Category Archives: ignored warnings

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 26, 1998 – “Clean Coal” centre opened

Clean coal.  For years it was tied to ‘carbon capture and storage’. But that is no longer seriously considered as an option (unless you count BECCS, which, um, is just another fantasy technology).  Before CCS, it was all about increased efficiency of coal fired power stations (sound familiar, reader in 2017?).  According to the Daily Telegraph, Bob Carr opened the Ian Stewart Wing of the chemical engineering laboratories at Newcastle University were opened on this day in 1998.

The story opens “RESEARCH laboratories where scientists will work to make Australian coal the “cleanest” in the world” will be opened today…”  Plus ca change…

Anon. 1998. Tests for green coal. Daily Telegraph, 26 February.

Also on this day

1988 Graeme Pearman in the Canberra Times

1988-02-26-canberra-times-dramatic-warming

 

 

Parkinson, G. 2014. Plimer leads IPA fund-raising push for new climate denial book. Reneweconomy, 26 February.

Leading climate change denier Professor Ian Plimer is leading a new fund-raising campaign from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite conservative think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, to raise money for a new book attacking climate science, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets….

Maclellan, N. 2016. Defence White Paper fails on climate change. Lowy Interpreter, 26 February…..

Former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Chris Barrie recently argued that ‘Australia’s defence force is lagging significantly behind its US and UK counterparts in preparing to deal with the challenges created by a changing climate.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 25, 1981 – Senator ponders the dangers of burning coal. Yes, 1981.

If you were paying attention in the 1970s, you knew there might be trouble ahead, not just for the whales, but the even stupider mammals; the ones on two legs.  Various green and scientific publications ran stories on the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the worrying trends throughout that decade.  The first World Climate Conference took place in February 1979.  Some Australian politicians (whom we will encounter as this project goes on) were aware of the problem. Still, props to Senator Stan Collard,  Country/National Party. On 25 February 1981 he had this to say –

“Our steaming coal exports are mounting. I have no objection to that, except for one thing. I ask: Just how much further can we go with burning these masses of coal and pouring the pollutants, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere? One thing that we are not sure of, of course, is the ultimate greenhouse effect that it will have on this continent, maybe even in our lifetime. I think we must consider quite reasonably just where to cry halt to the burning of masses of steaming coal and where we can bring in one of the cleanest methods of power generation, that is, nuclear power generation, until something cleaner and better comes along. I reject the suggestion that the Government is lacking in its planning, but I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate.

Also on this day – 

1992  On 25 February at UN headquarters (New York City, USA), 20 business associations from 9 countries released a joint statement to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The business associations, nearly half of which are from Australia, are in the fields of fossil fuel and energy production, manufacturing, and metals.

Anon. 1992. International Business Associations Issue Statement on Climate Negotiations. Global Environmental Change. Vol. 4, No. 5  13 March.

Fraser, A. 2007. Rudd unveils his ‘clean coal’ plan. Canberra Times, 26 February.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is giving Prime Minister John Howard a race for his ”clean-coal” money, unveiling a $1.5 billion plan yesterday to come up with breakthrough technology.  (see 26th March 2007 for  Lavoisier group response)

On this day in 2011, fresh from signing her own ‘death warrant’, Julia Gillard was on the breakfast radio show of Alan Jones.

“Or consider this excerpt from Jones’ 25 February 2011 interview with Gillard (which he began by berating the prime minister for being late). He concluded his line of questioning about her CO2 emissions policy saying: ‘Do you understand, Julia, that you are the issue today because there are people now saying that your name is not Julia but JuLIAR and they are saying we’ve got a liar running the country’ (cited in Barry 2011a).”
(Ward, 2015: 236)

Feb 17, 1995 – “Not a single tonne saved” by National Greenhouse Response Strategy

On December 7 1992 the “National Greenhouse Response Strategy” had been agreed by Federal and State Governments. It had no national objectives, had motherhood-statements about the greenhouse programme, listed few substantive responses and was in no meaningful sense a ‘strategy’. So, 0 out of 4. It ignored the proposals of the Ecologically Sustainable Development process which had been set up under the Hawke government, which included a whole raft of useful proposals on energy efficiency, fuel substitution, support for renewables etc. All things that the Federal government of today is still actively hostile to. Anyway, on this day in 1995, the then new-ish Australia Institute released a report called “Can the Future Be Rescued1995-02-17” (a sly reference to any earlier report, but I’m digressing). This argued that `After two years of its operation, there is no evidence that even one tonne of carbon emissions has been saved as a result of the [NGRS).’  The report’s timing was just a little skew-whiff, for reasons beyond the authors’ control – the previous week Senator Faulkner, then the Environment Minister, decided that a carbon tax would not get through Cabinet.  Times don’t change.

Grose, S. 1995. Carbon tax necessary, report says. Canberra Times, 18 February.
An independent assessment of Australia’s greenhouse response strategy has concluded that Australia will not meet its greenhouse gas’ emission targets and claims that a carbon tax should be imposed at a rate of $2 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think-tank, released its report yesterday in a bid to influence federal Cabinet’s consideration next week of a range of measures to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions.

