June 6, 1996 BHP announced ‘Greenhouse Challenge’ commitments

On this day 21 years ago, after a carbon tax push had failed and a ‘Greenhouse Challenge’ of purely voluntary measures instituted instead, BHP and others did “their bit”

Meanwhile, tomorrow BHP Ltd managing director Mr John Prescott and other industry leaders will announce the details of their companies’ commitments to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The presentation is organised by the interdepartmental Greenhouse Challenge Office established in March 1995 by the Federal Government, which provided it with a $9.7 million budget over four years.
The Government announced at the time that the program could provide 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions annually by 2000. The extent of the pledges made tomorrow will indicate whether that target is likely to be met.
Callick, R. 1996. Coalition backs industry on climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 5 June, p.2.

Greenhouse 21C laid the foundation for the Greenhouse Challenge, which was launched by the Federal Government on 6 June 1996 with formal submission of cooperative agreements by four major Australian companies – BHP, CRA (now Rio Tinto), ICI (now Orica), and Shell – and three industry associations – the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), the Pulp and Paper Manufacturers’ Federation of Australia (PMFA), and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).
(Worden, 1998: 126)

Also on this day

Evans, R.2002. Commentary: PM says ‘No’ to Kyoto. United Press International, June 7.

MELBOURNE, June 6 (UPI) — With three election victories under his belt, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard has announced that Australia would not sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, dealing a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of many of the public servants who dominate the federal capital of Canberra.

Fourth International Environmental Taxation Conference
Friday 6 June 2003
The Environment – A Taxing Issue?

June 5, 2011 – “Say Yes” rallies for ETS

On this day, at the height of the Gillard ETS battle, rallies were held in Australian cities around the theme “Say Yes” (to a price on carbon)

Here’s what some malcontent thought.

We demand innovation of businesses.
We demand courage of our politicians.
We demand of ourselves… not so much.

First, let me say this: I’m glad the “Say Yes” rally in Adelaide happened, and the organisers deserve applause and thanks. They didn’t have a lot of time or money, and they pulled it off.

Opportunities like today – a chance to see that plenty of other people are concerned (despite what you’d believe if you thought the Murdoch press reflected reality) – are valuable. We need occasionally to go to the well to refill the leaky bucket of optimism and passion for climate action.

The event was short, sweet and… not enough.

We have been doing rallies like this – on various issues be it (pro-peace, pro-tolerance, pro-planet) – for a long time. If they worked to build a movement that grew, learned, organised and won, then, well, we would Be “There” by now. But we’re not. (Footnote 1)

The rally followed an entirely predictable format. After some music, there was an entirely competent introduction, followed by three speeches of variable audibility and interest. [For what little it is worth, here’s the speech I would have given.] Nobody said anything that the people attending didn’t already know or agree with. People had no opportunity to communicate what they didn’t know, what they thought could be done, what they wanted to happen next with the campaign for a climate safe Australia (which is a much bigger issue than just a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme)

So here are some questions

Why gather 2000 people who have knowledge, ideas, passion and commitment and have them listen to 30 minutes of music and 30 minutes of speeches telling them what they already know

Why gather 2000 people and disempower them by having them listen for an hour, as if they are simply empty vessels to be filled? Or sheep to be shepherded? I am sure that the organisers do not think that, but their actions create that impression. I looked at the faces of people during the speeches, and many seemed bored and irritated. That’s not the way to enthuse and engage and encourage.

How many of those who attended the rally will be able to tell a mildly skeptical friend or neighbour “yeah, it was exciting and inspiring, you should come next time.” (That, to me, is a key definition of success.)

Why not give permission to people to mingle and meet with those stood around them. How else are we to create the loose networks of people across the city?

Why not structure some of the hour so that all the people who are teachers, or health care professionals or students could gather in different parts of the park, just to exchange names and details.

Why not structure some of the hour so that people from different parts of the city could mingle based on where they live. For example, when I was walking down my street about to start putting the “conversation” letters in post-boxes, I met someone who had also been at the rally, and we had a really useful conversation. That was a happy accident. The organisers of the rally could have created many more of those happy accidents.

Why not have a a space after the rally where people who have questions about the science of climate change could talk with experts face to face, and get impromptu lessons. It would make people feel more confident in their (inevitable) dealings with the small number of vocal denialists. It would give the experts valuable experience.

Why not have a “suggestions box” so that people can submit their contact details and ideas for what the movement could be doing to improve its power?”

Why not have an agreed post-rally meeting place for those who want to talk more over a coffee or a sandwich?

Why not have a “video booth” where people can record brief comments that could then be posted on youtube, showing just how many people outside the “latte-drinking inner-city professionals” demographic want action.

So, it’s good that the rally happened. But if we keep on as we have been keeping on these last 30 years or more, then we are not going to “win”

Next up – an analysis piece on the Dangers Ahead… (betcha can’t wait).

