Tag Archives: Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change

May 15, 2006 – John Howard throws the nuclear dead cat on the table

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.

2015 05 15 things so bad

 

April 10, 1990 – dreams of ‘clean coal’

What does business do when society is up in arms and can’t be ignored? Full fascism? Not often. No, usually it wheels out some soothing promises of imminent-ish techno-salvation. And so it came to pass on this day 27 years ago –

The NSW coal industry is about to tap into the resources of its colleagues on the east coast of the United States, following the signing of a historic agreement between the State of Pennsylvania and the NSW Government.
The agreement covers all areas of minerals and energy policy, including clean coal technology and renewable and alternative energy policies.
Moffet, L. 1990. NSW, Pennsylvania in Energy Pact. Australian Financial Review, 10 April, p. 30.

Also on this day –
2006 New research on global warming has caused a split at the top end of town, writes Deborah Snow.
WESTPAC chief executive David Morgan had an interesting story to tell at an invitation-only breakfast for a handful of journalists in Sydney last week.
The anecdote concerned a recent private conversation with the head of the giant General Electric Company in the US, Jeff Immelt.
“He said to me he was virtually certain that the first action of the next president of the United States, be it Republican or Democrat, would be to initiate urgent action on climate change. And he wasn’t saying that as a casual political comment … he is [allocating] billions of dollars worth of investment in the confidence of that development.”
Snow, D. 2006. Business warms to change The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April , page 10.

Phillips, S. 2015. Energy White Paper: short on vision. ABC Environment, 10 April.
Renewable energy was described as “important” in the Energy White Paper, but existing policies to support it are due to be dismantled.

April 6, 2006 – Business says it wants ‘long, loud and legal’ framework

One of the key ways the Howard government and its allies were able to keep climate change off the agenda between 1996 and 2006 was to say that business was united in opposition to more-than-voluntary commitments.  This was never true, and by 2006, some businesses were both willing and able to stick their heads above the parapet.

The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change, a gathering of various businesses including Westpac, Origin, BP said the Howard government should get real. It was front page news on the Melbourne Age, a sign that climate change was climbing the political agena…

Colebatch, T. and Myer, R. (2006) Companies urge action on warming The Age. 7 April p.1.Climate change threatens us all: executives

SIX of Australia’s biggest companies have broken ranks to call on the Federal Government to take tough action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, including some form of charge on carbon emissions and a binding target.

The companies – Westpac, BP, power company Origin Energy, paper giant Visy and insurers Swiss Re and IAG – say it is now clear that greenhouse gas emissions are causing hotter and more unstable weather, and could lead to serious costs for agriculture, tourism, and Australian business generally.

CSIRO research commissioned for the study warns that even a rise of two degrees in global temperatures could bleach the Great Barrier Reef, dry up most of Kakadu’s wetlands, cut the livestock capacity of inland Australia by 40 per cent, and deplete Australia’s snowfields.

IAG chief executive Michael Hawker, speaking yesterday at the release of the group’s report, blamed climate change for a massive rise in weather-related calamities, including cyclones, floods, high winds and hailstorms.

Days later, an anonymous and lying-down-with-denialists writer at Crikey was underwhelmed.

….

Finally – but by no means least – it also ignores the hypocrisy that these companies are all investing or benefiting from investing in the economic growth engines of
China and India where the real challenges lie in allowing growth while controlling emissions, and where most of the world’s future greenhouse gas emissions will come from.

This is not corporate leadership on climate change. It is unctuous spin. Or what’s sometimes called hot air.