Category Archives: UNFCCC

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…

Feb 7, 1995 – Treasurer points to ‘let out’ clauses in the UNFCCC

On this day  in 1995, during the peak of the carbon tax battles,  Treasurer Ralph Willis old Parliament that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which Australia had ratified in late December 1992, contained ‘let-out clauses’ and that the government might decide that a less ambitious target was appropriate Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 7 February 1995, 582 (Ralph Willis, Treasurer).

“Those are not unimportant clauses (and) they have to be taken into account when considering whether we need absolutely to tie ourselves to achieving the (targets)… `(But) we are concerned with ensuring that Australia does everything in its power to try to live up to its obligations to the convention.”

Meanwhile,five of his Cabinet colleagues were taking part in the first of two roundtables about the proposed carbon tax. The environmental and community groups were on the 7th, the business groups on the 8th.

By total coincidence, the Business Council had sent out press releases on the 6th February warning of massive job losses if a carbon tax were instituted…

Thomas, C. 1995. Business Council Hits Plan For Carbon Tax. The Age, 7 February, p.50.

 

Also on this day –

In 2009 the  Black Saturday bushfires  around Melbourne.  These were also the spur for Philip Chubb to write his book “Power Failure.”

Jan 6, 1995 – Business says ‘other nations are doing little, so should Australia’

On this day 22 years ago, in the midst of an intense battle against a proposed carbon tax, business groups released a report which showed that only five of the 36 “key” members of the International Panel on Climate Change [or perhaps the journos got confused with the UNFCCC?] appeared  likely to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2000.

Dwyer, M. and Wilson, N. 1995. Study argues against $320m carbon tax. Australian Financial Review, 6 January, p.5.

The logic of course, was that Australia should not be a sucker and allow any other countries to be free-riders, or get ahead of the pack.

In that, Australia has in the past 22 years resolutely succeeded. Bravo.

Things haven’t changed much, have they?

 

Jan 3, 1992 – Greenpeace vs POTUS on Climate Change

1992 02 02.pngOn this day, 25 years ago, Greenpeace Australia – cashed up and spoiling for a fight – took out adverts in Sydney and Canberra newspapers. The adverts (see the image!) called on President Bush Snr (visiting Australia at the time) to cut US emissions. Greenpeace also asked him to stop playing a spoiling game on the negotiations for a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  

Despite his 1988 election promises, Bush had been foot-dragging on climate change.  Thanks to the influence of sceptics on his staff, he  had been threatening to not attend the June 1992 ‘Earth Summit’ if the text to be signed included targets and timetables for emissions reductions.  Mindful of the disaster that had been the International Law of the Sea, the French blinked; the targets and timetables were removed.  Everything since then has been an attempt to get actual targets and actual timetables back in.  Oh well….