trading among individuals

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, who chairs the Climate Institute Advisory Council, says carbon trading may one day extend to individuals, not just businesses and governments.

Mr Carr told a Property Council seminar in Sydney this morning that a national carbon trading scheme in Australia is inevitable.

He says everyone will one day have a carbon entitlement.

“Every citizen a carbon credit, but if you use up yours by reliance on an inefficient, old-fashioned vehicle, for example, or a large quantity of household air-conditioning, you’ve got to buy your right to any further carbon,” he said.

 

And on the same day the Australian Government, led by John Howard, launched a Global Initiative on Forests and. Climate.  Which of course produced no actual benefits. So it goes.

March 28, 2010 – Protest flotilla aims to block coal ships in Newcastle port

On this day in 2010,  “A flotilla of 60 rafts, kayaks and a yacht try to blockade coal ship movement into the port of Newcastle. Newcastle is the port through which the rapidly expanding coal mines in the Hunter Valley are being exported. “We’re not willing to accept the massive expansion of the coal industry in New South Wales and coal is Australia’s major contributor to climate change and it’s also the fastest growing,” said Rising Tide spokesperson, Naomi Hodgson.”

Source:  sourcewatch

Here’s the ABC take – Protesters trying to block Newcastle’s coal port

Also on this day-

In 1994, with the carbon tax/levy battle still ahead, the Australian Conservation Foundation tried to salvage something from the wreckage, urging “substantial rises in taxation and a jobs levy, to fund environmental and conservation measures and to reduce next year’s Budget deficit by between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.”

Ellis, S. 1994. Consensus emerges among lobbyists. The Australian Financial Review, 29 March, p.4.

In 2015 the “Setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions” Issues Paper was released: The paper raised questions about what Australia’s post-  2020 emission reduction target should be, and how that target would affect the nation.

March 27, 2008 – James Hansen writes to Kevin Rudd. For all the good it did.

On this day in 2008, an open letter from climate scientist James Hansen arrived in the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s inbox.  Rudd had taken office the previous November, and was enjoying stratospherically high approval ratings.

2008 03 27 hansen letterIt’s a letter that came shortly after Ross Garnaut’s first interim report was produced, and careful observers could see which way the wind was blowing.  Hansen’s letter is well worth a read.  Here’s a taste.

Yet there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.

Yeah.

 

Also on this day-

In 1999 the ABC’s Radio National ran a programme on Greenhouse Emissions Trading, since the Australian Greenhouse Office was busy trying to get it up the policy agenda.

 

And in 2001  Senator Bob Brown tried to get parliamentarians roused to get their own house in order. Yeah, good luck with that.

Senator BROWN (2:43 PM) —Madam President, my question is directed to you. I refer to the government’s $3.9 million greenhouse advertising program headed up by Don Burke and ask: have you been approached by anybody, the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, to implement that program in Parliament House? If so, how is it going? If not, is it true that there are some 500 television sets which could be turned off at the wall each night in Parliament House but which may not be? Is it true that there are some 300 shower heads in Parliament House which are not AAA shower heads, though householders around Australia have been asked to put AAA shower heads into their showers? Are there 500 or more fridges in Parliament House which could be turned up one degree, which, according to the advertising, would save 50 kilograms of greenhouse gases for each fridge? That is about 25,000 kilograms of greenhouse gases per annum.

 

March 26, 2007 – Nobody loves CCS

On this day in 2007 the Brisbane Courier-Mail published an article which attempted to pour cold water on the hot hype around “Carbon Capture and Storage.”

With the startlingly innovative headline  Clean coal is all hot air” and written by  Dr Alex Robson, who at the time  lectured in economics at the Australian National University (is now at Griffith)

It begins thus-

Last month Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd announced Labor’s National Clean Coal Initiative.

Roughly speaking, the term clean coal refers to various technologies for removing carbon dioxide from coal when it is used to generate electricity, both before and after combustion occurs. The term encompasses carbon capture and storage technologies.

Rudd’s policy commits $500 million of taxpayer funds on the development of these technologies, with the proviso that each taxpayer dollar must be matched by two private sector dollars.

Rudd also proclaimed that Labor would establish an emissions trading scheme, set renewable energy targets, develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, convene a summit on climate change and ratify the Kyoto protocol.

Apart from ratifying an obsolete international treaty and organising yet another Canberra talkfest, Labor’s policy of subsidising corporations, making grandiose plans and setting impressive-sounding targets is eerily similar to existing Government policy.

 

The Lavoisier Group liked it so much they slapped the whole thing on their website.

Also on this day- 

In 2010  an answer was given in parliament about the size of the Australian delegation to the failed climate talks at Copenhagen. It was a lot of people-

“The final Australian Delegation to COP15 comprised 98 people, which included 30 observers from State and Territory Governments and non-government organisations. The name, title and agency for each member of the Official Australian Delegation is attached to this answer. The names of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers providing protection to the Prime Minister have not been provided. The AFP does not comment on security or issues that may disclose methodology associated with security matters”