Australian news, and some related international items

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

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