Category Archives: Kyoto Protocol

April 29, 1998 – Australia signs the Kyoto Protocol

So, after getting a super generous deal, Australia signed (as distinct from ratifying) the Kyoto Protocol on this day 19 years ago, with Robert Hill (Minister for the Environment) doing the deed in New York.

Hill signs historic agreement to fight global warming, media release, 29 April, 1998.

 

Also on this day

1997 “THE CHALLENGE FOR AUSTRALIA ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE”  29 April 1997 http://www.acola.org.au/climate2.htm

Australian Academy of Science, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, 1997 – Science – 127 pages

April 27, 2010 – Lenore Taylor breaks CPRS cancellation, breaks Rudd

On this day in 2010 it all came unstuck for Kevin Rudd. He had bludgeoned John Howard to a pulp on various issues (anyone remember the Australian Wheat Board?) and one of the biggies was ‘the great moral challenge’ of climate change.  He then had spent two years promulgating a fantastically complicated and horribly named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ which nobody liked or understood.  After Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party on 1st December 2009, consensus on carbon pricing died.  After the Copenhagen debacle, Rudd was urged to fight a double dissolution election.  He flubbed it and threw himself instead into campaigning on the Australian health care system.  And on April 27th 2010, following a front page scoop by the estimable Lenore Taylor about how the CPRS was being kicked into the long grass until after the 2013 election.  it all came unstuck at a hospital.

K Rudd (Prime Minister), Transcript of doorstop interview: Nepean Hospital, Penrith: health and hospital reform; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Home Insulation Program, media release, 27 April 2010.

Two good quotes, the first from Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’

Rudd’s problem, however, was not just the decision but the manner of its release. The story was broken by Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April when she reported that the ETS had been shelved ‘for at least three years’. The leak to Taylor was devastating. Rudd was taken by surprise and left without an explanation. ‘It was a very damaging leak and hard to retrieve, ‘ Wong said. ‘It derailed our government’, Martin Ferguson said.
(Kelly, 2014:292)

And the second from a later piece by Taylor herself.

It was the decision that seemed to snap voters’ faith in Kevin Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. Straight after the government announced it was deferring an emissions trading scheme until 2013, graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating looked like a rock falling off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumbled after it. The kitchen cabinet was scheduled to meet on April 27 to decide exactly how to explain the delay, and the conditions under which the government would pledge that the ETS policy would be revived.

News of the decision had also filtered through to a few members of the broader cabinet, who had determined to try to wind it back when cabinet met to “ratify” the budget on April 29. But on the morning of April 27, the Herald disclosed the decision to remove the scheme from the budget in a front page article entitled “ETS off the agenda until late next term”. It was the first many ministers and senior public servants had heard of it.
Knowing the back story helps explain why the government’s response on that day was so confused.
Taylor, L. 2010. Decision that shattered faith in PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, p.2

Also on this day

1999 The high-level Greenhouse Energy Group will today receive the final report of the task force set up by the Federal Government to devise ways to meet its target of a 2 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy over the next decade.

Hordern, N. 1999. Greenhouse targets study ready. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p. 11.

2001 Washington has mounted a diplomatic campaign to deflect criticism of its repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol, instead seeking support for its goal of broadening the UN climate change treaty to include developing countries.

And Canberra is Washington’s prize recruit in this campaign.

Asked in Wednesday’s Washington Post which countries backed him on greenhouse, President George Bush said “Australia [and Canada] said they understand why the US took this position”.

Hordern, N. 2001. Bush wary of `kiss of death’ for backers in protocol pact. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p.30.

 

2001 – “However, the Canadian government has criticised the US for pulling out of the Kyoto process. Only Australia has provided uncritical support and is therefore Washington’s “prize recruit” in its campaign to kill the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the April 27 Australian Financial Review.” [I think this is from a Green Left Weekly article]

April 25, 2000 “Beyond Kyoto: Australia’s efforts to combat global warming”

On this day Senator the Hon Robert Hill,  spoke at a meeting of the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change in Washington. The title –  ‘Beyond Kyoto Australia’s efforts to combat global warming’.

