Tag Archives: ABARE

April 19, 2001 – Kyoto is popular with Aussie voters? Oops…

Howard had never wanted any kind of emissions reductions target, even the generous ones negotiated at Kyoto.  So, Bush pulling out in March 2001 gave him space.  He wouldn’t actually announce that Australia was doing likewise until after the 2001 Federal election.  Conviction politicians – donchajustlovethem.

“The difficulty for the Howard government is that its position on climate change is deeply unpopular and will cost it votes at the next federal election. A survey commission by Greenpeace Australia and released on April 19 found that 80.4% of respondents believed that Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, without the US if necessary.

The Greenpeace survey drew an angry response from industry minister Nick Minchin. “I think it’s irresponsible to be pushing this line without informing people how many jobs will be lost”, he said in an April 20 media release.

“ABARE [the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics] estimates that, even with the most optimistic assumptions, the costs to Australia of meeting the Kyoto Protocol commitments would be significantly more than a severe recession and several times that of a major drought”, Minchin said.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

Also on this day-

19 April 2013: Climate Spectator points out mysteries, questions and problems after Greg Hunt’s address to ANU. The Government also releases a detailed line by line rebuttal of Greg Hunt’s speech. (From Mark Butler’s ‘Direct Action’ timeline)

March 19, 1990- Politicians engage with #climate scientists! #notsomuchanymore

As Maria Taylor notes on page 37 of her excellent book  “Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia knew and buried…then framed a new reality for the public”

“In the late 1980s, political leaders (Jones, Hawke and Richardson) publicly interacted with the CSIRO scientists and division advisory boards. From that advisory board, Bob Chynoweth personally briefed the prime minister, according to a Hawke speech to the division on 19 March 1990 (Hawke 1990).”

Also on this day-

On this day in 1998 the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) released a report which argues that a domestic emissions trading scheme could help Australia reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels set down in the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change agreed last December. According to the Financial  Review, the proposal, which was part of a report to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment inquiry into trading in greenhouse gases.was “greeted cautiously by industry yesterday, with some concern about whether the scheme was premature.”

 

2001 Department of Defense says it is cutting emissions

e.g. “Continue the development and implementation of a standardised Defence-wide
approach to environmental management, consistent with Commonwealth
environmental legislation, including by reducing Defence’s annual energy
consumption by at least 200 terajoules by June 30 2001, in accordance with the
Government’s greenhouse emissions strategy.”

Stevens, M. 2014. Anti-coal protests gather steam. Australian Financial Review,19 March, p.34.

“One September Sunday morning last year Lance Hockridge woke to find a group of strangers forming an angry protest outside his family home”

March 6, 2002 – Report: sky will fall if Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

On this day in 2002, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, which had had its wrist slapped for excluding green groups from previous modelling, released yet another report that conservative politicians could use in their arguments against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol  (Australia had been given a very sweet deal – a 108% ‘reduction’ target and also a land-clearing loophole; John Howard would nix ratification in mid-2002).

ABARE just kept churning out these reports, and journalists – either because they agreed, didn’t know any better, were too busy or too cowed by their editors – kept faithfully stenographer-ing to power. That’s how hegemony works, ‘kay?

Reducing greenhouse emissions to levels required in the Kyoto Protocol would lift unemployment and energy prices, according to new research by Australia’s chief rural and resources forecaster.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said the US approach to reducing world greenhouse emissions offered a more realistic chance of reducing the possibility of significant climate change….

“The consequences of Australia ratifying the Kyoto Protocol are a significant structural adjustment to the Australian economy with a severe regional impact on jobs and on several major industries,” Dr Fisher said.

In a paper to be presented today to ABARE‘s annual Outlook conference, Dr Fisher said domestic electricity prices would rise by between 37 per cent and 50 per cent by 2010 and 2015 on current projections and Australia would incur a 1 per cent loss in gross national product by 2015.

Koutsoukis, J. 2002. ABARE backs US on emissions. The Australian Financial Review, 6 March, p.4.

 

Also on this day-

2012 The mass media discover that climate change activists would quite like the export of coal to stop.  Hold the front page.

A COALITION of environmental activists has developed an extraordinary secret plan to ruin Australia’s coal export boom by disrupting and delaying key projects and infrastructure.

