Category Archives: UNFCCC

June 4, 1992 – Australia signs the UNFCCC treaty

On this day, 25 years ago, Ros Kelly,  Australia’s Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories signed the United Nations climate change convention (It’s rumoured she was so keen that she almost signed for Afghanistan. Unlike most world leaders, Paul Keating, Prime Minister since December 1991 didn’t attend.

You can read more about Australia and the UNFCCC in my short piece on The Conversation (link goes up tomorrow).

According Matt McDonald, 2005 Fair Weather Friend  “The opposition’s delegate to UNCED in 1992, for example, had criticized the Labor Government’s willingness to give away Australia’s sovereign rights and had emphasized the debilitative economic costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” CPD, Senate, 4 June 1992, p. 3350.

Also on this day
Anon, 1989. Environment focus of global TV show. Canberra Times, 4 June p. 3.
SYDNEY: Australians play a part in a television program on the environment to be seen live in almost 100 countries today.
Our Common Future, based in New York, will bring celebrities and world leader together to spearhead the push towards environmental awareness.

1996 – Cabinet says nope… Callick, R. 1996. Coalition backs industry on climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 5 June, p.2.
Australian industry has applauded the Federal Cabinet’s decision yesterday to oppose a targets and timetables approach to international climate change negotiations, made on the eve of World Environment Day today.
The Howard Government’s position effectively reaffirms that taken by the Keating government and its minister for the Environment, Senator John Faulkner.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Warwick Parer, said in a joint statement: “Australia will insist that the outcome of current international negotiations on climate change safeguards Australia’s particular economic and trade interests.” Mr John Hannagan, chairman of the Australian Aluminium Council’s major policy group, said industry welcomed this statement, “reinforcing its no-regrets position as its negotiating stand at the forthcoming Geneva talks”.

1998 http://23.101.218.132/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC19980604025
It is amazing how up to the mark the Hon. R. S. L. Jones is. This very day, Thursday, 4 June, the New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Bob Carr, signed the first carbon credit trade in Australia as part of an innovative program tackling greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs in New South Wales. Today the international finance company Bankers Trust and resource consultants Margules Groome Poyry certified the trade. This is the first time in Australia that major players in the finance and resource sectors have backed a carbon sink plantation in Australia.

2001 John Faulkner and Nick Bolkus grill Gwen Andrews and Robert Hill on the Don Burke adverts

Campbell, C. 2007. Back to the future with ad blitz. Canberra Times. 25 June.
In the next fortnight just as Parliament has risen for winter a $23 million climate change campaign will be broadcast, mailed, and plastered in newspapers. It’s not the first. In May 2001, the viewing public enjoyed a six-week ”burst” of ads on the greenhouse effect featuring gardening guru Don Burke. It cost almost $5million. On June 4, 2001, in the hush of Senate committee room 3, floor 2, in Parliament House, Canberra, a Greenhouse Office bureaucrat revealed, ”In a six-week period, we had 425 60-second advertisements, 375 30-second advertisements, 660 15-second advertisements and a further dozen advertisements, and my figures seem to have some problem qualifying whether those were 60 or 30 seconds.” The same officer revealed that post-campaign research of 1000 respondents showed that 88 per cent of respondents considered the greenhouse effect to be a real problem and only 9 per cent considered it a myth.

May 25, 2011 Alan Jones flaks a climate scientist

During that bizarre year of 2011 everything stopped being surprising. David Karoly, Professor of Meteorology at the University of Melbourne and a contributor to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was interviewed by shock jock Alan Jones.

Jones: Are you being paid for being on the Governments Climate Commission Science Advisory Panel?

Karoly: No, my salary is not being paid by that.

Jones: Are you in any, and in receipt of any, benefits or funds or anything at all from the

Karoly: I am receiving a travel allowance to cover the costs of going to meetings of the Science Advisory Panel and I am receiving a small retainer which is substantially less than your daily salary.

