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41 responses to “Abbott’s direct action on climate”

  1. Peter Smith

    For a clear view of the future of the world’s temperature, see the latest paper at RealClimate:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/paleoclimate-the-end-of-the-holocene/

    (Sorry, I never did get the knack of setting up links.)

  2. Peter Smith

    … well, tidy links anyway. That one seems to work. 🙂

  3. Salient Green

    “Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question.” Barack Obama

    Only trouble is, ideology could still determine what values are applied and values have a very broad definition.

    What he should have said, that his government’s actions would be based on the science, he didn’t.

  4. paul burns

    Apart from their desire for payback, Brian, the clearest thing that comes out of the excellent synthesis you’ve provided of the Abbott Government’s actions against [?] climate change is that they really don’t have a clue what they’re doing, legally or otherwise. I see much trouble and backtracking down the track when they finally realise this in about a year’s time.

  5. IdiotSavant

    Joe Hockey has instructed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease lending, but the Corporation is obliged by law not to comply, according to legal advice received by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Defenders Office of Victoria

    Pretty obviously. You can’t legislate by press release, and if Abbot tries, he’ll be looking at an Australian re-run of Fitzgerald v. Muldoon

  6. Val

    Thanks very much Brian, great summary. I also found there was another petition http://chn.ge/1abMM7a
    – this seems to cover the same ground and has more signatures so maybe better for people to sign this one

    I do urge people to sign the petition, I know people make jokes about clicktivism but if you get a lot of signatures (eg NBN petition, Tecoma and MacDonalds) it does become newsworthy.

    (I sent this one to you yesterday but stuffed up the link, so I hope this works)

    Paul Burns @ 4

    I am quite intrigued to see how the government is acting in this and other areas (eg Indonesia, women, sacking heads of departments etc). I thought when people said Abbott would be quickly shown up in government, it might be wishful thinking, but now I’m not so sure. Even trying to distance myself from my own political sympathies, it still seems to me they are looking a bit odd (which Abbott always has really).

  7. jungney

    Thank you Brian. For the following, in particular:

    Abbott told us on Wednesday that his governments actions would be based on values rather than ideology.

    “We will be a problem-solving government based on values, not ideology,” the new Prime Minister added.

    By which we understand that the Liberals have learned a new way to ideologically distort ignorance into a social virtue.

  8. paul burns

    Indeed, Val. I do think we might have to wait about a year for the chickens to come home to roost, including some that haven’t even been hatched yet, but I’m patient.

  9. paul burns

    By that I mean, to evolve into complete disaster, but the early signs may be obvious to us all.

  10. Val

    The public opinion information I was looking at suggested
    (a) people who intended to vote LNP or PUP (PUP appear to have picked up many swinging voters) weren’t very interested in climate change – it was just not important to them (ABC Vote Compass).

    (b) the Crosby Textor marginal seat info suggested the carbon “tax” was mainly significant as part of general ‘cost of living’ issues.

    Judging from those sources, what was really important to those voters were the economy and the perception of the ALP government as unstable.

    In other words, as you suggest, it doesn’t look like swinging voters are climate change deniers, or even strongly against the carbon price, just people for whom climate change isn’t strongly salient. My own research and a lit review which I’m doing suggests people aren’t opposed to doing something for the climate (or more particularly ‘environment’ in general), they just need to see it in ways that are salient to them and give them some benefits (eg reduced energy costs, improved health).

    The Victorian water saving measures during the drought 2000-09 (as many people are probably aware) really showed that you can get a good response if you have clear need, an appeal to the community to pull together, and good consistent messages from government. (Both sides of politics idiotically dropped the ball as soon as the drought was over!)

    I have always thought it was a huge shame that Ross Garnaut was so influenced by neo-liberalism that he saw the carbon price as so dominant and most other measures as of minor importance. I’m strongly in favour of a carbon price, but as one part of a whole package.

    In this sense also, as I’ve said elsewhere, Gillard’s idea about building community consensus was probably not as stupid as many people here thought it.

  11. Terry2

    The coalition legislation on Direct Action has yet to be delivered (has it even been drafted) to the House of Reps. where it will undoubtedly sail through. It will then go to the Senate and I imagine a Senate Committee will evaluate it and presumably call for expert external input to consider if it is adequately funded and structured to ensure that, at a minimum, it reaches our objective of a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 based on 2000 levels.