The strategy includes mounting legal challenges to up to a dozen key mines and exploiting the Lock The Gate movement against coal-seam gas to put pressure on governments to block mining
Hepworth, A. 2012. Coal activists’ strategy exposed The Australian 6 March

2015. BHP’s head of environment says ‘climate change is already having an impact on its Australian mining operations.

Environment and climate change vice president Fiona Wild said less and more variable rainfall linked to climate change had prompted BHP to come up with new water management programs at its Worsley Alumina refinery in Western Australia.
Dagge, J. 2015. BHP stays alert to changing climate. Herald-Sun, 6 March

February 29, 2002 – Talking Kyoto…

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics had been a player in the Australian climate policy game for a very long time.  Despite having been slapped on the wrist for having created an economic model (MEGABARE) with fossil-fuel company money that ‘proved’ emissions would WRECK THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY WE WILL ALL BE LIVING IN CAVES, it continued to hold conferences at which sensible people would come and say sensible things. See for example –

G Andrews, ‘Climate Change, The current status of Australia’s response’, Proceedings of the National Agricultural and Resources Outlook Conference, ABARE, 29 February 2 March 2000, Canberra, vol. 1, p. 69.

Jotzo, F., et al,’ Kyoto Protocol, Impact on developing countries and some implications for the design of the Kyoto mechanisms’, ABARE, Natural Resources, Outlook 2000, New Directions Future Markets, Proceedings of the National Outlook Conference, 29 February 2 March, Canberra, p. 52.

Also on this day –

1992 letter to Canberra Times “act now to avoid catastrophe”.

1992-02-29-letter

We didn’t. Oh well.

Feb 4, 1998 – economic modellers get wristslap for excluding greenies

On this day 19 years ago the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) got a slap on the wrist.  Years earlier they’d started asking for $50k per annum to be on a steering group that oversaw the development of the “MEGABARE” economic model.  This model was used to justify Australia’s diplomatic efforts to cut itself a very cushy deal in the international climate negotiations.  MEGABARE ‘showed scientifically’ that Australia’s economy was unique and that any abatement efforts would cause the sky to fall.  Who had been ponying up the $50k per annum?  Disin1998-02-04terested and public-spirited groups like the Australian Coal Association,  Rio Tinto, the Business Council of Australia.  When the Australian Conservation Foundation asked to join the board in May 1997, with the $50k waived, the ABARE boss said ‘terribly sorry, no can do’.  So ACF complained to the Ombudsman in June and the Ombudsman investigated and – waiting until after the Kyoto meeting of the UNFCCC – released a report saying that ABARE had opened themselves up to the perception of bias.

To quote the press release,  “The Ombudsman’s investigation also concluded that:

  • The composition of the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees did not adequately conform to the characteristics of a government steering committee dealing with an important – and controversial – public policy matter. In particular that the development of the steering committee did not ensure a balance of views and technical skills.
  • The membership fees were exclusionary in their effect.
  • It was not appropriate for ABARE to use the term ‘steering committee’ to describe the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees.
  • ABARE’s intentions for the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees would have been more appropriately characterised at the outset as ‘sponsors committees for funding representatives’. However, the use of the term ‘Steering Committee’, and the associated explanation as to its role allowed an ambiguity and the possible creation of an expectation of membership influence on issues affecting public policy.
  • The greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies are an important matter of public policy and any steering committee or consultative process should include a balance of community interests.

Ms Smith said: ‘ABARE now concedes that it should not have used this fund raising mechanism if it had known the ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘political use’ that would be made of the funding arrangements.”

 

For more on this, see Clive Hamilton’s 2001 ‘Running from the Storm’ and a 1997 Honours Thesis by one R. Duncan.

Also on this day –

Oh look ABARE’s 1993 outlook conference was happening five years earlier.

At the conference, the boss of Woodside Petroleum said it was time for a ‘reappraisal’ of Australia’s greenhouse policies.

…. and perhaps even argue for a national increase in greenhouse gas emissions instead of a cut….

Mr Allen said “emotional media and political treatment” of the greenhouse issue had obscured the real problem. While it was clear greenhouse was happening, he said, there were many scientific uncertainties about its magnitude and speed.

Mussared, D. 1993. Increase Australia’s greenhouse emissions: Woodside. Canberra Times, 5 February, p.13.

and at the same conference

“A senior ABARE minerals economist, Mr Barry Jones, told the Outlook ’93 conference yesterday that the measures announced in the Government’s Greenhouse Response Strategy would not be enough to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 compared with 1988 levels, or to cut them a further 20 per cent by 2005.” and that if it wanted to reach those goals, the Federal Government would have to consider unpopular measures such as a carbon tax…

Garran, R. 1993. Rethink needed on greenhouse.  The Australian Financial Review, 5 February, p.7.

 

Feb 3, 2010 – Tony Abbott meets Lord Monckton (no photos though!)

On this day seven years ago, the newly minted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott did some dog-whistling more subtle than his March 2011 debacle.  As Bernard Keane perceptively notes –

“Tony Abbott’s decision to meet Lord Monckton was contemptible — but smart politics. Abbott is just doing what he has been hired to do: dog-whistle to the extreme right of the party. Tony Abbott met with conspiracy theorist Chris Monckton yesterday at lunchtime, but Abbott wouldn’t allow photographers to record the meeting or publicly comment on what was discussed.”

Keane, B. 2010. Abbott to the lunatic fringe: it’s OK, I’m one of you. Crikey, 4 February.

Monckton visited again, the following year.  We’ll come back to that…

 

Also on this day –

1994 – John Daley (not Daly), not yet executive director of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, attends the ABARE ‘Outlook 94’ conference, and, in the words of Simon Grose, hack for the Canberra times, warns that  warns that

“Australia and the developing economies of the world could bear an unfairly high proportion of the costs of controls on greenhouse emissions in the event of any global agreement to adopt uniform emission-reduction targets”

Grose, S. 1994. Unfair burden’ on Australia. Canberra Times, 4 February, p.4.

1995 In the context of a probable/possible carbon tax, Senator McMullan gives a speech at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne “The levy will be dealt with on the basis of its appropriateness as a measure to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rather than on the amount of revenue it might raise…. What we need to avoid is any situation where we unilaterally place a wide range of export and import-competing industries at a competitive disadvantage without actually contributing effectively to reducing global or domestic greenhouse emissions.”

Gill, P. 1995. Official warns of small cut in gas with carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 7 February, p.3.

2009 At the  end of the Climate Action Summit  in Canberra, activists encircle Parliament

 

Feb 4, 1998: Australian Ombudsman slaps economic modellers around for excluding greenies

The Australian Ombudsman releases a report responding to a Australian Conservation Foundation complaint about “ABARE” and its economic modelling.

Context:

The Australian Government had been using “economic modelling” to demand (and get) special consideration for Australia in the international climate negotiations that led up to the Kyoto Protocol. (Australia’s target was 108%, where developed world countries bar Norway and Iceland had reduction targets.) And this economic modelling – which “showed” that the sky would fall if so much as one lump of coal were taxed or left in the ground – was put together by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture Resource Economics, using a computer model called MEGABARE. Now, computer models cost money. So the ABARE people had invited contributions. And the list of organisations that ponied up the $50,000 that it cost to get a seat on the steering committee includes little mom and pop outfits like…  BHP, the Business Council of Australia, Exxon, Texaco and so on.  Here’s a table from Clive Hamilton’s 2001 “Running from the Storm”

The Australian Conserfeb41998megabarefundingvation Foundation (ACF) had requested a seat at the table, and a waiver for the $50,000 fee. ABARE refused. The ACF asked the Ombudsman (investigator/referee) to look into it. The Ombudsman did, made the usual recommendations, but frankly the damage had been done…

Even more context:

The Sky Will Fall” economic modelling reports are a favoured technique for blocking/delaying/softening action on any issue you care to mention…. It doesn’t matter that the assumptions of the models are usually laughably inaccurate/unrealistic, or that their predictions turn out to be false. All that matters is that a politician opposed to action can quote a scary number of jobs lost or impact on “the economy”. Most journalists, pressed for time and/or fundamentally obedient, will dutifully report the number, with few or no caveats. Thus is the reality distorion field enhanced…

Other things that happened on this day:

2004 An email is sent to press secretaries of all Republican congressional reps with advice on responding to environmental questions

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