Jones: So youre paid by the Government and then you give an opinion on the science of climate change. Have you ever heard about he who pays the piper calls the tune?(Cited in Barry 2011b)

(Ward, 2015: 235)

Also on this day-

1992– According to Neal Blewett’s ‘Cabinet Diary’ there was a discussion of the upcoming Rio Summit in the Keating cabinet.

2006   The Federal Environment Minister at his best – “If you genuinely tell people that building a wind farm here will save the planet from climate change you are doing a massive disservice to the environment. It is an atrocious misleading of the Australian community.”

Ian Campbell, Senate Estimates ECITA Committee, 25 May 2006, p.116.

 

May 24, 1994 – Labor Foreign Affairs Minister on the UNFCCC

I’m as happy to bash the Howard government (1996-2007) for its egregious record of environmental vandalism as the next guy.  But let’s not pretend, please, that the Labor governments before and after them were wonderful.  This, from 23 years ago, showed Labor in less than full-throated commitment to what it had signed two years previously.  By the end of the year, they’d be openly talking about withdrawal…

 

Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. The Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, has thrown doubt over a long-standing Federal Government position on greenhouse gases in a move which will alarm the business sector.

The doubts on Australia’s response to the UN Climate Change Convention were compounded by Senator Evans’ admission that Australia had recently been “rolled” on its tough stand on the Basel convention on hazardous wastes.

At a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on Tuesday [24th May], Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth asked: “Has Cabinet agreed that Australia will not implement measures under the climate change convention which would damage our competitiveness, unless other countries also do so?”

Senator Evans replied: “It is premature to be drawing conclusions. Cabinet has not addressed the issue in those terms and it would be premature of it to do so.”

But Cabinet has considered the Government’s greenhouse gas response in those terms and the business sector has drawn some encouragement from the Government’s position that Australia’s economic growth would not be compromised by its response.

 

Also on this day

The Lavoisier group held a workshop which had been postponed from the highly appropriate date of  1st April  (Taylor, L., 2000, 11 April). This provoked a media release –Dinosaur business group is an embarrassment” from Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Australia

Media release – May 24, 2000

Australian environment groups have united in condemnation of a greenhouse meeting in Melbourne today, labelling it an embarrassment to Australia.

The meeting of the newly established “Lavoisier Group” is a move to discredit climate change science and bring together business groups in opposition to limiting greenhouse pollution.

These ‘climate sceptics’ fly in the face of the hundreds of global business players who gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos this January. This business group resolved that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world at the beginning of the century.

Speaking from the meeting today, Greenpeace Political Liaison Officer, Shane Rattenbury said; “This is an embarrassment for Australian industry. These people are five years behind the facts.”

Meanwhile, the BCA kept firing warning shots…

Keep the Finger Off the Greenhouse Trigger: BCA

24 May 2000

The Business Council of Australia today called on the federal government to develop a framework for a mature and productive debate about the establishment of a greenhouse trigger and other greenhouse measures.

The BCA’s Executive Director, Mr David Buckingham, said the differing views expressed earlier this week by federal Cabinet ministers graphically illustrated the need for such a debate.

“It is transparent the trigger has some very real issues associated with it, including the potential adverse impact on investment, jobs and regional development,” Mr Buckingham said.

 

 

Labor sent out a media statement too.

Government Fails The Greenhouse Challenge Nick Bolkus – Shadow Minister For Environment

Media Statement – 24 May 2000

“The government needs to put an end to its internal bickering on Greenhouse and start making some much needed progress towards meeting our targets” said Senator Bolkus today.

This morning’s report in the Australian Financial Review represents a wake up call to the Federal Government. Unless we get serious now, the next set of targets imposed on Australia will be a lot more onerous.

“With emission levels already some 19% over 1990 levels, how does the Government expect to deliver on its international Kyoto target commitment to constrain emissions growth to 108% over 1990 level?” said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for the Environment.

