Category Archives: economic modelling

June 2, 2012 – Vale Deni Greene, greenhouse economics modeller

In the period 1990-1991 fierce battles were fought over the cost of action on climate change. The pro-action side obviously said it would be cheap/would pay for itself. Those opposed to action predictably said the sky would fall. So, economic modelling got used, back and forth. One of those called upon to produce ‘it can be done without bankrupting us all’ reports was American Deni Greene, who died on this day in 2012.

Here’s an obituary
Deni Greene grew up on the East Coast of the US and held a senior position in the California EPA immediately prior to coming to Australia in the 1980’s to join the Victorian EPA . Deni later went on to run her own consulting business. I first met Deni around 1995, when she was nominated by CFA to the Standards Australia committee on environmental labelling. In that role, she demonstrated a rare ability to take complex scientific concepts and draw out the practical implications for the average consumer.

Deni went on to play a significant part in international standardisation, initially in the ISO committee on Environmental Management; and then as leading figure in the development of ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility. Deni was also a respected expert on ethical investment and developed the handbook, A Capital Idea – Realising value from environmental and social performance, published by Standards Australia in 2001.

Deni will be remembered as a forceful advocate for both sustainability and ethical conduct on a global stage. Not just a theoretician, Deni put those principles into practice in her own life. She could also be extremely thoughtful, taking time to recognise those whom others took for granted.

Deni leaves this world a better place for her actions. I am proud to have known her as a colleague and a friend.

– by John Henry

May 23,1980 Senator worries about climate change impacts…

On this day in 1980, a Liberal (yes, Liberal) senator from South Australia, Don Jessop, talked about the dangers of climate change in the Australian senate.  The whole lot is here.  And below a clip…

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) – “I also welcome the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Bill 1980 and will make a few brief remarks about it….

“The first article, entitled ‘World ecology is endangered’, is from the Melbourne Age of 16 April, and deals with an examination by a panel of internationally recognised scientists. They told the United States Congress: . . that the world could face an ecological disaster unless the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere is controlled.

The second article is older, having been written on 28 February 1977. It is entitled ‘Heating Up: Global Race for Antarctic’s Riches’, [From  U.S. News & World Report] and I wish to have only highlights of that article incorporated in Hansard.

We knew. Or should have. We blew it.

Jessop?  Came acropper in 87.  Grattan, M. 1987  SA Libs demote Hill, drop Jessop. The Age, 9 June. p 3

Also on this day

2000-

Senator Hill had been ambushed. It appears neither he nor his staff were aware the trigger proposal was likely to face such fierce opposition in Cabinet….  The anti-greenhouse, anti-trigger camp did not stop at this. The following day [23 May 2000] senator Minchin presented research he had commissioned from Dr Brian Fisher of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), a critic of the Kyoto Protocol, which found that meeting Australia’s Kyoto target could cost between 0.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent of Gross National Product at 2010. The fossil fuel lobby used this research as a springboard to back Anderson’s and Minchin’s position, suggesting the trigger would have significant adverse economic implications. Dick Wells, the executive director of the Minerals Council of Australia, was quoted in the Australian Financial Review as saying, ‘[w]e agree with John Anderson that the trigger would harm employment and regional growth…..

(Macintosh, 2007: 50)

2000 Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Industry started a strong campaign against the Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill’s, proposed greenhouse trigger yesterday. This follows a fiery Cabinet discussion on Tuesday [23rd] over new greenhouse measures proposed by the Senator.

The Federal Cabinet is understood to have reached a clear understanding on Tuesday that no extra greenhouse requirements should be imposed on the proposed $1billion Kogan Creek power station in Queensland.

It rejected a memo from Senator Hill that the project be forced to invest in greenhouse-abatement projects to offset its own emissions. However, a spokesman for the Environment Minister said the Cabinet had not made a final decision.

Taylor, L. and Skulley, M. 2000. Cabinet clash on greenhouse. The Australian Financial Review, 24 May, p1.

Federal Cabinet faces a showdown over greenhouse environmental issues after ministers yesterday heard alarming predictions that meeting Australia’s emission targets could significantly cut economic growth and boost fuel prices.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Industry, Senator Nick Minchin, both entered Cabinet yesterday armed with new evidence about the extent of Australia’s greenhouse problems.

Economic research commissioned by Senator Minchin found that forcing industry to meet Australia’s targets under the Kyoto international greenhouse agreement could reduce gross national product by up to 1.4 per cent in 2010.

(MINCHIN COMMISSIONED BRIAN FISCHER TO DO ANOTHER SKY FALL DOCUMENT)

 

 

2013  Ian Dunlop in Canberra (riff on BHP?)

 

 

 

 

May 22, 2009 – ‘skyfall’ economic modelling’ around the CPRS

The mining industry has been releasing economic “studies” about climate change since 1989, when CRA (later to be renamed Rio Tinto) started the ball rolling.  They are usually exquisitely timed around some important decision that the government is about to make – signing up to the UNFCCC, thinking about a carbon tax, whatever.

Well, in 2009, just after Kevin Rudd had released the CPRS legislation, there was a front page story on the Australian, faithfully reporting the “findings” of another study.

Taylor, L. 2009. Climate change warning: ETS to `cost 24,000jobs’. The Australian, 22 May p1.
THE Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme will cost 23,510 mining jobs over the next decade — almost half of them in Queensland — according to new modelling released as parliament prepares to decide the fate of the controversial climate change legislation.

On page 12 the then head of the Minerals Council of Australia got to say his bit too.
Hooke, M. 2009. Carbon plan will cause jobs carnage. The Australian, 22 May, p. 12.

Why change a winning strategy, I guess….

Also on this day-
Dunn, R. 1989. Plebiscite mooted. Australian Financial Review, 22 May.
The Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator Richardson, has floated the idea of holding a referendum to increase the Commonwealth’s powers to override the States on environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect.
He raised the idea at an environmental conference at the weekend.

2000
“Prior to a Cabinet meeting on 22 May [2000] where the greenhouse trigger was to be discussed, the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson publicly criticised the proposal, describing it as ‘unnecessary and inappropriate’ and suggesting it would harm the economy, particularly in regional [page break] areas. In a press release issued on 22 May, Anderson said that ‘it was not necessary or appropriate for the Commonwealth to effectively take over the State’s role in the environmental assessment and approval of major developments.”
(Macintosh, 2007: 49-50)

Dobbin, M. 2007. BP, Rio in clean coal power bid; Project based on Canberra research. Canberra Times, 22 May.
BP and Rio Tinto announced joint plans yesterday for a $2billion coal- fired power station at Kwinana in Western Australia that would be the first in Australia to capture and store its greenhouse gas emissions deep underground. The so-called clean coal station which could be completed within seven years would produce enough power to supply 500,000 houses.

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.

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