Wednesday, April 04, 2007
PM Howard’s anti-carbon trading strategy revealed
Economics commentator Ross Gittings has accused the PM of playing us for fools on global warming: “It's clear from John Howard's disillusioning behaviour last week that his attitude to global warming is utterly cynical, short-sighted and selfish. On the one hand he repudiated British economist Sir Nicholas Stern with the claim that serious emission reduction targets would ‘do great damage to the Australian economy’. On the other, his Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rolled out another low-pain scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this time by paying poor countries not to log their old-growth forests,” he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The know-it-all Mr Turnbull further distinguished himself by dismissing the latest United Nations report on the shocking extent of possible economic damage from global warming as nothing new. If it's nothing new, how come the Howard Government's been taking climate change seriously only for the past six months?
“Make that pretending to take it seriously. It's now clear Mr Howard's motive in professing to be a late convert to the cause of greenhouse gas reduction is quite phoney. His overriding concern is no more than making sure he doesn't lose many votes over the issue.”
Gittings has detected the PM’s two-pronged strategy: 1. “a stream of worthy but piddling measures to create the appearance of action - fluorescent lamps one week, anti-logging funds the next.” 2. Attack the Opposition at every opportunity. Howard is politicising, trivialising and misrepresenting the issue. “ The political survival of John Howard comes first; the survival of the planet comes a poor second,” says Mr Gittins.
Mr Howard's claim that significant reductions in emissions could not be achieved without "doing great damage to the economy" is dangerous and wrong. Emission trading schemes minimise the economic cost of reductions. Besides, doing little to prevent climate change that would itself do untold economic damage.
Either Howard is still a closet climate-change denier, or he is claiming that the economic cost of action would be too high is short-sighted selfishness. “Why should I pay a price to ward off climate change? I'll be gone from politics long before the chickens come home to roost.”
Gittins reads the Riot Act: “You just can't put the economy in one box and the environment in another. The economy exists in the environment. So if we stuff the environment, we stuff the economy. It's the planet, stupid.”
“If Mr Howard really were a late convert to the need for global action to forestall climate change he'd ratify the Kyoto Protocol, even at this late stage. His refusal to contemplate such a move just underlines the suspicion that he's putting face-saving and vote-saving ahead of saving the planet.”
Exhibit 5: The Howard Conspiracy Against An Australian Soil Carbon Trading Market
"If you think the cost of greenhouse gas abatement is high or uncertain, whereas the marginal benefit of abatement is small (because greenhouse gases are a stock that has built up over many years and one year's worth of abatement doesn't make much difference to the total stock), then you'd probably favour a carbon tax because that would give you control over the price and thus the economic cost you were incurring.
"Alternatively, if you accept that the cost to the economy of not achieving a significant reduction in emissions - such as Sir Nicholas's target of achieving a 60 per cent reduction in annual emissions by 2050 - would be unacceptably high, then you'd favour a carbon trading scheme because that would give you direct control over the quantity of emissions."
Bush's Global Warming position rejected by US Supreme Court
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court finally smashed the Bush
Administration’s defences on global warming.
In a 5-4 vote, the Court decreed that carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions are "pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to start curbing those pollutants, which are wreaking havoc with our climate. It dismisses the Bush Administration's leading excuse for doing nothing about global warming: namely, that it has no power to control carbon pollution. The Supreme Court has now ordered the EPA to stop relying on illegal excuses and to start getting serious about the problem of global warming pollution from new cars, SUVs and trucks.
It also removes the major obstacle to measures in California and ten other states that would slash greenhouse gas emissions from car exhaust.
Fundamentally, the EPA has always had a constitutional duty to act on global warming and it has been subverted by the Bush Administration willing to defy the Consitution in order to protect the fossil fuel industry. Even the President's stacking of the Supreme Court with ideologically-selected judges, as has been done in this country, was not enough to save him.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
How Bush Administration spiked Climate Science
BREAKING NEWS Associated Press Monday March 19, 2007 10:01 PM
A White House official has admitted editing reports on global warming ``to align these communications with the administration's stated policy'' on climate change.
