Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007) John Howard never got a briefing from the head of the Australian Greenhouse Office, Gwen Andrews. He didn’t even see the need for a full-time scientific adviser. And the one he did have worked simultaneously for mining giant Rio Tinto. Where Howard’s nephew was chief of government relations. This is how the game is played. On this day, twelve years ago, that Chief Scientist called it a day.
Australia’s Chief Scientist gives up Govt position for mining giant
AM – Tuesday, 17 May , 2005 08:28:00
Reporter: Karen Barlow
TONY EASTLEY: Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Robin Batterham has decided to accept a full time position with mining giant, Rio Tinto.
The Federal Government says Dr Batterham was instrumental in encouraging investments in science and raising science awareness among the broader community. But Labor and the Greens claim his scientific advice was swayed by industry.
Also on this day-
Frew, W. 2007. Minchin denies climate change man-made. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March.
A SENIOR Federal Government minister has expressed serious doubts global warming has been caused by humans, relying on non-scientific material and discredited sources to back his claim.
One month after a United Nations scientific panel delivered its strongest warning yet that humans were causing global warming, the Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, has questioned the link between fossil fuels and greenhouse gas pollution.
In a letter he wrote on March 5 to Clean Up Australia’s founder, Ian Kiernan, Senator Minchin took issue with Mr Kiernan’s criticism of the minister’s scepticism.
The 2004 Energy White Paper had been a slap in the face and kick in the … well… to the renewables industry in Australia. It ended up being a fulfilled wishlist for the fossil fuel sector (see Richard Baker’s pieces in the Age for the how of that).
Almost a year after its release, Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor operative, was on the case –
MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 16 May 2005
The Howard Government’s Energy White Paper is an energy white elephant.
The Senate Inquiry into the Energy White Paper has concluded the Energy White Paper will delay critical action on climate change for another twenty years….
Also on this day-
Clever piece in the Fin!!
Earl, G. 1990. Price and pay-off for the world’s green conscience. Australia Financial Review, 16 May.
IT is a country where the ambitious environment minister hopes to ride to higher office by promising to deliver the most rigorous environmental policies in the world.
The finance minister is aghast at the cost of the plan and has held it up in Cabinet for so long that his colleague has effectively gone to the people with a nation-wide series of public hearings.
But now the hearings have become a lightning rod for all sorts of discontent and the environment minister’s carefully nurtured public support is threatening to evaporate just when the Government sorely needs it.
It may sound like a familiar plot but this time the players are not Graham Richardson or Peter Walsh and the Federal Government concerned has a distinctly conservative hue – except when it comes to turning green.
Canada, with a resource dependent economy like Australia’s and a pro-growth conservative Government, is embroiled in a national debate over a government promise to introduce a comprehensive five-year environmental plan which is forecast to cost billions of dollars.
There were ructions beginning in 2006 around climate change. The “APC6” meeting in Sydney was met with derision and protests. In April a bunch of businesses had joined with Australian Conservation Foundation to call for climate action, including a carbon price… So, what did John Howard do? He reached for his little bag of wedges, and threw the nuclear option onto the table. This time in the shape of a post-meeting-Dubya-Bush announcement about the “Global Nuclear Energy Partnership”.
Here’s an account of the reaction.
At least one cartoonist absolutely nailed it.
2009 First Australian ETS legislation introduced into Parliament:
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 is introduced into the House of Representatives.
Well, that went well….
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.
The Strategic Review of Australian Government Climate Change Programs (Wilkins Review) had been established in February 2008 to:
- ensure they are complementary to the ETS;
- phase out less efficient abatement programs and initiatives that will compromise the abatement incentives arising from the carbon price signal provided by the ETS
- rationalise duplicative and overlapping programs.
On this day in 2009 the Rudd government agreed to close 13 programs that were deemed not complementary to an ETS.
You can find out more here – https://www.finance.gov.au/publications/strategic-reviews/
Thank god the CPRS was carefully shepherded through, implemented without becoming an ATM for the fossil fuel industry and forced a reduction in carbon emissions commensurate with what the scientists were calling for. Otherwise by now we’d all be stuffed, wouldn’t we…
So, who is going to build what where and when if policies might change radically soon and leave you with a stranded elephant/white asset? It’s a hardy perennial in the business pages, and academics seem relatively blind to questions of finance…. Anyway, in 1990, at peak ‘green hype’ some were already trying to use it as a brake on “sustainable development”.
Sustainable development is catching up with Australia fast. The economy is going through an investment boom which could provide the export revenue in the 1990s that would make our current account and foreign debt positions “sustainable”….
The accompanying table lists 26 major investment projects under consideration which Access Economics says appear to be in danger of environmental veto, including the Cape York spaceport (worth $350 million), the Very Fast Train project ($4.5 billion) and 24 resource and manufacturing projects valued at $11 billion.
Stutchbury, M. 1990. Environmental threat to investment boom. Australian Financial Review , 11 May.
And as part of his epic bashing-‘Direct Action- timeline, Labor shadow environment minister Mark Butler notes that on
“11 May 2013: Investors warn of uncertainty from direct action in the AFR.”