Tag Archives: Greenpeace

April 19, 2001 – Kyoto is popular with Aussie voters? Oops…

Howard had never wanted any kind of emissions reductions target, even the generous ones negotiated at Kyoto.  So, Bush pulling out in March 2001 gave him space.  He wouldn’t actually announce that Australia was doing likewise until after the 2001 Federal election.  Conviction politicians – donchajustlovethem.

“The difficulty for the Howard government is that its position on climate change is deeply unpopular and will cost it votes at the next federal election. A survey commission by Greenpeace Australia and released on April 19 found that 80.4% of respondents believed that Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, without the US if necessary.

The Greenpeace survey drew an angry response from industry minister Nick Minchin. “I think it’s irresponsible to be pushing this line without informing people how many jobs will be lost”, he said in an April 20 media release.

“ABARE [the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics] estimates that, even with the most optimistic assumptions, the costs to Australia of meeting the Kyoto Protocol commitments would be significantly more than a severe recession and several times that of a major drought”, Minchin said.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

Also on this day-

19 April 2013: Climate Spectator points out mysteries, questions and problems after Greg Hunt’s address to ANU. The Government also releases a detailed line by line rebuttal of Greg Hunt’s speech. (From Mark Butler’s ‘Direct Action’ timeline)

April 15, 1994 – Greenpeace sues to stop a coal-fired power station.

Can the law be used to save the species (from itself?)  Once upon a time we had reason to believe it, just, might.  On this day in 1994, Greenpeace sued…

“Greenpeace yesterday sought to test a new international treaty on global warming for the first time by filing a lawsuit to stop the construction of a $220 million New South Wales power station [The Redbank one].
The executive director of Greenpeace, Ms Lynette Thorstensen, said the action would test the force of the United Nations convention on climate change, which seeks to cut greenhouse gases.
1994 Kelly, H. 1994. Greenpeace Sues To Halt Building. The Age, 16 April, p.4.

1994 was not a good year for Greenpeace Australia – budget crises, departures and then, in November, they lost this case.  You can read more about the case in the excellent

Bonyhady, T. and Christoff, P. 2007. Climate Law in Australia. Sydney: The Federation Press.

from which the following two quotes are taken

The Redbank case was the first in the world where standing was not an issue and a court had to consider arguments about the substance of climate change.
The capacity of the NSW Land and Environment Court to embrace the new law had just been demonstrated in striking fashion by Justice Paul Stein, the judge who has made the greatest contribution to environmental law in Australia. His characteristically bold decision in Leatch v Shoalhaven City Council involved the precautionary principle which had begun to occupy an increasing place in international agreements and domestic policy documents but had little place in Australian legislation.
(Bonyhady, 2007: 11)

Jonathan Simpkins who represented Greenpeace [page break] argued cogently that the court had both the power and the duty to act. He dwelt on the risk of the courts washing their hands of the issue by saying it was a matter of high policy for someone else which would mean that nothing would be done to address climate change. He dwelt on the danger that each addition to our greenhouse emissions would be cast as too small to warrant action which would similarly mean that climate change would go unchecked. But he could not persuade Justice Marla Pearlman, who, in 11 years as Chief Judge of the Land and Environmental Court, displayed a very different understanding of the judicial function to Paul Stein.
Justice Pearlman became the first, but by no means the last, judge in the world to say climate change was not for her when she declared that it was ‘of course, a matter of government policy… to take into account the competing economic and environmental issues raised by the enhanced greenhouse effect’ and ‘not for the Court to impose… a prohibition on the mine.’
(Bonyhady, 2007:11-12)

Also on this day –

2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill reveals existence of Howard letter to Bush re: Bush pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol  – “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”. Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.

