Tag Archives: Australian Conservation Foundation

March 25, 1995 Women and the Environment conference and the red-green problem

Environmentalists and ‘extraction’ workers (miners, forestry workers) are not ‘natural’ enemies.  And those in charge fear a coalition forming, to the extent that they’re willing to kill to prevent those links forming (think Chico Mendes, or Judi Bari, among thousands -see ‘The War on the Greens’).  In 1995 a conference in Melbourne saw yet another attempt to build/mend bridges…

Bad blood flows between the green movement and the union movement. The controversy over logging recently has led to ugly incidents between timber workers and conservationists. Ms George said she had agreed to speak at a conference on women and the environment this weekend to try to ease some of the hostility between the two groups…. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s executive director, Ms Tricia Caswell, said the ACF, Greenpeace and women’s groups had decided to host the conference at the World Congress Centre because women were often the backbone of community environment groups and were the main environmental educators to children but received little recognition.

Milburn, C. 1995. ACTU’s George Plays Peacemaker To Greens, Unions.  The Age, 24 March.

Also on this day- 

In 1997 there was a Greenhouse Challenge signing ceremony, Parliament House. The Greenhouse Challenge was the purely voluntary programme response that was used to block attempts at legislative/regulatory efforts to reduce emissions.

On this day in 2013, with the Gillard government trying to survive attacks by Rudd, attacks by the media and get itself in shape for an impending Federal election, the Australian Department of Climate Change, created with fanfare in the early days of the Rudd Government, was disbanded.   Most of its “functions were moved to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, with responsibility for energy efficiency transferred to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.”  (sorry, can

Feb 27, 2002 – Australia and US launch a ‘spoiler’ partnership, alternative to Kyoto

George Bush was (s)elected President of the United States in late 2000. On the campaign trail he said he’d force coal-fired power stations to reduce their emissions. Once in office, oddly, he changed his mind.  He also, infamously, pulled the US out of the Kyoto Protocol. Australia hadn’t yet made a definitive statement on the matter (that would come on World Environment Day, 2002), but this ‘partnership’, launched by Environment Minister David Kemp at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC gave a clue to the direction of travel. Think of it as a dry-run for the AP6…

See also

2002 “Australia and U.S. Partner on Climate Outside Protocol”  ENS Newswire

2002 Bush and new spoiler outfit with Australia. Green Left Weekly

 

Also on this day- 

1988 Australian Academy of Science (1988) Global change, Proceedings of the Elizabeth and Frederick White Research conference 24-27 February 1988.

1995  Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February  p.2.  (It says that ACF and Greenpeace release UN data showing how dire Australia’s performance is, and meanwhile businesses, fresh from their carbon tax victory, put forward a “happy to do a voluntary scheme” submission

1997 Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill announced the release of a discussion paper, ‘Future Directions for Australia’s National Greenhouse Strategy’, prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee on ESD with a deadline for submissions of 11 April 1997.

2014 -Targets and Progress Review—Final Report released: The Climate Change Authority reviews Australia’s progress and recommends a minimum reduction of 15% in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 levels by 2020.

 

 

Feb 10, 2011 – Climate Commission is launched

The Gillard government knew that selling climate action was going to be tricky, after the cynicism-building wreck that was Rudd’s CPRS, and the rise of organised and well-funded denialism. It was in this context that it set up the Climate Commission (as distinct from the Climate Change Authority, which came later as part of the CEF package.). The Climate Commission did public information events and released lots of reports. And Tony Abbott, when he came to power, made it his first action to abolish it. A crowd-funding campaign worked wonders, and the Commission lives on. But that’s a story for another day –

 

Also on this day-
According to  it Ellis and Gill, it was on this day in 1995 that then Environment Minister Senator John Faulkner decided that a carbon tax/levy/whatever you want to call it was not worth taking to Cabinet after all, because it would get squished by the Bob Collins of this world –

“THE Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, has abandoned proposals for the introduction of a carbon tax ….  His decision was made on Friday [10th February] after two days of talks with environmental and business groups.”

Ellis, S. and Gill, P. 1995. Faulkner calls off plans to impose carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 14 February, p.3.

In 2006, before climate change had become the public topic it would later in the year be, the Council of Australian Governments held a meeting on this day.   Australian Conservation Foundation tried to chivvy them along, with this press release.

COAG meeting a chance for real progress on climate change
Date: 9-Feb-2006
The Australian Conservation Foundation has urged Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders to use tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra to craft a consistent, national approach to climate change.
“A global problem requires a global solution,” said ACF Executive Director Don Henry. “It’s vital we get Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders pulling in the same direction on this.

“It’s good to see COAG talking about climate change. They can make some real progress on measures that will make a difference.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/13467/20120118-0823/www.acfonline.org.au/articles/newse312.html?news_id=712

(A COAG Working group had been set up previous late May/early June, according to this – “ACF calls for national deep cuts target on greenhouse” (11-Jun-2005)

Feb 5, 2007 Tony Jones trolls John Howard on Lateline

Paul Kelly, in his excellent (if under-subbed) Triumph and Demise observes that John Howard’s (very) belated conversion to climate “action” (if you can call appointing a bunch of fossil fuel CEOs to a committee that is going to produce a report [aka the Shergold Report]) wasn’t going to solve his climate problem.  Kelly is robust (some would say ever-so-slightly right-wing)  but always a good read;

Howard’s problem was that he had changed his policy but not his political strategy. He refused to genuflect before the icons: Al Gore’s scare, the drought as proof of a climate transformation, and Kyoto sanctification. For the ABC, Howard was now a figure of undisguised ridicule. His Lateline interview of 5 February 2007 began with this mocking question from Tony Jones: ‘Can you recall exactly when it was that you ceased being a climate change sceptic and became, in effect, a true believer?’