If you’re really time-rich with a high tolerance for shockingly clumsy graphics, see these videos
From Cannon-Fodder to Ego Fodder

Meetings from Above

Footnote 1: For good (IMHO) analyses of the state of the Australian climate movement, see these two recently articles.
The first is from the latest “Chain Reaction,” by Holly Creenaune, a member of Friends of the Earth Sydney.

In part she writes

“Bad policy aside, it’s the debate – or lack of it – that is the real problem. The public cannot participate in a discussion about a perfect price or the market that could work magic: the debate is inaccessible, ignores concerns about justice, and is not relevant to our daily lives. We’ve been stuck for decades in a media and policy vacuum of neoliberal market mechanisms and a contest over complex science. Real solutions, community voices, or the elephant in the room – our coal exports – are locked out. It suits government and industry to keep the debate on this limited terrain – but we desperately need to build a message and a movement that can reject false solutions like carbon trading, halt privatisation of energy infrastructure, and put forward new ideas.”

The second is by Anna Rose, one of the founders of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (a more mainstream lobbying outfit – sort of like “Stop Climate Chaos,” only effective.)

“But the time has come to be honest. We are failing because as a whole the Australian environment movement does not understand power, has not built power, and has failed to effectively exercise the power we have built.
“To win campaigns we have to make it harder for those in power to continue with business as usual than it is for them to give into our demands. Yet currently, it’s easier or politicians to continue with business as usual, and to give in to the demands of industry lobbyists from the coal, gas, mining, aluminium, cement and electricity generation industries — everyone, that is, except us.”

 

Also on this day –

1989 ACF advert in Sydney Morning Herald ‘once we’ve used up this planet .’  Also ‘the greening of TV

1990 – The Government’s decision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions came four months after the ACT had approved the same target. The target was part of the ACT Strategy to respond to the Greenhouse Effect launched by the ACT

Chief Minister, Trevor Kaine, on June 5. Mr Kaine said yesterday that the Commonwealth had been “dragging their feet a little” on the issue. “But it’s important that they’ve now done it and the issue, now that they’ve made the decision and set the targets, is: are they in fact going to put it into effect,” Mr Kaine said. The Federal Government would be watched closely to ensure that it did not attempt to withdraw from the decision, he said.
Lamberton, 1990,13 October Canberra Times

Grose, S. 1994. Ecology should go to vote: Kernot. Canberra Times, 6 June p 2.

Any national referendum to decide the republican issue should also include a proposal to give the Federal Government increased powers and responsibility to protect the environment, Democrat Leader Senator Cheryl Kernot said yesterday.
“The debate on constitutional reform must be broadened to include concerns about the environment,” Senator Kernot said, marking World Environment Day.
Senator Kernot said the Democrats supported a proposal by a former executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Phillip Toyne,

2000 MP calls for treat inquiry.  Andrew Thomson getting Treaties Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade to investigate Koto. See Horden Piece in the Fin.

2001 Woodford, J. 2001. Carr Promises $17.5m TV Blitz For Green Ads. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June, p.3.
The Carr Government has promised a $17.5million advertising campaign on environmental education, provoking conservationists to demand that the Premier should lead with actions – not words.
The campaign, to run over 31/2 years, began on television last night, featuring the theme song It’s a Living Thing, sung by Christine Anu.
The launch follows Labor criticism of Federal Coalition advertising campaigns, most recently attacks on the $6million Agriculture Advancing Australia campaign, a $3.6million promotion of the Natural Heritage Trust, and a $3.9 million greenhouse campaign featuring Don Burke.
The NSW campaign will focus on electricity, water and paper.

2002  Howard tells parliament won’t ratify ‘It is not in Australia’s interests to ratify. The protocol would cost us jobs and damage our industry.’

2005 Australian Environment Foundation set up by IPA (see Fyfe on 8th)

2006 Rising Tide boat blockade Newcastle

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.

June 3, 1989 – Liberals planning green push

In 1989 everyone was running around trying to be green.  The Tasmanian state elections of May had sharpened everyone’s attention, with the Greens getting 15% of the vote.  On this day 28 years ago the Federal Liberal Shadow Environment Minister spoke to journalists about the Liberal plan, which he had been working on for a year.  The Liberals went to the March 1990 Federal Election with a more ambitious emissions reduction target than Lbor.  It did them no good, and all that would be swept aside in the following years…

 

Jones, B. 1989. Libs endorse ‘Climate Policy’. Sun Herald, 4 June, p.5.

THE Federal Opposition is preparing a separate “climate policy” bringing together all issues relating to world climate change.

The document, compiled by a climate policy task force, is expected to be released within a fortnight after endorsement by shadow cabinet.

The Opposition Environment spokesman, Senator Chris Puplick, said yesterday: “The policy will take in the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer, industrial pollution, recycling, tree-planting and climate research.

