“On 28 April 1997 on ABC Radio National, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, stated publicly that he believed that Australia should never have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was the culmination of over a year of backpedaling by the Australian Liberal-National Party Government on the issue of climate change due to purported negative economic impacts.”
Yu and Taplin, 2000 The Australian Position at the Kyoto Conference in Gillespie and Burns (eds) Climate Change in the South Pacific: Impacts and Responses in Australia, New Zealand, and Small Island States, Kluwer
Howard was probably having to respond to this issue because of a page 2 story in the Australian newspaper which began-
AUSTRALIA will fail to meet its greenhouse gas emission target by 2000 under the current “no-regrets” policy and should back up that policy with tradeable licences to pollute, the Productivity Commission has said.
According to the commission’s calculations, no-regrets policies – under which polluters are encouraged to cut greenhouse gases by improving efficiency – will leave Australia 5-9 million tonnes a year above the agreed limits.
Henderson, I. 1997. Plan for polluters to sell off excesses. The Australian, 28 April, p.2.
Also on this day
AAP, 1993. Aust to monitor energy-tax experience: Kelly. Canberra Times, 29 April, p. 15
Australia would watch closely the international trend towards an energy tax and the effect such a tax would have on curbing greenhouse gases, the Minister for Environment, Ros Kelly, said yesterday.
“The Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change held its inaugural meeting in Berlin during March/April this year. Australia’s negotiating position at the CoP created widespread interest in Australia. A seminar held in Canberra on 28 April, 1995 allowed the Berlin participants to describe the negotiations at the conference. Speakers included representatives from government, business, and the environment movement.” [BCA happy, ACF not…]
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
In 2007 the climate issue went ballistic in Australia Two excellent books were published. One was Guy Pearse’s ‘High and Dry’, which is still essential reading. The other was Clive Hamilton’s ‘Scorcher,’ an update and extension of his 2001 ‘Running from the Storm’. On this day, 10 years ago, he was on Radio National plugging it….
Doogue, G. 2007. Clive Hamilton on Saturday Extra. Radio National, 21 April. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/clive-hamilton/3238974
Also on this day-
1993 [Clinton’s] stand is a reversal of that taken by the former US President, Mr Bush, who refused at the Earth Summit to support specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or to back the biodiversity treaty.
At the start of his speech, Mr Clinton made an unexpected acknowledgement of Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Mrs Kelly.
“We should introduce a guest from another country who is here with us – the environmental minister from Australia, Ros Kelly,” he said. “Would you stand up? We’re glad to have you here.”
Garran, R. 1993. Clinton pledge cuts new key to the greenhouse. Australian Financial Review, 23 April p.9.
21 April 2010: Failures of the Howard government’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program which was a version of direct action exposed by audit report and reported by Lenore Taylor. (From Mark Butler’s Direct Action Timeline)
21 April 2011: The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency publishes detailed estimates of potential land sector abatement which are significantly at odds with those promised by direct action, they put out a range of 5 to 15 Mt and set out why this was different to technical potential quoted by Greg Hunt. (From Mark Butler’s Direct Action Timeline)
On this day 25 years ago the then Environment Minister Ros Kelly stated what anyone who could do sums and think about the active and passive resistance to change that institutions have already knew – reaching the 20% reduction by 2005 which she had taken to the Second World Climate Conference in Geneva in November 1990 was going to be a leeeetle bit challenging. Yes, huge energy efficiency gains might in theory exist, but getting individuals and companies to change their habits was going to be tricky. And by now, the idea of a carbon tax, floated by both three ESD Working Groups and alsothe Industry Commission in late 1991 had been comprehensively defeated by a determined industry campaign. Two hacks for the Fin wrote –
The Federal Minister for the Environment, Mrs Kelly, conceded yesterday it would be “very difficult” to achieve global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent – a target endorsed by the Federal Government.
1992 Garran R. and Lawson, M. 1992. Kelly concedes greenhouse difficulties. Australian Financial Review, 29 January, p.5.
The Toronto target limped on, and mostly served to give industry some cheap shots, until early 1995. But more on that later….
On this day 25 years ago, as business interests fought a fierce battle to ensure that Australia’s negotiating position at the June ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio would be suitably timid, the then chief executive of the Australian Institution of Engineers, Mr John Enfield, told a Canberra Times journo that
Australia would be sent to the poorhouse by the Federal Government’s attitude towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions … it would be “grossly wrong” for Australia to do this at the expense of living standards in a time of recession….
He criticised the Minister for the Environment, Mrs Kelly, for acting “prematurely” on the issue, before further research confirmed or disproved predictions on the greenhouse effect.
Chamberlin, P. 1992. Green govt warned of poorhouse effect. Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January, p.3.
This focus on (alleged) financial costs of action, without focusing on the financial benefits of action (new industries, new employment) and the financial costs of inaction is, well, typical. Nothing has really changed on this in the last 25 years….
Also on this day –
2008 – even extreme weather events are helping the mining boom (or at least, raising prices)…
Chaos at central Queensland coalmines as a result of heavy rains is set to exacerbate supply disruption, send coking-coal prices higher and play into the hands of BHP Billiton as it tries to take over rival Rio Tinto.
Flooding has forced mines across the Bowen Basin to shut as staff rush to move equipment to higher ground, affecting companies such as Xstrata, Macarthur Coal and Ensham Resources.
Wisenthal, S. and Garvey, P. 2008. Coal washout has bright side for BHP Australian Financial Review January 22