    If the experts (what’s left of them) agree with the coalition that their Direct Action plan is infinitely superior to an ETS – as Greg Hunt has assured us it is – then I Suppose we just have to ditch the ETS and go with Direct Action. However, for obvious reasons we would not want to repeal the Clean Energy Legislation/carbon pricing scheme and ETS until we have convinced ourselves that Direct Action is superior, would we ?

    Is that the plan ?

  12. Val

    Peter Smith @ 1
    That’s really scary stuff when you see what we are doing to the climate in the context of thousands of years. Wish you could get Tony Abbott to look at this!

  13. Moz of Yarramulla

    I always thought the Clean Energy Fund was a great example of direct action. It works, it’s cheap/profitable, and it’s big government sticking its oar in to get what it wants. Abbotts resistance to it seems to be ideological and scary – it shows that he will cut off his nose to spite his face.

    Well, either that or he’s lying and what he actually wants is to micromanage the lives of the 99% in order to support the 1%.

  14. wmmbb

    Thanks Brian. I was not aware of the petition.

    I thought it was important to give reasons. OK, so it may be a bit redundant but I said the following:

    Climate change is a robust scientific theory. All the effects of system change of this order are difficult to fully anticipate. Therefore we have to take its’ consequences and implications seriously, and not be blind to how our actions will affect others, particularly future generations and those in poorer countries, who are less responsible and do not have the resources either for direct action or reduction of emissions. Thus there are pressing moral and economic reasons to act to reduce emissions in such a way that enable innovation and investment to allow the economy to transition. Of course this is self-evident (if science is understood as reflecting reality) and has been said many times before – and more eloquently.

    I doubt Greg Hunt will read it.

  15. Val

    Hi Brian, wmmbb and all

    Just again noting I think this petition might be more effective

    http://chn.ge/1abMM7a

  16. paul burns

    Val,
    signed that one too.

  17. Val

    Great Paul. Spread the word. I dont see any reason why we shouldn’t sign both. I’m a bit puzzled as to why there two so similar but nothing sinister about it as far as i can see.

    Do you know the NBN petition is now about 250,000 signatures? Turnbull at first tried to brush it off but now apparently he is softening a bit (of course all this stuff is good for him too if he wants to position himself as a moderate alternative to Abbott).

    Wmmbb @ 14 Good on you for doing a message – I’m a bit inclined to take the easy way and just click but I think it is better when there is a personal message.

  18. Iain Hall

    Really all of this gnashing of teeth is rather pointless, the Abbott government has been promising to tear down the Labor/Greens “Climate Change” edifice for the last three years so them doing so promptly is just to be expected.
    Even so all of the whining here seems to be ignoring the simple fact that the things that have killed the public’s faith in both an ETS and its evil cousin the Carbon tax is that we the people are not convinced that they will make a scrap of difference to the climate. So its all pain for no gain.

    Finally the suggestion that the abolition of the climate commission is evidence of an “anti-science” stance is bollocks. Its not science that is being abolished but a quango that is profoundly unscientific in its promotion of the Green religion.

  19. Val

    Iain Hall @ 18
    Sorry have you just been appointed to speak for we the people? Because I missed the memo.

  20. drsusancalvin

    Val, Val, Val, Val, Val. Thanks for the link. *whispers “Don’t feed the troll”.

  21. Val

    Drsusnacalvin @ 20
    I was just trying to, you know, dispatch him (not in a violent sense, I hasten to add)

  22. John D

    I think that Labor and the Greens should follow Nick Xenophon’s approach and say that they will support the end of the carbon price as long as it is part of a package for serious climate action. Might shine some light on the Australian Tea Party’s direct action lite policy.

  23. Val

    John D @ 22
    Hmm I dunno John – the climate bodies seem to think the carbon price played some part in bringing the emissions from electricity down, even if not the major part, so I’d be concerned about trading it away.

    As I said I think it’s useful as part of a package.

  24. Peter Murphy

    The best picture on climate denialism I’ve seen. (Possum Pollytics, naturally.)

    And Iain: what do you mean “we”, white man? It’s pretty presumptuous, ridiculous, and inaccurate to think you speak for all Australians. 90% of the population thinks climate change is happening. More than half of that thinks it is human-induced; the remainder thinks it is natural; never the less, the consensus is that climate change is happening. And to quote one sentence that stuck out reading it.

