Category Archives: Price on Carbon

April 26, 1992 – “No carbon tax,” says Ros Kelly..

On this day 25 years ago the Sun Herald reported that a spokesman for Environment Minister Ros Kelly had said that Keating’s Government was not considering a “carbon tax” but instead  favoured “no-regret” options. It was framed as a ‘win-win, with the spokesman adding “This Government would be delinquent if it did not take a precautionary rather than a cavalier approach to the greenhouse effect. The worst-case scenarios are terrifying.”

The Sun Herald continued

BCA spokesman Mark Emerson said Australia should not support the EC proposal for a commitment by developed countries to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000. “Business is concerned that, against the background of the enormous scientific uncertainties, inappropriate policy responses might be applied which would have devastating economic and social effects without any discernible environmental benefits,” he said. “None of Australia’s regional trading partners or competitors – except New Zealand – will agree to the EC option.”

1992 Skinner, S. 1992. Greenhouse: Aust yet to set its policy. Sun Herald, 26 April, p. 13.

Also on this day-

2007 If you need a laugh –  Ray Evans Global Warming Debate A revised version of an address delivered at the ACT Caucus Room, Wellington, NZ on 26 April 2007

April 23, 2013 – Thinking twice about “Direct Action”…

“What we are seeing is the conditions in the market moving so quickly that there is a need to rethink the rules with a view to resetting or rethinking Direct Action,” ESAA chief executive Matthew Warren told The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday (23 April 2013)

So, having sat and watched Tony Abbott destroy the bipartisan consensus on the need for a price on carbon from 1 December 2009, having watched him attack Gillard’s Emissions Trading Scheme as a “Great Big Tax on Everything”, the incumbents finally – with Abbott about to become Prime Minister – start to wonder if his so-called ‘Direct Action’ scheme is such a good alternative.

And now they bleat about ‘policy uncertainty’.  Remind me to go back and see how many pro-ETS press releases ESAA put out in 2011….

I wish it were unbelievable, but it is all too believable

The quote is from

Priest, M. and Daley, G. 2013. Power firms warn Abbott on carbon. Australian Financial Review, 24 April, p.1

which begins

Power companies are demanding the federal opposition rethink its “direct action” plan for reducing carbon emissions, warning that its company baseline approach could be more difficult to operate than Labor’s trading scheme.
The Energy Supply Association of Australia said falling demand for power meant the Coalition must review its energy and climate change policy if it gains power at the September 14 federal election.
The warning comes amid growing support by multinational companies and major business groups for a market-based scheme, such as an emissions trading scheme, linked to the currently low prices set in European and other international markets.
ESSA, which represents big power companies such as Origin, TRUenergy and International Power, has long supported an emissions trading scheme.

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 14, 2009 – ALP and BCA = CPRS

 

Kevin Rudd’s mellifluously named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ had gone from bad (Green Paper) to worse (White Paper in December 2008).  Something had to be done.  While Rudd and others pretended to listen to the greenies and their ‘Southern Cross Climate Coalition’, his Environment Minister was dispatched to cut a deal with the head of the Business Council of Australia.

There is an excellent account of this (well, it’s by Lenore Taylor, so of course it is excellent).

Today – April 14 – in Noosa is about a strategic backdown. The target is the president of the Business Council of Australia, Greig Gailey, who is on holiday in the town. Today he opens the door to some very businesslike guests. They want to sound him out about exactly what it would take to win business over.

It is, as meetings mostly are with Wong, forensic, controlled, focused. No walks along the beach. “I think I had a glass of water,” the Minister for Climate Change and Water will recall later.

By the time Wong and Frater hit the road again for the trip home, they know they can start devising a rescue package for the scheme. If they can’t make it work, it will be the first serious setback in the career of the 40-year-old South Australian senator.

Taylor, L. 2009. The minister of cool. The Australian Magazine 23 May.

And of course, 6 months later it would all be gone, like a fist when you open your palm…  So it goes.

Also on this day

Koutsoukis, J. 2003. Industry backs carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review.  15 April. p.5.

“The federal government’s strategy to reduce Australian greenhouse gas emissions received a boost yesterday when big business agreed to support a carbon emission-trading system.”  – well, not quite.  And Howard vetoed it when it did get to Cabinet anyways…

2014 The Minerals Council of Australia launches “Australians for Coal” – oops.

 

April 13 2011 – the “pro-carbon price” squeak

The 2011 assault on the proposal for a price on carbon was astonishing in its brutality, given that the Liberal Party had gone to the 2007 election with a similar-enough set of proposals. One under-remarked aspect of that assault was the almost complete silence of pro-price business groups, which (wisely from their perspective) decided that discretion was the better part of valour…

