Tag Archives: Australian Financial Review

May 16, 2005 – Energy White Paper a ‘White Elephant’ says Albo…

The 2004 Energy White Paper had been a slap in the face and kick in the … well… to the renewables industry in Australia. It ended up being a fulfilled wishlist for the fossil fuel sector (see Richard Baker’s pieces in the Age for the how of that).

Almost a year after its release, Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor operative, was on the case –

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 16 May 2005

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/senate-slams-howards-energy-white-elephant

The Howard Government’s Energy White Paper is an energy white elephant.

The Senate Inquiry into the Energy White Paper has concluded the Energy White Paper will delay critical action on climate change for another twenty years….

 

Also on this day-

Clever piece in the Fin!!

Earl, G. 1990. Price and pay-off for the world’s green conscience. Australia Financial Review, 16 May.

IT is a country where the ambitious environment minister hopes to ride to higher office by promising to deliver the most rigorous environmental policies in the world.

The finance minister is aghast at the cost of the plan and has held it up in Cabinet for so long that his colleague has effectively gone to the people with a nation-wide series of public hearings.

But now the hearings have become a lightning rod for all sorts of discontent and the environment minister’s carefully nurtured public support is threatening to evaporate just when the Government sorely needs it.

It may sound like a familiar plot but this time the players are not Graham Richardson or Peter Walsh and the Federal Government concerned has a distinctly conservative hue – except when it comes to turning green.

Canada, with a resource dependent economy like Australia’s and a pro-growth conservative Government, is embroiled in a national debate over a government promise to introduce a comprehensive five-year environmental plan which is forecast to cost billions of dollars.

 

 

May 11 – Investor uncertainty in 1990 and 1993

So, who is going to build what where and when if policies might change radically soon and leave you with a stranded elephant/white asset?  It’s a hardy perennial in the business pages, and academics seem relatively blind to questions of finance…. Anyway, in 1990, at peak ‘green hype’ some were already trying to use it as a brake on “sustainable development”.

Sustainable development is catching up with Australia fast. The economy is going through an investment boom which could provide the export revenue in the 1990s that would make our current account and foreign debt positions “sustainable”….

The accompanying table lists 26 major investment projects under consideration which Access Economics says appear to be in danger of environmental veto, including the Cape York spaceport (worth $350 million), the Very Fast Train project ($4.5 billion) and 24 resource and manufacturing projects valued at $11 billion.

Stutchbury, M. 1990. Environmental threat to investment boom.   Australian Financial Review , 11 May.

And as part of his epic bashing-‘Direct Action- timeline, Labor shadow environment minister Mark Butler notes that  on

“11 May 2013: Investors warn of uncertainty from direct action in the AFR.”

April 23, 2013 – Thinking twice about “Direct Action”…

“What we are seeing is the conditions in the market moving so quickly that there is a need to rethink the rules with a view to resetting or rethinking Direct Action,” ESAA chief executive Matthew Warren told The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday (23 April 2013)

So, having sat and watched Tony Abbott destroy the bipartisan consensus on the need for a price on carbon from 1 December 2009, having watched him attack Gillard’s Emissions Trading Scheme as a “Great Big Tax on Everything”, the incumbents finally – with Abbott about to become Prime Minister – start to wonder if his so-called ‘Direct Action’ scheme is such a good alternative.

And now they bleat about ‘policy uncertainty’.  Remind me to go back and see how many pro-ETS press releases ESAA put out in 2011….

I wish it were unbelievable, but it is all too believable

The quote is from

Priest, M. and Daley, G. 2013. Power firms warn Abbott on carbon. Australian Financial Review, 24 April, p.1

which begins

Power companies are demanding the federal opposition rethink its “direct action” plan for reducing carbon emissions, warning that its company baseline approach could be more difficult to operate than Labor’s trading scheme.
The Energy Supply Association of Australia said falling demand for power meant the Coalition must review its energy and climate change policy if it gains power at the September 14 federal election.
The warning comes amid growing support by multinational companies and major business groups for a market-based scheme, such as an emissions trading scheme, linked to the currently low prices set in European and other international markets.
ESSA, which represents big power companies such as Origin, TRUenergy and International Power, has long supported an emissions trading scheme.