Today’s news shows quite starkly that the Government programs are not meeting the challenge, that the Government is not serious, and that to date Senator Hill has been concealing the truth. It was only a few weeks ago that he was telling the Senate that Australia would meet our targets.

“It is a myth that emission reduction will hurt the economy” said Senator Bolkus. “Efficiency improvements will strengthen the economy and make us more competitive. Investing in sinks will help combat salinity which is costing us billions each year.”

“Indeed, ABARE’s own research shows that under a very conservative costing analysis of greenhouse response, 85% of Australian industry will benefit.”(*)

“What Senator Minchin has failed to tell us is what it will cost us not to do anything. How much will we lose when the Great Barrier Reef is destroyed from coral bleaching within the next 40 years? How much will it cost to lose all our ski fields by 2070?(**)

Even the World Business Council on Sustainable Development has singled out Australia and highlighted our status on greenhouse:

“Australia has some specific challenges to deal with on climate change… Australia now needs to meet the targets and then be prepared to go further.”(***) ●

This Government has lost the bigger picture and is failing the Australian community.

(*) Evidence presented at the Senate Inquiry into Global Warming by the Sustainable Energy Industry Association (**) These scenarios based on CSIRO modelling (***) WBCSD-BCA Forum in Melbourne (May, 2000)

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media/pressrel/FDK16%22

The whole thing got picked up by Lenore Taylor in the Fin.

Industry groups yesterday began a public campaign to back the Federal Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, and the deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, who are fighting to quash Senator Hill’s greenhouse trigger plan.

Taylor, L. 2000. Industry adds its weight to oppose greenhouse move. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

 

Meanwhile,

Strutt, S. 2000. Mining blasts Queensland freeze on coal-fired energy. The Australian Financial Review, 25 May, p.7.

Moves by the Queensland Government to slash greenhouse gas emissions, including a freeze on new generating licences for coal-fired power stations, have been condemned by the mining industry amid widespread predictions of a hike in electricity prices…. But Mr Beattie said the industry had to realise it was a “political certainty” the Federal Government would move to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions in the near future.

Ha ha ha ha.

 

May 13, 2011 – “Say Yes” (to what?) campaign launched

So, bruised and bloodied from the CPRS debacle, the established Big Green groups decided they should get behind the next version of an emissions trading scheme. ON this day in 2011, six very very long years ago, the Climate Institute sent out a press release about the ‘Say Yes’ campaign…

Also on this day –

Twenty-five years ago today two more industry commissioned studies say the sky will fall if so much as one lump of coal is not burnt….

1992  Brown, B. 1992. Pressure builds on Aust over greenhouse emissions. Australian Financial Review, 14 May, p.11.

Australia may come under pressure to sign a declaration to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions, although a convention adopted at a United Nations meeting in New York last weekend set no target.

Developing and European nations that could achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000 are expected to push for this target at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June.

A United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control agreed last weekend on a text to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but without a specific target. The target will be considered by member governments before the Rio meeting.

But to reach the stabilisation target, Australia would need “excessively stringent government intervention”, according to one of two industry-commissioned studies released yesterday.

The studies, prepared by the Canberra-based economic consultants ACIL Australia and Swan Consultants for the Business Council of Australia, said advice to the Government had seriously underestimated the economic costs of stabilising greenhouse emissions.

April 28, 1997 – John Howard says Australia should never have signed UNFCCC

“On 28 April 1997 on ABC Radio National, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, stated publicly that he believed that Australia should never have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was the culmination of over a year of backpedaling by the Australian Liberal-National Party Government on the issue of climate change due to purported negative economic impacts.”
Yu and Taplin, 2000 The Australian Position at the Kyoto Conference in Gillespie and Burns (eds) Climate Change in the South Pacific: Impacts and Responses in Australia, New Zealand, and Small Island States, Kluwer

Howard was probably having to respond to this issue because of a page 2 story in the Australian newspaper which began-

AUSTRALIA will fail to meet its greenhouse gas emission target by 2000 under the current “no-regrets” policy and should back up that policy with tradeable licences to pollute, the Productivity Commission has said.
According to the commission’s calculations, no-regrets policies – under which polluters are encouraged to cut greenhouse gases by improving efficiency – will leave Australia 5-9 million tonnes a year above the agreed limits.

