Category Archives: Emissions Trading Scheme

More thread: let’s talk climate politics down under

Sorry guys, but personal matters keep me from blogging. so more thread for discussion. Let’s talk about the state of politics in Australia. Some food for thought:

Clive Hamilton has a great essay on The Conversation on why Australia’s politicians have turned their backs on the climate change issue:

The truth is the Australian public does not know what it wants its government to do on climate change. A large majority wants it to do something, but the government seems to lose support whenever it does anything. The only notable exception (and perhaps because many people don’t know it exists) is the Renewable Energy Target, first introduced by the Howard Government as a sop to public anxiety. For any political leader unwilling to exercise leadership on the issue, trying to respond to climate change leaves them uncertain which way to turn

Which is all the more interesting as Australia has experienced it’s hottest 12 month period:

It’s official, the past 12 months have been the hottest in Australia for more than a hundred years. Temperatures averaged across Australia between September 2012 and August 2013 were hotter than any year since good records began in 1910. The previous record was held by the 12-month period from February 2005 to January 2006.

While Tony Abbott has stated he will abandon emissions targets:

Amid its bitter campaign against the carbon price the Coalition has  maintained one significant foundation – ”we may hate the method, but we will  achieve the same outcome”.

That outcome is at least a 5 per cent cut to emissions by decade’s end on  2000 levels, and more ambitious reductions if the world takes actions to curb  climate change. These targets have enjoyed bipartisan support for about five  years.

But in his National Press Club address on Monday, Tony Abbott has cast doubt  on his commitment to these goals. And he has lifted the lid on one of the  fundamental risks of his ”direct action” alternative to an emissions trading  scheme.

Abbott told the audience the Coalition would not increase its spending on  cutting carbon dioxide under direct action, even if its efforts were going to  fall short of what is needed to meet the 2020 target.

”The bottom line is we will spend as much as we have budgeted, no more and  no less. We will get as much environmental improvement, as much emissions  reduction as we can for the spending that we’ve budgeted,” he said.

Such is the state of politics down under.

I’ll be honest, not having to take an active part in the debate the moment is a blessing.

Note: remember to keep the debate friendly, I’ll be watching comments closely.

The Ides of March come more than once a year down under

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

And so it is done.

We have removed another Prime Minister from office. I was also part of the chorus calling for her resignation.

Did I feel my reasons were justified?


Pragmatism tells me a hard choice had to be made.

Pragmatism tells me it was needed to avoid a forthcoming decade or more of conservative rule.

Without doubt we would have seen the stripping away of environmental and social protections under an Abbott led government with a super-majority.

Pragmatism told me something had to be done to avoid – or blunt the scale of – the victory of politicians beholden to mining billionaires.

Pragmatism called for the sacrifice of the individual for the sake of many.

But my conscience knows something very wrong took place, that all of us – every adult Australian – was complicit.

Every politician, every journalist, every pundit and every voter: we all have blood on our hands.

The Ides of March come more than once a year down under.

We have revealed our dark hearts: a nation of assassins.

2/3 Australian don’t want carbon price scrapped, or why debate on the carbon price is set to intensify

From today’s Age, confirmation Tony Abbott will have an uphill battle trying to repeal the Emissions Trading Scheme:

Tony Abbott’s insistence that the election will be a ”referendum on the carbon tax” has been undermined by polling showing that just a third of voters support the Coalition’s plan to abolish it.

Fewer voters want to see the carbon tax removed now than before it took effect on July 1 last year. Nearly half, or 48 per cent, wanted the tax scrapped a year ago.

But a poll of 1009 people, conducted by JWS Research for the Climate Institute, found just 37 per cent of them now supported the Coalition’s intention to wind the tax back in favour of its ”Direct Action” policy, which involves paying companies to reduce emissions.

Even fewer people – 34 per cent – would back an Abbott government calling a double dissolution election to fulfil its ”pledge in blood” to repeal the tax.

Fewer than half the Coalition voters would back Mr Abbott taking Australia back to the polls.

JWS pollster John Scales said the Opposition Leader had failed to convince people that carbon pricing should be scrapped because two-thirds of Australians believed climate change was real.

Climate change believers accounted for 66 per cent of voters, compared with 64 per cent a year ago.

