Category Archives: Coal mining

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.”

 

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…

March 16, 1994 – Australian Environment Minister reminds everyone of some caveats

Australia made some big promises in the first years of the climate issue, but these were always tinged with an awareness that the USA was unlikely to allow diplomatic work towards emissions targets for rich countries to progress very quickly.  And so therefore Australia would be able to move in Uncle Sam’s slipstream, able to say ‘shucks, we’d like to do more, but the international consensus says….’.  While they weren’t exactly shouting this strategy for all to hear, nor were they lying or dissembling. This report, from Peter Gill, who wrote lots of well-sourced reports on the issue for the Australian Financial review, is a good example, dealing with Graham Richardson during his very brief return as Environment Minister (after Ros Kelly’s resignation and before Richardson’s past caught up with him).

“Cabinet is understood to have agreed in January 1991, before talks on the UN convention, that Australia would not proceed with measures which had “net adverse economic impacts nationally or on Australia’s trade competitiveness in the absence of similar action by major greenhouse gas-producing countries”.
Former environment minister and former senator, Mr Graham Richardson, used exactly the same words when he described the joint Commonwealth-State position on climate change to Parliament on March 16.”
Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6. [Gareth Evans using exactly the same words on 24 May]

Also on this day –
Ritchie, J. 1988. Development of a Strategy for the Australian Coal Industry. Australian Coal Association, paper to the Petroleum & Minerals Review Conference, Canberra, 16 March. [This was the first half of 1988. So climate change wasn’t mentioned.]

1993 Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms Penny Wensley,was elected to a position of Vice Chair of the INC on Climate Change during the meeting of the committee in New York, USA. [source]

Pheasant, B. 1995. Vic takes stake in $100m coal R&D. Australian Financial Review, 17 March, p.9.
“THE Victorian Government is to participate in the country’s largest research and development syndicate, a $100 million joint venture for research which could make the State’s four baseload brown coal power stations up to 30 per cent more efficient.
The syndicate arranged by Bain and Company includes Perth entrepreneur Mr Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity as majority investor, with ABN Amro Australia , Mercantile Mutual , Babcock & Brown , and Deutsche Bank AG .”

Anon. 1997. ‘529bn Greenhouse Threat: Downer,” Australian Financial Review, 17 March.
“Official estimates suggested that stabilising emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would lead to a 3.5 per cent fall in gross national expenditure. [Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer warned that projects worth more than $22 billion were at risk.”

2004 “International Climate Change Taskforce” launched by Bob Carr

2005 DEH Minister Launches ‘Greenhouse Challenge Plus’.
https://www.iea.org/policiesandmeasures/pams/australia/name-21656-en.php

2006 CANBERRA, Australia, March 16 — Australian Sen. Christine Milne (Greens-Tasmania) issued the following news release:
The coal industry’s plan to fund research into its own greenhouse gas emissions is long overdue but it reflects self-interest and is not a serious commitment to address climate change, Australian Greens climate spokesperson Sen. Christine Milne said today.
US Fed News (2006) AUSTRALIA: COAL INDUSTRY’S GREENHOUSE FOCUS IS SELF-INTERESTED SPIN US Fed News 16th March

March 15, 2006 – “Clean Coal”. Yeah. Of course.

By 2006 things were shifting on climate change. The US and Australian governments, in response to the Kyoto Protocol’s passage into international law had set up a spoiler-outfit called the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which had some nice (but slightly vague) words about Technology.
In 2004 a ‘Coal 21’ “Action” “Plan” had been announced. Now, at last, came some money.

AUSTRALIA’S black coal industry is raising up to $300 million from its members to invest in developing clean coal technologies as part of a plan to give itself an acceptable future in a world increasingly focused on greenhouse issues.

The fund, to be known as the Coal21 Fund, will raise its money over five years and will invest in the commercialisation of technologies such as coal gasification and geosequestration (the burying of greenhouse emissions deep underground).

Myer, R. 2006. Black coal fund to help brown cut down on greenhouse. The Age,  16 March.

And how did it all end?  How do you think?  The ACALET fund’s terms of reference were  rejigged to allow the money raised to be spent on promoting coal use. #colourmeamazed

March 13, 2007 – “Show me the money” union boss says to coal industry on CCS.

