Category Archives: Uncategorized

April 24, 1994 – A Carbon Tax is floated…

It is forgotten history, but in 1994/5 a carbon tax – a small one, mostly for R and D rather than outright emissions reductions – was on the cards.  There’d been some to-ing and fro-ing in previous years, but on 24 of April 1994, shit got real.

“Senator Faulkner said yesterday the plan was a long-term aim but made it clear he was serious about the move.
“All I can say is that I’ve suggested already to some of my ministerial and Cabinet colleagues that I am interested in pursuing the issue of economic instruments,” he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.”
Peake, R. 1994. Faulkner floats energy tax. Canberra Times, 25 April, p.3.

 

Also on this day

2007Snow joke!
Australia’s biggest renewable electricity source, the Snowy Hydro power scheme, may have to shut down major generating turbines due to the nation’s crippling 10-year drought.
In a desperate attempt to keep running, the Snowy Hydro operator said on Tuesday it had turned to cloud seeding to boost water inflows.
“It is unrealistic for anyone to think that the Snowy scheme could somehow have been immune from the effects of the current severe drought,” Snowy Hydro Ltd Managing Director Terry Charlton said in a statement.
Prime Minister John Howard last week asked Australians to pray for rain in the food bowl Murray-Darling River basin, an area the size of France and Spain that accounts for 41 percent of the nation’s agriculture.
Howard warned that without heavy winter rains in coming months, irrigation in the food bowl would be turned off as the worst drought for 100 years grips Australia.
In a move that local authorities feared could reduce supply of power to the capital Canberra, and major cities Sydney and Melbourne, some of Snowy Hydro’s operations could be stopped by May-July without heavy winter rains, the Snowy Hydro said.

Lewis, P. and Woods, J. 2012. Australians seeing through the feel-good mining ads. The Drum, 24 April.

The mining industry has been dusting off its chequebook again in the lead-up to the federal budget, with feel-good glossy ads in the weekend papers reminding us how much miners love Australia – or at least the bits of it they can dig up and export.

2014 Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper released: The ERF White Paper sets out the final design of the ERF, with a reduced emissions target of 421 million tonnes of CO2-e over the period to 2020, compared to 431 in the Green Paper.

 

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 18, 1992- Shock, horror; climate denial in The Australian?!

The Murdoch press has been at this for a Very Long Time Indeed.

New and conflicting predictions continue to be made. For example, on 18 April 1992 the Australian carried a page one headline ‘Global Warming May Lower Sea Levels’, while later in the business section a case was made against a carbon tax on fossil fuels.  Business interests remain unimpressed by the call to tax themselves.

Love, R. 1992. Stranger Weather Still.  Arena 99/100 pp.39-46.

Also on this day

1996

“Australian environmental education has been launched onto an international stage, with local group ARK Australia yesterday going live on the Internet with a World Wide Web site called Planet Ark.

“The product of a significant co-operative effort involving the Seven Network , Austereo, Reuters and Sanitarium, the site will provide on-demand 24-hour environmental radio news on the Net, along with environmental software and celebrity campaigns that can be downloaded free of charge, including the “Save the Planet” videos featuring stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.”

Helen Meredith, 1996 “Planet Ark launch – Planet Ark’s world-first on the Net” The Australian Financial Review, 19 April, p. 48

 

2007 How competitive is gas in carbon-priced power generation? APPEA Conference  Adelaide See John Daley (for AIGN! comments). For example, Michael Chaney, BCA President, writing in The Australian on 18 April 2007:

“Climate change and the development of a long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are complex challenges facing Australia’s economy and will be the subject of significant debate in the election campaign. Yet the issue does not lend itself to quick fixes or simplistic political posturing.”

2013: “Lateline follows up with CSIRO on soil carbon and proves again that Greg Hunt’s soil carbon plan would require up to “two thirds of the land mass of Australia.” (From Mark Butler’s Direct Action Timeline)

April 16, 2008 – Clean Coal to the rescue?

