On this day 25 years ago the Sun Herald reported that a spokesman for Environment Minister Ros Kelly had said that Keating’s Government was not considering a “carbon tax” but instead favoured “no-regret” options. It was framed as a ‘win-win, with the spokesman adding “This Government would be delinquent if it did not take a precautionary rather than a cavalier approach to the greenhouse effect. The worst-case scenarios are terrifying.”
The Sun Herald continued
BCA spokesman Mark Emerson said Australia should not support the EC proposal for a commitment by developed countries to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000. “Business is concerned that, against the background of the enormous scientific uncertainties, inappropriate policy responses might be applied which would have devastating economic and social effects without any discernible environmental benefits,” he said. “None of Australia’s regional trading partners or competitors – except New Zealand – will agree to the EC option.”
1992 Skinner, S. 1992. Greenhouse: Aust yet to set its policy. Sun Herald, 26 April, p. 13.
Also on this day-
2007 If you need a laugh – Ray Evans Global Warming Debate A revised version of an address delivered at the ACT Caucus Room, Wellington, NZ on 26 April 2007
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.”
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.”
On this day ten years ago the new Labor opposition Leader Kevin Rudd made a speech about “greatest moral challenge of our generation” at a climate summit he organised at Parliament House in Canberra, part of the strategy to make John Howard look out-of-touch and untrustworthy on climate change (which he was).
He was right. And we did not raise to meet the challenge. Oops.
Also on this day –
1998 – “Greenhouse Beyond Kyoto: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges” Bureau of Resource Sciences, 31 March – 1st April 1998
2007 Gittins, R. 2007, ‘Carbon trading v taxes—a winner eases ahead’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March, p. 47.
2007 First Earth Hour’ – with lights ostentatiously going out all over the world…. Ray Evans was under-chuffed….” A recent example of intellectual corruption at the highest levels of Australian business was manifest when the Sydney Morning Herald teamed up with WWF to promote ‘Earth Hour’ on Saturday 31 March last. The idea was that, at 7:30 pm, everyone in Sydney should turn off their lights and shut down their TVs, and so on, in order to save the planet for an hour.”
The late Ray Evans was a culture warrior of the old school. There wasn’t a rightwing pie (union bashing, opposing aboriginal land rights etc, you name it) that he didn’t have an opinion on, a finger in the pie. In an April 2007 speech about climate change, he quoted this email from Fairfax (owners of the Sydney Morning Herald, the (Melbourne) Age and the Australian Financial Review)
Sent: Thursday, 22 March 2007 9:06 AM
Subject: EARTH HOUR – A MESSAGE TO ALL STAFF
When the lights of Sydney are turned off for one hour at 7.30pm on Saturday, March 31, we should take a moment to reflect, with pride, on the role Fairfax Media has played in Earth Hour.
For the past eight months, the Earth Hour working group has been meeting every Tuesday on Level 19 at Darling Park to plan this bold event.
Every strand of our business – management, editorial, online, commercial, marketing and production – has been involved in the planning process.
For Evans “What is important in this context is that the senior management of one of Australia’s most important media companies, Fairfax Ltd, publisher of the Melbourne Age, the SMH and the Australian Financial Review,sees no difficulty in enlisting all Fairfax staff in the prosecution of a cause which has been described by Cardinal George Pell as a manifestation of ‘pagan emptiness’.”
Also on this day-
2013 Martin Ferguson, seen by some as an unusually pro-mining Resources Minister resigns, in the aftermath of the leadership challenge that never was.
The Howard government’s ability to constrain public pressure for climate change action had in part rested on the claim that business was united in its opposition to, say, Kyoto Protocol ratification. This was always nonsense (do you think renewable energy proponents, or carbon traders, or insurers, for instance, would be opposed? What about the gas industry?). But this appearance of unity was assisted by the Business Council of Australia. Eventually, however, the internal ructions became too much, and it moved from opposition to ‘no position’. Then Hugh Morgan became President. And it was only at the end of 2006 that things shifted. Fortunately, we have loads of time to deal with climate change, so the additional wait didn’t matter. Oh yes…
“Business support for the Federal Government’s hardline position on climate change is crumbling, with the Business Council yesterday scrapping its outright opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.”
Garnaut, J. 2003. Business shifts tack on Kyoto. The Age, 1 March.
Also on this day –
Chamberlin, P. 1995. Cabinet to review gas reduction options. Canberra Times, 28 February p.2.
“A plan to take Australia about 40 per cent of the way towards meeting international obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed by the Cabinet today, with schemes designed to tempt top-level industry involvement.”
2007 The denialists got going, with a launch at Parliament House for this little doozy – Nine Facts about Climate Change Ray Evans [Originally published in November 2006 as a PDF (click here, 1.5 Mb). Launched in Canberra by Sir Arvi Parbo on 28 February 2007](Parbo had been a founder of the Business Council of Australia, btw).
On this day 13 years ago John Daly (not to be confused with John Daley, who we will meet later) died. Daly was the author of The Greenhouse Trap, published in 1989. It was the first (and for a long time only, I think) Australian book to deny anthropogenic global warming. Daly went on speaking tours, was on the radio a bit crossing swords with scientists and environmental advocates. He didn’t get to present his, ah, ‘research’ at the 1990 ANZAAS meeting, which apparently irked him.
You can read an obituary by Ray Evans here.
Ray Evans (who died in 2014) was a tire…less advocate of climate denial, industrial relations ‘reform’ (smash the unions), etc etc. We will meet him again in the course of this year, because he was pivotal in a variety of denialist campaigns from the mid-1990s onwards.
On this day 8 years ago, in Adelaide, Senator Cory Bernardi launched his 36 page Nobel Prize worthy extravaganza. This should be seen in the context of Kevin Rudd’s doomed CPRS legislation and the mobilisation against it…
You can read Senator Bernardi’s speech here.
Also on this day –
In 1995, a a national review for the Federal Government of Australia’s urban environment, released by the Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, called for a small carbon tax to cut greenhouse gases, and compulsory fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.
You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that it didn’t happen…..
Milburn, C. 1995. Study Calls For Carbon Tax To Cut Emissions. The Age, 27 January, p.3.