As the man said – “The road to policy agreement is paved with good intentions, the road to implementation is lined with the potholes of reality.”

The Liberals had continued the ALP’s hostility to an international climate regime, and amplified it.  Hill had gotten a “good” deal for Australia at the 1997 Kyoto conference – a 108% emissions “reduction” target (i.e. an increase), and – crucially – a land-clearing clause that effectively increased that 108% to about 130 percent.  Hill had apparently refused to attempt to get 118%, and is well-regarded by environmentalists known to this author.  Hill had signed the Kyoto Protocol for Australia in April of 1998. Later that year it emerged that Cabinet had decided not to ratify unless the USA did.  In April 2000 the US Presidential election was still 7 months away. It was an election where Al Gore would win the popular vote, but lose in the Supreme Court. So it goes.  Bush pulled out of Kyoto, and Australia followed in 2002, by which time Hill had been moved from Environment to Defence…

April 22, 2001 – Unions lukewarm on Kyoto Ratification

Mind you, would you trust a bunch of latte-sipping ‘intellectuals’ not to sell your job down the river?

2001– Labor is under pressure from some unions. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Doug Cameron told Channel 10 on April 22 that, “We would want to talk to Labor about the effect of any protocol or any treaty on manufacturing jobs”.

“I think there can be sensible co-existence between manufacturing, and manufacturing can be very clean these days”, Cameron said. “There can be sensible coexistence between manufacturing and ensuring the green vote is delivered [to Labor].”

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

Also on this day

1990– NSW Premier Nick Greiner getting in on the act –
“The new environmentalism : a conservative perspective” Text of speech delivered on Earth Day Sunday 22 April 1990. Photocopy. “Earth day, Sunday 22 April 1990” http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/18085038?q&versionId=21226780

1993 Garran, R. 1993. Clinton pledge cuts new key to the greenhouse. The Australian Financial Review, 23 April, p.9.

A PLEDGE by the US President, Mr Clinton, to cut emissions of greenhouse gases will raise the pressure on Australia to take tougher action, according to a senior Australian bureaucrat and Australian business and environment groups.

A first assistant secretary of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, Mr Peter Core, told business lobbyists yesterday at a private seminar organised by the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, that Mr Clinton’s announcement would put renewed pressure on Australia’s stance on the issue.

And an assistant director of the Business Council of Australia, Ms Chris Burnup, said yesterday the move would dramatically change the complexion of talks on global climate change.

2007 John Howard tells people to pray for rain.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks.”

April 19, 2001 – Kyoto is popular with Aussie voters? Oops…

Howard had never wanted any kind of emissions reductions target, even the generous ones negotiated at Kyoto.  So, Bush pulling out in March 2001 gave him space.  He wouldn’t actually announce that Australia was doing likewise until after the 2001 Federal election.  Conviction politicians – donchajustlovethem.

“The difficulty for the Howard government is that its position on climate change is deeply unpopular and will cost it votes at the next federal election. A survey commission by Greenpeace Australia and released on April 19 found that 80.4% of respondents believed that Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, without the US if necessary.

The Greenpeace survey drew an angry response from industry minister Nick Minchin. “I think it’s irresponsible to be pushing this line without informing people how many jobs will be lost”, he said in an April 20 media release.

“ABARE [the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics] estimates that, even with the most optimistic assumptions, the costs to Australia of meeting the Kyoto Protocol commitments would be significantly more than a severe recession and several times that of a major drought”, Minchin said.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

Also on this day-

19 April 2013: Climate Spectator points out mysteries, questions and problems after Greg Hunt’s address to ANU. The Government also releases a detailed line by line rebuttal of Greg Hunt’s speech. (From Mark Butler’s ‘Direct Action’ timeline)

April 17, 1993 – A carbon tax? Don’t be a mongrel

 

The pre-history of pricing carbon (it didn’t start in 2006) is a fascinating thing.  If you’re a geek like me, that is…

“The Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, have denied knowledge of alleged Treasury proposals for a $1.9 billion energy tax.

