The climate issue had broken out in late 2006. Until then a cabal of bureaucrats and trade association actors had,for about ten years, kept a tight rein on Australian climate change (and energy) policy. The key book on this is ‘High and Dry’ by Guy Pearse, who had done a PhD on the very subject. In early 2007, after the Howard Government had finally been forced to consider an emissions trading scheme (the ‘Shergold Report’), the State Governments of Australia (all Labor at the time) and the Federal Opposition (led by Kevin Rudd) asked high-profile economist Ross Garnaut to write a report about ‘what should be done’. Garnaut set to work, but by the time that Guy Pearse made this submission–
the sidelining of Garnaut – who didn’t think there was a justification for stuffing the pockets of generators and coal-miners with ‘compensation’ – was already underway…
Also on this day
On his 2GB program, Alan Jones, having berated Julia Gillard for being late to his studio less than a month before, continues in his fine form with these comments about Ross Garnaut.
“What do you make of this galoot Garnaut, the Federal Government’s climate change head-kicker?…‘The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is telling us climate change is happening’ – well of course it’s happening, ha ha of course climate change is happening ya dunce, but is it being created by manmade carbon dioxide emissions? They don’t want to face that question. (Cited in Barry 2011a)
(Ward, 2015: 235)
We do love a good techno-fix, when the alternative is doing something now about future problems. And so it was that the fossil fuel industry, following the lead/very-gentle-indeed-shove of Bush and Howard, started spruiking ‘clean coal…
This, from the Australian, is worth remembering as a document of those days. It’s all gone horribly wrong, as any adult could have seen (and did)….
Wilson, N. 2004 Turning coal clean and green. The Australian, 21 February.
JUDGING by the heavy hitters attending a conference on the Gold Coast this week, geosequestration is about to get a substantial workover in Australia in the next few years.
Geosequestration is the capture of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and placing them underground. To some environmentalists the concept is about as popular as toxic waste.
For Australia’s biggest export industry, coal, geosequestration may be the difference between death and survival….
Also on this day-
Ross Garnaut had been asked by State Governments and Labor Leader Kevin Rudd in early 2007 to write a report on climate change impacts and what to do. By the time he produced the first report, in early 2008, Rudd had become Prime Minister, gone to Bali for his applause and dodged questions about targets for emissions reductions. Already by mid-February 2008, Garnaut’s strict ‘don’t give loads of money to the miners to shut them up’ line was causing him to be sidelined, as the second report here shows…
Murphy, K. 2008. Climate Change: Act Now. The Age, 21 February.
The Garnaut interim report has put the onus firmly on the Rudd Government to react swiftly to climate change, writes Katharine Murphy.
Anon, 2008. Rudd Government cool on Garnaut’s climate challenge. Brisbane Courier Mail, 21 February.
THE Federal Government has tried to play down its chief climate change adviser’s call for even deeper cuts to dangerous greenhouse gases.
Economist Ross Garnaut, in his interim report on climate change policy released yesterday, said the Government should set a 2020 greenhouse target this year and consider setting a tougher 2050 target.
On this day ten years ago, the state governments of Australia basically told John Howard ‘ lead on climate change or we will’ (insofar as an emissions trading scheme is leadership….).
Since 2001 Bob Carr (at the time premier of New South Wales) had been trying to get the Federal Government to introduce an emissions trading scheme. From 2004 a state-governments supported ‘National Emissions Trading Taskforce’ had been at work. Prime Minister Howard had remained opposed until suddenly overwhelmed by political pressure, and in November 2006 he had back-flipped and started a Federal process. (‘the Shergold report).
But the NETT process rumbled on, and at the second meeting of Council for the Australian Federation (all the state governments meeting without the Federales) is was agreed to press Howard to introduce an emissions trading scheme based on Shergold and to warn him that if the Commonwealth didn’t bring in a scheme, the states would, by the end of 2010.
There were caveats. Peter Beattie, then the Premier of Queensland said
“All I’ve ever been concerned about is to make certain that we don’t abandon a commonsense approach about developing clean coal technology, because of Queensland’s coal reserves and out of that we will get zero emissions.
“So we’ve made it clear that we are prepared to be part of a national response to deal with climate change, but we want to see a very clear focus on developing clean coal technology which would give us a world response to greenhouse gas emissions, not just an Australian response.”
(Taylor, J. 2007. Premiers meeting over carbon trading scheme Premiers to sign climate declaration. ABC, 9 February.
It was at this meeting that it was agreed to they would ask Ross Garnaut to go to work on a further study of climate change impacts on the Australian economy and how a trading scheme would ‘fit’ internationally. (Garnaut started work in April, having been asked by then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and then opposition leader Kevin Rudd.
Also on this day-
2007 Greens leader Bob Brown calls coal the energy industry’s heroin habit
“From January 31 to February 3, 2009, over 150 community based climate action groups and more than 500 people came together in Canberra to talk, debate, strategise and take action on climate change at Australia’s Climate Action Summit.”
You can read more about it here-
The context was the release in mid-December 2008 of the Rudd government’s White Paper for its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) which had been panned as a grotesquely inadequate giveaway to the coal industry. Ross Garnaut had opined
“There is no public policy justification for $3.9 billion in unconditional payments to [electricity] generators in relation to hypothetical future ‘loss of asset value. Never in the history of Australian public finance has so much been given without public policy purpose, by so many, to so few.”
According to Simon Butler the summit
“decided that the CPRS must be prevented from becoming law.
“The Greens’ spokesperson on climate change, Senator Christine Milne, was a keynote speaker at the summit. She commended the grassroots climate movement and said that the Greens aimed to represent the movement’s aims in parliament.
“Milne received a standing ovation after her speech — an accolade received by no other speaker.
So, the activists strategised, but it all seems to have ended in tears, as it so often does. How can radical social movements sustain their passion (anger), energy, morale, resources for the long slog, when faced with external problems and internal ones… Answers on a postcard to the usual address….
In the frenzy of activity (as distinct from action) in 2011, while the minority Australian Labor government shepherded a minimal emissions trading scheme through parliament, one of Australia’s foremost/busiest public intellectuals, Ross Garnaut, was criss-crossing the country giving speeches on carbon pricing….
Speech theme: Climate change and carbon pricing – impacts and opportunities …Tuesday 21 June 2011, 6:00–7:30pm, Sydney Public forum, Sydney Town Hall