Category Archives: Carbon Tax Battle 94/95

June 6, 1996 BHP announced ‘Greenhouse Challenge’ commitments

On this day 21 years ago, after a carbon tax push had failed and a ‘Greenhouse Challenge’ of purely voluntary measures instituted instead, BHP and others did “their bit”

Meanwhile, tomorrow BHP Ltd managing director Mr John Prescott and other industry leaders will announce the details of their companies’ commitments to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The presentation is organised by the interdepartmental Greenhouse Challenge Office established in March 1995 by the Federal Government, which provided it with a $9.7 million budget over four years.
The Government announced at the time that the program could provide 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions annually by 2000. The extent of the pledges made tomorrow will indicate whether that target is likely to be met.
Callick, R. 1996. Coalition backs industry on climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 5 June, p.2.

Greenhouse 21C laid the foundation for the Greenhouse Challenge, which was launched by the Federal Government on 6 June 1996 with formal submission of cooperative agreements by four major Australian companies – BHP, CRA (now Rio Tinto), ICI (now Orica), and Shell – and three industry associations – the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), the Pulp and Paper Manufacturers’ Federation of Australia (PMFA), and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).
(Worden, 1998: 126)

Also on this day

Evans, R.2002. Commentary: PM says ‘No’ to Kyoto. United Press International, June 7.

MELBOURNE, June 6 (UPI) — With three election victories under his belt, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard has announced that Australia would not sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, dealing a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of many of the public servants who dominate the federal capital of Canberra.

Fourth International Environmental Taxation Conference
Friday 6 June 2003
The Environment – A Taxing Issue?

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.

 

April 24, 1994 – A Carbon Tax is floated…

It is forgotten history, but in 1994/5 a carbon tax – a small one, mostly for R and D rather than outright emissions reductions – was on the cards.  There’d been some to-ing and fro-ing in previous years, but on 24 of April 1994, shit got real.

“Senator Faulkner said yesterday the plan was a long-term aim but made it clear he was serious about the move.
“All I can say is that I’ve suggested already to some of my ministerial and Cabinet colleagues that I am interested in pursuing the issue of economic instruments,” he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.”
Peake, R. 1994. Faulkner floats energy tax. Canberra Times, 25 April, p.3.

 

Also on this day

2007Snow joke!
Australia’s biggest renewable electricity source, the Snowy Hydro power scheme, may have to shut down major generating turbines due to the nation’s crippling 10-year drought.
In a desperate attempt to keep running, the Snowy Hydro operator said on Tuesday it had turned to cloud seeding to boost water inflows.
“It is unrealistic for anyone to think that the Snowy scheme could somehow have been immune from the effects of the current severe drought,” Snowy Hydro Ltd Managing Director Terry Charlton said in a statement.
Prime Minister John Howard last week asked Australians to pray for rain in the food bowl Murray-Darling River basin, an area the size of France and Spain that accounts for 41 percent of the nation’s agriculture.
Howard warned that without heavy winter rains in coming months, irrigation in the food bowl would be turned off as the worst drought for 100 years grips Australia.
In a move that local authorities feared could reduce supply of power to the capital Canberra, and major cities Sydney and Melbourne, some of Snowy Hydro’s operations could be stopped by May-July without heavy winter rains, the Snowy Hydro said.

Lewis, P. and Woods, J. 2012. Australians seeing through the feel-good mining ads. The Drum, 24 April.

The mining industry has been dusting off its chequebook again in the lead-up to the federal budget, with feel-good glossy ads in the weekend papers reminding us how much miners love Australia – or at least the bits of it they can dig up and export.

2014 Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper released: The ERF White Paper sets out the final design of the ERF, with a reduced emissions target of 421 million tonnes of CO2-e over the period to 2020, compared to 431 in the Green Paper.

 

April 17, 1993 – A carbon tax? Don’t be a mongrel

 

The pre-history of pricing carbon (it didn’t start in 2006) is a fascinating thing.  If you’re a geek like me, that is…

“The Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, have denied knowledge of alleged Treasury proposals for a $1.9 billion energy tax.

