Tag Archives: UNFCCC

February 25, 1981 – Senator ponders the dangers of burning coal. Yes, 1981.

If you were paying attention in the 1970s, you knew there might be trouble ahead, not just for the whales, but the even stupider mammals; the ones on two legs.  Various green and scientific publications ran stories on the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the worrying trends throughout that decade.  The first World Climate Conference took place in February 1979.  Some Australian politicians (whom we will encounter as this project goes on) were aware of the problem. Still, props to Senator Stan Collard,  Country/National Party. On 25 February 1981 he had this to say –

“Our steaming coal exports are mounting. I have no objection to that, except for one thing. I ask: Just how much further can we go with burning these masses of coal and pouring the pollutants, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere? One thing that we are not sure of, of course, is the ultimate greenhouse effect that it will have on this continent, maybe even in our lifetime. I think we must consider quite reasonably just where to cry halt to the burning of masses of steaming coal and where we can bring in one of the cleanest methods of power generation, that is, nuclear power generation, until something cleaner and better comes along. I reject the suggestion that the Government is lacking in its planning, but I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate.

Also on this day – 

1992  On 25 February at UN headquarters (New York City, USA), 20 business associations from 9 countries released a joint statement to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The business associations, nearly half of which are from Australia, are in the fields of fossil fuel and energy production, manufacturing, and metals.

Anon. 1992. International Business Associations Issue Statement on Climate Negotiations. Global Environmental Change. Vol. 4, No. 5  13 March.

Fraser, A. 2007. Rudd unveils his ‘clean coal’ plan. Canberra Times, 26 February.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is giving Prime Minister John Howard a race for his ”clean-coal” money, unveiling a $1.5 billion plan yesterday to come up with breakthrough technology.  (see 26th March 2007 for  Lavoisier group response)

On this day in 2011, fresh from signing her own ‘death warrant’, Julia Gillard was on the breakfast radio show of Alan Jones.

“Or consider this excerpt from Jones’ 25 February 2011 interview with Gillard (which he began by berating the prime minister for being late). He concluded his line of questioning about her CO2 emissions policy saying: ‘Do you understand, Julia, that you are the issue today because there are people now saying that your name is not Julia but JuLIAR and they are saying we’ve got a liar running the country’ (cited in Barry 2011a).”
(Ward, 2015: 236)

Feb 4, 1998 – economic modellers get wristslap for excluding greenies

On this day 19 years ago the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) got a slap on the wrist.  Years earlier they’d started asking for $50k per annum to be on a steering group that oversaw the development of the “MEGABARE” economic model.  This model was used to justify Australia’s diplomatic efforts to cut itself a very cushy deal in the international climate negotiations.  MEGABARE ‘showed scientifically’ that Australia’s economy was unique and that any abatement efforts would cause the sky to fall.  Who had been ponying up the $50k per annum?  Disin1998-02-04terested and public-spirited groups like the Australian Coal Association,  Rio Tinto, the Business Council of Australia.  When the Australian Conservation Foundation asked to join the board in May 1997, with the $50k waived, the ABARE boss said ‘terribly sorry, no can do’.  So ACF complained to the Ombudsman in June and the Ombudsman investigated and – waiting until after the Kyoto meeting of the UNFCCC – released a report saying that ABARE had opened themselves up to the perception of bias.

To quote the press release,  “The Ombudsman’s investigation also concluded that:

  • The composition of the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees did not adequately conform to the characteristics of a government steering committee dealing with an important – and controversial – public policy matter. In particular that the development of the steering committee did not ensure a balance of views and technical skills.
  • The membership fees were exclusionary in their effect.
  • It was not appropriate for ABARE to use the term ‘steering committee’ to describe the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees.
  • ABARE’s intentions for the MEGABARE and GIGABARE committees would have been more appropriately characterised at the outset as ‘sponsors committees for funding representatives’. However, the use of the term ‘Steering Committee’, and the associated explanation as to its role allowed an ambiguity and the possible creation of an expectation of membership influence on issues affecting public policy.
  • The greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies are an important matter of public policy and any steering committee or consultative process should include a balance of community interests.

Ms Smith said: ‘ABARE now concedes that it should not have used this fund raising mechanism if it had known the ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘political use’ that would be made of the funding arrangements.”

 

For more on this, see Clive Hamilton’s 2001 ‘Running from the Storm’ and a 1997 Honours Thesis by one R. Duncan.

Also on this day –

Oh look ABARE’s 1993 outlook conference was happening five years earlier.

At the conference, the boss of Woodside Petroleum said it was time for a ‘reappraisal’ of Australia’s greenhouse policies.

