Category Archives: Price on Carbon

March 25, 1995 Women and the Environment conference and the red-green problem

Environmentalists and ‘extraction’ workers (miners, forestry workers) are not ‘natural’ enemies.  And those in charge fear a coalition forming, to the extent that they’re willing to kill to prevent those links forming (think Chico Mendes, or Judi Bari, among thousands -see ‘The War on the Greens’).  In 1995 a conference in Melbourne saw yet another attempt to build/mend bridges…

Bad blood flows between the green movement and the union movement. The controversy over logging recently has led to ugly incidents between timber workers and conservationists. Ms George said she had agreed to speak at a conference on women and the environment this weekend to try to ease some of the hostility between the two groups…. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s executive director, Ms Tricia Caswell, said the ACF, Greenpeace and women’s groups had decided to host the conference at the World Congress Centre because women were often the backbone of community environment groups and were the main environmental educators to children but received little recognition.

Milburn, C. 1995. ACTU’s George Plays Peacemaker To Greens, Unions.  The Age, 24 March.

Also on this day- 

In 1997 there was a Greenhouse Challenge signing ceremony, Parliament House. The Greenhouse Challenge was the purely voluntary programme response that was used to block attempts at legislative/regulatory efforts to reduce emissions.

On this day in 2013, with the Gillard government trying to survive attacks by Rudd, attacks by the media and get itself in shape for an impending Federal election, the Australian Department of Climate Change, created with fanfare in the early days of the Rudd Government, was disbanded.   Most of its “functions were moved to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, with responsibility for energy efficiency transferred to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.”  (sorry, can

March 23, 2011 “Ditch the witch” rally

 

On this day in 2011, an ‘anti-carbon tax’ rally was held outside Parliament House in Canberra.  The crowd was addressed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who was in the midst of his relentless (and successful) campaign to characterise an emissions-trading scheme with an initial fixed price as a ‘tax’ (with the help of Julia Gillard, it has to be said).

Infamously, and in a move that should have been far more damaging than it was (imo), Abbott was pictured in front of a placard that declared Gillard was ‘Bob Brown’s bitch’.

Image result for bob brown's bitch

 

Labour minister Craig Emerson “wanted to vomit,” and he was not alone. Gillard told an ABC documentary that she felt this should have ended Abbott’s career.

Also on this day- 

It happens to be  World Meteorological Day . I should try to track down speeches by Australia’s first environment ambassador (Climate change and policy change : the nexus : World Meteorological Day address 1991 / by Sir Ninian Stephen) and the 1992 one by ex-science Minister Barry Jones.

Climate change, resource use and population growth: the challenge for sustainable development : World Meteorological Day address, 23 March 1992 / Barry O. Jones

2013 –  The Australian Government’s formal response to recommendations outlined in the Final Review Report (on Renewable Energy) was released on 23 March 2013  (Simpson and Clifton, 2014:129)

March 20, 2014 – reefs, repeals and dusty days.

On this day in 2014 the Queensland Resources Council did a good cop/bad cop routine. On the one hand, there was dust reduction

“In another show of industry determination to meet community expectations over the management of dust emissions from coal trains on the rail corridor serving the Port of Brisbane, all monitoring data collected as part of the South West Coal Dust Management Plan is being published on a Queensland Government website”
(QRC press release More transparency in coal dust reporting 20 March 2014)

on the other, they were trying to tear into WWF, accusing them of lying about the state of the Great Barrier Reef…

“The Queensland mining industry has launched a blistering attack on WWF, accusing it of running an untruthful Great Barrier Reef campaign that could jeopardise the reef’s world heritage status.
Michael Roche, the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, said he has noticed a “dramatic change in approach” from WWF since it joined the Australian Marine Conservation Society to launch the Fight for the Reef campaign.”
Milman, O. 2014. Mining industry accuses WWF of lying about threat to Great Barrier Reef. Guardian, 20 March.

Because as we know, everything is fine….

Meanwhile, in Canberra, Tony Abbott’s attempts to obliterate all of the Gillard ‘Clean Energy Future’ legislative package came up against Senate intransigence, with them voting against reading these bills a third time.

Also on this day- 

2015–  “The Climate Change Authority, established to provide arms-length, critical review of government progress on reducing emissions and recommend future emission targets, has lost its CEO Anthea Harris.”

Edis,T. 2015.  Business Spectator

March 19, 1990- Politicians engage with #climate scientists! #notsomuchanymore

As Maria Taylor notes on page 37 of her excellent book  “Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia knew and buried…then framed a new reality for the public”

“In the late 1980s, political leaders (Jones, Hawke and Richardson) publicly interacted with the CSIRO scientists and division advisory boards. From that advisory board, Bob Chynoweth personally briefed the prime minister, according to a Hawke speech to the division on 19 March 1990 (Hawke 1990).”

Also on this day-

On this day in 1998 the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) released a report which argues that a domestic emissions trading scheme could help Australia reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels set down in the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change agreed last December. According to the Financial  Review, the proposal, which was part of a report to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment inquiry into trading in greenhouse gases.was “greeted cautiously by industry yesterday, with some concern about whether the scheme was premature.”

 

2001 Department of Defense says it is cutting emissions

e.g. “Continue the development and implementation of a standardised Defence-wide
approach to environmental management, consistent with Commonwealth
environmental legislation, including by reducing Defence’s annual energy
consumption by at least 200 terajoules by June 30 2001, in accordance with the
Government’s greenhouse emissions strategy.”

Stevens, M. 2014. Anti-coal protests gather steam. Australian Financial Review,19 March, p.34.