As I have been saying for some time, a crisis for Abbott and the LNP is looming: 

– Tony Abbott and the LNP would win the 2013 Federal election
– Abbott would look to “axe-the-tax” (price on carbon) in name only, introducing a face-saving sleight-of-hand in but still maintain a price on carbon
– The climate sceptic movement would be bitterly disappointed, as the realisation began to dawn on them that Abbott played the populist hand against the carbon tax in order to undermine the Gillard government’s legitimacy
– For the climate sceptics (deniers) it would be an object lesson in realpolitik.

I suspect the LNP is going to find climate policy just as complicated, if not more so once in office.

One needs real policies then, nor four word slogans.  The debate over a price on carbon is far from over: if anything it is going to intensify.

As noted above, the public don’t understand nor want the Direct Action Plan proposed by the LNP.

Nor does it seem they willing to give control of the Senate to Abbott. However, the Coalition have locked themselves into silly “blood oath” giving themselves little to move.

The question is what happens when they can’t “ax-the-tax” what compromises an Abbott led government will be forced to make.

Hang on for the ride, as climate politics is going to get wilder.

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The sacrifices one must make (part 2): should Gillard resign for the good of the nation? Yes.

My post on whether or not Julia Gillard should stand aside  as Prime Minister got a little attention. But it was not an easy thing to suggest, especially given the vitriol and hatred the Prime Minister has experienced. I do not wish to “let the bastards win”. No one does.

But what matters now is the future of nation, the skeletal climate change policy framework we have only just begun to implement and a genuine contest of ideas.

There are times when personal careers have to be sacrificed.

This is such a time.

The editors of The Age have come to similar conclusions, arguing for “the good of the nation” Julia Gillard must stand aside:

It is time for Julia Gillard to stand aside as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, as Prime Minister of Australia, so that vigorous, policy-driven democratic debate can flourish once again. Ms Gillard should do so in the interests of the Labor Party, in the interests of the nation and, most importantly, in the interests of democracy. The Age’s overriding concern is that, under Ms Gillard’s leadership, the Labor Party’s message about its future policies and vision for Australia is not getting through to the electorate. Our fear is that if there is no change in Labor leadership before the September 14 election, voters will be denied a proper contest of ideas and policies – and that would be a travesty for the democratic process.

And that:

The opposition under Tony Abbott has contentious policies on the carbon tax, the mining tax and schools funding; these are just the start of it. Yet Labor under Ms Gillard has been unable to step up to the contest. Mr Abbott is being allowed to run almost entirely unchallenged with his preposterous claim that a Coalition government would ”stop the boats”, in part by turning back the pathetic trail of rickety vessels laden with asylum seekers. This is a potentially dangerous and deeply dispiriting approach. Labor’s inability to unscramble this sloganeering is damning.

Time is running out. Labor needs to refresh its public face and present a compelling, united and inspiring voice. It is capable of doing so. Now it must find the will. There may only be one chance to minimise the damage that appears inevitable in September. To do nothing would implicitly weaken the democratic choice. If it is to be done, it is best done now. But it must be an unequivocal and energising change for the better.

There was nothing prescient in what I wrote, nor do I think the MSM pays much attention to bloggers such as myself. Farifax’s Sydney Morning Herald said the same thing a few weeks back.

It is simply that I am not alone in reading the situation or the risks should Labor continue to be led by Julia Gillard. Commentators across all sections of the media and on both sides can see the writing on the wall.

Is it fair? No.

Did Gillard deserve to be treated with respect? Yes.

Was she handed an extraordinarily difficult situation? Yes.

Was overt sexism a feature of the attacks on her? Yes.

Was the malice of the shock jocks and News Limited a factor? Yes.

As a nation, we need to reflect on just how toxic the level of debate has become these past few years. I lay much of the blame on News Limited and the Coalition. But the blame also rests with the Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan.

The nexus for all this strife began when the “kitchen sink” cabinet that included Swan and Gillard convinced Rudd not to take us to a double dissolution election on the carbon price. At that time the public and mood of the nation was with them.

But they blinked, they thought they could ditch a policy which helped deliver them office in 2007. Since then Labor has been paying the price for the failure of the first iteration of the ETS under Rudd.

