Category Archives: UNFCCC

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.

March 26, 2007 – Nobody loves CCS

On this day in 2007 the Brisbane Courier-Mail published an article which attempted to pour cold water on the hot hype around “Carbon Capture and Storage.”

With the startlingly innovative headline  Clean coal is all hot air” and written by  Dr Alex Robson, who at the time  lectured in economics at the Australian National University (is now at Griffith)

It begins thus-

Last month Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd announced Labor’s National Clean Coal Initiative.

Roughly speaking, the term clean coal refers to various technologies for removing carbon dioxide from coal when it is used to generate electricity, both before and after combustion occurs. The term encompasses carbon capture and storage technologies.

Rudd’s policy commits $500 million of taxpayer funds on the development of these technologies, with the proviso that each taxpayer dollar must be matched by two private sector dollars.

Rudd also proclaimed that Labor would establish an emissions trading scheme, set renewable energy targets, develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, convene a summit on climate change and ratify the Kyoto protocol.

Apart from ratifying an obsolete international treaty and organising yet another Canberra talkfest, Labor’s policy of subsidising corporations, making grandiose plans and setting impressive-sounding targets is eerily similar to existing Government policy.

 

The Lavoisier Group liked it so much they slapped the whole thing on their website.

Also on this day- 

In 2010  an answer was given in parliament about the size of the Australian delegation to the failed climate talks at Copenhagen. It was a lot of people-

“The final Australian Delegation to COP15 comprised 98 people, which included 30 observers from State and Territory Governments and non-government organisations. The name, title and agency for each member of the Official Australian Delegation is attached to this answer. The names of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers providing protection to the Prime Minister have not been provided. The AFP does not comment on security or issues that may disclose methodology associated with security matters”

 

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?