Tag Archives: Bob Carr

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

Feb 26, 1998 – “Clean Coal” centre opened

Clean coal.  For years it was tied to ‘carbon capture and storage’. But that is no longer seriously considered as an option (unless you count BECCS, which, um, is just another fantasy technology).  Before CCS, it was all about increased efficiency of coal fired power stations (sound familiar, reader in 2017?).  According to the Daily Telegraph, Bob Carr opened the Ian Stewart Wing of the chemical engineering laboratories at Newcastle University were opened on this day in 1998.

The story opens “RESEARCH laboratories where scientists will work to make Australian coal the “cleanest” in the world” will be opened today…”  Plus ca change…

Anon. 1998. Tests for green coal. Daily Telegraph, 26 February.

Also on this day

1988 Graeme Pearman in the Canberra Times

1988-02-26-canberra-times-dramatic-warming

 

 

Parkinson, G. 2014. Plimer leads IPA fund-raising push for new climate denial book. Reneweconomy, 26 February.

Leading climate change denier Professor Ian Plimer is leading a new fund-raising campaign from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite conservative think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, to raise money for a new book attacking climate science, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets….

Maclellan, N. 2016. Defence White Paper fails on climate change. Lowy Interpreter, 26 February…..

Former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Chris Barrie recently argued that ‘Australia’s defence force is lagging significantly behind its US and UK counterparts in preparing to deal with the challenges created by a changing climate.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 22, 2000- Trees for coal swap announced…

In the late 1990s there was a lot of interest in Australia becoming a hub for carbon trading, and being able to use its forests for ‘off-setting’. This was being pushed by a number of credible policy entrepreneurs, not least among them New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, who was frustrated with the Howard government’s bullshit (that’s a technical policy analyst term) on climate change. This from the Guardian covers it nicely-
If you’re interested in the theory behind offsetting, then CheatNeutral is for you…

Zinn, C. 2000. Japan in eco-credit deal with Australia. The Guardian, 22 February
Australian forest authorities have been contracted to plant 40,500 hectares of trees (about 100,000 acres) on behalf of one of Japan’s largest power companies in a controversial scheme to fight global warming.
The trees are meant to offset some of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company signed the deal, which could cost up to £50m, with the New South Wales’s forestry division to grow hard and softwood plantations to capture carbon dioxide (CO2).
But environmentalists question whether the project, scheduled to run for 10 years, will work. They claim the area is too small and that the forests must be maintained forever or the CO2 will go back into the atmosphere when the trees are processed.

Also on this day-

As the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ that was announced to universal contempt and derision in the White Paper in December 2008 limps on (ahead of secret negotiations in April), on this day in 2009  “Economists speak out against carbon scheme

According to Opposition Environment Spokesman Mark Butler, in his epic demolition of “Direct Action” –  “22 February 2011: Geoff Carmody, now a Coalition adviser on costings, makes clear in an opinion piece rhetoric on direct action is “unconvincing bluster” which should be subject to Productivity Commission review.”

And this great acronym for a group – bravo!!

Anon, 2013  Goldfields lobby group opposing ‘green extremists‘ ABC. 22 February.A Goldfields lobby group is planning to launch an eleventh hour campaign against what it calls “green extremists”.

The group DAMAGE, Dads And Mums Against Green Extremists, is planning advertisements in a Kalgoorlie newspaper in the last week of the state election campaign.

Feb 17, 1995 – “Not a single tonne saved” by National Greenhouse Response Strategy

On December 7 1992 the “National Greenhouse Response Strategy” had been agreed by Federal and State Governments. It had no national objectives, had motherhood-statements about the greenhouse programme, listed few substantive responses and was in no meaningful sense a ‘strategy’. So, 0 out of 4. It ignored the proposals of the Ecologically Sustainable Development process which had been set up under the Hawke government, which included a whole raft of useful proposals on energy efficiency, fuel substitution, support for renewables etc. All things that the Federal government of today is still actively hostile to. Anyway, on this day in 1995, the then new-ish Australia Institute released a report called “Can the Future Be Rescued1995-02-17” (a sly reference to any earlier report, but I’m digressing). This argued that `After two years of its operation, there is no evidence that even one tonne of carbon emissions has been saved as a result of the [NGRS).’  The report’s timing was just a little skew-whiff, for reasons beyond the authors’ control – the previous week Senator Faulkner, then the Environment Minister, decided that a carbon tax would not get through Cabinet.  Times don’t change.

Grose, S. 1995. Carbon tax necessary, report says. Canberra Times, 18 February.
An independent assessment of Australia’s greenhouse response strategy has concluded that Australia will not meet its greenhouse gas’ emission targets and claims that a carbon tax should be imposed at a rate of $2 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think-tank, released its report yesterday in a bid to influence federal Cabinet’s consideration next week of a range of measures to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions.

 

Also on this day-

2003. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, who had headed up a “Kyoto Protocol Ratification Advisory Group” sponsored by three state governments, accused John Howard of merely going along with the US in not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

On the same day, Greenpeace said Westpac was in favour of Kyoto Ratification (by now the Business Council of Australia was hopelessly split on the matter, and would soon release a ‘we’re agnostic’ statement)

AAP. 2003. Westpac supports Kyoto Protocol – Greenpeace. Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire, 17 Feb
SYDNEY, Feb 17, AAP – One of Australia’s big four banks has indicated its support for an international treaty to cut greenhouse gases.
Greenpeace today said initial findings of its survey of Business Council of Australia (BCA) members revealed Westpac supported the aims and objectives of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

17-19 Feb 2004 Zero Emissions Technology Conference in Australia. (This at peak excitement of technological solutions.