    Overestimating how common our beliefs and opinions are is a well-know phenomenon in social psychology. It exists across many different domains.

    Have you every considered this, Iain?

  25. Obviously Obtuse

    While on the whole I disagree with Iain, it must be said that any carbon abatement measures/policies that fail to close down Hazelwood, (is that Australia’s dirtiest coal fired plant?) cant really be said to be working. I think we’ve had discussion on other threads about how right wing market based carbon solutions are a damp squib the world over. It’s frustrating. Just close the f^#$&er down, for f)(*(*s sake.

  26. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: your nym seems well chosen.

    The perfect really is the enemy of the good, it’s not just a meaningless cliche. Picking a single factor and saying that any effort that does not fully address that one element must be disregarded can’t ever be valid – there are always too many possible elements and nothing will address all of them completely. A much better question is: does this policy help, and is it sufficiently helpful to justify the cost of implementing it.

    I think the only way people can say the carbon price failed that test is that it did not meet the political part of the cost-benefit test = the government that implemented it was not re-elected, therefore the cost was too high. In material terms it was a reasonable policy and one (successful) part of a broader platform of measures that was actually working. The evidence available suggests that the new platform will not work, and will fail either expensively or comprehensively depending entirely on how much money is ploughed into it.

  27. Fran Barlow

    Obviously Obtuse

    it must be said that any carbon abatement measures/policies that fail to close down Hazelwood, (is that Australia’s dirtiest coal fired plant?) can’t really be said to be working.

    More precisely, they can’t really be said to be achieving what most people concerned about the issue imagine they ought to be achieving.

    It’s not at all clear to me that Australia’s carbon price is making all that much of a difference to emissions on Australian territory, but in so far as Australia is one of the countries seen to be putting a price on emissions, it undermined the global inactivist push. That was in practice, always going to be the lion’s share of the benefit.

    I’d love to see Playford B, Muja and Hazelwood shut down, and indeed, every coal plant more than 25 years old could probably be shut down on general economic grounds, but that really says nothing about our carbon price, which, despite the high dudgeon on the right, is far too modest to have those sorts of effects.

  28. Katz

    You’re right Brian. It’s 22 Sept 2013 and the Climate Commission website is still live!

    Maybe Winston Smith will get around to it when he has dealt with the chocko ration matter. But clearly, efficiency isn’t one of the non-negotiable values of the Abbott government.

    It really must do better.

  29. Iain Hall

    Peter Murphy

    And Iain: what do you mean “we”, white man? It’s pretty presumptuous, ridiculous, and inaccurate to think you speak for all Australians.

    As one of those who voted for the the change of government Its reasonable for to invoke the “we the people” notion. That said I don’t ever think of my self as a “white man” I am a human being who believes that all other people are entirely equal in their humanity no matter what colour the skin may be.

    90% of the population thinks climate change is happening. More than half of that thinks it is human-induced; the remainder thinks it is natural; never the less, the consensus is that climate change is happening. And to quote one sentence that stuck out reading it.

    Overestimating how common our beliefs and opinions are is a well-know phenomenon in social psychology. It exists across many different domains.

    Have you every considered this, Iain?

    Right back at you on the way that you are overestimating the unquestioning belief in AGW which is far less than the numbers in your quote suggests

    Obviously Obtuse

    While on the whole I disagree with Iain, it must be said that any carbon abatement measures/policies that fail to close down Hazelwood, (is that Australia’s dirtiest coal fired plant?) cant really be said to be working. I think we’ve had discussion on other threads about how right wing market based carbon solutions are a damp squib the world over. It’s frustrating. Just close the f^#$&er down, for f)(*(*s sake.

    Thanks for recognising the core of the matter is the effectiveness of the measures in question, If there was some clear, obvious, timely and measurable positive result from things like the Carbon tax or an ETS then it would not have been such a hard sell to the people. As much as I dislike the Direct Action scheme it will at least provide some tangible benefits even if it does nothing for the climate or GASP! if the AGW claims prove to be as over blown as I think that it is.