They thought we lived in a time of “politics as usual”.

Politics has been reshaped by climate change: it is time to acknowledge that reality.

This is the new normal on so many fronts.

If you want to proportion blame then start with this decision. 

Julia’s finest hour, and the speech that will be her enduring legacy:

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The sacrifices one must make: Gillard has to go to save the existing climate policy framework

“Her finest hour, and her greatest legacy”

The continuing speculation over the leadership of the Labor party is a distraction to the many challenges Australia faces. Like many Australian’s I am tired – so sick and tired – of it. A plague upon the major political parties, Labor and Liberal alike.

The Kevin Rudd “Will or won’t he challenge” drama is also a sickening distraction.

That News Limited has run a ferociously anti-Labor and anti-Carbon tax campaign across its entire media empire cannot be disputed.

That News Limited has crippled the policy response to climate change by casting doubt on the science is undeniable.

That Julia Gillard could have been a great Prime Minister, with an actual vision cannot be denied.

That Julia Gillard has been subject to horrific attacks based on her gender, the sexuality of her partner and even the death of her father should sicken a civilised society.

Clearly Australia has cast aside whatever thin veneer of civilisation it pretended to have. We have revealed ourselves to be a braying mob of coal baron sycophants and moral pygmies.

That we are about to see the election of a party under Abbott that will dismantle the foundations of Australia’s response to climate change – the ETS – is also certain.

That they will defund and stifle climate science research is a given.

That they will expedite the opening of every new coal mine proposal that falls across the desk Greg Hunt or his LNP peers at the state level is undeniable.

That we have at best a few decades to avert a crisis is also undeniable.

This is the critical decade, not just for emissions.

This is the critical decade to put in place the necessary policy framework.

Australia taking a leading role in placing a price on carbon should be celebrated, an act of courage and moral leadership. That China is to follow soon with their own carbon price, acknowledging Australia’s lead is a wondrous thing.

But if Julia Gillard remains as PM, she will help usher in more than a decade of LNP domination at the federal level of government.

Once Abbott is in, he will try to break the Senate by calling a double dissolution election to grab control of both houses.

The LNP will strip every environmental protection they can see across all levels of government. They will reduce government to a rump, investing those savings in naval vessels to protect us from people fleeing for their lives by towing them back to their deaths.

The election is not about Julia, or Tony or Kevin. I detest the over inflated egos of these three “leaders” (and how I use that term with a heavy dose of irony).

What matters is the choices we make now.

It is about our response to climate change and whether we as a nation remain brave, or to turn away from the challenge.

If the Labor Party, the Independents or the Greens want to think about the future, then think of the following decades.

So you hate Kevin? Well suck it up.

You hate Julia; well suck that up as well.

What is in the best long-term interests of the nation in the context of climate change?

Firstly, not giving control of both houses to a party that not only dismisses the science, but would destroy the fragile foundations we have just begun to establish.

The great work of adaptation will begin very soon: we will be starting from an every lower base should the LNP control every level of government from the Senate to the State’s and Territories.

So I say this with a heavy heart.

Julia, do the honourable thing.

This issue is bigger than you, Kevin, and Tony. It is bigger than the future of Labor.

It is about the future of humanity. Help us save the foundations of the policy response to climate change.

Step aside with the same grace and dignity you have shown throughout your political career.

You have exercised a moral leadership that towers above the sh*t storm of hate that infects our national debate.

We all wanted much more for our first woman Primate Minister. It could have a moment of political maturity for our nation. And yet how Australia has been shown to be lacking in maturity. I feel nothing but a deep sadness for the face we have shown the world.

There are hard choices to be made: what needs to be saved?

Policies that will assist future generations.

The ETS is that thing that needs to be saved.

Abbott has said the very first thing he will do once elected is begin dismantling the ETS.

There are many kinds of leadership, and not all of them are associated with a title.

What matters more than the trappings of office is the legacy a leader leaves behind them.

Moral leadership requires no position or title.

Give Abbott and the LNP the Pyrrhic Victory of the Lodge, and all the challenges they will no doubt fail to address.

Claim the moral victory.

Julia, save the ETS and the foundations of our response to climate change by stepping aside.