(Kelly, 2014:131)

What Kelly doesn’t report is what happened later in the interview that revealed Howard might be completely on top of the implications of the issue…

At 10.25 last Monday night, 234,511 people nationally tuned in to the ABC and saw Tony Jones ask John Howard what he thought living in Australia would be like by the end of this century “if the average mean temperatures around the world do rise by somewhere between four and possibly more than six degrees Celsius”.

“It would be less comfortable than it is now,” was the Prime Ministerial response.

Tingle, L. 2007. Bear in mind threats of climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p

 

Also on this day –

1992  In response to an Australian Conservation Foundation request to meet to discuss environmental matters in the context of the ‘Fightback!’ policy proposals, Liberal leader John Hewson told Philip Toyne and Peter Garrett that they could meet with his shadow environment minister instead, because they were ‘partisan’.  [This goes back to that January 15 1990 lunch meeting, which Paul Kelly wrote about in a much earlier book….]

Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.

According to Labor Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler’s epic ‘Direct Action’ timeline, on  “5 February 2010: Danny Price in The Australian starts to back away from costings and admits direct action is not “sustainable in the long term”. “

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.

 

Jan 20, 2010- Greens propose a tax to salvage the CPRS car crash

On this day in 2010, the Green Party tried to salvage something from the wreckage of Kevin Rudd’s twice rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.  Many commentators blame the Greens for not holding their noses and voting through the CPRS package, which they rejected because it offered too much compensation to the coal companies and did too little to reduce emissions.  It’s arguable that the deal they finally got, under Julia Gillard, wasn’t that much better, and was in any case swept away by Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

But the point is that the Greens were at least trying to find a way forward for climate change policy in the dark days of early 2010.  And that should be in the ‘official’/popular narratives (it largely isn’t).

Kirk, A. 2010. Greens propose interim carbon tax. ABC, 20 January.

For further articles, see here.

See Paddy Manning’s take on it in The Age.

But there is one tenable, market-based climate policy on the table: the Australian Greens compromise proposal for an interim carbon price starting at $23 a tonne of carbon dioxide.

Most people have either ignored or misunderstood what the Greens offered to discuss with the government in January. If they ignored it, it was because they rightly assumed there was Buckley’s chance of this government doing a deal with the Greens. If they misunderstood it, it was probably because they wrongly assumed the proposal was for a temporary fix.

The idea of the Greens was that a fixed carbon price would increase at 4 per cent, plus the consumer price index, each year until at least July 2012.

Manning, P. 2010. One climate policy, and it only comes in Green. The Age, 5 May.

Also on this day-

In one of life’s little ironies, this was the fifteenth anniversary of the release of an Australian Conservation Foundation proposal for a $2.20 per tonne tax on carbon dioxide. The Budget submission, part of a broader doomed campaign for a carbon tax, said that the proposal would raise $850m [I think over the course of three years].

Milburn, C. 1995. ACF Calls For $3.3b On Environment. The Age, 21 January, p.7.

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

On this day 24 years ago the faint hopes of ecological modernisation in Australia got a boost. As a article in Green Left Weekly reported

“A major new effort to develop jobs which protect the environment”, was how the January 18 joint statement by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation described their joint Green Jobs in Industry Plan. The scheme was launched at the Visyboard Paper and Cardboard Recycling Plant in Melbourne by Peter Baldwin, minister for higher education and employment services.”

Noakes, F. 1993. ACTU and ACF launch green jobs program. Green Left Weekly, 27 January.

Norton in his  2004 PhD thesis is sanguine, and  points to the tensions between the ACTU and ACF over woodchipping (and presumably the carbon tax, though he doesn’t mention it) sending the union/environmentalist relationship into the deep freeze for a good decade or so…

Basically, if you want to have new industries (not based on ripping stuff out of the ground, then you need a highly educated workforce and conception of the state that is more open to ‘picking winners’ (rather than protecting rent-seekers indefinitely). It’s not easy, but Australia has it seems never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  So it goes.

Also on this day –

1995 – a story based on a leak of documents that purported to be Senator Faulkner’s carbon tax proposal but ACTUALLY came from his opponents gets front page billing and leads to fulminating editorials in the Fin and the Sydney Morning Herald.  Dirty tricks… work….

“FEDERAL Cabinet is considering a series of controversial measures to cut greenhouse emissions, including a carbon tax of up to $20 a tonne, which would raise $13 billion over three years, and an extra 10c/litre fuel excise.

“The proposals – detailed in a Cabinet document obtained by The Australian Financial Review – are set to generate massive industry hostility, and to switch the environmental spotlight from Mr Beddall, the minister responsible for the woodchip controversy, to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, and his departmental deputy secretary, Mr Phillip Toyne, who is masterminding the greenhouse strategy.”

Callick, R. 1995. Revealed: Green tax shock *$13bn grab *$20/tonne carbon tax *New 10c/litre fuel levy. Australian Financial Review, 18 January, p.1.