“One September Sunday morning last year Lance Hockridge woke to find a group of strangers forming an angry protest outside his family home”

March 17, 2011 – Hewson says ‘Direct Action’ has (high) implicit carbon price

So this is how bizarre 2011 was.  Both Labor and the Coalition agreed they would act to reduce Australian emissions 5% by 2020.  The Labor lot, allegedly socialist, were going to use market mechanisms. The Coalition, ostensibly in favour of ‘free markets’ were going to us… an expensive government-funded set of incentives and regulations known (for the lulz) as ‘Direct Action.’ Yeah, go figure, #worldturnedupsidedown. In this context former Liberal leader John Hewson (the one who had refused to meet with Australian Conservation Foundation, back in 1992) explained to ABC’s Lateline “how direct action includes an implicit carbon price which is far higher than an ETS.” [At least according to this timeline by Labor’s Mark Butler MP. But the link provided goes through to a Garnaut interview!]

Also on this day-

Thorne, G. 2006. Carbon capture the key to cutting greenhouse gases.  Australian Financial Review, 17 March.- “Australia has the opportunity and responsibility to explore emissions-reduction technologies,” writes Grant Thorne, (managing director of Rio Tinto Coal Australia.)

2009 Bernard Keane’s excellent report on the Heartland Institute’s conference.  Really worth a read!

March 14, 2007 – The Australian Public Service feels ignored on #climate change…

So throughout the 1990s and the first half of the naughties various ‘policy entrepreneurs’ (Ian Dunlop, Phillip Toyne, Robert Hill, Bob Brown, Bob Carr etc etc) tried to get a price on carbon institutionalised.  Without any success – John Howard, ably assisted by Nick Minchin and the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’  blocked every effort. It must have been slightly aggravating, what with a ‘price on carbon’ being a kind of no-brainer as part (not all, part) of the toolkit for a transition.  And on this day in 2007 (yes, there will be a lot of 2007 in this project – it was a Big Year)- the head of the Australian Public Service, Ken Henry (ask him about a Resources Tax sometime…) gave a speech at an APS internal biannual departmental forum at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel.  He noted that the department had

“worked hard to develop frameworks for the consideration of water reform and climate-change policy…. All of us would wish that we had been listened to more attentively over the past several years in both of these areas. There is no doubt that policy outcomes would have been far superior had our views been more influential.”

The story leaked, natch, onto the front page of the Australian Financial Review, on 4th April, in an article by the estimable Laura Tingle and added to the woes of the Coalition Government, which looked like (and had been) ignoring the bureaucrats….

2007 Tingle, L. 2007. Revealed: Treasury chief’s blast at government policy. The Australian Financial Review, 4 April, p.1.

Also on this day-

1997 – Senator Parer seems to be an exception. For instance, at the Australasian Institute of Minerals and Metallurgy Annual Conference at Ballarat Senator Warwick Parer said: “I don’t have any figures to back this up, but I think people will say in 10 years that it [greenhouse] was the Club of Rome” and “The attitude of this government is to look for ways to allow projects to go ahead.” The SMH (14.3.97 ‘Greenhouse effect? No worries says Parer’.).
(Duncan, 1997:83)

Anon. 2001. $4.1m commonwealth grant offer for NSW R&D gas project. M2 Presswire.
“The Commonwealth Government has offered Sydney Gas Company N/L research and development grant totalling $4.1 million for a coal gas project that will provide Australia with a major environmentally friendly and clean energy source close to its most populous area, Industry Minister Nick Minchin said today.”

2013 Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation’ report released:
“The Productivity Commission (PC) report identifies policy and regulatory barriers to Australia’s ability to respond or adapt to climate change. The report provides recommendations for building adaptive capacity.”   Yes, and I am sure every single one of those recommendations has been turned into SMART goals that are being implemented as you read this sentence. Oh yes.

March 5, 2011 – “Wingnuts coming out of the woodwork”

2011 was a very very interesting year for Australian climate politics. And a bloody one. Kevin Rudd’s failure to get his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through parliament,and his decision to shelve it, had caused a drop in his popularity. After a battle with miners over a mining tax (they spent $22m on a’Keep Mining Strong’ campaign’), he was replaced as Labor leader (and Prime Minister) by his deputy Julia Gillard in June 2010. During the subsequent election campaign she had said there would be ‘no carbon tax under a government she led’. Usually- but not always – she added that her government would look at a price on carbon. Whoops.

The price of support from Green and Independent MPs in the subsequent hung parliament was… a price on carbon. Gillard then mangled the labelling of that policy, most spectacularly on 24 February 2011. Tony Abbott, by then Opposition Leader, can surely not have believed his luck. Recently his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, has admitted what everyone knew – the Gillard ETS was not, in fact, a carbon tax.

At the time, well… on this day that year, elder-journalistman Laurie Oakes, he of the “hierophantic condescension” had this to say

“Wingnuts are coming out of the woodwork. The mad and menacing phone calls to independent MP Tony Windsor are just one indication. There are plenty of others online. The carbon tax and Tony Abbott’s call for a people’s revolt have crazies foaming at the mouth. You see it on the ‘Revolt Against the Carbon Tax’ Facebook page, for example. Like this message from a Gillard-hater about a rally in front of Parliament House being planned for March 23: ‘Just like Egypt we stay there and protest continuously until she and her cronies, Bob Brown Greens etc are ousted! We have got to get rid of this Godless mistress of deceit.'”

Oakes, L. 2011. Loonies latch on to the politics of hate. Daily Telegraph, 5 March.

 

Also on this day

2004  The Australian National Audit Office issues a report that basically skewers the Australian Greenhouse Office (see March 4 blogpost for the background to the establishing of the AGO…)

2007 Senator Nick Minchin writes to Clean Up Australia’s founder and disses – quelle surprise-  climate science  (see Wendy Frew, 15 March 2007.)