Category Archives: Clean Coal

April 16, 2008 – Clean Coal to the rescue?

On this day 9 years ago t he Australian Coal Association, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, the Climate Institute and World Wildlife Fund called on the Federal Government to establish a National Carbon Capture and Storage Taskforce to combat climate change… [to] be charged with developing and implementing a nationally coordinated plan to oversee rapid demonstration and commercialisation of 10,000 GWh of carbon capture and storage (CCS) electricity per year by 2020.”

april162008

 

Also on this day- 

1980 The Age ‘Ecology is endangered’ article quoting William Kellogg

2007 In an interview with the ABC’s Four Corners in April 200[7], the Industry Minister, Senator Ian Macfarlane described State incentive schemes such as VRET as ‘Mickey Mouse schemes.’ (Prest, 2007: 254)

 

April 10, 1990 – dreams of ‘clean coal’

What does business do when society is up in arms and can’t be ignored? Full fascism? Not often. No, usually it wheels out some soothing promises of imminent-ish techno-salvation. And so it came to pass on this day 27 years ago –

The NSW coal industry is about to tap into the resources of its colleagues on the east coast of the United States, following the signing of a historic agreement between the State of Pennsylvania and the NSW Government.
The agreement covers all areas of minerals and energy policy, including clean coal technology and renewable and alternative energy policies.
Moffet, L. 1990. NSW, Pennsylvania in Energy Pact. Australian Financial Review, 10 April, p. 30.

Also on this day –
2006 New research on global warming has caused a split at the top end of town, writes Deborah Snow.
WESTPAC chief executive David Morgan had an interesting story to tell at an invitation-only breakfast for a handful of journalists in Sydney last week.
The anecdote concerned a recent private conversation with the head of the giant General Electric Company in the US, Jeff Immelt.
“He said to me he was virtually certain that the first action of the next president of the United States, be it Republican or Democrat, would be to initiate urgent action on climate change. And he wasn’t saying that as a casual political comment … he is [allocating] billions of dollars worth of investment in the confidence of that development.”
Snow, D. 2006. Business warms to change The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April , page 10.

Phillips, S. 2015. Energy White Paper: short on vision. ABC Environment, 10 April.
Renewable energy was described as “important” in the Energy White Paper, but existing policies to support it are due to be dismantled.

April 5,2006 – The orange-bellied parrot versus the wind farm…

On this day 11 years ago the then Environment Minister Ian Campbell rejected  the $220m 52-turbine  ‘Bald Hills’ Victorian wind farm which passed all planning hurdles.  James Prest, in an excellent edited volume called ‘Climate Law in Australia’ takes up the story.

Senator Campbell held a media conference in his home town of Perth to publicly announce the refusal of the Bald Hills wind farm. This was an unusual step in decision-making under the EPBC Act. The maximum publicity most EPBC decisions receive is a silent announcement on the departmental website. Campbell said:
I’ve announced this morning that I have decided not to approve the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria. I have done so on the basis that the report commissioned by my department has said that the Orange-bellied Parrot, which is threatened and is in a very precarious situation as a species, can’t really stand any further potential impacts. The wind farm proposed could have such an impact and hasten the extinction of that species.
(Prest, 2007: 232)

This was complete tosh, and the decision was later overturned. Campbell did not last much longer in his job…  All part of the unrelenting hostility to renewables, eh?

See also: Hogan, J. 2006. Fury over wind farm decision. The Age, 5 April.

and http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2006/s1610250.htm

 

Also on this day – 

2005  COAL21’s first conference

2011 Greenhouse 2011 in Cairns, with a speech by Greg Combet

2011 exp-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defending himself on climate change policy on ABC TV’s Monday night “Q&A”. See Bob Carr on this– Carr argues Rudd could have used GGAS model after Turnbull was overthrown and the CPRS therefore stuffed…

April 3, 2000 – Greenhouse gas conference ‘stacked’ to ignore sea level rise…

So, Australian diplomats and senior politicians had in the late 1980s made some of the right noises about sea level rise as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming.  Those days were long ago and in another country by the 2000s. And besides, the wench was dead…

Mr Hare said he had recently been to a Pacific greenhouse conference in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, [3-7 April ]  where Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials had tried to play down the impact of the greenhouse effect.

He said they had put up arguments that sea level rises were not as high as had been reported and might not necessarily be a result of global warming.

Senator Hill said if the department’s officials were mounting that argument, it might be on the basis of scientific uncertainty in the area.

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

Stay classy, Australia…

Also on this day- 

2001 “The Australian government is being applauded by corporate polluters and corporate front groups at home and abroad. The Global Climate Coalition, the major front group for US corporate polluters, features on its web site an article by Alan Wood in the April 3 Australian (<http://www.globalclimate.org>). Wood’s article, titled “Killing Kyoto in Australia’s best interests”, urges Australia to back the US in pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Wood comments favourably on a paper written by climate sceptic Alan Oxley for the Lavoisier Group, an Australian “think tank” which argues that the Kyoto Protocol poses “the most serious challenge to our sovereignty since the Japanese fleet entered the Coral Sea on 3 May, 1942”.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

And that article is this one –

Wood, A. 2001. Killing Kyoto in Australias best interests. The Australian, 3 April, p13.

The US has called Europe’s bluff. Listen to the Europeans and you could be forgiven for thinking George W. Bush has just sent the world to the gas chamber – the greenhouse gas chamber, that is. What Bush has really done by rejecting the Kyoto Protocol is shatter a European dream of running the international energy market, or at least a substantial bit of it.