The House Government Reform Committee heard that the 181 changes made in three climate reports reflected a consistent attempt to emphasize the uncertainties surrounding the science of climate change and undercut the broad conclusions that man-made emissions are warming the earth.
Philip Cooney, an oil industry lobbyist appointed by President Bush as chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, left the White House to work at Exxon Mobil Corp. when his activities were made public in 2005.
The House Government Reform Committee heard James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the country's leading climate scientists, reveal that the White House repeatedly tried to control what government scientists said about climate change. ``Interference with communications of science to the public has been greater during the current administration than at any time in my career,'' he said. In 2005 he was told he could not take part in an interview with National Public Radio on orders from senior NASA public affairs officials. Instead, three other NASA officials were offered for the interview. The press officer who gave the instruction, George Deutsch, told the committee he had simply been ``relaying'' the views of higher-ups at NASA.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., suggested that there is nothing wrong with government scientists being subject to some limits in what they say. ``You're speaking on federal paid time. Your employer happens to be the American taxpayer,'' Issa said. Hansen spoke for many when he retorted: ``It's not the American way. And it's not constitutional.''
Exhibit 4: The Howard Conspiracy Against An Australian Soil Carbon Market
The headline reads "CSIRO axes outspoken expert" (Canbera Times, 20 March 2007)
Dr Maarten Stapper has been dumped by the CSIRO, amid allegations he was bullied by management for criticising GM crops. He was the only government scientist studying soil carbon and his departure brigns that to an end.
The Stapper incident is the latest in the politicisation of the CSIRO and government funded science by the Howard Government. It mirrors the Bush Government's manipulation of official science to serve its ideological goals.
The chief of CSIRO's Plant Industry division, Dr Jeremy Burdon, asked about further research on increasing carbon uptake of soils, Dr Burdon replied, "We won't be doing any more of that."
Dr Stapper was researching carbon loss in soils, restoring soil fertility by improving soil microbiology and use of biological farming methods to improve wheat yields.
Insiders reveal he was "carpeted" by management after he was overheard explaining criticisms of some aspects of GM crops while mingling with audience members after a public forum.
Dr Stapper worked as an agronomist in Canada, the US and Iraq before joining CSIRO as a principal research scientist. He developed new irrigation scheduling programs and methods of calculating nitrogen in the soil before switching his focus to soil biology and health.
Dr Stapper says working in irrigated wheat paddocks made him aware " most problems start with the soil, and
thus solutions should commence there". He argued that the use of "fertilisers, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals to
address problems in agricultural production has been leading to poor soil health and resistance in insects, diseases and weeds".
Dr Burdon confirmed that Dr Stapper was the only CSIRO scientist working on organic and biological farming systems and the research program would end when he left. He said CSIRO did not consider biological and organic farming to be "a long-term
viable strategy" and Dr Stapper's research was "not an area the division feels it can support any more". The CSIRO is in the pocket of Monsanto and the GM companies, with the consent of the Howard government.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Donate today! Support the work of the Carbon Coalition
The Convenors have funded:
• speaking engagements,
• website activity,
• overseas study tour,
• attending conferences to make contacts,
• appearing before official enquiries…
Please see the attached activity sheet. The time involved has grown to consume time previously devoted to income-producing activity. We can't go on this way. We need to professionalise the operation. Get serious or get out.
We believe the mission of the Coalition is too important to wind down at this important point.
We are on the point of creating the soil carbon market in Australia, We are enrolling landholders for trading. But the challenges we have coming up include:
1. Being fobbed off with Federal Government Stewardship Payments instead of carbon credits. These are a poor substitute for three reasons: i. it puts you in the hands of the public servants; ii. They could never be as lucrative; iii. They represent handouts, not payments for produce. We believe the Howard Government is implacably opposed to soil carbon credits. (Leopards don’t change their spots.)