“At the moment these issues are scattered over a number of policies and it’s an attempt to integrate them and find out where there might be any gaps. Obviously, it will also update things in the light of new standards being set and new technology being introduced.”

Senator Puplick criticised the proposal by the Federal Environment Minister, Senator Graham Richardson, for a referendum to increase the Commonwealth’s powers to override the States on environmental issues.

“I think it is just a bit of very silly kite-flying in the sense that firstly you would have enormous problems in actually drawing up a piece of legislation to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Also on this day.

3 June 2011: Barnaby Joyce makes clear in the SMH the Coalition’s Direct Action policy is just a meaningless ”gesture” for global climate change.  (Mark Butler’s epic Direct Action timeline)

June 2, 2012 – Vale Deni Greene, greenhouse economics modeller

In the period 1990-1991 fierce battles were fought over the cost of action on climate change. The pro-action side obviously said it would be cheap/would pay for itself. Those opposed to action predictably said the sky would fall. So, economic modelling got used, back and forth. One of those called upon to produce ‘it can be done without bankrupting us all’ reports was American Deni Greene, who died on this day in 2012.

Here’s an obituary
Deni Greene grew up on the East Coast of the US and held a senior position in the California EPA immediately prior to coming to Australia in the 1980’s to join the Victorian EPA . Deni later went on to run her own consulting business. I first met Deni around 1995, when she was nominated by CFA to the Standards Australia committee on environmental labelling. In that role, she demonstrated a rare ability to take complex scientific concepts and draw out the practical implications for the average consumer.

Deni went on to play a significant part in international standardisation, initially in the ISO committee on Environmental Management; and then as leading figure in the development of ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility. Deni was also a respected expert on ethical investment and developed the handbook, A Capital Idea – Realising value from environmental and social performance, published by Standards Australia in 2001.

Deni will be remembered as a forceful advocate for both sustainability and ethical conduct on a global stage. Not just a theoretician, Deni put those principles into practice in her own life. She could also be extremely thoughtful, taking time to recognise those whom others took for granted.

Deni leaves this world a better place for her actions. I am proud to have known her as a colleague and a friend.

– by John Henry

June 1, 2008 – Liberals demand solar panel action, via skydiving stunt

Bernard Keane, a journo with Crikey, wrote a great piece in 2010, while Environment Minister Peter ‘Midnight Oil’ Garrett was getting pilloried in the media (The Rudd caravan’s wheels were beginning to fall off). Keane pointed out that some of Garrett’s critics had been saying different things less than two years previously.  One of those critics, Greg Hunt, would be Environment Minister under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull..

Oddly, this is the Greg Hunt who throughout 2008 opportunistically joined the Greens in bagging Garrett for not rolling the solar panels program out quickly enough, after Garrett introduced a means test on the solar panel rebate to slow the remarkable demand for the program.  In June 2008, Hunt went skydiving — anyone remember that? — to demonstrate that the solar industry was in “freefall — but unlike me it doesn’t have a soft landing ahead of it”.

And here is more info-

Shadow minister throws himself out of a plane

2008 06 01 hunt plane

 

 

 

 

May 31, 1995 – Keating and MCA hold a meet-up; 2007, Shergold Report…

The Australian Mining Industry Council had been digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself (geddit?).  And, with the exception of the carbon tax battle (which was actually under the command of the Industry Greenhouse Network), they’d been losing. So they re-branded and went for lobbying instead of hearts and minds, as the article below mentions. Industry learns, on occasion…

Leaders of AMIC, now the Minerals Council of Australia, met with the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, for three hours on Wednesday [31 May] to discuss regional relations, trade liberalisation and relations with Japan and Indonesia.

In line with the recommendations of a report by the Allen Consulting Group, the MCA is putting increased emphasis on lobbying rather than public campaigning.

Mr Buckingham said the way the industry had helped persuade the Government to drop the proposed carbon tax and increase in diesel excise showed the benefits of its approach. “Where access [to senior levels of Government] is required there is confidence that that access will be given.”

Davis, I. 1995. New name, image for industry group. Canberra Times, 2 June, p.12

And, of equal import, ten years ago today the so-called ‘Shergold Report’ was released, six months after John Howard had u-turned.

The Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading releases the ‘Shergold Report’ which recommends Australia develop an emissions trading scheme.

 

 

Also on this day

31 May 2011: Garnaut address to National Press Club makes clear “reliance on regulatory approaches and direct action for reducing carbon emissions is likely to be immensely more expensive than a market economy.”

2012 “At which point Combet burst into song: ‘Cabramatta Parramatta, Wangaratta, Coolangatta-” put the punchline is: “Everywhere is doomed, man”.’  Paul Keating and Peter Costello would have been proud.”

Oakes, L. 2012. Abbott is the high priest of pessimism. The Australian, 2 June.

See also http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/mr-cool-loses-it-as-heat-applied/story-e6freooo-1226377873961 which says “yesterday” in a piece published 1 june (oakes is writing days later)