Category Archives: economic modelling

March 19, 1990- Politicians engage with #climate scientists! #notsomuchanymore

As Maria Taylor notes on page 37 of her excellent book  “Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia knew and buried…then framed a new reality for the public”

“In the late 1980s, political leaders (Jones, Hawke and Richardson) publicly interacted with the CSIRO scientists and division advisory boards. From that advisory board, Bob Chynoweth personally briefed the prime minister, according to a Hawke speech to the division on 19 March 1990 (Hawke 1990).”

Also on this day-

On this day in 1998 the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) released a report which argues that a domestic emissions trading scheme could help Australia reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels set down in the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change agreed last December. According to the Financial  Review, the proposal, which was part of a report to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment inquiry into trading in greenhouse gases.was “greeted cautiously by industry yesterday, with some concern about whether the scheme was premature.”

 

2001 Department of Defense says it is cutting emissions

e.g. “Continue the development and implementation of a standardised Defence-wide
approach to environmental management, consistent with Commonwealth
environmental legislation, including by reducing Defence’s annual energy
consumption by at least 200 terajoules by June 30 2001, in accordance with the
Government’s greenhouse emissions strategy.”

Stevens, M. 2014. Anti-coal protests gather steam. Australian Financial Review,19 March, p.34.

“One September Sunday morning last year Lance Hockridge woke to find a group of strangers forming an angry protest outside his family home”

March 9, 2000 – “Sky fall” report about Kyoto ratification, commissioned by Vic Government

So, Australia got that sweet Kyoto deal (108% ‘reduction’ target, land-clearing loophole) and signed the Protocol in April 1998 (as distinct from ratifying).  In September 1998 it emerged that the Cabinet had agreed it wouldn’t ratify until/unless the USA did.  But that (sort of) depended on whether the next POTUS was a Democrat (Gore) or a Republican (Bush? McCain? nobody knew at this stage).

The Australian Greenhouse Office was producing reports about emissions trading and how it could work in Australia.  Not everyone was happy at the prospect.  So, the Victorian government of Jeff Kennett commissioned a report on (domestic) emissions trading and its implications for Victoria.  It was released on March 9.

On March 9 a report on emissions trading by Allen Consulting was released to the Victorian Government. Modelling various scenarios but excluding the effect of international trading, the report put the cost on carbon in the range of $42 to $148 a tonne.

Analysts point out that an international carbon market is inevitable, and that this will considerably reduce the price of carbon. Let’s hope it does. The Allen report also predicted percentage point declines in national GDP and employment.

Hordern, N. 2000. Greenhouse gas and the high price of hot air, The Australian Financial Review, 29 March, p.18.

Another account [2000 Anon. 2000. Greenhouse emission trading plan too expensive – Aust report.  Australian Associated Press, 10 March] says the report claims the scheme would be too complex and we should wait…“On balance, we do not support the imposition of a mandatory domestic emissions trading system in Australia…..The costs of permits under such a system may well be higher than those incurred later under an international system and could, therefore, lead to an unnecessarily high adjustment burden.”

The sky is always gonna fall…  Thank goodness we didn’t take action on climate change almost 20 years ago.  I mean, it all has turned out to be a hoax, and we might have damaged The Economy. THEN where would we be?
Also on this day –

2005 Anthony Albanese landing blows in parliament, again.  

In my contribution to the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2004-2005, the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2004-2005 and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 2004-2005, I want to concentrate my remarks on the Howard government’s reckless environmental policies and the impact that they are having on our way of life and the kinds of jobs and the economy that we will be leaving to our children and grandchildren. It is no exaggeration to say the government’s policy on climate change places at risk many things Australians take for granted: our fantastic beaches, waterways and forests; our abundant food stocks and natural resources; and, of course, our fantastic climate, which is the envy of the world.

…. I believe that climate change is the greatest environmental threat to the world. Left unchecked, climate change and general environmental degradation have the potential to cripple economies and radically alter human existence on the planet.