2. Missing out on offsets when on-farm emissions are measured/estimated and landholders are required to buy credits to offset CO2, methane, nitrous oxide etc.
3. Put an end to the myth about Australian soils and carbon.
4. Force the hand of the regulators (IPART) by forming markets.
5. Promote the notion of Carbon Farming among business as usual growers.
6. Maintain pressure for Australia to join Kyoto.
7. Protect landholders from exploitation by unsympathetic middlemen and opportunists.
8. Teaching landholders about the carbon trading markets.
We need your help…
We need your help to achieve the goals of the Coalition:
• Making the family farm more economically viable
• Strengthening rural communities
• Restoring the ecological health of farmland
• Reducing the extremes of Climate Change
What we need resources for…
• Website development
• Membership database system
There is so much more we can do… getting Members involved in our activities is FIRST AND FOREMOST… but it takes time and time is always short when you’re short of money.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are many ways you can help:
• You can send a cheque to the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming C/- MB & AL Kiely, “Uamby”, Uamby Road, GOOLMA NSW 2852
• You will find a “Donate” button on the website (www.carboncoalition.com.au) and on the blogsites.
• You can buy Australian Farm Soil Credits from http://carbonfarmers.blogspot.com
• You can engage CarbonCreditedBrands by visiting http://carboncreditedhowto.blogspot.com
Your contribution is an investment in the greatest opportunity to solve the problems of declining land health, declining economic health, and declining personal health in agriculture.
Thank you for being part of this historic moment.
Michael, Louisa & Daniel Kiely
PS. Please pass this email letter on to others you may know who would be interested.
NB. YOUR TAX DEDUCTION: While we cannot offer tax deductibility as a CHARITY, we can arrange a deduction for you by the following means: 1. You make your contribution. 2. The Coalition invoices you for CARBON ADVISORY SERVICES (which is a legitimate part of our activities) and your receipt can be used for deduction.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Exhibit 3: The Howard Conspiracy Against An Australian Carbon Market
KEVIN RUDD: Does the Prime Minister recall his industry minister saying just six months ago: "I am a sceptic of the connection between emissions and climate change"? Does the Prime Minister support this statement?
Mr HOWARD: It is not only remarks made by people in this parliament. There is a farmer I know who is sceptical about that connection as well! But we can debate. Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the jury is still out on the degree of connection. - House of Representatives, 2.54pm 6.2.07
JOHN HOWARD: I was wrong to talk about climate change and drought when the question was about climate change and emissions. For the record, I do believe there is a connection between climate change and emissions. I do not really think the jury is out on that. - House of Representatives, 6.32pm, 6.2.07
"I made a mistake in the first day when I mistook a question about the link between global warming and greenhouse gases, climate change, sorry, and emissions, for a question between climate change and drought because that had been on everybody’s lips and okay, I made a mistake."- John Howard continuing on 3AW, 9.2.07
Exhibit 2: The Howard Conspiracy Against An Australian Carbon Market
But documents obtained quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald reveal the Government had no intention of setting up a domestic carbon trading scheme as recently as October 2006. A note by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on October 17 said "a national emissions trading scheme, in the absence of similar action globally, would not be in the nation's interest".
Confidential briefing notes written for the Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, in September were even stronger in their opposition to carbon trading, casting doubt on the ability of trading schemes to reduce emissions. "Australia does not see the need to impose an economy-wide system on carbon trading," the notes said. Weeks later Mr Howard signalled a dramatic shift in the Government's policy by announcing an emissions trading taskforce to investigate Australian participation in a future global scheme. In a discussion paper made public this month the taskforce found a global scheme was still far off and suggested a national carbon trading scheme, adding there was no time for complacency.
Mr Howard said a national carbon trading scheme could be introduced if there was "reasonable anticipation" of action on a global scale. Mr Macfarlane, formerly an opponent of carbon trading, now says he has an open mind.
