Tag Archives: John Howard

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 –

April 7, 2010 – “50 nukes” plea for Australia

Nuclear Power, eh? Always about to be too cheap to meter, always on the cusp of this Amazing Technological Breakthrough. Such Promethean dreams, we had… In Australia, thanks to the low population etc etc nuclear never made much sense (there were abortive efforts of various pollies (prime ministers and premiers), but the numbers just never made sense. Nuclear proponents argued for it in thelate 80s, and in 2006 Prime Minister John Howard threw that particular dead cat onto the table as climate change concerns began to bite at his heels. The issue keeps popping up, of course. And so it did on this day seven very very long years ago-

NUCLEAR advocate Ziggy Switkowski has said an Australia powered by up to 50 nuclear plants would pose little risk of an environmental disaster such as this week’s threatened oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Switkowski, chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, said Australia should build 50 nuclear power stations by 2050, doubling the number he suggested to the Howard government in a key report three and a half years ago.
Kelly, J. 2010. Ziggy Switkowski calls for 50 nuclear reactors in Australia by 2050. The Australian, 7 April.

Also on this day

On 7 April [2006], two days after the Bald Hills decision [of Ian Campbell], Neil Mitchell of 3AW put the Prime Minister on the spot in relation to a housing project west of Melbourne at Melton, saying ‘there’s a $400 million development out there at risk’ because of the elusive and endangered grassland-dwelling Golden Sun Moth. The Prime Minister was unaware of the moth. Still he promised ‘I will investigate that’. Other stories queried whether the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo would ‘sink a $650 million pulpmill’ in SA, and whether the little known flatback turtle would continue to raise an issue for Chevron’s $11 billion Gorgon gas project off the northwest coast of Western Australia.
(Prest, 2007: 253)

7 April 2011: Grattan Institute issues comprehensive analysis of alternative emissions reduction policies and considers you would need to announce a grant tendering scheme of around $100 billion to meet the 5 per cent target.

April 3, 2000 – Greenhouse gas conference ‘stacked’ to ignore sea level rise…

So, Australian diplomats and senior politicians had in the late 1980s made some of the right noises about sea level rise as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming.  Those days were long ago and in another country by the 2000s. And besides, the wench was dead…

Mr Hare said he had recently been to a Pacific greenhouse conference in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, [3-7 April ]  where Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials had tried to play down the impact of the greenhouse effect.

He said they had put up arguments that sea level rises were not as high as had been reported and might not necessarily be a result of global warming.

Senator Hill said if the department’s officials were mounting that argument, it might be on the basis of scientific uncertainty in the area.

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

Stay classy, Australia…

Also on this day- 

2001 “The Australian government is being applauded by corporate polluters and corporate front groups at home and abroad. The Global Climate Coalition, the major front group for US corporate polluters, features on its web site an article by Alan Wood in the April 3 Australian (<http://www.globalclimate.org>). Wood’s article, titled “Killing Kyoto in Australia’s best interests”, urges Australia to back the US in pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Wood comments favourably on a paper written by climate sceptic Alan Oxley for the Lavoisier Group, an Australian “think tank” which argues that the Kyoto Protocol poses “the most serious challenge to our sovereignty since the Japanese fleet entered the Coral Sea on 3 May, 1942”.

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

And that article is this one –

Wood, A. 2001. Killing Kyoto in Australias best interests. The Australian, 3 April, p13.

The US has called Europe’s bluff. Listen to the Europeans and you could be forgiven for thinking George W. Bush has just sent the world to the gas chamber – the greenhouse gas chamber, that is. What Bush has really done by rejecting the Kyoto Protocol is shatter a European dream of running the international energy market, or at least a substantial bit of it.

This dream arose from a mix of Europe’s quasi-religious green fundamentalism and cynical calculation of commercial advantage. Jacques Chirac gave the game away at the failed COP6 talks at The Hague last November, when he described the protocol as “a genuine instrument of global governance”.

Meanwhile, in 2007 John Howard was coming under pressure not just from Kevin Rudd, but business…

Murphy, K. 2007. Business counters PM to back emissions targets. The Age, 4 April.

New consumer petrol tax floated

AUSTRALIA’S top companies say the country must set concrete targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years as the centrepiece of policies to combat climate change.

In a message that undercuts Prime Minister John Howard’s recent political attack on Labor’s pledge to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the Business Council of Australia has endorsed immediate and long-term emission reduction targets.

Mr Howard has criticised Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd’s pledge to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, claiming it would damage the economy.

But while not endorsing Labor’s specific target, the Business Council accepted the principle, saying targets were necessary to find a solution to rising carbon dioxide emissions.

The council yesterday released what it called a “strategic framework for emissions reduction” – a document setting its policy on climate change – which argues that Australia should implement a “cap and trade” emissions trading scheme.