Carbon tax destroys jobs?: Oz economy refuses to surrender to “great big tax on everything” by adding 50,000 jobs

Since the introduction of the carbon tax, children have been forced to line up for servings of thin, watery gruel...

Since the introduction of the carbon tax, children have been forced to line up for servings of thin, watery gruel…

Remember the hysteria prior to the introduction of that “Great Big Tax on Everything”, when the Australian economy was going to spiral into not merely a recession – or even a depression – but back into the Dark Ages?

It was going to usher in a period of madness: men and women impoverished by the tax would be forced to live on the street; cats and dogs living together in sin; fire and brimstone and the wrath of economic gods; parents forced to sell children into bondage; a leg of roast lamb to cost over $100!

According the alarmists such as Tony Abbott, the Liberal National Party and the entirety of News Limited (or so said Andrew Bolt, Terry McCrann and the other lessor lights in its stable of culture-warrior hacks) the very modest price on carbon was going to be the “roon of us!”.

Time and time again the claim was made the tax was going to destroy jobs:

“The coal industry will step up its campaign against a carbon tax, seeking to highlight job losses that will be caused by such a scheme…”

It is an article of faith among all the die-hard climate sceptics. Only a few weeks back the Astroturf and fossil fuel funded Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) claimed such a tax would destroy American jobs:

If you want to know what a carbon tax on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would do to America you need only look at the destruction of industry and business in Australia, along with the soaring costs for energy use it imposes on anyone there. 

“The carbon tax is contributing to a record number of firms going to the wall with thousands of employees being laid off and companies forced to close factories that have stood for generations”, Steve Lewis and Phil Jacob reported in a March 18 issue of The Daily Telegraph, a leading Australian newspaper.

Oh my god its true!

According to CFACT and the Daily Telegraph (Sidebar: Australians’ call it the Daily Terror for its tabloid, over the top style) we poor Aussies are suffering under the carbon tax. In fact, you can see the long lines at the soup kitchens already…

But is that true? 

How does the claim a carbon tax will destroy jobs?

Recent employment figures show the Australian economy has added 50,000 new jobs. Here is the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for those interested. Numbers – not assertions.

Pesky things numbers: they often refuse to conform to our opinions.

Here is the truth – not the “truthiness” of CFACT and coal miners.

The Australian economy is doing OK.

Now there are a number of challenges facing the Australian economy due to the high dollar (vis-a-vis the USD) and the end of the mining boom. Government revenue has taken a hit due to the aforementioned reasons; also the mineral resources tax has woefully underperformed. I guess that’s what happens when you invite the mining companies to effectively write the law.

Surprise! They don’t get taxed!

But how does the economy-wreaking carbon tax fit into this picture?

Not at all.

Remember the hysteria, the public protests and the shrill braying for blood by the likes of Alan Jones who stated PM Julia Gillard should be stuffed into a bag and drowned?


End of life as we know it?


However, both Abbott and the hacks at News Limited have moved onto their next meme: “The Great Big Deficit on Everything”.

Yes, it will be the “roooooon of us!” again.

Australia has accrued a very modest deficit during a period when most of the global economy is sputtering: actually this is quite an achievement. Australia has had 21 years of continuous growth. The size of the public service, compared to other OECD countries is also modest – despite the fact both population and the need for services has grown, public services numbers have remained stable for years.

There is not a surplus of fat-cat public servants down under. But hey, wasn’t that another thing the carbon tax going to do? Create a unwieldy, bloated bureaucracy?

But let’s not get facts in the way of a good waging ideological warfare eh? There’s the free-market to evangelise and climate science to disparage!

I joke of course. The truth is this: all the posturing, sound and fury generated by the likes of Abbott and his cheer squad at News is divorced from reality.

Indeed, if there are any alarmists in the climate – or any other debate – I think we know where to point the finger.

But don’t believe me.

We’ll be roooooooned! Roooooooooned I tells ya!

‘Unburnable’ fossil fuels set to leave investors stranded (reprint)

Work still busy – article of interest. 

By James Whitmore, The Conversation

Investors are continuing to pour money into fossil fuel reserves that could end up being worthless due to efforts to combat climate change, a new report has found.

The Climate Tracker report found that investors are set to waste US$6 trillion on fossil fuel reserves in the next ten years if they fail to account for global carbon budgets.

To keep climate change under the globally agreed-upon figure of 2°C by 2050, emissions must be kept to under 900 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2, the report says.

If the budget is allocated according to how much each source (fossil fuels, housing, transport etc) contributes to emissions, investment in fossil fuels must be limited to the equivalent 125-225 Gt CO2 until 2050.

Last year companies invested US$674b in developing new fossil fuel reserves. Under the new budget scenario 60-80% of this investment in fossil fuel reserves will be wasted.

Globally 200 publicly listed companies currently invest in the equivalent of 762Gt CO2. There are further interests in undeveloped reserves which could double the size to 1,541Gt CO2.

Professor Tony Wood at University of Melbourne said there’s a disconnect between what’s necessary to avoid the worst aspects of climate change, and what’s actually happening, and “this report has put that disconnect into numbers.”

Businesses continue to invest in these “stranded” assets because of continuing uncertainty over carbon pricing, he said.
“Governments around the world have moved away from discussing climate change in a policy sense.”

Energy economist Dr. Barry Naughten at Australian National University said investors don’t believe governments will put a high enough price on CO2 emissions to cause them a problem.

“In Australia there’s a lot of confusion as to whether the carbon price will be maintained in any shape or form if there’s a change of government this year,” he said.

The new carbon budget is higher than previous assessments because it assumes efforts to reduce non-CO2 emissions from waste and agriculture, such as methane, will increase.

Professor Wood said there were signs of hope that emissions from waste and agriculture could be reduced.

The report reveals Australian companies have interests in 26Gt CO2, including 1Gt CO2 in gas, 2Gt CO2 in oil, and 23Gt CO2 in coal.

The highest investment is via the New York Stock Exchange with 215Gt CO2. The majority of this is invested in oil. Companies listed in London have interests in 113Gt CO2, with a greater proportion devoted to coal.

After 2050 carbon budgets must remain very low, with only 75Gt CO2 allowed in order to keep warming below 2°C.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

It’s a mad, mad and hotter world: the top 6 climate stories of 2012

As the year comes to a close its time to reflect upon the previous year’s climate related news. I mean who doesn’t love a good end of year “The best of” list?

So what made headlines? What events mattered? And crucially what shaped the public’s understanding of climate change?

In order to address the above questions I’ve selected what I believe are the top six “breakthrough” climate stories of the year. These are the issues that had a strong influence on the public’s understanding of climate change.

I’m confident we’ve witnessed an important shift in the climate debate as (a) evidence of rapid global warming has manifested with a vengeance and (b) the majority of the public now accept the reality of global warming.

But what caused this shift? Ultimately the climate stepped in to adjudicate the debate.

In a year of record temperatures and super-storms, the physics of climate change demonstrated its reality.

And while the debate between sceptics and warmists will grind on for several more years it was the evidence presented in the form of drowned cities, withered crops and searing temperatures that shaped public perception.

1. It’s global warming stupid: Hurricane Sandy and the North American summer. And the drought. And the derecho storm. And killer tornadoes. And wildfires.

Perhaps it was the thousands of temperature records smashed, the devastating drought that gripped large sections of the United States, the rare derecho storm that lead to millions losing power or the hundreds of tornadoes that that ripped through the country that taught millions of Americans the climate was changing. Let’s not forget the wildfires either.

By the end of 2012 the belief the climate was not changing became untenable. An overwhelming majority of the American public now accept the reality of climate change (up to 70% according to Business Week).

And then there was Sandy. Who can forget the images of a devastated New York and East Coast?

Not only did Sandy influence the US Presidential election in painting Mitt Romney and the Republicans as the party in dangerous denial – they had a good chuckle about climate change at their convention – it also tangibly and tragically demonstrated what to expect from a climate spinning out of control.

2. Red alert: Greenland melt accelerates

There are troubling things happening up north, not least of all the record breaking seasonal melt for Greenland in August of this year. And while some claimed this news was insufficiently reported in the mainstream press (of which there is some truth) bloggers, tweeters and social media activists did the job for them.

While the fourth estate slept, denizens of what I’d like to call the fifth estate (social media content creators) stepped in to spread the word.