The documents show the Government was so worried about the impact of the September visit by the former US vice-president Al Gore to promote his climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, as to draft detailed points to promote the Government's initiatives on global warming and defend it from any criticism.
Given Howard's track record, he doesn't compromise on what he believes, even to win public support. He only appears to.
Another Howard Crony Outs Himself as a sceptic
In 2007 (March) Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, questioned the link between fossil fuels and greenhouse gas pollution.
He claimed, in a aletter to Clean Up Australia's Ian Kiernan, that "a number of eminent scientists remain in the 'sceptical' camp." Senator Minchin quotes columns written by the Canadian newspaper columnist Lawrence Solomon promoting the work of Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark whose research has proved to contain numerous calculation and methodological errors.
Senator Minchin also referred to a critique of the Stern report by retired James Cook University professor Bob Carter. 'Professor Carter, whose background is in marine geology, appears to have little, if any, standing in the Australian climate science community. He is on the research committee at the Institute of Public Affairs, a think tank that has received funding from oil and tobacco companies, and whose directors sit on the boards of companies in the fossil fuel sector,' says the Sydney Morning Herald.
A spokesman for Senator Minchin said: "The senator stands by his comments in that letter."
Professor Carter told the Herald yesterday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had uncovered no evidence the warming of the planet was caused by human activity. He said the role of peer review in scientific literature was overstressed, and whether or not a scientist had been funded by the fossil fuel industry was irrelevant to the validity of research.
"I don't think it is the point whether or not you are paid by the coal or petroleum industry," said Professor Carter. "I will address the evidence."
Ex-Professor Carter has not published anything on the topic through the peer review process.
Nick Minchin is not alone in Howard's Cabinet. Senator Ian MacFarlane is also a self-professed sceptic.
Howard Minister "I am a sceptic"
The following conversation between Laurie Oakes and Commonwealth Industry Minister Ian McFarlane on Channel 9"'s Sunday program on 20/8/2006 led to this spectacular admission:
LAURIE OAKES: OK. Climate change, you are a climate change sceptic, aren't you?
IAN McFARLANE: Well I am a sceptic of the connection between emissions and climate change. No-one would deny that the world's climate is changing. We don't know exactly what the factors are that are driving that. There appears to be evidence connecting emissions to climate change. But whether or not that can be proved absolutely is not the issue. What we need to do, and everyone accepts that, and I am certainly dealing with that through my portfolio, we need to lower our emissions. I think the key issue is, though, Laurie, how do you do that? How do you actually achieve lower global emissions and we're very much committed to achieving that through low emissions technologies and a spread of energy sources? So the technical solution will in fact lower greenhouse gas emissions. As we have seen, Kyoto is failing to do that.
Exhibit 1: The Howard Conspiracy Against An Australian Carbon Market
The following conversation between Channel 9"s Laurie Oakes on 20/8/2006 reveals the earliest expression of the Howard strategy to talk about markets while being sure they never eventuate. Laurie is talking to Industry Minister Ian McFarlane.
LAURIE OAKES: You and the Prime Minister dumped on the states for proposed a carbon trading system. As a result of your dumping, I think, Peter Beattie then chickened out of it, but, how else except through an emissions trading scheme can price signals be used to cut emissions?
IAN McFARLANE: Well there are ways to get companies to adopt new technologies and not only did Peter Beattie pull out of it but so did Alan Carpenter so you have Western Australia and Queensland opting out of a what is a scheme that, by their own analysis and ABARE's analysis, will see a doubling in electricity prices and petrol prices over the next 30 odd years.
LAURIE OAKES: But, how else do you give a price signal?
IAN McFARLANE: Well, you don't necessarily need to give a price signal, you can say that it is up to the companies to ensure they're employing the latest technology in terms of emission reduction. That technology at this stage is still being proven. We're combining with the companies and they will invest more than $1 billion with the Australian Government to ensure that we pilot these technologies of lower emissions, but you've got to have the technologies in place before you can lower emissions globally and that's the challenge.
