Australian news, and some related international items

Over 20 years of Australian governments failure to act on climate change

Climate warnings ignored

Twenty years on, only the names have changed, The Age 1 January 2019 The annual release of the federal Cabinet papers is usually a chance to reflect on issues long since settled. … the release today by the National Archives of Australia of the papers from John Howard’s cabinet deliberations of 1996 and 1997.

A string of issues that demanded the attention of Mr Howard and his senior ministers are still with us. And still causing trouble for the government.

The most obvious is climate change and finding a way to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Cabinet papers reveal how the Howard government clearly rejected the advice of its most senior ministries that the most effective and efficient method to deal with the issue was via a price signal with an emissions trading scheme.

It would take a decade for Mr Howard to change his mind, taking a trading scheme – along with the Labor Party – to the 2007 election.
Neither side of politics has painted themselves in glory dealing with climate change since then  …. ….

January 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Howard government started the hypocrisy on climate change

Howard government told without a carbon price, emissions would rise, The Age, By Shane Wright, 1 January 2019 The Howard government was urged more than 20 years ago to consider an emissions trading scheme, while its signature plans to deal with Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were considered by its own departments to be merely aimed at deflecting global criticism.

As the Morrison government continues to fight a debilitating internal battle over how to deal with climate change, previously secret papers from the 1990s reveal a suite of major government departments said the most effective and efficient way to deal with greenhouse gases was to impose a carbon price.

Cabinet papers from 1996 and 1997 released on Tuesday by the National Archives reveal the beginnings of the Howard government’s drawn-out response to the threat posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions and the way some of those issues are still playing out in the Morrison government.

Ahead of the expected adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, there were deep concerns within the government about how it may affect Australia with its large coal exports, heavy dependence on coal-fired power stations and increasing LNG production.

Government departments headed by Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and Foreign Affairs fleshed out the details of a series of proposals backed by the government in September 1997 in a bid to deal with Australia’s emissions.

The co-ordinating document produced by the departments, which were aiming to finalise a package discussed at cabinet earlier in the month, made clear the bureaucracy did not believe the government’s plans would go nearly far enough in cutting emissions but may be sufficient to deflect international criticism.

“None of the packages presented here would achieve the stabilisation of emissions at 1990 levels,” they said.

“Rather, they are aimed at deflecting criticism that Australia is not fully committed to reducing its emissions.”

The departments costed a series of proposals which would ultimately become part of the government’s official response to climate change…….

But the departments, which acknowledged the government’s opposition to a price signal, said these would ultimately be expensive initiatives which would not deliver a real impact on the nation’s overall emissions profile.

“The most effective way to reduce emissions would be to combine significant price signals (either general or sectoral increases in taxes on greenhouse producing activities), information so firms and individuals can reduce greenhouse production, opportunities to invest in carbon sinks and some degree of compulsion to address areas where markets cannot be made to work effectively,” they said…….

While a small number of Coalition MPs have backed subsidies for new coal-fired power stations, the cabinet documents from 1997 canvassed ways to use emission standards to effectively end brown coal-fired stations and encourage more gas into the system.

Labor has pledged to try to revive the energy guarantee and while it has ruled out a carbon tax it is considering an “emissions-trading type scheme” for high-polluting industries which are likely to be in the manufacturing and liquefied and natural gas sectors.

Last month, official figures showed Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increasing to their highest level since 2011. Projections suggest Australia will fall well short of its stated aim of reducing emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent by 2030. 

January 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment


We can’t lose sight of the most important story of the year,, By David Leonhardt 1 January 2019 
Our best hope may be the weather.For a long time, many people thought that it was a mistake to use the weather as evidence of climate change. Weather patterns contain a lot of randomness. Even as the earth warms and extreme weather becomes more common, some years are colder and calmer than others. If you argue that climate change is causing some weather trend, a climate denier may respond by making grand claims about a recent snowfall.

And yet the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.

It is not a complex data series in an academic study or government report. It’s not a measurement of sea level or ice depth in a place you’ve never been. It’s right in front of you. And although weather patterns do have a lot of randomness, they are indeed changing. That’s the thing about climate change: it changes the climate.

I wanted to write my last column of 2018 about the climate as a kind of plea: amid everything else going on, don’t lose sight of the most important story of the year.

I know there was a lot of competition for that title, including some more obvious contenders, like President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller. But nothing else measures up to the rising toll and enormous dangers of climate change. I worry that our children and grandchildren will one day ask us, bitterly, why we spent so much time distracted by lesser matters.

The story of climate change in 2018 was complicated — overwhelmingly bad, yet with two reasons for hope. The bad and the good were connected, too: Thanks to the changing weather, more Americans seem to be waking up to the problem.

I’ll start with the alarming parts of the story. The past year is on pace to be the earth’s fourth warmest on record, and the five warmest years have all occurred since 2010. This warming is now starting to cause a lot of damage.

In 2018, heat waves killed people in Montreal, Karachi, Tokyo and elsewhere. Extreme rain battered North Carolina and the Indian state of Kerala. The Horn of Africa suffered from drought. Large swaths of the American West burned.

Amid all of this destruction, US President Donald Trump’s climate agenda consists of making the problem worse. His administration is filled with former corporate lobbyists, and they have been changing federal policy to make it easier for companies to pollute. These officials like to talk about free enterprise and scientific uncertainty, but their real motive is usually money. Sometimes, they don’t even wait to return to industry jobs.

I  often want to ask these officials: deep down, do you really believe that future generations of your own family will be immune from climate change’s damage? Or have you chosen not to think very much about them?

As for the two main reasons for hope: the first is that the Trump administration is an outlier. Most major governments are trying to slow climate change.

The second reason for hope is public opinion. No, it isn’t changing nearly as rapidly as I wish. Yet it is changing, and the weather seems to be a factor. The growing number of extreme events — wildfires, storms, floods and so on — are hard to ignore.

Only 40 percent of Americans called the quality of environment “good” or “excellent” in a Gallup Poll this year, the lowest level in almost a decade. And 61 percent said the environment was getting worse. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 66 percent of Americans said they wanted to see action to combat climate change. Some polls even suggest that Republican voters are becoming anxious about the situation.

The politics of climate change remains devilishly hard, especially because so many people around the world feel frustrated about their living standards. France’s “gilet jaune” protests, after all, were sparked by a proposed energy tax. Compared with day-to-day life, the effects of climate change have long felt distant, almost theoretical.

But now those effects are becoming real, and they are terrifying. To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: do you have a better idea?

January 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Knighted for Services Rendered: Don’t Worry about the Nukiller Plant on your doorstop – Just Let Them Drink Yoghurt! —

The New Years Honours List Does its Thing…..‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’ Let Them Drink Yoghurt! Newly knighted cancer scientist Mel Greaves explains why a cocktail of microbes could give protection against disease The national press trumpet the clarion cry that could have […]

via Knighted for Services Rendered: Don’t Worry about the Nukiller Plant on your doorstop – Just Let Them Drink Yoghurt! —

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 31 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “The US Department of Energy Roots for Floating Solar Panels. Do You?” • Floating solar PVs on water seems to make sense, right? Well, maybe. Floating PVs on water add another wrinkle to maintaining them. So does finding suitable bodies of water. But as other countries move on floating PVs, the US DOE […]

via December 31 Energy News — geoharvey

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment