Tag Archives: Alexander Downer

May 21, 1998- Foreign Minister Downer extols emissions trading.

Australia had signed (but not ratified) the Kyoto Protocol in April 1998.  There was a push developing for some sort of emissions trading, if only to help rich countries look like they were doing something.    It is in that context that Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, gave a speech to the ABARE International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading, Sydney, 21 May 1998

It was called “Emissions Trading: Harnessing the Power of the Market”

It began;

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be here with you today to share with you my assessment of the opportunities and far-reaching role that international emissions trading will play in the successful implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. International emissions trading provides the means of harnessing the power of the market to provide cost effective solutions to emission abatement.

And you could read the rest here.  Your life, it’s short….

Also on this day-
“On 21 May 2009, 14 Greenpeace members illegally entered the site and thought they had temporarily shut down coal production after chaining themselves to an excavator. That ‘excavator’ was out for routine maintenance and again, no production from either mine or station was lost. All seven were later charged by Victoria Police.[9]   Source: Hazelwood wikpedia

March 16, 1994 – Australian Environment Minister reminds everyone of some caveats

Australia made some big promises in the first years of the climate issue, but these were always tinged with an awareness that the USA was unlikely to allow diplomatic work towards emissions targets for rich countries to progress very quickly.  And so therefore Australia would be able to move in Uncle Sam’s slipstream, able to say ‘shucks, we’d like to do more, but the international consensus says….’.  While they weren’t exactly shouting this strategy for all to hear, nor were they lying or dissembling. This report, from Peter Gill, who wrote lots of well-sourced reports on the issue for the Australian Financial review, is a good example, dealing with Graham Richardson during his very brief return as Environment Minister (after Ros Kelly’s resignation and before Richardson’s past caught up with him).

“Cabinet is understood to have agreed in January 1991, before talks on the UN convention, that Australia would not proceed with measures which had “net adverse economic impacts nationally or on Australia’s trade competitiveness in the absence of similar action by major greenhouse gas-producing countries”.
Former environment minister and former senator, Mr Graham Richardson, used exactly the same words when he described the joint Commonwealth-State position on climate change to Parliament on March 16.”
Gill, P. 1994. Minister signals change of policy on greenhouse gas. Australian Financial Review, 26 May, p.6. [Gareth Evans using exactly the same words on 24 May]

Also on this day –
Ritchie, J. 1988. Development of a Strategy for the Australian Coal Industry. Australian Coal Association, paper to the Petroleum & Minerals Review Conference, Canberra, 16 March. [This was the first half of 1988. So climate change wasn’t mentioned.]

1993 Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms Penny Wensley,was elected to a position of Vice Chair of the INC on Climate Change during the meeting of the committee in New York, USA. [source]

Pheasant, B. 1995. Vic takes stake in $100m coal R&D. Australian Financial Review, 17 March, p.9.
“THE Victorian Government is to participate in the country’s largest research and development syndicate, a $100 million joint venture for research which could make the State’s four baseload brown coal power stations up to 30 per cent more efficient.
The syndicate arranged by Bain and Company includes Perth entrepreneur Mr Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity as majority investor, with ABN Amro Australia , Mercantile Mutual , Babcock & Brown , and Deutsche Bank AG .”

Anon. 1997. ‘529bn Greenhouse Threat: Downer,” Australian Financial Review, 17 March.
“Official estimates suggested that stabilising emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would lead to a 3.5 per cent fall in gross national expenditure. [Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer warned that projects worth more than $22 billion were at risk.”

2004 “International Climate Change Taskforce” launched by Bob Carr

2005 DEH Minister Launches ‘Greenhouse Challenge Plus’.
https://www.iea.org/policiesandmeasures/pams/australia/name-21656-en.php

2006 CANBERRA, Australia, March 16 — Australian Sen. Christine Milne (Greens-Tasmania) issued the following news release:
The coal industry’s plan to fund research into its own greenhouse gas emissions is long overdue but it reflects self-interest and is not a serious commitment to address climate change, Australian Greens climate spokesperson Sen. Christine Milne said today.
US Fed News (2006) AUSTRALIA: COAL INDUSTRY’S GREENHOUSE FOCUS IS SELF-INTERESTED SPIN US Fed News 16th March

Jan 4, 1995 Liberals say planting trees beats a carbon price…

How things don’t change.  22 years ago, the Liberal opposition spokesman Ian McLachlan (we will meet him again, I think). announced that the Federal coalition would consider an environmental levy “to fund a major national reafforestation project and a ban on further forest clearing for farming to curb the greenhouse effect.”

1995 Kingston, M. 1995. Libs Plan Levy To Revitalise Forests. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January, p.3.

The context of this was that the Keating government was having no end of a problem with wood-chipping and the potential loss of Green preferences.  And it was also in the middle of a Cabinet bloodbath about whether to impose a carbon tax (it didn’t, you’ll be amazed to learn).

This, by the way, was in the end of days of Alexander Downer as opposition leader.

Well, fourteen months later John Howard became Prime Minister, didn’t bother so much with the land-clearing, and even less about curbing the greenhouse effect…  So it goes.

 

Also on this day-  

2015 Soon to depart Greens Leader Christine Milne  warning on bushfires and preparedness for disasters

“Every year we are going to face these extreme weather events, which are going to cost lives and infrastructure, and enough is enough,” she said.

“The Abbott Government has to stop climate denial and help to get the country prepared to adapt to the more extreme conditions.”

Ms Milne said now was the time to talk about Australia’s preparedness for extreme weather events.

“Look at what is happening to people, communities, our environment, loss of infrastructure and for goodness sake abandon your nonsense about climate variability,” she said.

July 7th, 1997 – Australian Foreign Minister explains facts of life on #climate

The Government’s position was explained in a speech given by the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, in the lead up to the Kyoto Conference in 1997, in which he stated:

A significant proportion of the Australian economy is currently geared toward the production of emission intensive products. As a result, the abatement costs in Australia are likely to be larger than in other countries that have lower reliance on emission intensive outputs. 84

After discussing the importance of emission intensive industries in the Australian economy and Australia’s linkages with rapidly developing economies in Asia, the Minister said the “only target that Australia could agree to at Kyoto would be one that allowed reasonable growth in our greenhouse emissions”.

  1. Downer Australia and Climate Change, Address by The HonAlexander Downer, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the ‘Global Emissions Agreements and Australian Business Seminar’,Melbourne, 7 July 1997 (Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra: 1997).

Macintosh, A. (2008) Domestic Influences on the Howard Government’s Climate Policy: Using the Past as a Guide to the Future. 11 Asia Pac. J. Envtl. L. 51  Page 68-9