LAURIE OAKES: You say you don't need a price signal, even the Australian Coal Association says we're going to need a price signal, to compliment your cleaner coal program.
IAN McFARLANE: The Australian Coal Association actually withdrew that statement on the basis that they were taken out of context and their statement on Friday said they do not support that position but can I give you an example. The aluminium industry continues to lower its own emissions both in terms of Co2 but general emissions through their striving for efficiency and also the triple bottom line to satisfy the community that they are an industry that is sustainable in the long term. They've done that in Australia without a price signal.
LAURIE OAKES: But you're one out on this, the Australian Business Round Table earlier this year said there needed to be a pricing signal built in and it needed to be done sooner rather than later. The Reserve Bank board member, Professor Warwick McGibon says a carbon price signal is needed for the uptake of all low emissions technologies, I mean, the evidence is overwhelming?
IAN McFARLANE: There's certainly views that say that but they're not overwhelming views and the reality is, you cannot lower emissions until you have the technology to do it. Once you have the technology to do then there is a question about adoption and I'm confident, based on the track record of industry to date, that they will adopt the technology once it's available. The challenge at the moment over the next 10 years is to prove up the technology that produces zero emission coal fired electricity, that allows us to expand the renewable energy base into things like rot rocks, to look at options in terms of how we produce electricity by lowering emissions in a whole range of ways and that really is where the challenge is at the moment. The carbon trading schemes that are in place at the moment, including the one under Kyoto, are absolute failures and we've seen the carbon price in Europe move all over the place while at the same time the countries participating are actually going to miss their targets by miles. In fact, some of them will exceed Australia's growth in emissions, bearing in mind that our target was a growth of 8% from 1990 and we're one of the few countries at the moment who are on target to reach that.
LAURIE OAKES: Minister, even your Environment Minister has said the Government will have to investigate price signals coming from energy to deal with emissions.
IAN McFARLANE: Well, all I can say Laurie is that at the moment what we as a Government are focusing on, is making sure that we have the technology to reduce emissions.
LAURIE OAKES: But you're one out in saying....
IAN McFARLANE: I'm not one out actually, I have a strong band of supporters and it is the Government's position that we proceed down the track to use technology and the innovation and inventiveness of Australians in co-operation with other countries like America and Japan and China et cetera through the AP6 Network.
LAURIE OAKES: And price signals are not necessary?
IAN McFARLANE: Well, at this stage they're not.
LAURIE OAKES: Treasurer, Peter Costello, has said that.
IAN McFARLANE: I'm not sure that's exactly what Peter said, but the reality is that at the moment we need to develop that technology. We're doing that the Government is spending half a billion dollars in that area alone and companies will spend far in excess of that.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Howard's minority support US global warming policy
The survey found 60 per cent of Australians now hold a mainly negative view of the US role in the world, compared with the average of 52 per cent. 26,381 people were questioned in 25 countries. 56 per cent disapproved of its stance on global warming.
54 per cent of Americans polled disapproved of how the United States was handling global warming.
President Bush expected to crumble on Kyoto today
The Reason? Well, surveys reveal that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president at this point in his presidency since Nixon at the lowest point of his popularity.
65% of Americans believe his actions are wrong.
Whatever, wherever George goes, there goes John Howard, who continues to be the most popular prime minister in history, despite being as wrong as often as George. (The difference is in the bodybag count.)
Just another day...
• The European Commission plans to work with emerging emission trading
schemes in the US, though a direct link will not take place until 2013, an
official at the European Commission said.
