Category Archives: Kyoto Protocol

March 12, 2001 – $3.9m advertising campaign versus, you know, doing something…

Actually doing substantive things about climate change – like transitioning from fossil-fuel based generation of electricity and energy to renewables/efficiency etc – would cost political capital, financial capital. It would cause disruption, and piss off powerful people.  And the unborn don’t both to vote, the lazy sods.  So, we keep kicking the can down the road.  But we can’t admit that (to ourselves or anyone else).  And so, we do television adverts instead.  And on this day in 2001 a bunch of climate change adverts started on Australian Television, starring television personality Don Burke (who was not, to be clear, paid for his time).

The Federal Government is spending $3.9 million on an advertising campaign on greenhouse gases featuring celebrity gardener Don Burke, two months after criticism of its $3.6 million ad campaign on the Natural Heritage Trust.

In the ads, on prime-time television and in newspapers, Burke says: “I love greenhouses. Wouldn’t want to live in one, though … and that’s why the Commonwealth Government is doing something about it.

“They’re investing $200 million a year to lower greenhouse gases. They’re working with over 300 major companies, helping them to clean up their act.”

He goes on to introduce 10 ways Australians can make a difference including turning off the TV at the power point, instead of using the remote, washing clothes in cold water and taking shorter showers.

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Senator Nick Bolkus, said yesterday the ad campaign was an “outrageous abuse of taxpayers’ money”.

… The Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office confirmed the full cost of the advertising campaign was $3.9 million, with the ads to run for six weeks.

2001 Clennell, A. 2001. Pitched Battle Over Don Burke Ads. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March, p.5.

Burke responded to critics the following day –

“I knew in doing this … the Opposition would come back with various statements. As I say, I’m not an apologist for the Liberal Party.”

Anon, 2001, Greenhouse ads raise ireDaily Telegraph, 14 March, p. 20.

 

Also on this day- 

In 2002 the European Commission’s Delegation to Australia issued an unambiguous denial of the idea that Australia could trade carbon permits without, you know, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol…

“On the question of carbon emissions trading, the Kyoto Protocol clearly states that carbon trading is allowed between those Parties who have ratified the Protocol. Countries that are not Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are not eligible to participate in emissions trading under it. Nor can emission reduction projects or carbon sequestration efforts taking place in its territory be rewarded under the Protocol.20″

[Hamilton, 2004, 1st September talk]

2010 –  second Australian Climate Action Summit

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 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

March 4, 1998 – First ‘Australian Greenhouse Office’ boss named

In 1997, John Howard had a climate change head-ache. He was trying to get a sweet deal at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Kyoto. But he most definitely did NOT want to commit Australia to any emissions reduction target. His former ally the USA had (sort of) switched sides, and domestically he was also copping grief. Even his own party was divided on this, with grandees like John Carrick as part of a ‘pro-action delegation’. His speech on 20 November 1997 contained two pieces of ‘eye-candy’. One was a mandatory renewable energy target (we will come back to this) and the second was the creation of an ‘Australian Greenhouse Office’ that was supposed to make All the Good Things Happen. Thus do politicians try to ‘virtue-signal’ without actually doing anything disruptive. The game is the game.

Which is all leading up to this – on this day in 1998 Environment Minister Robert Hill announced that Gwen Andrews would be AGOs first boss. When she quit, years later, she revealed that she never once had been asked to brief Howard.

Also on this day

1999

“The greenhouse trigger was first proposed in the context of the deliberations over, and inquiries into, the EPBC Bill in the mid to late 1990s. Environment groups and others argued that a significant weakness in the Bill was the absence of any measures that directly addressed greenhouse emissions. For example, Shane Rattenbury from Greenpeace argued before the Senate Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts Legislation committee in March 1999 that:
“The main problem at the moment is in fact the greenhouse issue, which we believe will not be addressed under the proposed legislation.  In fact it cannot be addressed at the moment…. If we do not have a greenhouse trigger in this new legislation… the Commonwealth will put itself into the untenable position of having no control over the potential developments in Australia that will have major greenhouse implications.”

(Macintosh, 2007: 47) in Bonyhady and Christoff, 2007 ‘Climate Law in Australia

 

Feb 28, 2003 – Business Council scraps its outright Kyoto opposition

The Howard government’s ability to constrain public pressure for climate change action had in part rested on the claim that business was united in its opposition to, say, Kyoto Protocol ratification.  This was always nonsense (do you think renewable energy proponents, or carbon traders, or insurers, for instance, would be opposed? What about the gas industry?).  But this appearance of unity was assisted by the Business Council of Australia.  Eventually, however, the internal ructions became too much, and it moved from opposition to ‘no position’.  Then Hugh Morgan became President.  And it was only at the end of 2006 that things shifted. Fortunately, we have loads of time to deal with climate change, so the additional wait didn’t matter. Oh yes…

“Business support for the Federal Government’s hardline position on climate change is crumbling, with the Business Council yesterday scrapping its outright opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.”
Garnaut, J. 2003. Business shifts tack on Kyoto. The Age, 1 March.

Also on this day –

Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February  p.2.
“A plan to take Australia about 40 per cent of the way towards meeting international obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed by the Cabinet today, with schemes designed to tempt top-level industry involvement.”

2007  The denialists got going, with a launch at Parliament House for this little doozy –  Nine Facts about Climate Change Ray Evans [Originally published in November 2006 as a PDF (click here, 1.5 Mb). Launched in Canberra by Sir Arvi Parbo on 28 February 2007](Parbo had been a founder of the Business Council of Australia, btw).