April 17, 1993 – A carbon tax? Don’t be a mongrel

 

The pre-history of pricing carbon (it didn’t start in 2006) is a fascinating thing.  If you’re a geek like me, that is…

“The Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, have denied knowledge of alleged Treasury proposals for a $1.9 billion energy tax.

“Mr Crean rejected reports in The Weekend Australian and The Age on Saturday [17 April] which suggested that a tax on the energy content or fuels and possibly carbon emissions, being discussed by Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had drawn on studies by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.”

Brough, J. 1993. Keating, Crean deny energy-tax proposal. Canberra Times, Monday 19 April, p.3.

This turned into a full-blown battle in late 1994/early 1995.  Everybody knows the green guys lost…

Also on this day- 

2000 The “High Level Forum on Sinks” was held in Perth from April 17-20 2000.

Australia is preparing to host a major international meeting of environment ministers to broaden global acceptance of forests as a source of carbon credits. But the meeting comes at a time when the ability of forests to actually generate these credits is increasingly in scientific doubt…..

Hordern, N. 2000. Australia pushes carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review, 3 March, p.16.

Oh, and they stacked it –

Australia is being accused of deliberately “stacking” a conference of international environment ministers in Perth next week in a bid to undermine the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….

Australia has invited ministers from around the world, but stands accused of inviting only countries sympathetic to its own position on sinks.

Germany and other European countries which are of the view that overuse of sinks could encourage countries not to reduce emissions have been left out.

Clennel, A. 2000. Greenhouse Gas Conference `stacked’. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April, p.15.

Meanwhile, on the same day it is reported that

“Federal Labor is preparing a major push for the green vote at the next election by toughening its stance in key areas including greenhouse gases and mining in national parks. A draft of its revised policy platform also commits the party to establishing a new independent watchdog, the Commissioner for the Environment.”

2000 Robinson, M. and Clennell, A. 2000. Labor To Push Tough Policy For Green Vote. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April, p.7.

Yes, well, there was a bit of a blue in Hobart later that year. Can’t have everything.  They went to the 2001 election with a reasonable green policy.  And… Tampa.

2001 “Hill was introduced at an April 17 climate change conference in Washington, organised by the Pew Center, as representing the country with the closest position to that of the US. According to the April 21 Melbourne Age, Hill “waffled at every question suggesting Australia was conveniently hiding behind the US withdrawal because it never really supported Kyoto”.” https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

2005 A unique multidisciplinary conference entitled ‘Science and ethics: Can Homo sapiens survive?’ was held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May. See Canberra Times article.  It was about Frank Fenner.  The answer? Pretty obvious, 12 years later…

March 14, 2007 – The Australian Public Service feels ignored on #climate change…

So throughout the 1990s and the first half of the naughties various ‘policy entrepreneurs’ (Ian Dunlop, Phillip Toyne, Robert Hill, Bob Brown, Bob Carr etc etc) tried to get a price on carbon institutionalised.  Without any success – John Howard, ably assisted by Nick Minchin and the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’  blocked every effort. It must have been slightly aggravating, what with a ‘price on carbon’ being a kind of no-brainer as part (not all, part) of the toolkit for a transition.  And on this day in 2007 (yes, there will be a lot of 2007 in this project – it was a Big Year)- the head of the Australian Public Service, Ken Henry (ask him about a Resources Tax sometime…) gave a speech at an APS internal biannual departmental forum at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel.  He noted that the department had

“worked hard to develop frameworks for the consideration of water reform and climate-change policy…. All of us would wish that we had been listened to more attentively over the past several years in both of these areas. There is no doubt that policy outcomes would have been far superior had our views been more influential.”

The story leaked, natch, onto the front page of the Australian Financial Review, on 4th April, in an article by the estimable Laura Tingle and added to the woes of the Coalition Government, which looked like (and had been) ignoring the bureaucrats….