• Lack of global leadership from both developed and developing countries
hampers efforts to negotiate an international regime to deal with climate
change after 2012, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
• A group of major US manufacturers and power companies together with
environmental organisations issued a joint statement to US lawmakers on
Friday demanding mandatory greenhouse gas reductions in the US through a
Sunday, January 21, 2007
John Howard dangerously climate challenged
As a famous “dog whistler” (1/) John Howard crafted his latest disinformation campaign on climate change perfectly. “On 10th December, 2006 the PM announced the establishment of a joint government business Prime Ministerial Task Group on emissions trading.” It was not an “enquiry” that might make an honest attempt to deal with the issue objectively. But it sounded like one. And that’s all the clever bastard needed to get off the hook when the electorate went into high anxiety after Gore’s visit and Stern’s Report. “At last he’s doing something,” thought the white bread Aussies that he relies upon not to think too deeply about anything.
It was a “joint government business task force”. Now task forces don’t look for answer; those are supplied. They execute the plans of others. In this case climate sceptic Howard. His plan is to put off doing anything that might interrupt the Australian consumer binge long enough for climate change to be revealed as a hoax and all this weird weather confirmed as normal variation.
He presses all the right code word buttons for the old economy barons of industry to reassure them that Big Coal and Big Energy and Big Oil were still in control. EG. “As a world community we need to find new practical global solutions to climate change that include all major economies and emitters and that take account of national goals for economic prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability.
Australia is blessed with abundant coal, gas and uranium reserves and significant renewable assets. In assessing Australia’s further contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions these advantages must be preserved."
Which means that he's as serious about kerbing greenhouse gases as Muslim militants in Badgdad are about making peace with each other.
"While there is no one single solution to the global climate change challenge we need to maintain the prosperity that our abundant fossil fuels have given us while at the same time exploring options for global climate change solutions and accelerating the development and deployment of low emissions and clean coal technologies."
These people have less than 6 months to do what 162 nations of the world have taken more than a decade to do: find solutions. Clearly impossible, but that's not the point. This 'task force' from a discredited nation (one of only 2 to refuse to ratify Kyoto) is going to also "advise on the nature and design of a workable global emissions trading system in which Australia would be able to participate". Do you get the joke? Australia is going to tell the world how to solve global warming, PLUS our task forcers will design the carbon trading system. He has such a hide, that man. We are - despite what our foreign minister may say - widely despised as ecovandals and wreckers at many levels overseas. (The Germans, the highest value tourists we attract, are scathing.)
But the best part of the joke is the people on the task force, hand-picked to guarantee the outcome.
Here we have two names listed in the release as members:
Mr Peter Coates, Executive Committee Member, Xstrata
Mr Tony Concannon, Managing Director, International Power
The full name of XStrata is XStrata Coal just as the full name of International Power is International Power. Why so coy about the word "Coal"? Because coal burning power stations spew 50% of the CO2 Austalian industry emits into the air.
Two other members are also big polluters:
Mr Chris Lynch, Executive Director, BHP Billiton
Mr John Marlay, Chief Executive Officer, Alumina Limited
The Group is chaired by Dr Peter Shergold, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The other members of the Task Group appears below. 2/
Bet I can guess what their recommendations will be. That we continue burning lots of coal and oil and selling it, and digging up uranium, and using it as well. (They can't make any other recommendation - it's in the terms of reference. See below.3/)
Mr Howard can do what he likes. He's the king. Want a finding in favour of nuclear power for Australia: appoint a telco exec to head the enquiry, but make sure he's a nuclear physicist, which people won't notice/
The PM, when he is finally dragged screaming out of the job, will leave us an enduring legacy of political craftsmanship and strategic mastery, unequalled in the history of the British parliamentary system.
I wonder if he'll live long enough to see the fruits of his cleverness visited on his children and their children.
