Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The ultimate in Greenie pretentiousness

Greenpeace activities seem mainly to be a means of having fun with boats but the story below makes that pale into insignificance: Ostentatious extravagance in the name of conservation! Though Al Gore is probably still well ahead in the conspicuous consumption stakes. Green is the colour of hypocrisy

LIBERTY, ecology, gastronomy! If only all revolutions were this pleasant. A Michelin-starred chef, an international adventurer and a veritable UN of diners - French, Swiss, Russian, South African, Singaporean, Australian, plus a Korean celebrity and his film crew - gathered for lunch on a remote sandbank on the Great Barrier Reef.

Surely this was not what Marie Antoinette had in mind when she allegedly decreed of the starving French peasantry, "let them eat cake". But 220 years after the storming of the Bastille, the House of G.H. Mumm, one of the world's largest champagne houses, had an entirely different revolution in mind when it convened its third Explorer Experience on Undine Cay, about 100km north of Cairns yesterday.

Partnering with South African explorer Mike Horn, Mumm devised the concept of the Explorer Experience to extol the virtues of protecting the environment, while enjoying it in some of the most opulent and extreme ways possible. "It is another philosophy of luxury," said Yann Soenen, Mumm's regional director in the Asia-Pacific, aboard Horn's 35m ketch Pangaea. "We believe that you can enjoy luxury, but you can enjoy it with a consciousness, with knowledge and appreciation of craftsmanship, skill and ability."

Hence, the first Experience involved Michelin two-star chef Sylvestre Wahid preparing dinner on an iceberg drifting in the Sermilik Fjord in Greenland.

Horn and his crew then set sail for Antarctica, for a second repaste prepared by Michelin three-star chef Gerard Boyer, convened at the spot where French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot famously celebrated his arrival on the ice floe in 1904 by opening a bottle of Mumm champagne.

Not surprisingly, the Mumm team felt it was time for warmer climes. And Horn, whose remarkable, custom-built boat has become a flagship for environmental causes as well as a training ground for his Young Explorers (interns from around the world, aged 16 to 20) in destinations as disparate as the Amazon and the Arctic, agreed a pristine atoll on the Great Barrier Reef would be entirely appropriate. "The impossible only exists until we find a way of making it possible," Horn said. "Today, real luxury is the freedom of making your dreams come true."

To continue the tradition of "extreme gastronomy", Mumm threw down the gauntlet to 33-year-old Italo-Argentinean tyro Mauro Colagreco, who was awarded his first Michelin star within a year of opening Mirazur, overlooking the French Mediterranean, in 2006.

This year, the restaurant stormed the hotly anticipated S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list, entering at No35.

Colagreco's challenge was to prepare a five-course gourmet meal for 20 people using local produce, some of which he had never tasted before visiting the Cairns markets on the weekend - finger limes were, apparently, a revelation to him.

He also had a portable kitchen comprising just two hobs and one sink with limited running water, on a remote sandbank. "Here, he is alone with his stove and delivering what musicians would call an unplugged live performance," Soenen said. "There are no special effects. Just unspoilt landscapes and the opportunity to consider the threat of climate change. The gastronomic challenge is to celebrate the original purity that these spots have kept untouched."

Highlights of the meal, freshly caught and plucked from the reef and coastal ridges beyond, included individual shots of eschallot cream, granny smith apples and seaweed foam; grilled abalone with sesame sauce and tomato compote; and wild barramundi with paw-paw, green mango and citrus sauce. All accompanied, of course, by sand-encrusted bottles of the finest Mumm vintages.

Surely only the French could dream up a way of fighting to save the planet that also involves fine champagne and Michelin-starred chefs? And for that alone, it seemed appropriate to sit back on Bastille Day and toast the Tricolore: blue for the cobalt ocean surrounding us, white for the sun-bleached sand, and red for the colour slowly creeping across our shoulders and staining our noses as we popped just one more Mumm cork.


Gore lies about British court case

A leading UK lawyer, who represented the parent that sued Al Gore in the British High Court, has laughed off claims by the former vice-president that the judge ruled in his favour.

Speaking from London John Day, a senior partner in Malletts Solicitors, said Mr Gore was misrepresenting what the judge had found. Mr Day represented a British parent who sued the UK Ministry of Education when they wanted to distribute and show Mr Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth to every British school child.