This dream arose from a mix of Europe’s quasi-religious green fundamentalism and cynical calculation of commercial advantage. Jacques Chirac gave the game away at the failed COP6 talks at The Hague last November, when he described the protocol as “a genuine instrument of global governance”.

Meanwhile, in 2007 John Howard was coming under pressure not just from Kevin Rudd, but business…

Murphy, K. 2007. Business counters PM to back emissions targets. The Age, 4 April.

New consumer petrol tax floated

AUSTRALIA’S top companies say the country must set concrete targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years as the centrepiece of policies to combat climate change.

In a message that undercuts Prime Minister John Howard’s recent political attack on Labor’s pledge to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the Business Council of Australia has endorsed immediate and long-term emission reduction targets.

Mr Howard has criticised Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd’s pledge to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, claiming it would damage the economy.

But while not endorsing Labor’s specific target, the Business Council accepted the principle, saying targets were necessary to find a solution to rising carbon dioxide emissions.

The council yesterday released what it called a “strategic framework for emissions reduction” – a document setting its policy on climate change – which argues that Australia should implement a “cap and trade” emissions trading scheme.

A year later a CCS demonstration plant opened…

Thursday, 3 April 2008 World’s largest CO2 storage demo plant opens in Victoria

“THE launch of Australia’s first carbon dioxide storage demonstration project is a “key strategic initiative in the global challenge of addressing climate change”, according to Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitchell Hooke. “

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 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”

 

March 24, 2004 – “Coal 21” plan launched

On this day in 2004 the Coal21 national plan was launched

It had been knocking about for a bit – see this

Hennessy, C. 2003. Future Of Coal Looks `cleaner’. The Newcastle Herald,13 September

ANY “sunset” scenario for the Hunter’s coal industry would be a cleaner one, industry leaders said yesterday.

Using Coal21, a paper put together by the state and federal governments as a starting point, panellists looked at whether the billion dollar industry had a use-by date a “sunset”.

NSW Minerals Council executive director John Tucker said many in the industry believed the move to more diverse energy sources would start to occur in big numbers in 40 to 50 years.

and was part of the whole “technology will fix it, if it is in fact a problem” mentality which is still alive and quivering in 2017, at least in the more scientifically illiterate corners of the Coalition parties and its cultural supporters.

The plan itself, which talked about a voluntary levy on coal exports to fund research into ‘clean coal’, was attacked

Day, A. 2004 Coal research `just a hand-out. Australian Financial Review, 25 March.

Taxpayers will fund half the coal industry’s initial research into greenhouse gas reduction in a move environmentalists and opposition parties say is “corporate welfare” that focuses too much on non-renewable energy sources.

Federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane said the government would pay $500,000 to the coal industry’s research into lower-cost sequestration the storage of waste carbon dioxide in saturated underground rock and other methods….

Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett said the decision to subsidise coal industry emission research as part of the government’s COAL21 project was corporate hand-out at the expense of regulatory and market-based measures.

“Low-emission coal technology cannot achieve the deep cuts that are necessary to ensure Australia is able to shoulder its share of the burden for reducing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases,” he said.

The ALP and Greens also condemned the plan as unbalanced and undermining renewable energy solutions.

and then defended

O’Neill, M. 2004. Coal industry’s plans to clean up its act should not be lightly dismissed. Canberra Times, 30 March.

And only two years later, when climate change “burst” onto the Australian public policy did that levy kick in. And even then… ah, but this is for another day…

 

Also on this day- 

1990 Federal Election – climate barely mentioned, but Libs did have stronger policy.  Not that it did them any good…

“The backlash against environmentalists began very publicly on election night. Peter Walsh launched a bitter attack on them from the tally room, attempting to deny any influence they might have had on the outcome. He was joined in later weeks and months by a number of Cabinet ministers, largely but not exclusively from the economic portfolios, but careful evaluation of that election result makes Walsh’s assertion untenable.

Malcolm Mackerras (The Australian, March 1, 1993) summarises the result well: on the primaries, the Coalition had 43.5 per cent to Labor’s 39.4 per cent, the Democrats 11.3 and others 5.8 per cent.

However, Labor’s environment second-preference strategy was so successful that the two-way party preferred vote became 50.1 per cent for the Coalition and 49.9 per cent for Labor (which just fell over the line to win in seats).”

Toyne, P. 1993. Environment forgotten in the race to the Lodge. Canberra Times, 8 March p. 11.

1995  The Australian  published (page 10) a story by Julian Cribb with the title  Greenhouse theory ‘still uncertain’. It began –

AUSTRALIA’S top science bodies say much uncertainty remains over greenhouse warming predictions despite claims by Argentinian researchers that Antarctica’s ice shelf has begun cracking up.

Current increases in global temperature cannot be linked with certainty to human action, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering caution in a joint report released yesterday.

That report?  Simon Grose of the Canberra Times reported the following day

Grose, S. (1995) Industry seeking energy solutions Canberra Times Sunday 26 March

 

The report has the backing of a steering committee with representatives from a wide range of organisations including the Institution of Engineers and the World WideFund for Nature, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Business Council of Australia, BHP and the Department of Environment Sport and Territories.

I have a copy somewhere. Doubtless depressing-with-the-benefit-of-hindsight stuff… Oh well…

2011 legislation was “introduced for a carbon offset to create incentives for carbon avoidance projects in the land sector: The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 creates the Carbon Farming Initiative which is the first scheme of its kind globally.”