Monthly Archives: April 2017

May 1, 2007 Hamilton and Lowe talk “Scorcher”

Ten years ago today Clive Hamilton and Ian Lowe were at the Queensland Irish Club in Brisbane, as part of the launch publicity around Hamilton’s book ‘Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change,’ in an  effort to thrash out fact from fiction in an effort to dispel the myths and embrace the realities of our changing climate.”

 

Scorcher is a good book (still worth reading), full of horrifying stories of complacency, stupidity and  outright denialism.  It was written at a time when it was hoped we could get smarter, could escape the mess we had made for ourselves. Now?  Not so much…

April 30, 2007 – The Garnaut Review is born…

So, Australian state governments, pushed by NSW Premier Bob Carr, had been banging on about emissions trading since 2004, with a “National Emissions Trading Taskforce” (NETT).  It was busy producing reports when in late 2006 John Howard, under immense pressure on climate and with a Federal election a year away, performed one of his famous U-turns.  The Shergold Report was due to be released in late May, and the Australian state governments, plus one opposition leader called K. Rudd, didn’t want Howard to steal their thunder.  So…

“On  30 April 2007, the leader of the federal opposition Australian Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, (along with the state and territory governments) engaged world renowned economist Professor Ross Garnaut to conduct a wide ranging review into the effects of climate change on Australia and its economy (Garnaut 2008).”
(Rice and Martin, 2016:48)

Fed: Opposition commissions Australia’s own climate report 30 April 2007 Australian Associated Press General News

See also this from AAP-
CLIMATE By Jessica Marszalek
BRISBANE, April 30 AAP – The federal opposition has commissioned an economics professor to head a Stern-type review into the impact of climate change on Australia’s future. Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced the Garnaut Climate Change Review in Brisbane today, saying it would outline the threat to the country’s economic prosperity and investigate mitigation strategies. It will be headed by Australian National University economics Professor Ross Garnaut, who will hand down interim findings mid next year, and a completed report by October 2008.

The sidelining of Garnaut began early (See February 2008) and in the end the legislation put forward in 2009 was barely recognisable. But there you have it. Garnaut was back in the hotseat in 2010-11, as a member of Gillard’s MPCCC. But that’s another story…

Also on this day
30 April 2013: Peter Costello calls on Coalition to scrap direct action spending on 7.30 report.

April 29, 1998 – Australia signs the Kyoto Protocol

So, after getting a super generous deal, Australia signed (as distinct from ratifying) the Kyoto Protocol on this day 19 years ago, with Robert Hill (Minister for the Environment) doing the deed in New York.

Hill signs historic agreement to fight global warming, media release, 29 April, 1998.

 

Also on this day

1997 “THE CHALLENGE FOR AUSTRALIA ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE”  29 April 1997 http://www.acola.org.au/climate2.htm

Australian Academy of Science, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, 1997 – Science – 127 pages

April 28, 1997 – John Howard says Australia should never have signed UNFCCC

“On 28 April 1997 on ABC Radio National, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, stated publicly that he believed that Australia should never have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was the culmination of over a year of backpedaling by the Australian Liberal-National Party Government on the issue of climate change due to purported negative economic impacts.”
Yu and Taplin, 2000 The Australian Position at the Kyoto Conference in Gillespie and Burns (eds) Climate Change in the South Pacific: Impacts and Responses in Australia, New Zealand, and Small Island States, Kluwer

Howard was probably having to respond to this issue because of a page 2 story in the Australian newspaper which began-

AUSTRALIA will fail to meet its greenhouse gas emission target by 2000 under the current “no-regrets” policy and should back up that policy with tradeable licences to pollute, the Productivity Commission has said.
According to the commission’s calculations, no-regrets policies – under which polluters are encouraged to cut greenhouse gases by improving efficiency – will leave Australia 5-9 million tonnes a year above the agreed limits.

Henderson, I. 1997. Plan for polluters to sell off excesses. The Australian, 28 April, p.2.

 

Also on this day

AAP, 1993. Aust to monitor energy-tax experience: Kelly. Canberra Times, 29 April, p. 15

Australia would watch closely the international trend towards an energy tax and the effect such a tax would have on curbing greenhouse gases, the Minister for Environment, Ros Kelly, said yesterday.

1995

1995 04 28 berlin seminar“The Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change held its inaugural meeting in Berlin during March/April this year. Australia’s negotiating position at the CoP created widespread interest in Australia. A seminar held in Canberra on 28 April, 1995 allowed the Berlin participants to describe the negotiations at the conference. Speakers included representatives from government, business, and the environment movement.” [BCA happy, ACF not…]

 

 

April 27, 2010 – Lenore Taylor breaks CPRS cancellation, breaks Rudd

On this day in 2010 it all came unstuck for Kevin Rudd. He had bludgeoned John Howard to a pulp on various issues (anyone remember the Australian Wheat Board?) and one of the biggies was ‘the great moral challenge’ of climate change.  He then had spent two years promulgating a fantastically complicated and horribly named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ which nobody liked or understood.  After Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party on 1st December 2009, consensus on carbon pricing died.  After the Copenhagen debacle, Rudd was urged to fight a double dissolution election.  He flubbed it and threw himself instead into campaigning on the Australian health care system.  And on April 27th 2010, following a front page scoop by the estimable Lenore Taylor about how the CPRS was being kicked into the long grass until after the 2013 election.  it all came unstuck at a hospital.