3. Going, going, gone: Arctic sea-ice reaches lowest minimum

If you want to know what the Arctic’s death spiral looks like merely cast your eyes over the above graph. George Monbiot said it best: “Stupidity, greed, passivity? Just as comparisons evaporate, so do these words. The ice, that solid platform on which, we now discover, so much rested, melts into air. Our pretensions to peace, prosperity and progress are likely to follow…”

And how did humanity react to this worrying trend? Giving fossil fuel companies license to rush in and explore for more oil.

4. Apocalypse averted: the Carbon Tax debate fizzles out

The end product of the merchants of hate (source News)

In the coming decades, future generations will puzzle over how the Australian political system almost imploded over the fight to introduce a price on carbon.

The Murdoch press ran an orchestrated campaign against the tax while right-wing radio shock jocks worked up the angry masses into even greater levels of well.. anger. The Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, ran a two year fear campaign against the tax claiming “We will be rooned, roooooned!”

Australian political debate reached a new low with nasty catch phrases such as “Juliar” (in reference to Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard) entering the popular lexicon and radio presenter Alan Jones claiming climate science was “witchcraft”.

The forces arrayed against the tax included private think tanks, News Ltd, the Liberal National Party, large segments of the resources sector and eccentric billionaires such as Gina Rinehart.

And yet the government managed to get the legislation through both houses of Parliament. In retrospect it is amazing the minority Gillard government didn’t collapse and still manage to introduce a price on carbon – something that had eluded previous governments for almost 20 years.

So did the world end? Did Australia become an improvised, backwards economic wasteland? Are we Aussies now all living in caves, desperately missing hot showers and street lighting?

Rest assured – the world didn’t end, the sun is still shining and industrial civilisation didn’t collapse as the sceptics warned us.

5. It’s worse than you think: PWC, World Bank reports and news of the permafrost melting

Imagine you’ve just been told by your doctor you have cancer: you’ve got maybe five years. But with treatment you could extend your life well beyond that.

You’d be alarmed and no doubt take positive steps to address the issue: you’d undergo medical treatment, change your diet, exercise and consider changing you life.

Who want’s to die prematurely? Or maybe you’d still be in denial.

Either way, you’re presented with this information and the opportunity to act.

But a month after being told the above, you return to see your doctor only to be told he was wrong. A new round of tests conclusively proves you’ve got a year – maybe two.

“So sorry…” states your doctor “…but the cancer is far more aggressive. Fortunately we’ve caught it early due to some new technology and diagnostic methods. But we need to start treatment right away.”

This is the situation humanity faces.

In the past six months a series of reports and a rash of new scientific evidence has been presented that makes for alarming reading:

It not just the IPCC or those radical socialists otherwise known as “climate scientists” saying the climate is changing more rapidly than anticipated. Some of the most conservative institutions and corporations have joined the chorus for urgent action by signalling their alarm.

Which means either one of two things: the need to act is increasingly urgent or that every scientific, political, media, business and professional association is part of the conspiracy.

6. No sympathy for the devil: Peter Gleick disembowels the Heartland Institute

I believe scientist Peter Gleick did humanity a favor, even if his methods were controversial.

Gleick obtained key strategy and planning documents from The Heartland Institute – the US libertarian think tank – by pretending to be one of its board members. He simply called up reception and asked for documents to be sent to an email account.

Was it worth it?

In retrospect, yes.

The documents revealed how Heartland and other think tanks manufacture doubt.

Once the story went viral and was picked up my mainstream media the reputation of Heartland suffered enormously – it lost millions in funding and was forced to cancel their annual conference for sceptics.

Gleick revealed the dark underbelly of the climate sceptic movement: the anonymous funding and the deliberate campaign to deceive.

Sceptics were furious of course – “How dare he, that criminal!” they fumed. Anthony Watts and others threatened to sue Gleick or bring in the authorities- but as suspected, nothing eventuated. Such actions would have brought a level of accountability bodies such as The Heartland Institute seek to avoid.

And that’s just what Gleick did: bring greater transparency and accountability to the climate debate.

The denial movement has been milking Climategate for years. To this day deniers continue to salaciously drool over the half dozen meaningless emails hacked form the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

But the public twigged to the hypocrisy: the Gleick episode demonstrated the public has no sympathy for the devil.