“Mr Crean rejected reports in The Weekend Australian and The Age on Saturday [17 April] which suggested that a tax on the energy content or fuels and possibly carbon emissions, being discussed by Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had drawn on studies by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.”

Brough, J. 1993. Keating, Crean deny energy-tax proposal. Canberra Times, Monday 19 April, p.3.

This turned into a full-blown battle in late 1994/early 1995.  Everybody knows the green guys lost…

Also on this day- 

2000 The “High Level Forum on Sinks” was held in Perth from April 17-20 2000.

Australia is preparing to host a major international meeting of environment ministers to broaden global acceptance of forests as a source of carbon credits. But the meeting comes at a time when the ability of forests to actually generate these credits is increasingly in scientific doubt…..

Hordern, N. 2000. Australia pushes carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review, 3 March, p.16.

Oh, and they stacked it –

Australia is being accused of deliberately “stacking” a conference of international environment ministers in Perth next week in a bid to undermine the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….

Australia has invited ministers from around the world, but stands accused of inviting only countries sympathetic to its own position on sinks.

Germany and other European countries which are of the view that overuse of sinks could encourage countries not to reduce emissions have been left out.

Clennel, A. 2000. Greenhouse Gas Conference `stacked’. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April, p.15.

Meanwhile, on the same day it is reported that

“Federal Labor is preparing a major push for the green vote at the next election by toughening its stance in key areas including greenhouse gases and mining in national parks. A draft of its revised policy platform also commits the party to establishing a new independent watchdog, the Commissioner for the Environment.”

2000 Robinson, M. and Clennell, A. 2000. Labor To Push Tough Policy For Green Vote. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April, p.7.

Yes, well, there was a bit of a blue in Hobart later that year. Can’t have everything.  They went to the 2001 election with a reasonable green policy.  And… Tampa.

2001 “Hill was introduced at an April 17 climate change conference in Washington, organised by the Pew Center, as representing the country with the closest position to that of the US. According to the April 21 Melbourne Age, Hill “waffled at every question suggesting Australia was conveniently hiding behind the US withdrawal because it never really supported Kyoto”.” https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

2005 A unique multidisciplinary conference entitled ‘Science and ethics: Can Homo sapiens survive?’ was held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May. See Canberra Times article.  It was about Frank Fenner.  The answer? Pretty obvious, 12 years later…

April 4, 2001 – ALP has cold feet on Kyoto ratification

So, in late March 2001 George ‘hanging chad’ Bush had pulled the USA out of the Kyoto negotiations for an emissions reduction target (grossly inadequate, of course) for developed countries.  The Howard Government was very happy with this, and Howard sent Bush a mash note on April 1st.

According to Green Left Weekly:

“On April 2, the Senate passed a motion moved by Greens Senator Bob Brown condemning the US and Australian governments “for their efforts to derail the Kyoto Climate Change Convention”. Labor supported the motion, but on April 4 the ALP rejected a motion put by Brown calling on the government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Bolkus said it would be “premature” to support the motion.”

The ALP was in flux on this in 2000-2001 (i.e. they were listening to the unions), but went to the 2001 Federal Election with Kyoto ratification as a manifesto promise…

Also on this day – 

1978–  Paddy McGuinness  article – “Where Friedman is a pinko” – in the Australian Financial Review that helps the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), a libertarian thinktank, immensely, helped put them ‘on the map.’

2005 APEC conference at Parliament House “Managing Climate Change: Practicalities and Realities in a post-Kyoto future”. The conference website was designed by International Trade Strategies, a consultancy run by Alan OxleyProgramme here http://www.apec.org.au/mccprogram.pdf