1. Dog-whistling in politics means to use coded language, which appears to mean one thing to the general population but which has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience, according to Wikipedia
2. Members of the Prime Minister's Task Group on Emissions Trading include:
Mr David Borthwick, Secretary, Department of the Environment and Heritage
Dr Ken Henry, Secretary, The Treasury
Mr Russell Higgins, Non-Executive Company Director Australian Pipeline Trust
Ms Margaret Jackson, Chairman, Qantas
Mr Michael L’Estrange, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mr Mark Paterson, Secretary, Department of Industry, Tourism and Resource
Mr John Stewart, Managing Director, National Australia Bank
3. Terms of Reference
Australia enjoys major competitive advantages through the possession of large reserves of fossil fuels and uranium. In assessing Australia’s further contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these advantages must be preserved.
Against this background the Task Group will be asked to advise on the nature and design of a workable global emissions trading system in which Australia would be able to participate. The Task Group will advise and report on additional steps that might be taken, in Australia, consistent with the goal of establishing such a system.
The Age of Uncertainty
Excuse my scepticism
WHEN Prime Minister John Howard says "the truth is that I'm not that sceptical" on climate change (The Age, 14/11), how sceptical - or perhaps cynical - is that. It is noteworthy that the major mechanism proposed by the PM for implementing an approach to carbon trading is to establish a government-business group composed of the very interest groups that have opposed the introduction of carbon trading longest and loudest.
Bro Sheffield-Brotherton, Elsternwick
No matter what language is used, you can be secure in the knowledge that the Government has not brought in a single new line of legislation that would impact negatively on existing fossil fuel assets.
Mark Byrne, Aldgate, SA
The Costello factor
JOHN Howard's shift on carbon trading has less to do with getting onto the front foot with Labor in the climate change debate than keeping up with his perceived real opponent, Peter Costello, who the Sunday before, on ABC TV's Insiders program, made clear his personal support for an emissions trading system.
J. R. Hamilton, Brunswick East
Feds talk the talk, don't walk he walk
Treasurer Peter Costello said what PM Howard couldn't bring himself to say: "As the world moves towards a carbon trading system, Australia obviously can't stand out against the rest of the world." What? Australia was happy to stand out against the world alongside the other climate sceptic George W. Bush. Less than a week after the collapse of President Bush's ascendency, Mr Costello was frank: "I think the ground is changing," he told ABC television on 12th November, 2006.
"From Australia's point of view if the world starts moving towards a carbon trading system, we can't be left out of that." What? The world has a carbon trading system. Only we're not in it.
The Carbon Coalition sent Senator Ian Campbell (Environment Minister) the information below and the same day he announces an enquiry. (If Only it was that simple.) Late in November, 2006, the Australian Newspaper announced that the Government had a budget of $100,000 for a "project" which will bring together US and Australian researchers to work on tools to measure the amount of carbon stored. (We can tell the Minister from bitter experience that a hundred grand doesn't get much methodology testing.)
The Carbon Coalition was lucky enough to do a personal pesentation to Independent MP for the federal seat of New England, Tony Windsor during the lunch break at Christine Jones's National Carbon Forum in Novermber 2006. Tony was the only federal politician to attend. He was only there for half a day, but he's a fast learner. A week later he asked the Prime Minister a question in the House wwhich put soil carbon credits on the National agenda.
On the 27th November, 2006, Tony Windsor asked the following question:
"Prime Minister... given that the black soils in question have potential under appropriate land use management to be a natural carbon sink, could you include the farm sector in the carbon task force recently announced?"
The PM replied:
"... This joint task force is to look at the potential shape of a world emission trading system. Whilst the farm sector has an interest in that, I do not think the interest is as great as, say, the resources sector. I will consider it."
The request has not been agreed to.
The PM's oblique reference to the resources sector masks the fact that he is referring to the coal industry, whose members dominate the task force. This has two implications: 1. The findings of the enquiry are already decided. 2. The coal industry's desires will be incorporated in the Government's carbon strategy. (The coal industry is still arguing that climate change is a myth.) The ability of the coal industry to actually write government policy was reveals in an ABCTV 4Corners program. The transcript of the program is available in our Library under "Carbon Conspiracies: Greenhouse Mafia".
