Sunday, December 18, 2005


Before he'd even touched back on home soil this week, Ian Campbell had a triumphant message for Australian industry - the Kyoto Protocol is dead. So too was any suggestion that Australia had erred by choosing not to ratify the global greenhouse reduction treaty. The fact that Australia remained outside Kyoto was "just such a non-issue", the federal Environment Minister said, fresh from the latest international climate conference in Montreal....

The Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, which represents carbon-intensive industries such as electricity, petroleum, aluminium and coal, supports the Government's policy of developing clean technology to reduce greenhouse emissions, most specifically through the Asia Pacific partnership which meets for the first time next month. The network also maintains that the Government's resistance to the protocol, which sets binding emission reduction targets for developed countries but allows them to mitigate the cost through mechanisms such as carbon trading, has saved the Australian economy from certain decline. AIGN chief John Daley says resisting Kyoto has freed Australian industry to capitalise on rising demand from India and China for our coal, uranium, LNG and aluminium - all products that create carbon emissions during extraction or manufacturing. "That side is going to be important for Australia because we are uniquely dominated by energy-intensive industries," Daley says.

Coal exports to China in 2004 were worth $400 million - twice the value of just two years earlier. BHP is ramping up its uranium production as Europe turns back to the less carbon-intensive nuclear power, and demand for LNG has never been higher. The Australian economy would be in a much sadder state were it not for the demand for our natural resources, Daley says. Economist Warwick McKibbin agrees that China's demand for coal has added "perhaps a percentage point to Australia's annual growth".....

But the federal Government rejects the notion of any sort of domestic carbon tax, arguing it would push up electricity prices and make Australia uncompetitive. Daley agrees. "Everyone accepts that there will be price signals for carbon and we will eventually join an international carbon trading market (that will likely exclude the poorest nations)," he says. "But the appropriate policy action is not to impose a tax now. It wouldn't hurry industry up. It would just get them offside and encourage them to migrate to countries which don't care about that stuff like the Middle East and Russia."

That's not how Australia's largest coal and uranium producer, BHP Billiton, sees it. In a statement to The Weekend Australian it said: "We support the development of market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading which will establish carbon prices provided that the measures are broad-based, efficient and are phased in such that industry has time to adjust."

AIGN and the Australian Aluminium Industry - a vocal member which relies heavily on cheap coal-fired power - say it is senseless to place an impost on fossil fuels if commercially viable alternative technologies do not yet exist to replace them. Clean coal technologies are still at least 20 years away from commercial application.

The article excerpted above goes on further to discuss nebulous future problems for Australia's policy

Keeping Kyoto on life support

The Montreal conference on climate change ended in agreement - much to everybody's surprise

The nature of the agreement has been heavily spun. UK environment secretary Margaret Beckett described it as 'a diplomatic triumph'. In truth, all that was agreed was that there would be more talks in the future with no deadlines, no targets and no obligations. The real reason for the triumphalism is that the Americans didn't walk out altogether. The Kyoto process is not dead, but it may be in a permanent vegetative state.

One of the many strange things about the Kyoto protocol is that its biggest defenders are also its biggest breachers. The treaty demands that global emissions of six greenhouse gases fall by 5.2 per cent compared with 1990 levels over the period from 2008-2012. Yet its biggest supporters are failing miserably in this effort. Emissions for the EU are supposed to fall by eight per cent but the 15 longest-standing members of the Union will manage cuts of only 2.5 per cent by 2012. Canada, supposed to achieve a six per cent decrease in that period, is currently producing 24 per cent more emissions than in 1990.

That world leaders will still pay lip service to Kyoto, even as they fail to live up to its demands, demonstrate the extent to which environmentalism has become about moral posturing more than practical measures.

