Category Archives: Price on Carbon

May 8, 2007 – Costello ducks and weaves about Ken Henry’s advice on emissions trading…

The climate debate was getting very hot in early 2007 in Australia.  Gore had come and gone, Stern was about, the drought went on, and Kevin Rudd was yapping… at everyone’s heels.  So, the thorny question of what advice had the Howard government previously ignored about climate change was one that could not be answered straightforwardly without incurring some political damage (and there was an election pending…).  It is in this context that the repeated refusal of Treasurer Peter Costello to give simple answers to an ABC reporter on the question of when Treasury Secretary Ken Henry had pushed for an emissions trading scheme (Costello knew full-well – he’d been part of the group that had tried to get it through in July-August 2003, only to be personally vetoed by Honest John Howard).

Also on this day-

Cox, G. 2001. Overheating Australia needs ‘wake-up call’. IOL 8 May.

Canberra – Pressure mounted on the Australian government on Tuesday to resume international climate change talks after a report by a government agency foreshadowed a dramatic surge in temperatures in the next 70 years.

Australia’s key government research organisation, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), predicted a drier and hotter Australia, with average temperatures rising by up to six percent by 2070.

“Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the culprit,” head of CSIRO’s atmospheric research group Peter Whetton said in a statement.

2015 New and reduced Renewable Energy Target released: The RET is announced as 33,000 gigawatt hours, or 23.5%, of the estimated electricity generation for 2020.

May 5, 2000 – BCA hints at a voluntary emissions scheme….

So, Australia had wangled a sweet deal at Kyoto in December 1997 – a 108% emissions ‘reduction’ target AND a giant loophole clause on land-clearing.  They’d signed it in April of 1998, but later that year it emerged that the Cabinet had decided it wouldn’t ratify unless Uncle Sam did.  At this point (May 2000) it wasn’t entirely clear what would happen.  In any case, the whole idea of emissions trading was on the rise, and David Buckingham, a bureaucrat who had been head-hunted first by the Minerals Council and then had switched to the Business Council gave a speech –

Buckinhgham, D. 2000. Strategic Greenhouse Issues for Australia. Business Council of Australia

http://www.bca.com.au/media/strategic-greenhouse-issues-for-australia

which suggested a voluntary domestic emissions trading scheme might be a goer, as a learning by doing exercise.

On the same day, Environment Minister gave a speech on ‘the role of Australian business in combatting global warming’-
Hill R. 2000. Warming to the Challenge; The Role of Australian Business in Combatting Global warming. Address to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the Australian Business Council Forum, Melbourne, 5 May.

What happened next?  Hill lost his bid to get carbon trading through cabinet in August of the same year, defeated by Nick Minchin.  The BCA said nope to emissions trading, and to a ‘greenhouse trigger’ in the EPBC Act, and fought itself to a standstill over Kyoto Ratification in 2002/3…  So it goes…

Also on this day

1973  AMIC advert for an environmental policy officer in Canberra Times (nothing in their newsletters etc about climate change – I looked)

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental issues

 

 

 

 

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental i

April 30, 2007 – The Garnaut Review is born…

So, Australian state governments, pushed by NSW Premier Bob Carr, had been banging on about emissions trading since 2004, with a “National Emissions Trading Taskforce” (NETT).  It was busy producing reports when in late 2006 John Howard, under immense pressure on climate and with a Federal election a year away, performed one of his famous U-turns.  The Shergold Report was due to be released in late May, and the Australian state governments, plus one opposition leader called K. Rudd, didn’t want Howard to steal their thunder.  So…

“On  30 April 2007, the leader of the federal opposition Australian Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, (along with the state and territory governments) engaged world renowned economist Professor Ross Garnaut to conduct a wide ranging review into the effects of climate change on Australia and its economy (Garnaut 2008).”
(Rice and Martin, 2016:48)

Fed: Opposition commissions Australia’s own climate report 30 April 2007 Australian Associated Press General News

See also this from AAP-
CLIMATE By Jessica Marszalek
BRISBANE, April 30 AAP – The federal opposition has commissioned an economics professor to head a Stern-type review into the impact of climate change on Australia’s future. Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced the Garnaut Climate Change Review in Brisbane today, saying it would outline the threat to the country’s economic prosperity and investigate mitigation strategies. It will be headed by Australian National University economics Professor Ross Garnaut, who will hand down interim findings mid next year, and a completed report by October 2008.

The sidelining of Garnaut began early (See February 2008) and in the end the legislation put forward in 2009 was barely recognisable. But there you have it. Garnaut was back in the hotseat in 2010-11, as a member of Gillard’s MPCCC. But that’s another story…

Also on this day
30 April 2013: Peter Costello calls on Coalition to scrap direct action spending on 7.30 report.

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.