Tag Archives: Kyoto Protocol

June 11 2011 – Miners union says ‘show us the money’

The age-old battle, another skirmish…

ONE of the nation’s largest unions has threatened a blue-collar revolt should the nation’s dirtiest coalmines fail to receive the same level of assistance as they were promised under the original emissions trading scheme.
With industry compensation still being thrashed out behind closed doors, the national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Tony Maher, said he is worried coalminers will be dudded to appease the Greens.

Coorey, P. 2011. Mine union digs in over compensation under a carbon tax. Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June, p.4.

Also on this day- 
1997 –   As late as June 1997, the US Ambassador to Australia, Ms Genta Hawkins Holmes, stated that the US would seek “binding, realistic and achievable” targets at Kyoto; she claimed that Australia should make greater use of renewable energy sources and improve its “relatively inefficient use of hydrocarbon energy”27” At the Earth Summit in New York in late June, however, the US did not announce a target and sought to include developing countries in the framework agreement. Europeans interpreted these moves as preparing the ground for a softer US position, possibly reviving an earlier proposal to develop traceable international emission permits. At the G-7 meeting in Denver in June 1997, the US, Japan and Canada refused to endorse the EU position of a binding fifteen per cent reduction target, leaving uncertain what would emerge from Kyoto. The Australian Government may yet retrieve something from the divergence of the European and US positions.
Shared Values Drive US-Australia Alliance”. Australian, 12 June 1997: “Ambassador Holmes Gives Elementary Warning on Warming”, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 1997.
Johnston, W.R.  and Stokes, G. 1997.  Problems in Australian Foreign Policy: January- July 1997. Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol.43(3), pp.293-300.

On June 11, 2003, AEI and an Australian think tank, Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), cosponsored a conference titled “Non-governmental Organizations: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few,” held at the AEI offices in Washington, D.C. The conference laid the ground for the launch of “NGO Watch”-a website and political campaign cosponsored by AEI and The Federalist Society.
(Hardistry and Furdon 2004)

11-Jun-2005 – ACF calls for national deep cuts target on greenhouse

The Australian Conservation Foundation today urged a national commitment to a target of cutting greenhouse pollution by 60% by 2050 and a framework of immediate practical action, following commitments by the NSW Premier to this target and the expansion of gas and renewables to meet electricity needs in that state.
ACF Executive Director, Don Henry, said the NSW target of a 60% cut by 2050 matched that adopted by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and the advice of Australia’s former Chief Scientist, and should offer important common ground for the national working group on climate change established at last week’s COAG.

9 June, 2011 – Productivity Commission

 

On this day in 2011, at the height of the Gillard ETS battle, the  Productivity Commission produced a report.  It had been a condition of two independent MPs – Windsor and Oakestott – supporting Gillard’s minority government.  The report looked internationally at emissions reductions policies and found “much lower-cost abatement could be achieved through broad, explicit carbon pricing approaches, irrespective of the policy settings in competitor economies.”  So, not so much support for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s “Direct Action”…

[see Garnaut 2014, chapter in Quiggin ed book on carbon taxes..]

 

 

Also on this day

Clark, P. 1989. Unions may as well be talking to the trees. Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June, p13

AN ODDLY portentous scene was played out behind the closed doors of the ALP national executive’s last meeting in Canberra on June 9 by two of the party’s toughest right-wing figures: the Federal Environment Minister, Graham Richardson, and the AWU general secretary, Errol Hodder.

Hodder, who had left the executive meeting briefly, returned to be told that while he was away Richardson had spoken of how the union movement had to reassess its position on the environment, and that someone present had said that the ACTU’s attitude on the issue was “stupid”.

Never backward in coming forward, Hodder leapt up to make a strong defence of the union movement’s reaction to the growing importance of the environmental debate.

What he said, in essence, was that the unions were well aware of the significance of the issue but the Government had to recognise a few things too. A tree might be a pretty thing to look at, but the view palled when you’d been put out of a job and you’d a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

1990    (TEXT FROM 1997 APH chronology) The first assessment report of the IPCC Working Group I  was released including predictions of global warming and climatic impacts (a supplement was added in 1992). The best estimates from Working Group I (scientific  analysis) were a 3C rise in global temperature and a 0.65m sea level rise by 2100. Australian scientist Dr Greg Tegart was a Co-Vice-Chairman on the Climate Change, The IPCC Impacts Assessment report from Working Group II. Consensus was also reached at the Response Strategies Working Group of the IPCC, Working Group III. The Scientific and Impact Assessment reports concluded   that emissions from human activities were increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, which  was likely to enhance the natural greenhouse effect resulting in global warming.

By 9 June 2000, The Australian was reporting that the trigger proposal ‘faces defeat when it reaches Cabinet’ and that when the issue was discussed by Cabinet, ‘Senator Hill was almost a lone voice of support.’ (Macintosh, 2007: 50)

2005 press conference Carr and Howard –

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’ve made progress on water, you’ve got a national scheme to (inaudible), same thing for carbon trading, for emissions trading?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we have, at the present time Mr Carr and I and the other States I think line up, the States line up with Mr Carr and we have just different views. Now let’s be sensible, we don’t agree all the time, but the important thing is to agree as many times as possible and to deliver outcomes that are good for the public.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how highly do you rate global warming as a threat? The Premier rates it very highly.