 

Also on this day-

2003. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, who had headed up a “Kyoto Protocol Ratification Advisory Group” sponsored by three state governments, accused John Howard of merely going along with the US in not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

On the same day, Greenpeace said Westpac was in favour of Kyoto Ratification (by now the Business Council of Australia was hopelessly split on the matter, and would soon release a ‘we’re agnostic’ statement)

AAP. 2003. Westpac supports Kyoto Protocol – Greenpeace. Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire, 17 Feb
SYDNEY, Feb 17, AAP – One of Australia’s big four banks has indicated its support for an international treaty to cut greenhouse gases.
Greenpeace today said initial findings of its survey of Business Council of Australia (BCA) members revealed Westpac supported the aims and objectives of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

17-19 Feb 2004 Zero Emissions Technology Conference in Australia. (This at peak excitement of technological solutions.

Feb 14, 2007 – “Industry allowed to gag research”

On this day ten years ago the chief of the CSIRO’s division of energy technology explained what many already suspected- research that was inconvenient to industry might not see the light of day… This report comes a year minus a day after, for example, Mark Diesendorf’s article in the Canberra Times (see tomorrow’s post). There’s a paper to be written on the long brutal and depressing history of climate science advice and Australian policy-makers…. #afterthethesis…

Beeby, R. 2007. Industry can gag research: CSIRO. Canberra Times, 15 February.
The CSIRO has confirmed coal industry bodies have the power to suppress a new report questioning the cost and efficiency of clean-coal carbon capture technologies because they partly funded the research. Dr David Brockway, chief of CSIRO’s division of energy technology, told a Senate estimates committee hearing yesterday it was ”not necessarily unusual” for private- industry partners investing in research programs – such as Cooperative Research Centres – to request reports be withheld from public release if findings were deemed to be not in their best interests. His comments followed questions by Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne regarding the release of an economic assessment by a senior CSIRO scientist of a new carbon capture technology to reduce greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power stations

Also on this day – Yet another ‘Kyoto ratification will cause the sky to fall” claim…

AAP. 2005. Signing Kyoto ‘counter-productive’. The Age, 14 
Australia’s energy-efficient exporting industries would be penalised under the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Ian Campbell said today. He said it was counter-productive to the cause of curtailing man-made climate change to prevent Australia exporting its high-quality energy products and low-emissions technology.

Feb 13, 2006 – Four Corners report on the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’

The ABC investigative journalism programme Four Corners broadcast a hair-raising documentary on “Greenhouse Mafia,” the network of focussed and determined industry lobbyists who had taken over the policy advice system of the Howard government on climate and energy issues.  This documentary was based on the extraordinarily good PhD thesis of Guy Pearse, whose ‘High and Dry’ should be compulsory reading, in my opinion. The programme also looked at what happened to CSIRO scientists who tried to do their job – of studying and explaining the impacts of climate change.

You can read the full transcript via here.

 

Also on this day

1995 – Environment Minister John Faulkner announces on 2GB radio (Sydney) that the proposal for a carbon tax/levy is toast-

“I’ve indicated that it’s just not going to go forward…. As far as I’m concerned a greenhouse levy is off the agenda.”

Anon, 1995. Australia govt drops plans for carbon tax-minister.  Reuters, 14 February.

 

 

 

 

Jan 23, 2013- Australian coal mining versus the planet….

On this day in 2013, the Age journo Tom Arup starts a piece

The forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports would be the world’s second-largest contributor of new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels if fully realised, research by Greenpeace International has found.

An analysis of the planet’s 14 largest proposed, coal, oil and gas developments – to be released on Wednesday by Greenpeace – finds if Australian coal production expands as projected, the mining, production and burning of the extra resources would by 2020 result in 759 million tonnes of new global carbon dioxide emissions a year over 2011 levels.

It’s based on Greenpeace International report called  “Point of No Return

2013-01-23

Also on this day –

In 1992 , A report on an early(ish) dose of denial appears in the Australian Financial Review,

Lawson, M. 1992. Cooling the global warming predictions.  The Australian Financial Review, 23 January .

In 1995, economist John Quiggin quixotically makes the case that a carbon tax could provide more jobs….”there is no reason to suppose that business as a whole would necessarily lose from such a tax.” 

Quiggin, J. 1995. Carbon tax could make more jobs. The Australian Financial Review, 23 January.

In 2001 the Sydney Morning Herald had a front page story based on the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC

 

World temperatures may increase by as much as six degrees Celsius over the next century, leading climate change scientists say in an alarming report that adds new urgency to the warnings on global warming.

The projected increase, which would be the most rapid temperature change in the past 10,000 years, is expected to push sea levels up by nearly a metre, threatening tens of millions of people, and generate more floods, droughts and fires.

The report found that the 1990s were the hottest decade since instrument records were first taken in 1861 and that 1998 was the hottest year. And for the first time scientists agreed that the warming is mostly due to human activity.

The gloomy prognosis was released in Shanghai yesterday by the respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a joint project of the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Schauble, J. 2001. Six Degrees Hotter: Global Climate Alarm Bells Ring Louder. Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January, p.1.

In 2005 A report, co-authored by the UK Institute of Public Policy Research, the US “Centre for American Progress” and the Australia Institute was released. It was called “Meeting the Climate Challenge” According to ippr – “This interim report, setting out the taskforce’s recommendations, is both a practical policy handbook, and passionate call for action on this most vital of issues.” [Actually, I think the report was launched Jan 1st, just slow on the ippr blog. Not sure though].