On this day 10 years ago,  a report appeared in the Canberra Times (see below) about the launch of a ‘clean coal’ discussion paper of the ALP.  They were trying to square a circle – to capture voters concerned about climate change, but without appearing ‘anti-coal’…

It has been a very very long ten years.  In that time CCS went up like a rocket and down like a stick. Combet became a Labor MP, helped design a doomed emissions trading scheme, was offered a shot at the Prime Ministership as the anyone-but-Kevin candidate (he declined) and then left parliament at the 2013 elections.  Meanwhile, the emissions?  They climbed. The atmospheric concentration if C02?  It climbed.  Chances of a habitable planet for the young and as-yet-unborn?  Plummeted.  So it goes.

Australia’s coal and power generation industries must shoulder a large part of the cost of developing clean coal technologies, investing ”billions not millions” to mitigate climate change, ACTU secretary Greg Combet says. ”We are talking about companies that make multibillion-dollar profits from coal mining. It is only fair that a slice of those profits be directed to the research and development needed to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions,” he said. Speaking from the Hunter Valley, where he was launching a clean coal discussion paper with Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett, Mr Combet called for the Federal Government’s Minimum [sic] Renewable Energy Target for green electricity generation to be boosted.

Beeby, R. 2007. Put power profits into clean energy: Combet. Canberra Times, 13 March.

March 8, 2012 – Fair Go for Billionaires!

Yes, we’re doomed. And all we have left is gallows humour. This, ‘Fair Go for Billionaires’ is not a bad effort. Shades of Ben Elton’s ‘Stark’ perhaps…

CHASER co-founder Charles Firth has teamed up with a union in a TV advertising campaign mocking Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s anti-mining tax stance.

The ads were launched on Thursday and feature actor Allan Billison, who plays the fictional head of a spoof Fair Go for Billionaires movement.
AAP (2012) Anti-billionaire spoof site launched dailytelegraph.com.au 8 March 2012

Also on this day –

It’s perhaps telling (of what exactly I will leave for you to decide) that there was, in 2016, the perceived need for the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network to stage events so grant-makers could learn more about climate change…

Philanthropy Leading on Climate Change with Philanthropy Australia, in Melbourne

8 March 2016 @ 4:00 pm6:00 pm

While the AEGN has a large group of highly knowledgeable and engaged climate change funders, there are many people in the philanthropic sector who are interested in climate change but do not feel they have a good understanding of this complex area and may not have explored the impacts of climate change on the issues they are passionate about and support. With this in mind, the AEGN has partnered with Philanthropy Australia to hold two meetings for a wider philanthropic audience. This event will be an excellent ‘entry level’ activity for AEGN members who haven’t engaged in climate change funding to date.

March 6, 2002 – Report: sky will fall if Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

On this day in 2002, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, which had had its wrist slapped for excluding green groups from previous modelling, released yet another report that conservative politicians could use in their arguments against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol  (Australia had been given a very sweet deal – a 108% ‘reduction’ target and also a land-clearing loophole; John Howard would nix ratification in mid-2002).

ABARE just kept churning out these reports, and journalists – either because they agreed, didn’t know any better, were too busy or too cowed by their editors – kept faithfully stenographer-ing to power. That’s how hegemony works, ‘kay?

Reducing greenhouse emissions to levels required in the Kyoto Protocol would lift unemployment and energy prices, according to new research by Australia’s chief rural and resources forecaster.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said the US approach to reducing world greenhouse emissions offered a more realistic chance of reducing the possibility of significant climate change….

“The consequences of Australia ratifying the Kyoto Protocol are a significant structural adjustment to the Australian economy with a severe regional impact on jobs and on several major industries,” Dr Fisher said.

In a paper to be presented today to ABARE‘s annual Outlook conference, Dr Fisher said domestic electricity prices would rise by between 37 per cent and 50 per cent by 2010 and 2015 on current projections and Australia would incur a 1 per cent loss in gross national product by 2015.

Koutsoukis, J. 2002. ABARE backs US on emissions. The Australian Financial Review, 6 March, p.4.

 

Also on this day-

2012 The mass media discover that climate change activists would quite like the export of coal to stop.  Hold the front page.

A COALITION of environmental activists has developed an extraordinary secret plan to ruin Australia’s coal export boom by disrupting and delaying key projects and infrastructure.

The strategy includes mounting legal challenges to up to a dozen key mines and exploiting the Lock The Gate movement against coal-seam gas to put pressure on governments to block mining
Hepworth, A. 2012. Coal activists’ strategy exposed The Australian 6 March

2015. BHP’s head of environment says ‘climate change is already having an impact on its Australian mining operations.

Environment and climate change vice president Fiona Wild said less and more variable rainfall linked to climate change had prompted BHP to come up with new water management programs at its Worsley Alumina refinery in Western Australia.
Dagge, J. 2015. BHP stays alert to changing climate. Herald-Sun, 6 March