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Andrew Bolt: “China has zero intention” of setting up carbon tax? Sorry Andrew, they are

How’s that looking Tony?

Quick update, I’m still working on other materials.

One of the more frequent arguments against limiting carbon emissions via emission trading schemes is the perceived damage this will do to national economies.

Now that Australian example has proved this is not the case, the other “go to” argument for deniers has been “China” is not acting.

If the Chinese are happy to emit and not have an ETS, why should we?

Indeed, earlier this year Herald Sun journalist and climate “sceptic” Andrew Bolt made this very point;

Just follow the money. China is buying access to our coal deposits because it plans to use more coal, not less.

Now consider our stupidity. While China plans to use more Australian coal, Labor and its Greens allies want to force us to ultimately use none, by hitting us with a carbon dioxide tax that China has zero intention of imposing itself.

If it all works out to plan, China will use the cheap Australian coal that Australia will forbid itself.

Sorry Andrew.

Looks like the Chinese will have a national scheme up and running in three years.

China’s move to set up a carbon trading scheme undercuts the most common argument against the Australian ETS and similar schemes: that we’re “doing it alone” and it will hurt the economy:

China’s first steps to build what is destined to be the world’s second-biggest emissions market are boosting the prospects for fledgling programs from Australia to California. 

Four cement makers in China, the world’s biggest emitter, bought 1.3 million pollution permits for 60 yuan ($9) a metric ton last month in Guangdong. The province plans the largest of seven pilot programs for a proposed national market within three years. Exchanges will trade permits to emit an estimated 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases a year by 2015, close to half the volume in the European Union system. 

By setting its own emission limits and allowing polluters to buy and sell permits, China’s domestic market is set to dwarf its own participation in the UN market, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts. 

The country’s commitment may also help break a logjam in global-treaty negotiations and support trade in Australia and the US, where opposition to carbon pricing is unwavering, according to Climate Bridge, which has developed projects in China since 2006. 

“What China is doing with its pilot scheme and ultimately with a national scheme sets a terrific example for the rest of the world,” said Alex Wyatt, the Melbourne-based chief executive officer of Climate Bridge and author of a report released yesterday with the Sydney-based Climate Institute. “Any suggestions by people in the West that China is not acting on climate change aren’t true.”

With each passing month arguments against action are looking increasingly silly:

Governments in California and Australia said they are working together to promote global carbon trading. Australia is also in talks with China, according to Mark Dreyfus, the country’s parliamentary secretary for climate change. Dreyfus said he met in New York last month with China’s National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua. 

“We have been working closely with China over the last year on a range of policy and technical issues to support the development of credible, robust and effective carbon markets,” Dreyfus said in Sept. 28 statement. 

Disagreement on whether developing nations should be forced to reduce emissions has been the “sticking point” in global climate talks, according to Sjardin at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. While a new climate treaty by 2015 remains an “ambitious goal,” negotiators at this year’s summit in Doha may start on “a more hopeful note” than last year, he said. 

China’s steps to limit emissions are also undermining arguments against cap and trade in the US and Australia, according to Sjardin. 

“China has long been perceived as a laggard on climate action and used as scapegoat by other countries like Australia to delay action,” Connor said. “But this argument is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to make given China’s recent policies.”

See also Climate Spectator:

China’s emerging schemes can dovetail with other global schemes as a stepping stone towards a global climate change agreement by 2015.

It is important to understand that China’s actions are driven by self interest, not only regarding concern for climate impacts, but for strengthening energy security, developing a low carbon economy with export opportunities and showing international leadership.

This story is mirrored worldwide. Countries have chosen different paths, targeting different industries, depending on their economic makeup and what they perceive as an opportunity for gaining a competitive edge in an increasingly global low carbon economy.

Action at national levels is significant if yet still insufficient to deal with the rising climate challenge.  Tony Windsor also launched The Climate Institute’s new interactive map of global climate action which will be continually updated. Just to prove the point of ongoing changes, Norway yesterday doubled its carbon tax on oil and gas.  

The action in China and globally belies the myth that Australia is acting alone. If we are fair dinkum about doing our fair share, then Australia must ready itself for stronger emissions reductions than the 5 per cent 2020 target that is based on a world of inaction and is not enough to help avoid the risks of the growing climate challenge.

