Category Archives: International

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 11 1989/2008 -Fine Australian words on #climate change

Nineteen years separate two Australian declarations of motherhood, apple-pie and peace/love/understanding.   In 1989, with climate change on everyone’s lips, Australia was a signatory of the Hague Declaration=

“The right to live is the right from which all other rights stem. Guaranteeing’this right is the paramount duty of those in charge of all States throughout the world. Today, the very conditions of life on our planet are threatened by the severe attacks to which the earth’s atmosphere is subjected. Authoritative scientific studies have shown the existence and scope of considerable dangers linked in particular to the warming of the atmosphere and to the deterioration of the ozone layer. The latter has already led to action, under the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, while the former is being addressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change established by UNEP and WMO, which has just begun its work. In addition the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 43/53 on the Protection of the Global Climate in 1988, recognizing climate change as a common concern of mankind. According to present scientific knowledge, the consequences of these phenomena may well jeopardize ecological systems as well as the most vital interests of mankind at large.”

And then, in 2008, after Kevin Rudd had won the ‘first climate change election’ and ratified the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act, on this day that ratification came into  effect. The Government issued the Initial Report under the  Kyoto Protocol detailing how Australia aims to reduce  greenhouse gas emissions.

“Words. Words. Words”, as the doomed Danish dude declared.

 

Also on this day- 

2006: Burning Coal and burning the planet – “The Australian Labor Party has just released its environmental policy blueprint, and on the face of it, the policy looks ‘half decent’, but, as always needs to be asked, is the ALP policy all it’s stated to be? And, how vulnerable is the stated target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050?”

2011 Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining and Geology at the University of Adelaide and author of ‘Heaven + Earth’ (published in 2009), appears on the Sydney-based “Chris Smith Afternoon Show,” a talk-back radio programme. Plimer expressed a view that there is no evidence that ‘human emissions of carbon dioxide gives us catastrophic climate change’ and took pops at the Gillard government’s so-called ‘carbon tax’.

 

March 7,2012 – George Christensen wants Gina’s money for defense of NQ Way of Life’

Bloody greenies. Probably getting money for their pagan attacks on our precious bodily fluids and sacrosanct way of life from foreigners. Moscow. Or Beijing. Or Cuba (subs, please check).  Only vigorous and brave – and funded- action can stop them!  In 2012 North Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen wanted to launch an organisation to counter the ‘the radical Green movement.’  He emailed Gina Rinehart.

According to Laurie Oakes

Christensen wrote: ‘One quick thought was to hold a major rally “In Defence of the North Queensland Way of Life” in Mackay where we would encourage people in farming, fishing and mining to descend on the town for a mass show of support against the southern Green interests. If this was to be successful, we could then quickly move this movement into a formal blue collar/workers organisation that advocated for the North and against the greenies.”
There was a need to act quickly, he said, but the plan could only succeed if Rinehart and others like her got behind it. Not surprisingly, the email, dated March 7 [2012], specifically mentioned financial support.
Oakes, L. 2012. Gina and Clive are Labor’s best assets. The Australian, 26 May.

 

Also on this day-

1991 Environment Minister Graham Richardson claims that Australia’s greenhouse commitment was “the most progressive policy, I might say, of any nation in combating the threat of greenhouse climate change.”
Senate Hansard 1439

1996 1996 at Ad Hoc Group for the Berlin Mandate,
On 6th or 7th “TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO said Brazil’s proposal on QELROs provided a logical way forward and Germany’s proposal provided impetus to the work of the AGBM. He said the gas-by-gas approach is the simplest and most effective, and expressed surprise at Australia’s idea of equity. Each country could propose an idea of equity that suits its own needs.”

AGBM ENB on REPORT OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE AD HOC GROUP ON THE BERLIN MANDATE: 5-8 MARCH 1996

2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill’s plan for Australia to be a bridge between US and Europe squashed b the Greenhouse committee- (see Hordern AFR report 16 March 2001)

2006 Opposition Leader Kim Beazley releases an energy policy.  If you listened carefully, you could hear Rudd breathing down Kim’s neck.  By the end of the year it was on…. Beazley releases energy policy. ABC, 7 March .

 

March 1, 1989 – Australian government calls for international treaty on #climate

Hard to believe it, almost 30 years later, but in 1989 the Australian Federal Government – caught up in the concern about climate change, and aware that Australia was vulnerable, and that the problem needed co-ordinated global action – favoured action. This was all in the pre-UNFCCC period (the negotiations for that did not start until January 1991). This below came a week before Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans went to The Hague for a conference on climate change, part of the flurry of the years 1989 and 1990…

Federal Cabinet is set to back calls for an international treaty to protect the environment, a move which could drastically alter the nation’s future pattern of trade and the development of its resources.
Australia would support an international treaty to guard against potentially dangerous shifts in the earth’s climate and atmosphere, under a submission expected to go before Cabinet’s structural adjustment committee today.
Dunn, R. 1989. Environmental pact backed. Australian Financial Review, 1 March.

