Tag Archives: Australian Conservation Foundation

Jan 13, 2009 – Aborigines to feel climate shift the most

On this day in 2009, an editorial report – Disproportionate burdens: the multidimensional impacts of climate change on the health of Indigenous Australians– in the Medical Journal of Australia about the impacts of climate warming for Aborigines living in report parts of Australia got at least some media coverage.

The researchers – – wrote that with temperatures in the tropical north and interior tipped to rise by three degrees Celsius by 2050, worsening already searing summer heat, the government needs to urgently improve Aboriginal health and housing.

See also:  Green, D. and Minchin, L. 2014:Living on Climate-Changed Country: Indigenous Health, Well-Being and Climate Change in Remote Australian Communities. Ecohealth

Also on this day –

1993 – ACF and ACTU launch “Green Jobs in Industry” – Noakes, 1993, reen left weekly

1995 – Australian Conservation Foundation launched a proposal for an  $850 million annual carbon tax to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Milburn (1995) reported that

“Exports would be exempted from the levy, which would apply to all suppliers of fossil fuels in Australia. Suppliers of natural gas, electricity, and petrol would be some of the industries hit by the levy, which would be set at $2.20 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.”

Milburn, C. 1995. ACF Launches Carbon Tax Plan. The Age, 14 January, p.5.

 

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.

 

Jan 15, 1990: 3 Australian men have lunch. Hilarity doesn’t ensue

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for naught though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

Other things that happened on this day:

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

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