2014 Clive Hamilton publishes new highly entertaining dirty dozen on Crikey –

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

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…

March 4, 1998 – First ‘Australian Greenhouse Office’ boss named

In 1997, John Howard had a climate change head-ache. He was trying to get a sweet deal at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Kyoto. But he most definitely did NOT want to commit Australia to any emissions reduction target. His former ally the USA had (sort of) switched sides, and domestically he was also copping grief. Even his own party was divided on this, with grandees like John Carrick as part of a ‘pro-action delegation’. His speech on 20 November 1997 contained two pieces of ‘eye-candy’. One was a mandatory renewable energy target (we will come back to this) and the second was the creation of an ‘Australian Greenhouse Office’ that was supposed to make All the Good Things Happen. Thus do politicians try to ‘virtue-signal’ without actually doing anything disruptive. The game is the game.

Which is all leading up to this – on this day in 1998 Environment Minister Robert Hill announced that Gwen Andrews would be AGOs first boss. When she quit, years later, she revealed that she never once had been asked to brief Howard.

Also on this day

1999

“The greenhouse trigger was first proposed in the context of the deliberations over, and inquiries into, the EPBC Bill in the mid to late 1990s. Environment groups and others argued that a significant weakness in the Bill was the absence of any measures that directly addressed greenhouse emissions. For example, Shane Rattenbury from Greenpeace argued before the Senate Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts Legislation committee in March 1999 that:
“The main problem at the moment is in fact the greenhouse issue, which we believe will not be addressed under the proposed legislation.  In fact it cannot be addressed at the moment…. If we do not have a greenhouse trigger in this new legislation… the Commonwealth will put itself into the untenable position of having no control over the potential developments in Australia that will have major greenhouse implications.”

(Macintosh, 2007: 47) in Bonyhady and Christoff, 2007 ‘Climate Law in Australia

 

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.

Jan 23, 2013- Australian coal mining versus the planet….

On this day in 2013, the Age journo Tom Arup starts a piece

The forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports would be the world’s second-largest contributor of new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels if fully realised, research by Greenpeace International has found.

An analysis of the planet’s 14 largest proposed, coal, oil and gas developments – to be released on Wednesday by Greenpeace – finds if Australian coal production expands as projected, the mining, production and burning of the extra resources would by 2020 result in 759 million tonnes of new global carbon dioxide emissions a year over 2011 levels.

It’s based on Greenpeace International report called  “Point of No Return

2013-01-23

Also on this day –

In 1992 , A report on an early(ish) dose of denial appears in the Australian Financial Review,

Lawson, M. 1992. Cooling the global warming predictions.  The Australian Financial Review, 23 January .

In 1995, economist John Quiggin quixotically makes the case that a carbon tax could provide more jobs….”there is no reason to suppose that business as a whole would necessarily lose from such a tax.” 

Quiggin, J. 1995. Carbon tax could make more jobs. The Australian Financial Review, 23 January.

In 2001 the Sydney Morning Herald had a front page story based on the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC

 

World temperatures may increase by as much as six degrees Celsius over the next century, leading climate change scientists say in an alarming report that adds new urgency to the warnings on global warming.

The projected increase, which would be the most rapid temperature change in the past 10,000 years, is expected to push sea levels up by nearly a metre, threatening tens of millions of people, and generate more floods, droughts and fires.

The report found that the 1990s were the hottest decade since instrument records were first taken in 1861 and that 1998 was the hottest year. And for the first time scientists agreed that the warming is mostly due to human activity.

The gloomy prognosis was released in Shanghai yesterday by the respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a joint project of the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Schauble, J. 2001. Six Degrees Hotter: Global Climate Alarm Bells Ring Louder. Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January, p.1.

In 2005 A report, co-authored by the UK Institute of Public Policy Research, the US “Centre for American Progress” and the Australia Institute was released. It was called “Meeting the Climate Challenge” According to ippr – “This interim report, setting out the taskforce’s recommendations, is both a practical policy handbook, and passionate call for action on this most vital of issues.” [Actually, I think the report was launched Jan 1st, just slow on the ippr blog. Not sure though].