Category Archives: USA

Jan 12, 2006 – Protests at “AP6” talks in Sydney

On this day in 2006, protests marked the opening of the first meeting of the so-called ‘Asia Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate’ (AP6) in Sydney.  The group, an attempt to slow down or replace the Kyoto Protocol, which had finally lumbered into force in February 2005, was a US idea (under Bush Jnr) that the Australians had been permitted to launch.

From Peatling – Protesters heap coal on an effigy of John Howard

According to Sydney Morning Herald reporter Stephanie Peatling, over 100 protesters  gathered opposite the Four Seasons Hotel to protest against the exclusion of environmental representatives from the AP6 meeting. (From the photo (and another I’ve seen) it looks like a Greenpeace-organised effort.)

Inside, according to Richard Black,

I have rarely seen a room-full of journalists as stunned as the group there were, as US energy secretary Samuel Bodman told us that private companies would solve climate change because the people in charge of them cared.

“I believe that the people who run the private sector, who run these companies – they too have children, they too have grandchildren, they too live and breathe in the world, and they would like things dealt with effectively; and that’s what this is all about,” he said.

The single word “Enron” traversed a hundred brains.


Black, R. 2006. Climate 2006: Rhetoric up, action down. BBC, December 29.

Peatling, S. 2006. Nuclear question looms large at climate change talks. Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January.

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….


July 19th, 2010- Stephen Schneider dies

Stephen Schneider was a dude. We could really do with him about now.

Here are some eulogies

And Ben Santer’s

Here’s mine

Stephen Schneider died on Monday. In a rational world his passing would have led the news bulletins, and statements from world leaders and community leaders would have poured in. For Schneider was one of the giants of climate science, one of the first to warn us that we were – and I quote from a 1979 interview now available on youtube“insulting our global environment at a faster rate than we are understanding it.” Schneider’s work covered the ‘hard sciences’ but also the way science
and politics
and science and the media rubbed up against each other. While mourning his loss, we can only honour his memory by… teaching elephants to tapdance.

Let me explain. Last December there was a big international meeting in Copenhagen, with dozens and dozens of heads of state. The hope was that they would come up with a Global Deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide. These gases trap heat that would otherwise disappear into space. They are a blanket, like the blanket that anyone listening to this in bed is lying under. The thickness of that blanket of gas has been relatively constant throughout the Earth’s history. By burning oil and coal and gas, we’re increasing the thickness, heating the planet. At Copenhagen, we were supposed to agree to change our ways. But Copenhagen failed, and there’s no sign of a global deal any time soon.

But even if there were a global deal, it would have to be implemented locally, in villages, towns and cities across the world. And implementing it would be hard, at least as hard as teaching an elephant to tapdance. And in the absence of the global deal, cities
need to take action anyway. We need to reduce our emissions because we have moral – and legal- responsibility – especially in Manchester, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution that kick-started this fossil-fuel craze. We need to prepare for the coming changes, which in Manchester include hotter drier summers and warmer wetter winters. One of the ironies is that Manchester will be one of the last to suffer the direct effects of the process it helped to start.

Right now, Manchester City Council is working out how it is going to meet its obligations towards the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan, which was agreed last November. There’s a big meeting coming up on Tuesday November 30 where they will present what they are doing, and hear from the people of Manchester – charities, businesses, tenants and residents associations – what they think about it, and -crucially – what THEY themselves are doing.

Who knows, in twenty years time, we may look back on this meeting in November as the point at which we started to expect more of our local democratic elephant – and of ourselves in civil society, or should I say “Big Society.” It may be the point where we stop our procrastinating and posturing and instead engage with our friends and neighbours, our schools and places of worship, our places of work and of leisure. It may be the point at which we realise that there is no external saviour – no hand of god, no big international meeting or big disaster that “wakes everyone up.” It may be the moment when we realise we are the ones we have been waiting for, we are the people who must pay for the privileges of living in a free society by challenging anti-social behaviour like flying and wasting energy and food, and by keeping the pressure on our local elected leaders to take ‘courageous decisions.’ Or it can be another milestone on the road to hell, paved as it is, with good intentions.

Addendum. Re-reading the comments underneath the “Realclimate” eulogy to Stephen Schneider, I found this

The mark of a true pioneer is the number of arrows in his back. Stephen kept taking those arrows and never missed step. When the world finally wakes up to the grim realities of man-made climate change, he will be one of those that people will say, ‘Why didn’t we listen to him when we had the chance?”

July 17th, 2014 – Australian carbon tax repealed

A year ago today, in an act of intergenerational vandalism that will be the only thing that Tony Abbott is remembered for, the Australian Senate repealed Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. You could not make it up, really.

Also on this day.
1991 Gore v Bush Sr on climate
Mr. GORE. Mr. President, I rise to introduce a resolution that calls on President Bush to provide the environmental leadership he has promised. Soon, the nations of the world will meet for the third preparatory committee meeting for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. We have now passed a critical point in those meetings; less than a year remains before the conference will take place in Brazil. The conference provides a truly historic opportunity for all of the countries of the world to join together to chart a future for the planet that is bright for our environment as well as for our economies. I am afraid, however, that the critical importance of the meeting is escaping the President.

July 9th, 1970 – Nixon, under pressure, establishes the EPA

President Richard ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon works with Congress to establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new Federal agency primarily responsible for United States environmental policy.

Under extreme pressure!

It was this sort of ‘cave-in’ that compelled business to get its game face on from the early 1970s onwards.  Ooh, look, here comes neoliberalism.

Also on this day
2001 Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State and Don ‘Climate Council’ Pearlman meet
2008 Bush at G8 says “Goodbye from the world’s greatest polluter”

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

8th July, 1996 – Australian Industry Greenhouse Network first mentioned (I think)

According to (my ability to search) Factiva, on this day in 1996 came the first mention (by name) of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, in an article called

When green and gold don’t mix

The Australian Financial Review, 8 July 1996

Australian industry will argue this week that proposed greenhouse measures will slow growth in the global economy, with Australia among the countries that would be hardest hit by a fall in trade.

This was at the second COP, held in Geneva. By this time pretty much every developed country bar Australia was pushing for some kind of emissions cuts to be agreed at the third COP, to be held in… Kyoto…

Meanwhile, the following year, another bosses’ union, the  US Business Round Table sent letter to Chuck Hagel, supporting his senate resolution (the 95-0 one), claiming “the science is less than compelling”

July 4th, 1996 – that ‘discernible’ influence of climate change again

In the middle of the confected ‘controversy’ about the second assessment report of the IPCC, [fossil-funded denialists smearing Ben Santer]  various scientists, including Santer himself, point out some inconvenient facts….

In the July 4 1996 issue of Nature, Benjamin Santer, K.E. Taylor, Tom M.  Wigley, and ten other researchers published an article that concluded: “The observed spatial patterns of temperature change in the free atmosphere from 1963 to 1987…are similar to those predicted by state-of-the-art climate models…  It is likely that this trend is partially due to human activities,…

Gelbspan, R. (1998) Page 220