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I’ve said in the past that I think the scientific evidence is very, very strong. I don’t know that I embrace every expression of concern that’s come from everybody who would favour some different policies than I do, but I have a different view about signing the Kyoto Protocol from that of Mr Carr, but that is based not on a belief that we shouldn’t reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it relates more to the comparability of treatment of an economy such as Australia and that of such Indonesia and China. But that is for a discussion for another day. We have agreed to disagree on that issue, but we haven’t come here to parade with rhetorical flourish our different approaches.

 

Marks, K. 2010. Australian billionaires take to the streets for tax protest. The Independent, 10 June.

Australian billionaires take to the streets for tax protest

It was, by any measure, a most unusual rally. Many of the placard-waving protesters gathered in a Perth park wore suits and ties, and impassioned speeches were delivered from the back of a flat-bed truck by two billionaires, including Australia’s richest woman.

May 30, 2007 – Kevin Rudd promises 60% by 2050 reduction…

Referring to Kevin Rudd’s  An Action Agenda for Climate Change, Annual F2007 05 30 rudd action agenda for climate changeraser Lecture, Belconnen Labor Club, Canberra, 30 May 2007 (Australian Labor Party, Canberra: 2007).
Macintosh, (2008, page 52) notes that 

“The Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, promised a more progressive approach. It pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a target of reducing Australia’s emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050 and create an emissions trading scheme by 2010.”

Also on this day

1995 AMIC begins to rebrand itself as the Minerals Council of Australia…

Davis, M. 1995. Mining Council does post-Mabo revamp. BRW, 29 May

1996

Callick, R. 1996. Greenhouse tax off the agenda, Hill tells miners. The Australian Financial Review 31 May.

The Federal Government’s promise of no new taxes included carbon and other so-called greenhouse taxes, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, told the Minerals Council of Australia in Canberra yesterday.

May 5, 2000 – BCA hints at a voluntary emissions scheme….

So, Australia had wangled a sweet deal at Kyoto in December 1997 – a 108% emissions ‘reduction’ target AND a giant loophole clause on land-clearing.  They’d signed it in April of 1998, but later that year it emerged that the Cabinet had decided it wouldn’t ratify unless Uncle Sam did.  At this point (May 2000) it wasn’t entirely clear what would happen.  In any case, the whole idea of emissions trading was on the rise, and David Buckingham, a bureaucrat who had been head-hunted first by the Minerals Council and then had switched to the Business Council gave a speech –

Buckinhgham, D. 2000. Strategic Greenhouse Issues for Australia. Business Council of Australia

http://www.bca.com.au/media/strategic-greenhouse-issues-for-australia

which suggested a voluntary domestic emissions trading scheme might be a goer, as a learning by doing exercise.

On the same day, Environment Minister gave a speech on ‘the role of Australian business in combatting global warming’-
Hill R. 2000. Warming to the Challenge; The Role of Australian Business in Combatting Global warming. Address to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the Australian Business Council Forum, Melbourne, 5 May.

What happened next?  Hill lost his bid to get carbon trading through cabinet in August of the same year, defeated by Nick Minchin.  The BCA said nope to emissions trading, and to a ‘greenhouse trigger’ in the EPBC Act, and fought itself to a standstill over Kyoto Ratification in 2002/3…  So it goes…

Also on this day

1973  AMIC advert for an environmental policy officer in Canberra Times (nothing in their newsletters etc about climate change – I looked)

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental issues

 

 

 

 

1990 Australian Coal Association conference dominated by environmental i

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 –

2 April 1978 – Australian Coal Association starts having conferences…

On this day 39 years ago, the first Australian Coal Conference began in Surfers Paradise, Queensland.  2 – 6 April 1978.

These shindigs, which happened every second year, would continue until 2000.  Climate change got a super-brief mention in 1988 (the conference happened in April) and a heckuva lot more coverage in 1990 (with the usual mix of denial and technology will fix it). The conferences hosted scientific luminaries like Fred Singer and Pat Michaels too. The industry, which saw these conferences as a chance to sniff out deals and schmooze, finally got fed up with a (to them) excessive focus on climate policy after the 2000 conference, and the Australian Coal Association stopped having a conference.  Other outfits (Coaltrans for example) took up the slack a bit…  But that’s for another day…

 

Also on this day –

In 2001, a day after John Howard sent a ‘good on you mate’ letter to George ‘hanging chad’ Bush, his Federal cabinet went ‘heh heh, yeah, me too’.

“A string of federal ministers, led by Prime Minister John Howard, voiced support for the US position following the March 29 announcement by Washington that it would not support the Kyoto Protocol. Federal cabinet decided on April 2 to support the US decision. The government declared that it will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol unless the US does.”

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

Meanwhile, The April 2 Age 2001 printed an article by Ray Evans from the Lavoisier Group, in which he stated: “President Bush has shown courage and provided world leadership by announcing that the United States will not support the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. What is baffling, however, is that some senior members of the Australian government do not seem prepared to immediately lend support to Bush. In the interests of good policy and good science, they should do so.”

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.