In the 2006 documentary Mr Gore claimed humanity is in danger because of man made Global Warming. He also claimed flooding and disease would increase with the destruction of most of the world's major cities including New York, London and Shanghai. As a result Mr Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and the documentary won an Oscar.

However, after a lengthy hearing a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Burton, found that An Inconvenient Truth contained significant scientific errors in nine key areas.

But questioned about the embarasing High Court decision during a current trip to Australia Mr Gore stated on ABC Australia "Well, the ruling was in my favour".

However, this has been rejected by Mr Day who said Mr Gore's latest claims are "difficult to square with the reality of the judgement". "The judge found there were nine serious scientific errors in the film." He said the court ordered that the film was "not suitable to be shown in British schools without a health warning".

"Mr Justice Burton said an Inconvenient Truth wasn't fit to be shown in British schools without suitably corrected guidance which drew attention to the errors in the film and its political partisanship."

Among the errors listed by Mr Justice Burton were Mr Gore claims that rising sea levels would destroy cities in the near future, that the polar bear was endangered and that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting all because of Global Warming. The judge found these to be scientific errors. He also dismissed Mr Gore's claims that Hurricane Katrina was caused by Global Warming.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Wind farms will be a monument to an age when Britain's leaders collectively went off their heads

Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity. And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.

There are a few contenders for the title of the maddest thing that has happened in our lifetime. But a front-runner must be the way in which politicians of all parties have been seduced by the La-La Land promises of the wind power lobby. If you still haven't made your mind up about wind power, just consider some of the inescapable facts - facts which the Government and the wind industry do their best to hide from us all. So far we have spent billions of pounds on building just over 2,000 wind turbines - and yet they contribute barely one per cent of all the electricity that we need. The combined output of all those 2,000 turbines put together, averaging 700 megawatts, is less than that of a single, medium-sized conventional power station.

What's more, far from being 'free', this pitiful dribble of electricity is twice as expensive as the power we get from the nuclear, gas or coal-fired power stations which currently supply well over 90 per cent of our needs - and we all pay the difference, without knowing it, through our electricity bills.

But despite its best efforts to conceal the fact that wind turbines expensively and unreliably generate only a derisory amount of electricity, the Government keeps on telling us of its megalomaniac plans to build thousands more of them - at a cost of up to £100billion.

The prime reason for this is that we are legally obliged by the European Union to generate 32 per cent of our electricity from 'renewable' sources by 2020. And with just 11 years to go until that deadline, we hope to meet the target by building highly-subsidised wind turbines. But this is a farce. In fact, as the Government is privately well aware, there is not the faintest hope that we can do anything of the kind - even if we wanted to.

Gordon Brown talks airily of building 4,000 offshore turbines by our target date - plus another 3,000 onshore. But this would mean sticking two of these 2,000-ton monsters, each the height of Blackpool Tower, into the seabed every day for the next 11 years. Nowhere in the world has it proved possible to install more than one of them a week. The infrastructure simply isn't there to build more than a fraction of that figure. Furthermore, such are the weather conditions around Britain's coasts that it is only possible to work on these projects for a few months every summer.

Then there are the 3,000 promised onshore turbines - many of which are to be erected in the most beautiful stretches of Britain's countryside. These are meeting with so much local hostility that the Government has continually had to bend the planning rules in order to force them through over the wishes of local communities and the democratic opposition of local councils.

But wind power is not just the pipedream of deluded politicians. As the CBI was trying to warn yesterday, the real disaster of this great wind fantasy is that it has diverted attention from the genuine energy crisis now hurtling towards us at breakneck speed. For while the Government is trying to force a scattering of useless wind turbines through the planning offices, the truth is that the rest of us will lose 40 per cent of our power stations within as little as seven years.

If this happens, and we don't have an alternative, our kettles won't boil, our computers won't work and our country will face economic meltdown. There is little hope now of an 11th hour reprieve. Eight of our nine nuclear power stations - which presently supply 20 per cent of our electricity needs - are so old they will have to close. Nine more large coal and oil-fired power plants will also be forced to shut down under an EU anti-pollution directive.

But more alarming still is the astonishing naivete of almost all our politicians when it comes to working out how we are going to fill the 40 per cent shortfall left in their wake. Very belatedly, the Government has said that it wants to see a new generation of nuclear reactors. Yet there is little hope that any of them can be up and running earlier than 2020. What's more, they will have to be built by foreign-owned companies because, as recently as October 2006, the Government sold off our last world-class nuclear construction company, Westinghouse, to the Japanese at a knockdown price.