2007 Tingle, L. 2007. Revealed: Treasury chief’s blast at government policy. The Australian Financial Review, 4 April, p.1.

Also on this day-

1997 – Senator Parer seems to be an exception. For instance, at the Australasian Institute of Minerals and Metallurgy Annual Conference at Ballarat Senator Warwick Parer said: “I don’t have any figures to back this up, but I think people will say in 10 years that it [greenhouse] was the Club of Rome” and “The attitude of this government is to look for ways to allow projects to go ahead.” The SMH (14.3.97 ‘Greenhouse effect? No worries says Parer’.).
(Duncan, 1997:83)

Anon. 2001. $4.1m commonwealth grant offer for NSW R&D gas project. M2 Presswire.
“The Commonwealth Government has offered Sydney Gas Company N/L research and development grant totalling $4.1 million for a coal gas project that will provide Australia with a major environmentally friendly and clean energy source close to its most populous area, Industry Minister Nick Minchin said today.”

2013 Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation’ report released:
“The Productivity Commission (PC) report identifies policy and regulatory barriers to Australia’s ability to respond or adapt to climate change. The report provides recommendations for building adaptive capacity.”   Yes, and I am sure every single one of those recommendations has been turned into SMART goals that are being implemented as you read this sentence. Oh yes.

Feb 15, 1995 – the Fin briefly understands Jevons’ Paradox

Having helped defeat a proposed carbon tax, the Australian Financial Review steps back for a minute and looks at the bigger picture. In an editorial published on February 15 1995, it momentarily groks Jevons paradox.

“But no-regrets policies cannot be counted on to significantly reduce Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. The reason is that making the economy more efficient and competitive will lead to higher levels of output.”

Also on this day

Diesendorf, M. 2006. Muzzling of CSIRO scientists is part of a wider campaign.  The Canberra Times 15 February.

ABC TV’s Four Corners program and especially its reporter, Janine Cohen, should be congratulated on highlighting an undemocratic practice that has been going on for decades: the muzzling of CSIRO scientists from participating in public debate about greenhouse response strategies and energy alternatives….

and

 

Taylor, L. 2011. Time to knuckle down to make a choice, before it’s too late. The Age, 15 February.

For a decade the main parties in Australian politics have been choosing expensive, dumb policies to reduce greenhouse emissions over the cheap, smart option of an efficiently designed carbon price.

They’ve consciously picked ideas that cost 10 times more than the cheapest option of a carbon price, which they have repeatedly promised, only to change their minds.

and

Green, M. 2013. Bursting the carbon bubble. The Age,15 February, p.16.

Energy analysts and activists warn that most of the world’s fossil fuels must remain in the ground, and that it can’t be business as usual for the industry.

Feb 1, 1990 – IEA calls for a carbon tax

At the height of concern about climate change, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to release its three reports and negotiations for a climate treaty all to begin in 1990, the International Energy Agency gets in on the act, with its boss, Ms Helga Steeg, flying a kite of economic measures,  including – gasp – a carbon tax.  That had been there in the fine print of the Toronto declaration from June of 1988, but everyone had been more hung up on the eye catching 20% reduction target.  In November 1989 an Australian politician (we won’t say who just yet – keep you guessing) had suggested it too….  The battle for a price on carbon was beginning.  Twenty seven years later, who can say we are any closer.

“Drastic measures to combat global atmospheric pollution caused by burning carbon fuels were urged yesterday by the International Energy Agency.”

Anon. 1990. Carbon Fuel Tax May Limit Pollution Levels. Australian Financial Review, 2 February.

Also on this day –

Five years later, a columnist in the Fin does a thought experiment.  Turns out Australia should keep digging it up and selling it….

Everyone wants a drop in carbon dioxide emissions but the costs have not been properly assessed, reports ALAN MITCHELL LET’S suppose that Australia did decide to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by cutting back on its use of coal. Presumably it would start by cutting back on the inefficient or low-value uses of coal.

Mitchell, A. 1995. Ambitious energy target may prove too difficult to achieve. The Australian Financial Review, 1 February.