Friday, August 18, 2006
Americans agree Bush failing on Climate Change
US Supreme Court could force Bush to regulate
As a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush expressed support for regulation of the greenhouse gas, but once elected withdrew support for the Kyoto Protocol.
The White House argues that mandatory reductions would harm the economy and does not consider carbon dioxide a pollutant.
Government just doesn't get it, says Fairfax press
Australia's Fairfax press empire is throwing its weight behind a sane approach to global warming. Two recent articles sound the call to arms. In The Age, Tim Colebatch wrote on July 18, 2006: "If the science is right (and each year seems to confirm it), then we and the world are facing changes that will reduce our ability to grow food, and could threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
"The Prime Minister's disappointing speech yesterday was more evidence that at the top of this Government they just don't get it. New technology is not an alternative to carbon taxes and emission trading schemes, it is their outcome. And the massive scale of the problem is not a reason to do less, but to do more.
"You can pour money into research and development of clean technologies and hope for breakthroughs. But let's be pragmatic. Unless the new clean technologies cost less than the old polluting ones, business will not take them up. That's why you need a tax or regulatory system that creates a financial incentive to do so. Then markets will work, and clean technologies will take over."
The next day, the Sydney Morning Herald's planning writer Elizabeth Farrelly wrote, "This is the mystery. Polls show we worry about climate change, but we vote from the hip pocket. John Howard, the polls tell us, makes us feel safe. But we blind ourselves to the yawning chasm between feeling safe and being safe."
Climate change has become a moral issue, she says. Maybe the moral issue. "In Australia, where governments quail before moral issues, the vacuum is filling with an unlikely alliance of business and philanthropic lobby groups. The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change argued in April that a 60 per cent cut in Australia's emissions is compatible with strong economic growth. Westpac's chief executive officer, David Morgan, known for lampooning emissions proposals as Mein Kampf and seeing carbon trading as a European conspiracy, notes that 'the next president of the United States … [is expected] to initiate urgent action on climate change'.
"In the US, where the writer Elizabeth Kolbert argues the need for an "environmental Churchill", an obstructionist Bush White House is nevertheless ringed by cities, states, Congress and the courts, plus a few inner-Republican colleagues, determined to make change. Last year, California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, launched a plan to cut state emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. "The debate is over," he said. "The science is in. The time to act is now." Right-wing evangelical leaders of 30 million people marched on Capitol Hill, urging leadership on climate change. Since then, 238 US mayors have pledged to "meet or beat" Kyoto; the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has supported emissions caps and the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether CO 2 regulation should be mandatory."
Someone has to pay the Greenhouse bill
The attack on the Australian States's proposed Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme by the federal government and some industry groups ignores one critical fact: someone will have to pay for global warming. The Australian Financial Review - the voice of Australian business - disagrees with the attacks on greenhouse trading: "An international trade in emission rights (and other environmental services) is the way of the future... Australia, with its comparative advantage in the production of fossil fuels, has a very strong interest in the adoption by the global community of rational, market-based greenhouse strategies." And writing in BRW, Professor Paul Kerin, who teaches strategy at Melbourne Business School, said recently, "Howard says that, as Australia is (just) on track to meet its target, there is no need for market mechanisms. He is wrong: a market would ensure Australia meets its target at least cost, and would provide information to help decide whether we should overshoot our generous target. By comparison, the EU is already 5.5% below its 1990 emission level... Howard's claim that market trading would cost jobs by raising energy costs is also nonsense. The emission trading price is just a transfer between two emissions generators - overall, the industry's net cost is unchanged. High-cost polluters pay more (as they should) but low-cost players gain by reducing emissions and selling allowances.
"The Federal Government should join the states and territories to start a national carbon dioxide emissions market. The low trading prices that are likely to emerge, given our current overly generous emissions target, should persuade the Government to set a much lower emissions target, and then stand back and let market participants work out how to achieve it."