Also on this day –
1990

“Products that pollute should be taxed to be more expensive than environmentally friendly goods, a leading environmental economist said yesterday.”
Polglaze, K. 1990. Polluting products should be taxed’. Canberra Times, 2 March, p10.

1995 (after the defeat of the carbon tax proposal)

Canberra — Conservationists yesterday called on the Federal Government to overcome its “policy paralysis” after Cabinet again deferred finalising a greenhouse emission-reduction package. On Tuesday night, Cabinet agreed to hold off on a decision to allow all Government departments to work out effective proposals to curb emissions.
Boreham, G. 1995. ACF Slates Greenhouse `policy Paralysis’. The Age, 2 March, p.8.

Feb 22, 2000- Trees for coal swap announced…

In the late 1990s there was a lot of interest in Australia becoming a hub for carbon trading, and being able to use its forests for ‘off-setting’. This was being pushed by a number of credible policy entrepreneurs, not least among them New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, who was frustrated with the Howard government’s bullshit (that’s a technical policy analyst term) on climate change. This from the Guardian covers it nicely-
If you’re interested in the theory behind offsetting, then CheatNeutral is for you…

Zinn, C. 2000. Japan in eco-credit deal with Australia. The Guardian, 22 February
Australian forest authorities have been contracted to plant 40,500 hectares of trees (about 100,000 acres) on behalf of one of Japan’s largest power companies in a controversial scheme to fight global warming.
The trees are meant to offset some of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company signed the deal, which could cost up to £50m, with the New South Wales’s forestry division to grow hard and softwood plantations to capture carbon dioxide (CO2).
But environmentalists question whether the project, scheduled to run for 10 years, will work. They claim the area is too small and that the forests must be maintained forever or the CO2 will go back into the atmosphere when the trees are processed.

Also on this day-

As the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ that was announced to universal contempt and derision in the White Paper in December 2008 limps on (ahead of secret negotiations in April), on this day in 2009  “Economists speak out against carbon scheme

According to Opposition Environment Spokesman Mark Butler, in his epic demolition of “Direct Action” –  “22 February 2011: Geoff Carmody, now a Coalition adviser on costings, makes clear in an opinion piece rhetoric on direct action is “unconvincing bluster” which should be subject to Productivity Commission review.”

And this great acronym for a group – bravo!!

Anon, 2013  Goldfields lobby group opposing ‘green extremists‘ ABC. 22 February.A Goldfields lobby group is planning to launch an eleventh hour campaign against what it calls “green extremists”.

The group DAMAGE, Dads And Mums Against Green Extremists, is planning advertisements in a Kalgoorlie newspaper in the last week of the state election campaign.

Feb 16, 2005 – John Howard says Kyoto “next to useless”

So, after years of claiming the Kyoto Protocol would never be ratified by enough countries – what with the US and Australia both refusing- naysayers were proved wrong when the Russians, for reasons of their own, ratified in late 1994, causing the Protocol to become international law (such as it is) and presenting Australia with both presentational and diplomatic issues. Prime Minister John Howard was not, at this stage, perturbed (the perturbations would only begin in late 2006…)

AAP. 2005. Kyoto Protocol ‘next to useless’: PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 February. 

Prime Minister John Howard has reaffirmed the government’s opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change on the day the pact came into effect.

The opposition used Question Time to put more pressure on the government over its refusal to join the treaty which has been signed by 141 countries.

Labor leader Kim Beazley asked Prime Minister John Howard about conflicting comments on climate change from two government ministers.

He read one media report quoting Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane as saying he did not know whether greenhouse emissions caused climate change.

Another quoted Environment Minister Ian Campbell saying there was a need to engage sceptics who did not believe climate change was real.

“I think they are both splendid ministers and of course I agree with them both,” Mr Howard answered…..

Also on this day –

Nick Minchin, who would later play a crucial role in getting rid of Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader, over the latter’s support for Kevin Rudd’s CPRS, was resisting the change of mood mentioned above…

Murphy, K. 2007. Lib scorns mass ‘panic’ on climate. The Age, 17 February.
It SHOULD not be seen as a sin to be cautious about the science of global warming, a senior Federal Government minister has warned.
Finance Minister Nick Minchin says “there remains an ongoing debate about the extent of climate change” and the extent of human activity’s role in global warming….

Jan 6, 1995 – Business says ‘other nations are doing little, so should Australia’

On this day 22 years ago, in the midst of an intense battle against a proposed carbon tax, business groups released a report which showed that only five of the 36 “key” members of the International Panel on Climate Change [or perhaps the journos got confused with the UNFCCC?] appeared  likely to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2000.

Dwyer, M. and Wilson, N. 1995. Study argues against $320m carbon tax. Australian Financial Review, 6 January, p.5.

The logic of course, was that Australia should not be a sucker and allow any other countries to be free-riders, or get ahead of the pack.

In that, Australia has in the past 22 years resolutely succeeded. Bravo.

Things haven’t changed much, have they?