With each passing month, the claims of the deniers look increasingly silly.

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If I could stop one heart from breaking: carbon tax greeted with gnashing of teeth, claims of witchcraft and blood oaths


The face of denial: anti-carbon tax protestor in Sydney (source: The Age)


On 1 July Australia saw the “carbon tax” came into effect, and the nation’s response has been telling.

To quote Gandhi:

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

And what hearts we have; what a culture we have made.

In less than 48 hours segments of the Australian media and public have gone into a frenzy of panic, fear mongering and denial:

Piers Ackerman in the Daily Telegraph claims the tax unnecessary because the science of climate chance is undecided:

Despite the bleating of the government’s shills, there is no scientific certainty about the causes of climate change.

The Earth has been much warmer with less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, warmer with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

There is no concrete evidence that carbon dioxide is even a major climate determinant.

The constant claims of settled science have not led to any reassurance in science; they have led to an unprecedented distrust in scientific institutions, spurred largely by the disgraceful practices engaged in by contributors to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

No fact checking – Ackerman trots out a stunning series of falsehoods and lies.

It gets better.

This morning protestors converged on the steps of state Parliament houses in Victoria and New South Wales to protest the tax. Right-wing radio shock-jock Alan Jones made some startlingly claims about climate science:   

About 2000 people marched from Hyde Park to Belmore Park to hear Bronwyn Bishop speak against the government’s Clean Energy Bill, while a much smaller group in Melbourne heard the broadcaster Alan Jones refer to climate change science as ”propaganda”.

”The notion of global warming is a hoax,” Jones told a group of about 150 people on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. ”This is witchcraft. Commonsense will tell you its rubbish; 97 per cent of all carbon dioxide occurs naturally … 3 per cent around the world is created by human beings.”

That’s right; climate change is “witchcraft”. Let’s roll back the Enlightenment and declare anything we don’t like sorcery.  

“Won’t somebody think of the children!”

In addition to protecting the world from witches, tax protestors are deeply concerned about our children:

Ms Bishop and a Liberal MP, Craig Kelly, repeated the opposition’s line that MPs would swear a ”blood oath” to repeal the carbon price legislation immediately after the next federal election, should the Coalition win government.

Mr Kelly also accused the government of using ”fear tactics”.

”The worst thing that they’re doing is that they’re scaring our kids,” he said.

The protests were far smaller than last year’s rallies in support of a carbon price, but there was no shortage of placards.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was depicted as a Soviet army officer and a snake-haired Medusa, while there was also a sprinkling of other banners and signs referring to ”illegals” and ”boat people”.

Obviously the worst thing about climate change is it might scare the kids. And of course, conservative politicians continue to pledge a “blood oath” to repeal the tax.

Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of the carbon tax, the response of the Australian media and large segments of the public has been telling.

When compared to the vast majority of our fellow human beings on the planet, the average Australian enjoy advantages in education, careers, entertainment, peace and security, access to consumer goods and travel opportunities that make our lifestyle the envy of the world.

And yet as extreme weather events escalate across the globe and temperatures continue to rise most Australians are in a state of panic about having to spend a few extra cents in the dollar after being compensated in billions of tax breaks.

The debate on climate change has revealed the soul of our nation. And now that our national soul has been laid bare, all I can do is but weep.

Stop one heart from breaking

Despite this, I will not dwell in despair.


I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone.

Across the globe there is a community of activists, bloggers, scientists and citizens concerned about the state of the environment. Millions of equally passionate, committed and concerned individuals who collectively through word of mouth, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Facebook have a voice.

Thus there is one thing we can do today to counter the fear and panic being spread by conservative politicians and the Murdoch press in Australia: we can tell our fellow Australians “It will be OK”.

We can push back and tell the media and the organised campaign of deceit and denial by saying we will not succumb to fear.

The poet Emily Dickinson wrote about the experience of overcoming grief:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Nothing will have been in vain should you tell one other person that the neither carbon tax or climate change is the end of the world.

Yes – the scale of the present environmental crisis seems daunting and the vested interest groups too powerful.

But to quote Gandhi:

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

I’ve told you: now go tell someone else.

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