On this day 9 years ago t he Australian Coal Association, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, the Climate Institute and World Wildlife Fund called on the Federal Government to establish a National Carbon Capture and Storage Taskforce to combat climate change… [to] be charged with developing and implementing a nationally coordinated plan to oversee rapid demonstration and commercialisation of 10,000 GWh of carbon capture and storage (CCS) electricity per year by 2020.”

april162008

 

Also on this day- 

1980 The Age ‘Ecology is endangered’ article quoting William Kellogg

2007 In an interview with the ABC’s Four Corners in April 200[7], the Industry Minister, Senator Ian Macfarlane described State incentive schemes such as VRET as ‘Mickey Mouse schemes.’ (Prest, 2007: 254)

 

April 15, 1994 – Greenpeace sues to stop a coal-fired power station.

Can the law be used to save the species (from itself?)  Once upon a time we had reason to believe it, just, might.  On this day in 1994, Greenpeace sued…

“Greenpeace yesterday sought to test a new international treaty on global warming for the first time by filing a lawsuit to stop the construction of a $220 million New South Wales power station [The Redbank one].
The executive director of Greenpeace, Ms Lynette Thorstensen, said the action would test the force of the United Nations convention on climate change, which seeks to cut greenhouse gases.
1994 Kelly, H. 1994. Greenpeace Sues To Halt Building. The Age, 16 April, p.4.

1994 was not a good year for Greenpeace Australia – budget crises, departures and then, in November, they lost this case.  You can read more about the case in the excellent

Bonyhady, T. and Christoff, P. 2007. Climate Law in Australia. Sydney: The Federation Press.

from which the following two quotes are taken

The Redbank case was the first in the world where standing was not an issue and a court had to consider arguments about the substance of climate change.
The capacity of the NSW Land and Environment Court to embrace the new law had just been demonstrated in striking fashion by Justice Paul Stein, the judge who has made the greatest contribution to environmental law in Australia. His characteristically bold decision in Leatch v Shoalhaven City Council involved the precautionary principle which had begun to occupy an increasing place in international agreements and domestic policy documents but had little place in Australian legislation.
(Bonyhady, 2007: 11)

Jonathan Simpkins who represented Greenpeace [page break] argued cogently that the court had both the power and the duty to act. He dwelt on the risk of the courts washing their hands of the issue by saying it was a matter of high policy for someone else which would mean that nothing would be done to address climate change. He dwelt on the danger that each addition to our greenhouse emissions would be cast as too small to warrant action which would similarly mean that climate change would go unchecked. But he could not persuade Justice Marla Pearlman, who, in 11 years as Chief Judge of the Land and Environmental Court, displayed a very different understanding of the judicial function to Paul Stein.
Justice Pearlman became the first, but by no means the last, judge in the world to say climate change was not for her when she declared that it was ‘of course, a matter of government policy… to take into account the competing economic and environmental issues raised by the enhanced greenhouse effect’ and ‘not for the Court to impose… a prohibition on the mine.’
(Bonyhady, 2007:11-12)

Also on this day –

2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill reveals existence of Howard letter to Bush re: Bush pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol  – “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”. Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.

2014 Clive Hamilton publishes new highly entertaining dirty dozen on Crikey –

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 12, 1993 – Enviro-economics gaining respectability? Er…

The good ship “System” is always about to right itself, set out on the right course. Our lords and masters are always just about to take notice of the sage advice of sages. Oh yes.
On this day 24 years ago, Brent Davis, then director of trade and policy research with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, wrote a piece about ‘enviro-economics’ in the Canberra Times.Thanks to the wonders of digitised newspapers, you can read it (follow the link).
Davis, B. 1993. Enviro-economics gathers respectability. Canberra Times, 12 April, p.11.

Thank goodness he was right, or we would all be toast, wouldn’t we?

Also on this day-
1992 How sustainable is our energy future?; Australian Institute of Energy 1992 conference; Canberra (Australia); Canberra (Australia); 12-14 Apr 1992;
https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:24067613

2000 Australian Greenhouse Conference, ENVIRO 2000, Sydney.  With Australian Ambassador for the Environment… Ralph Hillman… (later boss of the Australian Coal Association…)