As Phillip Chubb writes in his excellent “Power Failure”-

“On 13 April 2011 the company [GE] was joined by a number of others, including AGL, Linfox, Fujitsu, BP and IKEA, in issuing a statement backing the government.”
(Chubb, 2014:173)

And here is a screengrab of the press release

2011 04 13 support climate price

Also on this day-

“By April 2007 there was formal agreement by COAG to a national mandated rollout of electricity smart meters to begin by the end of 2008, in locations where an economic case could be made, as summarised in the 13th April 2007 COAG Meeting Communique:
‘‘COAG. . . endorsed a staged approach for the national mandated roll out of electricity smart meters to areas where benefits outweigh costs, as indicated by the results of the cost-benefit analysis which will be completed by the end of 2007.” [COAG (2007): 1]
(Lovell, 2017:103)
Lovell, H. 2017. Mobile policies and policy streams: The case of smart metering policy in Australia. Geoforum, 81, pp.100-108.

2012 Bob Brown announces resignation as leader of the Greens.  I will write more of Brown another time.   A man with immense courage, in my opinion.

March 31, 2007 – Climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”

On this day ten years ago the new Labor opposition Leader Kevin Rudd made a speech about “greatest moral challenge of our generation” at a climate summit he organised at Parliament House in Canberra, part of the strategy to make John Howard look out-of-touch and untrustworthy on climate change (which he was).

He was right.  And we did not raise to meet the challenge. Oops.

Also on this day –

1998 – “Greenhouse Beyond Kyoto: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges” Bureau of Resource Sciences, 31 March – 1st April 1998

2007 Gittins, R. 2007, ‘Carbon trading v taxes—a winner eases ahead’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March, p. 47.

2007 First Earth Hour’ – with lights ostentatiously going out all over the world….  Ray Evans was under-chuffed….” A recent example of intellectual corruption at the highest levels of Australian business was manifest when the Sydney Morning Herald teamed up with WWF to promote ‘Earth Hour’ on Saturday 31 March last. The idea was that, at 7:30 pm, everyone in Sydney should turn off their lights and shut down their TVs, and so on, in order to save the planet for an hour.”

March 29, 1995 – Greenhouse 21C launched, in aftermath of massive defeat for sanity

On this day in 1995, the Federal Environment Minister of Paul Keating’s government basically ran up the white flag.  The environment movement had tried to get a carbon levy/tax onto the statute box. They were defeated, comprehensively, by a very well-organised and strategically astute bunch of (fossil-fuel) industry lobbyists, who proposed a voluntary scheme instead. This became the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’, which is what John Faulkner, just before he hopped on a plane to the first meeting of the UNFCCC, in Berlin, held a press conference about.

I am pleased to announce the Federal Government’s additional greenhouse response package: Greenhouse 21C.

Greenhouse 21C delivers a whole of Government approach to climate change. My colleagues Brian Howe and Peter Cook have joined me today because there are some important measures in this response package which directly relate to their portfolio responsibilities. They will detail these measures shortly.

One of the critical elements of Greenhouse 21C is the active involvement by all stakeholders to successfully tackle the greenhouse challenge. Governments alone cannot deliver on climate change.

The active partnership between Government and industry is a significant feature of 21C. We expect that voluntary agreements will achieve in the order of 15 million tonnes of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 – and more in the long term.

Greenpeace,licking its wounds from the November 1994 Redbank decision,  knew what was coming.;

Greenpeace’s climate campaigner, Mr Keith Tarlo, said the biggest single item was the $25 million program to promote clean coal technology in India.

“This is a scandal. (It) is a transparent attempt to promote the Australian coal industry and can only lock India into escalating greenhouse emissions,” he said.

Boreham, G. 1995. Industry Says Yes, Greens Say No To Emissions Policy. The Age, 30 March, p.3.

and

Greenpeace said the biggest item in the package was $25 million to promote “clean coal” technology overseas. This was really meant to boost Australian coal exports and the “clean” meant only low sulphur content, it said.

Shehan, C. and McCathie, A. 1995. Bid To Cut Gas Levels – But It’s Voluntary. Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March, p.3.

 Also on this day- 

2007- At roughly the same time personal carbon allowances/trading were gaiing tradction in the UK, former NSW Premier Bob Carr predicted carbon trading among individuals

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, who chairs the Climate Institute Advisory Council, says carbon trading may one day extend to individuals, not just businesses and governments.

Mr Carr told a Property Council seminar in Sydney this morning that a national carbon trading scheme in Australia is inevitable.

He says everyone will one day have a carbon entitlement.

“Every citizen a carbon credit, but if you use up yours by reliance on an inefficient, old-fashioned vehicle, for example, or a large quantity of household air-conditioning, you’ve got to buy your right to any further carbon,” he said.

 

And on the same day the Australian Government, led by John Howard, launched a Global Initiative on Forests and. Climate.  Which of course produced no actual benefits. So it goes.