  30. John D

    Val: It never made sense to apply the carbon tax to power generation given that the RET offset credit trading scheme was doing the job without the politically poisonous price increases associated with the carbon tax. A smarter move would have been to raise the RET 2020 target to the level required to meet our 2020 target. (Or combine a lesser target with some other action.)
    I am aware of some projects such as the Bindaree Beef bio-fuel plant were justified in terms of the carbon tax but am not sure what else was clearly linked to the carbon tax. I do accept that the Abbott scare campaign actually did some good by scaring people into acting before they realized how little impact the carbon tax was going to have.
    My take is that climate action supporters have to choose between the warm glow of playing holier than thou about the carbon price or challenging the LNP to use a combination of the Howard government’s successful RET scheme or some variation of direct action to produce real reductions in emissions. Taking this approach will make it harder for Abbot’s to use the carbon tax as a diversion and focus attention on what Abbott is doing/not doing about meeting emission targets.

  31. John D

    Fran: At this stage it doesn’t really matter whether the brown coal generators are the first to shut down. The key issues are cost per tonne CO2 abatement and retaining the capacity to provide reliable power.

  32. Johno

    The real damage has been done by the goons who have been in power for the last two terms. Hopefully these goons will flap around for another term or three to ensure Tony has the time he will need to fix the crap they left behind.

  33. David Irving (no relation)

    You owe me a new keyboard, Johno. I’ll never get the beer out of this one!

  34. Fran Barlow

    John

    At this stage it doesn’t really matter whether the brown coal generators are the first to shut down. The key issues are cost per tonne CO2 abatement and retaining the capacity to provide reliable power.

    I see the brown coal power plants (and the older black coal ones) as very much the low hanging fruit, so I don’t doubt that they would meet your standard. If we are moving away from a price on emissions though, the point is moot.

    You press for pollution or biodiversity regulations that would make these plants in practice unviable and let the chips fall where they may.

  35. Salient Green

    I’m with John D from #22 on. The carbon price is so much hypocrisy when we import mega goods with impunity from it as well as exporting millions of tonnes of coal also largely exempt from a carbon price.
    It’s also tainted politically and both Labor and the Greens must take some of the blame for not adequately fighting the carbon ‘tax’ meme.

  36. Helen

    Yes, Johno is hilair!

    I’m going to write to Tones to try to convince him that buying up VicForests (which has been operating at a loss for years) and converting all the old growth forest in Victoria to parks and paying the former Vic Forest employees to maintain them, would be exactly the kind of Direct Action he’s suggested. Unfortunately it appears the reverse will happen. Think of all that carbon they could lock up.

  37. jungney

    The idea that a carbon price would do much to abate climate change shows a remarkably touching faith in market mechanisms.

  38. John D

    Fran: A number of black coal modules have shut down in Qld and my understanding is that at least one brown coal module has shut down in Vic. Coal fired power stations have been shut down or scaled back in SA – so action is happening. Some of this is the result of RET and FIT driven renewables and, some may be helped along by the carbon tax.
    I suspect that a large excess of baseload power and the need for power sources that can respond more quickly in changes to demand and supply are part of the reason.
    The fossil power producers are complaining about the RET which means it really is working. my fear is that the Tea party will reduce the target to accommodate these complaints.

  39. Moz of Yarramulla

    A note of caution with the Change.org petitions – they are very keen to use your email address to promote their site. You can’t choose not to get those emails when you sign a petition, but it looks as though you can unsubscribe once you recieve the first one.

  40. Val

    John D @ 31

    “Val: It never made sense to apply the carbon tax to power generation given that the RET offset credit trading scheme was doing the job without the politically poisonous price increases associated with the carbon tax. A smarter move would have been to raise the RET 2020 target to the level required to meet our 2020 target. (Or combine a lesser target with some other action.)”

    John I was interested in this comment but not quite sure I understand it, especially given that you have said here and in other comments that the carbon price is probably helping. Can you expand this a bit? Are you arguing that the carbon price contributes so little that it’s politically not worth fighting for? What proportion of the decline in the electricity emissions in the last half of 2012 do you think the carbon price may have contributed (even as a guesstimate?) As I understand it the ongoing funding for the CEFC was going to come from the carbon price wasn’t it? I thought that the role of the CEFC was helping new alternative technologies get going and as such it would potentially contribute to achieving the RET? Are you suggesting keep the CEFC but fund it through general revenue, or how do you see the CEFC fitting into the picture (theoretically of course because it may well be out of it next year at least)?

    Sorry for barrage of questions but I hope you can answer at least some of them.