“Mr Crean rejected reports in The Weekend Australian and The Age on Saturday [17 April] which suggested that a tax on the energy content or fuels and possibly carbon emissions, being discussed by Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had drawn on studies by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.”

Brough, J. 1993. Keating, Crean deny energy-tax proposal. Canberra Times, Monday 19 April, p.3.

This turned into a full-blown battle in late 1994/early 1995.  Everybody knows the green guys lost…

Also on this day- 

2000 The “High Level Forum on Sinks” was held in Perth from April 17-20 2000.

Australia is preparing to host a major international meeting of environment ministers to broaden global acceptance of forests as a source of carbon credits. But the meeting comes at a time when the ability of forests to actually generate these credits is increasingly in scientific doubt…..

Hordern, N. 2000. Australia pushes carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review, 3 March, p.16.

Oh, and they stacked it –

Australia is being accused of deliberately “stacking” a conference of international environment ministers in Perth next week in a bid to undermine the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….

Australia has invited ministers from around the world, but stands accused of inviting only countries sympathetic to its own position on sinks.

Germany and other European countries which are of the view that overuse of sinks could encourage countries not to reduce emissions have been left out.

Clennel, A. 2000. Greenhouse Gas Conference `stacked’. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April, p.15.

Meanwhile, on the same day it is reported that

“Federal Labor is preparing a major push for the green vote at the next election by toughening its stance in key areas including greenhouse gases and mining in national parks. A draft of its revised policy platform also commits the party to establishing a new independent watchdog, the Commissioner for the Environment.”

2000 Robinson, M. and Clennell, A. 2000. Labor To Push Tough Policy For Green Vote. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April, p.7.

Yes, well, there was a bit of a blue in Hobart later that year. Can’t have everything.  They went to the 2001 election with a reasonable green policy.  And… Tampa.

2001 “Hill was introduced at an April 17 climate change conference in Washington, organised by the Pew Center, as representing the country with the closest position to that of the US. According to the April 21 Melbourne Age, Hill “waffled at every question suggesting Australia was conveniently hiding behind the US withdrawal because it never really supported Kyoto”.” https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

2005 A unique multidisciplinary conference entitled ‘Science and ethics: Can Homo sapiens survive?’ was held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May. See Canberra Times article.  It was about Frank Fenner.  The answer? Pretty obvious, 12 years later…

April 8, 1995 – Australia ‘satisfied’ over not taking Berlin…

Australia went to the first meeting (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hoping to be able to scupper moves towards emissions reductions commitments for developed nations.  By 1995 it was clear that the ‘National Greenhouse Response Strategy’ agreed between the states and Federal government in December 1992 was worthless.  Faulkner had been involved in efforts to get a small carbon levy (‘tax’, whatever you want to call it) through Cabinet, if only to fund R&D into low carbon energy sources. That effort went tits up in February. Just before flying out to Berlin Faulkner had launched the “alternative” – Greenhouse Challenge scheme, which was not worth a bucket of warm spit.  Ultimately, Australia acquiesced to the ‘Berlin Mandate’ – the costs of (futile) intransigence simply too high.  Two years of attempts to get support for so-called ‘differentiation’ would follow…

LONDON, Saturday: Australian Environment Minister John Faulkner said yesterday he was satisfied with the outcome of the Berlin climate change conference, saying it offered a way forward for all countries to combat global warming. On the final day of the 11-day meeting, agreement was reached on a mandate for further negotiations on greenhouse gas emission reduction measures by developed countries. Senator Faulkner, who was part of the group of ministers who hammered out the final agreement, said it was ultimately a successful conference given the wide range of interests represented. “Australia’s very satisfied with the outcome of the group of ministers and the achievement of a mandate to negotiate a protocol,” he said from Berlin.
1995  Noack, K. 1995 Faulkner sees way forward from Berlin. Canberra Times, 9 April.

Also on this day.

2015  Energy White Paper released: The White Paper promotes increasing competition and production of energy, while reducing the cost of electricity. [a farce, basically. Not a funny one.]

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.