K Rudd (Prime Minister), Transcript of doorstop interview: Nepean Hospital, Penrith: health and hospital reform; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Home Insulation Program, media release, 27 April 2010.

Two good quotes, the first from Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’

Rudd’s problem, however, was not just the decision but the manner of its release. The story was broken by Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April when she reported that the ETS had been shelved ‘for at least three years’. The leak to Taylor was devastating. Rudd was taken by surprise and left without an explanation. ‘It was a very damaging leak and hard to retrieve, ‘ Wong said. ‘It derailed our government’, Martin Ferguson said.
(Kelly, 2014:292)

And the second from a later piece by Taylor herself.

It was the decision that seemed to snap voters’ faith in Kevin Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. Straight after the government announced it was deferring an emissions trading scheme until 2013, graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating looked like a rock falling off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumbled after it. The kitchen cabinet was scheduled to meet on April 27 to decide exactly how to explain the delay, and the conditions under which the government would pledge that the ETS policy would be revived.

News of the decision had also filtered through to a few members of the broader cabinet, who had determined to try to wind it back when cabinet met to “ratify” the budget on April 29. But on the morning of April 27, the Herald disclosed the decision to remove the scheme from the budget in a front page article entitled “ETS off the agenda until late next term”. It was the first many ministers and senior public servants had heard of it.
Knowing the back story helps explain why the government’s response on that day was so confused.
Taylor, L. 2010. Decision that shattered faith in PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, p.2

Also on this day

1999 The high-level Greenhouse Energy Group will today receive the final report of the task force set up by the Federal Government to devise ways to meet its target of a 2 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy over the next decade.

Hordern, N. 1999. Greenhouse targets study ready. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p. 11.

2001 Washington has mounted a diplomatic campaign to deflect criticism of its repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol, instead seeking support for its goal of broadening the UN climate change treaty to include developing countries.

And Canberra is Washington’s prize recruit in this campaign.

Asked in Wednesday’s Washington Post which countries backed him on greenhouse, President George Bush said “Australia [and Canada] said they understand why the US took this position”.

Hordern, N. 2001. Bush wary of `kiss of death’ for backers in protocol pact. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p.30.

 

2001 – “However, the Canadian government has criticised the US for pulling out of the Kyoto process. Only Australia has provided uncritical support and is therefore Washington’s “prize recruit” in its campaign to kill the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the April 27 Australian Financial Review.” [I think this is from a Green Left Weekly article]

April 26, 1992 – “No carbon tax,” says Ros Kelly..

On this day 25 years ago the Sun Herald reported that a spokesman for Environment Minister Ros Kelly had said that Keating’s Government was not considering a “carbon tax” but instead  favoured “no-regret” options. It was framed as a ‘win-win, with the spokesman adding “This Government would be delinquent if it did not take a precautionary rather than a cavalier approach to the greenhouse effect. The worst-case scenarios are terrifying.”

The Sun Herald continued

BCA spokesman Mark Emerson said Australia should not support the EC proposal for a commitment by developed countries to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000. “Business is concerned that, against the background of the enormous scientific uncertainties, inappropriate policy responses might be applied which would have devastating economic and social effects without any discernible environmental benefits,” he said. “None of Australia’s regional trading partners or competitors – except New Zealand – will agree to the EC option.”

1992 Skinner, S. 1992. Greenhouse: Aust yet to set its policy. Sun Herald, 26 April, p. 13.

Also on this day-

2007 If you need a laugh –  Ray Evans Global Warming Debate A revised version of an address delivered at the ACT Caucus Room, Wellington, NZ on 26 April 2007

April 25, 2000 “Beyond Kyoto: Australia’s efforts to combat global warming”

On this day Senator the Hon Robert Hill,  spoke at a meeting of the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change in Washington. The title –  ‘Beyond Kyoto Australia’s efforts to combat global warming’.

As the man said – “The road to policy agreement is paved with good intentions, the road to implementation is lined with the potholes of reality.”

The Liberals had continued the ALP’s hostility to an international climate regime, and amplified it.  Hill had gotten a “good” deal for Australia at the 1997 Kyoto conference – a 108% emissions “reduction” target (i.e. an increase), and – crucially – a land-clearing clause that effectively increased that 108% to about 130 percent.  Hill had apparently refused to attempt to get 118%, and is well-regarded by environmentalists known to this author.  Hill had signed the Kyoto Protocol for Australia in April of 1998. Later that year it emerged that Cabinet had decided not to ratify unless the USA did.  In April 2000 the US Presidential election was still 7 months away. It was an election where Al Gore would win the popular vote, but lose in the Supreme Court. So it goes.  Bush pulled out of Kyoto, and Australia followed in 2002, by which time Hill had been moved from Environment to Defence…