A year later a CCS demonstration plant opened…

Thursday, 3 April 2008 World’s largest CO2 storage demo plant opens in Victoria

“THE launch of Australia’s first carbon dioxide storage demonstration project is a “key strategic initiative in the global challenge of addressing climate change”, according to Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitchell Hooke. “

1st April, 2001: Howard sends mash-note to Bush over dumping Kyoto.

In March 2001, President George’ hanging chad’ Bush had pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol ratification process, citing the ‘national interest’ (sound familiar?).  This was music to the ears of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.  Although Australia had wangled a sweet sweet deal at Kyoto (a 108% ‘reduction’ target and a land-clearing clause that was an enormous undeserved loophole, as early as September 1998 the Aussies had said they weren’t going to ratify unless Uncle Sam did so first.  Well…

Howard wrote

I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.

In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.32

Source – Letter from Prime Minister John Howard to United States President George W. Bush, see http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Howardletter.html [dead link] Cited in NSW Parliamentary Library thing, 2002 – The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change: An Update By Stewart Smith

Further info-

Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.  (which says that then Environment MinisterRobert Hill revealed letter’s existence on 15 April.  “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”.”

On the same day Labor’s Lindsey Tanner, later to be one of Kevin Rudd’s Gang of Four gave a speech…  According to Margo Kingston –

In a speech yesterday, Tanner opined that middle class voters of both hues cared about the environment. “If Labor allows the distinction between the Greens and the Coalition to become the dominant point of environmental differentiation in Australian politics, we will lose a major advantage over the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.

Tanner was concerned that the government would slip through the environment net through advertising glossing over its record. The big one going now is TV celebrity Don Burke extolling the Coalition’s Greenhouse credentials. Funny that, since most of the cash comes courtesy of the Democrats, who insisted on real money going into alternative energy research and rail as part of its price for supporting the GST. The Democrats got $400 million in extra funding for greenhouse gas projects over four years. In retrospect, lucky for the Coalition.

Kingston, M. 2001. Australia: green enough for Kyoto? Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April.

Also on this day –

2002 MRET in Australia 1st Mandatory Renewable Energy Target established (following speech by Howard just before Kyoto)  (on the 2% to 0% target shenanigans – see Kent and Mercer 2006…)

2009- 

The New South Wales Government has questioned the impartiality of a top-level Commonwealth adviser after he raised concerns about a planned expansion of Newcastle’s coal facilities.

Infrastructure Australia Advisory Board member Professor Peter Newman says the damage caused by coal will increase dramatically if Newcastle’s port facilities are doubled.

ABC. 2009. Anger at Rudd’s adviser over coal comments. ABC, 1 April.

 

 

March 12, 2001 – $3.9m advertising campaign versus, you know, doing something…

Actually doing substantive things about climate change – like transitioning from fossil-fuel based generation of electricity and energy to renewables/efficiency etc – would cost political capital, financial capital. It would cause disruption, and piss off powerful people.  And the unborn don’t both to vote, the lazy sods.  So, we keep kicking the can down the road.  But we can’t admit that (to ourselves or anyone else).  And so, we do television adverts instead.  And on this day in 2001 a bunch of climate change adverts started on Australian Television, starring television personality Don Burke (who was not, to be clear, paid for his time).

The Federal Government is spending $3.9 million on an advertising campaign on greenhouse gases featuring celebrity gardener Don Burke, two months after criticism of its $3.6 million ad campaign on the Natural Heritage Trust.

In the ads, on prime-time television and in newspapers, Burke says: “I love greenhouses. Wouldn’t want to live in one, though … and that’s why the Commonwealth Government is doing something about it.

“They’re investing $200 million a year to lower greenhouse gases. They’re working with over 300 major companies, helping them to clean up their act.”

He goes on to introduce 10 ways Australians can make a difference including turning off the TV at the power point, instead of using the remote, washing clothes in cold water and taking shorter showers.

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Senator Nick Bolkus, said yesterday the ad campaign was an “outrageous abuse of taxpayers’ money”.

… The Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office confirmed the full cost of the advertising campaign was $3.9 million, with the ads to run for six weeks.

2001 Clennell, A. 2001. Pitched Battle Over Don Burke Ads. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March, p.5.

Burke responded to critics the following day –

“I knew in doing this … the Opposition would come back with various statements. As I say, I’m not an apologist for the Liberal Party.”

Anon, 2001, Greenhouse ads raise ireDaily Telegraph, 14 March, p. 20.

 

Also on this day- 

In 2002 the European Commission’s Delegation to Australia issued an unambiguous denial of the idea that Australia could trade carbon permits without, you know, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol…

“On the question of carbon emissions trading, the Kyoto Protocol clearly states that carbon trading is allowed between those Parties who have ratified the Protocol. Countries that are not Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are not eligible to participate in emissions trading under it. Nor can emission reduction projects or carbon sequestration efforts taking place in its territory be rewarded under the Protocol.20″

[Hamilton, 2004, 1st September talk]

2010 –  second Australian Climate Action Summit

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