At the same time, our Energy And Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, now says he will not allow any new coal-fired power stations to be built unless they have 'carbon capture' - piping off CO2 to bury it in holes in the ground. This technology not only doubles the price of electricity but hasn't even yet been properly developed. And so the only hope of keeping the lights on will be to build dozens more gas-fired power stations - at a time when North Sea gas is fast running out. And then we will be forced to rely on imports from politically unreliable countries such as Russia, at a time when gas prices are likely to be soaring.

In any event, over the past 20 years, our politicians have made an even more unholy shambles of Britain's energy policy than they have of our economy - and the cost, when the chickens come to roost in a few years' time, will be almost unimaginable.

The causes of Britain's impending energy crisis are manifold. Michael Heseltine's 1992 'dash for gas', when he closed down most of our remaining coal mines because North Sea gas was still cheap and abundant, and because its CO2 emissions were only half those of coal, was one of them. But nothing has done more to take the politicians' eye off the ball, egged on by environmentalist groups such as Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace, than their quite incomprehensible obsession with windmills. For these white elephants can never produce more than a fraction of the electricity we need, and by no means always when we need it - as we saw last winter when, for weeks on end, they were scarcely turning at all. Do politicians never look outside the windows of their centrally-heated offices to see how often the wind is not blowing?

The Government has now shovelled so much money in hidden subsidies into the pockets of the turbine companies that the 'wind bonanza', promoted on a host of fraudulent claims, has become one of the greatest scams of our age. But if and when our lights do go out, it will be important to remember just why we got carried away by such a massive blunder.

Left with a land blighted with useless towers of metal, we shall look on those windmills as a monument to the age when the politicians of Britain and Europe collectively went completely off their heads.


Climate change: The sun and the oceans do not lie

Even a compromised agreement to reduce emissions could devastate the economy - and all for a theory shot full of holes, says Christopher Booker

The moves now being made by the world's political establishment to lock us into December's Copenhagen treaty to halt global warming are as alarming as anything that has happened in our lifetimes. Last week in Italy, the various branches of our emerging world government, G8 and G20, agreed in principle that the world must by 2050 cut its CO2 emissions in half. Britain and the US are already committed to cutting their use of fossil fuels by more than 80 per cent.

Short of an unimaginable technological revolution, this could only be achieved by closing down virtually all our economic activity: no electricity, no transport, no industry. All this is being egged on by a gigantic publicity machine, by the UN, by serried ranks of government-funded scientists, by cheerleaders such as Al Gore, last week comparing the fight against global warming to that against Hitler's Nazis, and by politicians who have no idea what they are setting in train.

What makes this even odder is that the runaway warming predicted by their computer models simply isn't happening. Last week one of the four official sources of temperature measurement, compiled from satellite data by the University of Huntsville, Alabama, showed that temperatures have now fallen to their average level since satellite data began 30 years ago.

Faced with a "consensus" view which looks increasingly implausible, a fast-growing body of reputable scientists from many countries has been coming up with a ''counter-consensus'', which holds that their fellow scientists have been looking in wholly the wrong direction to explain what is happening to the world's climate. The two factors which most plausibly explain what temperatures are actually doing are fluctuations in the radiation of the sun and the related shifting of ocean currents.

Two episodes highlight the establishment's alarm at the growing influence of this ''counter consensus''. In March, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has a key role in President Obama's plans to curb CO2 emissions, asked one of its senior policy analysts, Alan Carlin, to report on the science used to justify its policy. His 90-page paper recommended that the EPA carry out an independent review of the science, because the CO2 theory was looking indefensible, while the "counter consensus'' view – solar radiation and ocean currents – seemed to fit the data much better. Provoking a considerable stir, Carlin's report was stopped dead, on the grounds that it was too late to raise objections to what was now the EPA's official policy.

Meanwhile a remarkable drama has been unfolding in Australia, where the new Labor government has belatedly joined the "consensus'' bandwagon by introducing a bill for an emissions-curbing "cap and trade'' scheme, which would devastate Australia's economy, it being 80 per cent dependent on coal. The bill still has to pass the Senate, which is so precisely divided that the decisive vote next month may be cast by an independent Senator, Stephen Fielding. So crucial is his vote that the climate change minister, Penny Wong, agreed to see him with his four advisers, all leading Australian scientists.