He’s been on the climate thing for a long long time.  Who knows, maybe he’ll be the first Australian prime minister to deliver something that can stick.  #paralleluniverse

 

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

February 29, 2002 – Talking Kyoto…

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics had been a player in the Australian climate policy game for a very long time.  Despite having been slapped on the wrist for having created an economic model (MEGABARE) with fossil-fuel company money that ‘proved’ emissions would WRECK THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY WE WILL ALL BE LIVING IN CAVES, it continued to hold conferences at which sensible people would come and say sensible things. See for example –

G Andrews, ‘Climate Change, The current status of Australia’s response’, Proceedings of the National Agricultural and Resources Outlook Conference, ABARE, 29 February 2 March 2000, Canberra, vol. 1, p. 69.

Jotzo, F., et al,’ Kyoto Protocol, Impact on developing countries and some implications for the design of the Kyoto mechanisms’, ABARE, Natural Resources, Outlook 2000, New Directions Future Markets, Proceedings of the National Outlook Conference, 29 February 2 March, Canberra, p. 52.

Also on this day –

1992 letter to Canberra Times “act now to avoid catastrophe”.

1992-02-29-letter

We didn’t. Oh well.

Feb 4, 1998 – economic modellers get wristslap for excluding greenies

On this day 19 years ago the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) got a slap on the wrist.  Years earlier they’d started asking for $50k per annum to be on a steering group that oversaw the development of the “MEGABARE” economic model.  This model was used to justify Australia’s diplomatic efforts to cut itself a very cushy deal in the international climate negotiations.  MEGABARE ‘showed scientifically’ that Australia’s economy was unique and that any abatement efforts would cause the sky to fall.  Who had been ponying up the $50k per annum?  Disin1998-02-04terested and public-spirited groups like the Australian Coal Association,  Rio Tinto, the Business Council of Australia.  When the Australian Conservation Foundation asked to join the board in May 1997, with the $50k waived, the ABARE boss said ‘terribly sorry, no can do’.  So ACF complained to the Ombudsman in June and the Ombudsman investigated and – waiting until after the Kyoto meeting of the UNFCCC – released a report saying that ABARE had opened themselves up to the perception of bias.

To quote the press release,  “The Ombudsman’s investigation also concluded that:

  • The composition of the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees did not adequately conform to the characteristics of a government steering committee dealing with an important – and controversial – public policy matter. In particular that the development of the steering committee did not ensure a balance of views and technical skills.
  • The membership fees were exclusionary in their effect.
  • It was not appropriate for ABARE to use the term ‘steering committee’ to describe the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees.
  • ABARE’s intentions for the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees would have been more appropriately characterised at the outset as ‘sponsors committees for funding representatives’. However, the use of the term ‘Steering Committee’, and the associated explanation as to its role allowed an ambiguity and the possible creation of an expectation of membership influence on issues affecting public policy.
  • The greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies are an important matter of public policy and any steering committee or consultative process should include a balance of community interests.

Ms Smith said: ‘ABARE now concedes that it should not have used this fund raising mechanism if it had known the ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘political use’ that would be made of the funding arrangements.”

 

For more on this, see Clive Hamilton’s 2001 ‘Running from the Storm’ and a 1997 Honours Thesis by one R. Duncan.

Also on this day –

Oh look ABARE’s 1993 outlook conference was happening five years earlier.

At the conference, the boss of Woodside Petroleum said it was time for a ‘reappraisal’ of Australia’s greenhouse policies.

…. and perhaps even argue for a national increase in greenhouse gas emissions instead of a cut….

Mr Allen said “emotional media and political treatment” of the greenhouse issue had obscured the real problem. While it was clear greenhouse was happening, he said, there were many scientific uncertainties about its magnitude and speed.

Mussared, D. 1993. Increase Australia’s greenhouse emissions: Woodside. Canberra Times, 5 February, p.13.

and at the same conference

“A senior ABARE minerals economist, Mr Barry Jones, told the Outlook ’93 conference yesterday that the measures announced in the Government’s Greenhouse Response Strategy would not be enough to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 compared with 1988 levels, or to cut them a further 20 per cent by 2005.” and that if it wanted to reach those goals, the Federal Government would have to consider unpopular measures such as a carbon tax…

Garran, R. 1993. Rethink needed on greenhouse.  The Australian Financial Review, 5 February, p.7.