…. and perhaps even argue for a national increase in greenhouse gas emissions instead of a cut….

Mr Allen said “emotional media and political treatment” of the greenhouse issue had obscured the real problem. While it was clear greenhouse was happening, he said, there were many scientific uncertainties about its magnitude and speed.

Mussared, D. 1993. Increase Australia’s greenhouse emissions: Woodside. Canberra Times, 5 February, p.13.

and at the same conference

“A senior ABARE minerals economist, Mr Barry Jones, told the Outlook ’93 conference yesterday that the measures announced in the Government’s Greenhouse Response Strategy would not be enough to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 compared with 1988 levels, or to cut them a further 20 per cent by 2005.” and that if it wanted to reach those goals, the Federal Government would have to consider unpopular measures such as a carbon tax…

Garran, R. 1993. Rethink needed on greenhouse.  The Australian Financial Review, 5 February, p.7.

 

May 1st – protests, texts, research is “money down a rat hole”;

Normally I pick one “event”. Today, there’s a bunch.  In chronological order;

1971 May Day protests in Washington – non-violent direct action protests in Washington. Met with violence by police, then memory-holed…

1981 John Perry’s “Energy and Climate- Energy and Climate: Today’s Problem, Not Tomorrow’s” guest editorial received for journal Climatic Change Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 223-225

may1st1981

1992 French diplomat Jean Rippert presents(almost) final text of UNFCCC to the Fifth “Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee” meeting. Basically, the Americans have “won.” There will be no targets and timetables in the text to be agreed at Rio.  (Meanwhile, European business is conducting a HUGE lobbying campaign against a proposed European carbon tax)

1992 Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance published (according to Amazon!)

1996 Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher says  that “global warming research is really money right down a rathole”

“In the final budget meeting of the Science Committee on May 1, 1996, Walker asked Rohrabacher for his opinion of the various government programs to monitor climate change. Rohrabacher’s response reflects the contempt in which he holds this hard-won scientific evidence. “I think that money that goes into this global warming research is really money right down a rathole,” he said.” Gelbspan, R. (1998) Page 76-7

2006 While Washington Slept article by Mark Hertsgaard

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

April 21st, 1993 – Clinton announces US will return its emissions to 1990 levels by 2000

“Fortunately, the Clinton-Gore Administration has begun to reverse this situation and to put the US in the position it should have been in almost two years ago through President Clinton’s commitment in his Earth Day address on April 21, 1993 to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions in 2000 to their 1990 levels. The Administration will develop a revised national Action Plan on Climate Change to fulfil this commitment.”

Nitze (1994) Page 198

Which would have meant they were meeting the UNFCCC agreement target of the previous June.

Did they make that?  You’ve not been paying attention, have you?

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

March 29th, 1995 – Kuwait at first “COP” – oil and gas can’t be blamed…

At the very first “Conference of the Parties” of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kuwait produced a climatologist, working for the Oil Ministry, who argued that if global warming was occurring, then oil and coal could not be blamed for it (Guardian, 29 March 1995).

No change there then…

 

Other things that happened on this day:

2001 James Hansen at “Vice” President Dick Cheney’s Climate Task Force (see Hansen’s “Storms of my Grandchildren,” page 1 onwards, for more gory details

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

March 28th, 2001 – Bush kills Kyoto Protocol

On this day in 2001 newly (s)elected President Bush reneges on promises to take action on climate (same playbook as his daddy) and says it’s not in the United States’ national interest to limit carbon emissions. Because droughts and superstorms and all sorts of other madness are in the national interest. Or something…http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2001/mar/29/globalwarming.usnews

The Kyoto Protocol ratification process drags on for another four tawdry years, until the Russians can be ‘convinced’ that it’s in their ‘interests’ to do so. And Kyoto, inadequate in 1997, is even MORE inadequate by the time discussions start in Montreal for its successor…

Also on this day;
March 28, 2010: Flotilla aims to block coal ships in Newcastle port

March 21st, 1994 – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change comes into force

Ninety days after the fiftieth country ratified it, the Climate Change Convention (hammered out in 1991 and early 1992, and one of the main draws of the Rio ‘Earth Summit’) becomes a legal document.  There followed a year of intense wrangling before the first “Conference of the Parties” meeting in Berlin, chaired by one Angela Merkel.

Then followed another… twenty years of fruitless intense wrangling, while emissions climbed, concentrations climbed and temperatures edged upwards.

How long have we got? Who knows, but it’s later than you think…

There are various good accounts of the negotiations that went into making it happen.  My two favourites are –

Negotiating Climate Change; The Inside Story of the Rio Convention

and

The Earth Brokers: Power, Politics and World Development