Henderson, I. 1997. Plan for polluters to sell off excesses. The Australian, 28 April, p.2.

 

Also on this day

AAP, 1993. Aust to monitor energy-tax experience: Kelly. Canberra Times, 29 April, p. 15

Australia would watch closely the international trend towards an energy tax and the effect such a tax would have on curbing greenhouse gases, the Minister for Environment, Ros Kelly, said yesterday.

1995

1995 04 28 berlin seminar“The Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change held its inaugural meeting in Berlin during March/April this year. Australia’s negotiating position at the CoP created widespread interest in Australia. A seminar held in Canberra on 28 April, 1995 allowed the Berlin participants to describe the negotiations at the conference. Speakers included representatives from government, business, and the environment movement.” [BCA happy, ACF not…]

 

 

April 8, 1995 – Australia ‘satisfied’ over not taking Berlin…

Australia went to the first meeting (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hoping to be able to scupper moves towards emissions reductions commitments for developed nations.  By 1995 it was clear that the ‘National Greenhouse Response Strategy’ agreed between the states and Federal government in December 1992 was worthless.  Faulkner had been involved in efforts to get a small carbon levy (‘tax’, whatever you want to call it) through Cabinet, if only to fund R&D into low carbon energy sources. That effort went tits up in February. Just before flying out to Berlin Faulkner had launched the “alternative” – Greenhouse Challenge scheme, which was not worth a bucket of warm spit.  Ultimately, Australia acquiesced to the ‘Berlin Mandate’ – the costs of (futile) intransigence simply too high.  Two years of attempts to get support for so-called ‘differentiation’ would follow…

LONDON, Saturday: Australian Environment Minister John Faulkner said yesterday he was satisfied with the outcome of the Berlin climate change conference, saying it offered a way forward for all countries to combat global warming. On the final day of the 11-day meeting, agreement was reached on a mandate for further negotiations on greenhouse gas emission reduction measures by developed countries. Senator Faulkner, who was part of the group of ministers who hammered out the final agreement, said it was ultimately a successful conference given the wide range of interests represented. “Australia’s very satisfied with the outcome of the group of ministers and the achievement of a mandate to negotiate a protocol,” he said from Berlin.
1995  Noack, K. 1995 Faulkner sees way forward from Berlin. Canberra Times, 9 April.

Also on this day.

2015  Energy White Paper released: The White Paper promotes increasing competition and production of energy, while reducing the cost of electricity. [a farce, basically. Not a funny one.]

March 28, 2010 – Protest flotilla aims to block coal ships in Newcastle port

On this day in 2010,  “A flotilla of 60 rafts, kayaks and a yacht try to blockade coal ship movement into the port of Newcastle. Newcastle is the port through which the rapidly expanding coal mines in the Hunter Valley are being exported. “We’re not willing to accept the massive expansion of the coal industry in New South Wales and coal is Australia’s major contributor to climate change and it’s also the fastest growing,” said Rising Tide spokesperson, Naomi Hodgson.”

Source:  sourcewatch

Here’s the ABC take – Protesters trying to block Newcastle’s coal port

Also on this day-

In 1994, with the carbon tax/levy battle still ahead, the Australian Conservation Foundation tried to salvage something from the wreckage, urging “substantial rises in taxation and a jobs levy, to fund environmental and conservation measures and to reduce next year’s Budget deficit by between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.”

Ellis, S. 1994. Consensus emerges among lobbyists. The Australian Financial Review, 29 March, p.4.

In 2015 the “Setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions” Issues Paper was released: The paper raised questions about what Australia’s post-  2020 emission reduction target should be, and how that target would affect the nation.