Category Archives: ignored warnings

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. “

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.