The failure of some nations to fulfil Kyoto hasn't stopped them from lecturing the US on its failure to sign up. Canadian prime minister Paul Martin said in his speech to open the talks at Montreal: 'The time is past to pretend that any nation can stand alone, isolated from the global community, for there is but one Earth and we share it, and there can be no hiding on any island, in any city, within any country, no matter how prosperous, from the consequences of inaction.' (Martin raps US over Kyoto accord (Globe and Mail, 8 December 2005)

Despite the rhetoric, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the terms of the Kyoto protocol won't be met because they are unacceptably expensive, particularly in economies that are already floundering. Even then, Kyoto is pointless for two reasons: firstly, the emissions cuts are by common consensus too small to have any noticeable effect on climate change, even if the USA were involved; secondly, because Kyoto excludes fast-developing countries like China. China's rapid development of coal-fired power stations would wipe out the Kyoto cuts in months.
So, why all the fuss about the Montreal agreement? From the point of view of the environmental lobby that has been pushing for a souped-up 'Son of Kyoto' with even bigger emissions cuts, it means they are still in the game. As long as politicians still talk about climate change as a major problem, they have the potential to wield influence.

To that end, the new Tory leader's decision to set up a 'Quality of Life' commission under the leadership of former environment minister John Gummer (and including eco-luminaries such as Zac Goldsmith) illustrates that politicians still think there's something useful to be achieved by pushing an environmentalist agenda.

However, the goals seem to be more political and moral than practical. Environmental awareness is about learning the lesson that the planet has been screwed up by human beings. In an era where economic and social progress has slowed to a crawl, the notion that reining in growth is actually a positive thing, not a failure, is very attractive to a political class in search of a mission.

It is attractive at a diplomatic level, too. For the EU in particular, setting itself up as the polar opposite of the USA on just about every issue is important as a means of creating a sense of unity and purpose. In this particular fable, America is the bogeyman, not just on Iraq, but also on its insistence in striving for increased wealth at the expense of the planet. The irony is that the US record on emissions is, if anything, better than Europe's despite refusing to ratify Kyoto.

This moral message might suit the leaders of Europe and Canada, but its effect is ultimately destructive. It calls into question the ability of humanity to do anything useful to make society in the future better than it is now, and it acts a huge diversion from dealing with much more pressing problems.

The Montreal agreement kept Kyoto on life-support but, if we are to focus the energies of society effectively, it would be better if someone pulled the plug.



They just dither instead

Nine Northeastern U.S. states that have attempted to break with the Bush Administration and form a regional greenhouse gas market have failed to agree on how the plan would work. New York Gov. George Pataki, like Bush a Republican, founded the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which seeks to create a carbon market similar to the European Union's carbon market that was created by the Kyoto Protocol.

But late on Wednesday Massachusetts and Rhode Island balked on agreeing to a deadline on December 15 on how the program would work and Connecticut also wavered, a spokesman for Pataki said. The Northeastern states hope their initiative and one being planned in West Coast states could lead to a federal program. The Bush administration favors voluntary means of reducing greenhouse gases over mandatory measures.

RGGI seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the gases most scientists believe are warming the planet, at power plants by 10 percent by 2020. "We are greatly disappointed that after two and a half years of productive work, we have been unable to reach a final agreement with all the states that have participated in RGGI," said Pataki spokesman Peter Constantakes. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had already delayed a public agreement on the plan from December 1, when 10,000 delegates were gathered in Montreal to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, to December 15.

Last week, Romney, also a Republican, proposed rules for his state alone that would cap the price that companies would have to pay for carbon dioxide credits. While Pataki does not oppose the idea of such a "safety-valve" on the price of carbon credits, he did not support Romney's proposed price in the regional plan.

Business groups including the New England Council and the American Council for Capital Formation have said that if RGGI is ever enacted it would boost electricity costs. They also say plants in RGGI states would be tempted to relocate to other states that would not have carbon dioxide limits.

But Pataki has said RGGI could lead to only a modest increase at first and that it would save customers money down the road as power plants get more efficient.

President George W. Bush withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, saying it was bad for the economy and unfairly left big developing nations like China and India without mandatory caps.

Though the split between the Northeastern governors has been growing wider, no state is officially out of the program yet.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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