Feb 9, 2007 – State governments call Howard to act on climate change

On this day ten years ago, the state governments of Australia basically told John Howard ‘ lead on climate change or we will’   (insofar as an emissions trading scheme is leadership….).

Since 2001 Bob Carr (at the time premier of New South Wales) had been trying to get the Federal Government to introduce an emissions trading scheme.  From 2004 a state-governments supported ‘National Emissions Trading Taskforce’ had been at work.  Prime Minister Howard had remained opposed until suddenly overwhelmed by political pressure, and in November 2006 he had back-flipped and started a Federal process. (‘the Shergold report).

But the NETT process rumbled on, and at the second meeting of Council for the Australian Federation (all the state governments meeting without the Federales) is was agreed to press Howard to introduce an emissions trading scheme based on Shergold and to warn him that if the Commonwealth didn’t bring in a scheme, the states would, by the end of 2010.

There were caveats. Peter Beattie, then the Premier of Queensland said

“All I’ve ever been concerned about is to make certain that we don’t abandon a commonsense approach about developing clean coal technology, because of Queensland’s coal reserves and out of that we will get zero emissions.

“So we’ve made it clear that we are prepared to be part of a national response to deal with climate change, but we want to see a very clear focus on developing clean coal technology which would give us a world response to greenhouse gas emissions, not just an Australian response.”

(Taylor, J. 2007. Premiers meeting over carbon trading scheme Premiers to sign climate declaration. ABC, 9 February.

It was at this meeting that it was agreed to they would ask Ross Garnaut to go to work on a further study of climate change impacts on the Australian economy and how a trading scheme would ‘fit’ internationally.  (Garnaut started work in April, having been asked by then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and then opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

Also on this day- 
2007 Greens leader Bob Brown calls coal the energy industry’s heroin habit

Jan 1, 2003- NSW ‘Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme’ implemented

14 years ago, on the 1st of January 2003, the New South Wales government, under Bob Carr (who will get a few more mentions on this website), introduced its “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme.” It had been designed by Frontier Economics and Danny Price (who will get a few more mentions on this website).  It used a baseline and credit system (rather than cap and trade) – and so may sound oddly  familiar to anyone who was paying attention to last December’s political bloodbath about the emissions intensity scheme for the electricity industry.  You know, the one that will now  NOT be part of the 2017 climate change review.

It was the world’s first mandatory emission trading scheme and “replaced a precursor scheme that required NSW electricity producers to create strategies to reduce the per-capita emissions-intensity of electricity production. The precursor scheme failed to force emissions reductions.”

Brad Jessup and David Mercer, ‘Energy policy in Australia: a comparison of environmental considerations in New South Wales and Victoria’ (2001) 32 Australian Geographer 7, 15-17

As Guglyuvatyy, (2011: 94) writes –
At a subnational level, for instance, the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS) commenced in 1997 and became mandatory in 2003.63
Under the scheme (which is designed as baseline and credit), the per-capita GHG emissions associated with electricity consumption in NSW should be reduced from 8.65 tonnes CO2 in 2003 to 7.27 tonnes CO2 by 2007, and continue at this level until 2020. This target applied to electricity retailers, generators and some major energy users (NSW Government 2006). The participants can meet the targets either directly or by buying the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Certificates (NGACs) which represent one tonne of avoided GHG emissions that are created through activities which reduce or offset emissions.

According to the NSW State Government, the scheme has achieved around 16 million tonnes of greenhouse savings since it started in 2003 and will accrue around 120 million tonnes by 2012 (NSW Government 2006). However, it appears that at least 83 per cent (2003), 76 per cent (2004) and 52 per cent (2005) of the NGACs were created by pre-existing low emission plant that did not have to increase their operation compared to pre-GGAS levels to create certificates (Passey et al. 2007). Undoubtedly some projects that produce NGACs represent additional abatement and the Scheme is likely to drive some extra investments in generators that have low emissions. However, serious concerns remain for many of the projects that have created NGACs to date.PhD thesis – Assessing carbon tax and emissions trading as policy options for climate change mitigation in Australia

All did not run smoothly with it, as Marianne Wilkinson reported on 11th September 2007..

THE gap between doing something about climate change and talking about it was revealed yesterday. Before the ink was dry on the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum’s Sydney declaration on climate change calling for a boost in global energy efficiency, the NSW scheme designed to do just that was crashing.

As a result, hundreds of dedicated carbon cops who spend their days installing energy-saving light globes and engaging householders on climate change were being told they are likely to face the chop as green businesses hit the wall.

Wilkinson, M. 2007. Going global, crashing locally. Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September.

The scheme survived until it was replaced by the Gillard government’s ETS on 1 July 2012.

Also on this day

2011 Australian Renewables target changed “From January 1, 2011, the scheme was split in two: the small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES) and large-scale RET (LRET). Both work on the same basic principles as the original RET: renewable energy generators are able to generate either Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) or Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs), which are sold to purchasers of wholesale electricity who must surrender a prescribed quantity of STCs and LGCs each year. The benefit of the split RET was that it was supposed to reserve 41,000 GWh of the 45,000 GWh 2020 target for large-scale generators”