Fielding put to the minister three questions. How, since temperatures have been dropping, can CO2 be blamed for them rising? What, if CO2 was the cause of recent warming, was the cause of temperatures rising higher in the past? Why, since the official computer models have been proved wrong, should we rely on them for future projections?

The written answers produced by the minister's own scientific advisers proved so woolly and full of elementary errors that Fielding's team have now published a 50-page, fully-referenced "Due Diligence'' paper tearing them apart. In light of the inadequacy of the Government's reply, the Senator has announced that he will be voting against the bill.

The wider significance of this episode is that it is the first time a Western government has allowed itself to be drawn into debating the science behind the global warming scare with expert scientists representing the "counter consensus" – and the "consensus" lost hands down.

We still have a long way to go before that Copenhagen treaty is agreed in December, and with China, India and 128 other countries still demanding trillions of dollars as the price of their co-operation, the prospect of anything but a hopelessly fudged agreement looks slim. But even a compromise could inflict devastating damage on our own economic future – all for a theory now shot so full of holes that its supporters are having to suppress free speech to defend it.


Al Gore and friends create climate of McCarthyism

By Bjorn Lomborg

ANYONE who questions green orthodoxy is accused of committing treason. Discussions about global warming are marked by an increasing desire to stamp out "impure" thinking, to the point of questioning the value of democratic debate. But shutting down discussion simply means the disappearance of reason from public policy.

In March, Al Gore's science adviser and prominent climate researcher Jim Hansen proclaimed that when it comes to dealing with global warming, the "democratic process isn't working". Although science has demonstrated that CO2 from fossil fuels is heating the planet, politicians are unwilling to follow his advice and stop building coal-fired power plants.

Hansen argues that "the first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections, but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash." Although he doesn't tell us what the second or third action is, he has turned up in a British court to defend six activists who damaged a coal-fired power station. He argues that we need "more people chaining themselves to coal plants", a point repeated by Gore.

The Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman goes further. After the narrow passage of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill in the US House of Representatives, Krugman said that there was no justification for a vote against it. He called virtually all of the members who voted against it "climate deniers" who were committing "treason against the planet". Krugman said that the "irresponsibility and immorality" of the representatives' democratic viewpoints were "unforgivable" and a "betrayal". He thus accused almost half of the democratically elected members of the house, from both parties, of treason for holding the views that they do, thereby essentially negating democracy.

Less well-known pundits make similar points, suggesting that people with "incorrect" views on global warming should face Nuremberg-style trials or be tried for crimes against humanity. There is clearly a trend. The climate threat is so great -- and democracies are doing so little about it -- that people conclude that maybe democracy is part of the problem, and that perhaps people ought not be allowed to express heterodox opinions on such an important topic.

This is scary, although not without historical precedent. Much of the American McCarthyism of the 1940s and 50s was driven by the same burning faith in the righteousness of the mission: a faith that saw fundamental rights abrogated. We would be well served to go down a different path.

Gore and others often argue that if the science of climate change concludes that CO2 emissions are harmful, it follows that we should stop those harmful emissions, and that we are morally obliged to do so. But this misses half the story. We could just as well point out that since science tells us that speeding cars kill many people, we should cut speed limits to almost nothing. We do no such thing, because we recognise that the costs of high-speed cars must be weighed against the benefits of a mobile society. Indeed, nobody emits CO2 for fun. CO2 emissions result from other, generally beneficial acts, such as burning coal to keep warm, burning kerosene to cook, or burning petrol to transport people. The benefits of fossil fuels must be weighed against the costs of global warming.

Gore and Hansen want a moratorium on coal-fired power plants, but neglect the fact that the hundreds of new power plants that will be opened in China and India in the coming years could lift a billion people out of poverty. Negating this outcome through a moratorium is clearly no unmitigated good.

Likewise, reasonable people can differ on their interpretation of the Waxman-Markey bill. Even if we set aside its masses of pork-barrel spending, and analyses that show it may allow more emissions in the US for the first decades, there are more fundamental problems with this legislation. At a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars annually, it will have virtually no impact on climate change. If all of the bill's many provisions were entirely fulfilled, economic models show that it would reduce the temperature by the end of the century by 0.11C, reducing warming by less than 4 per cent.

Even if every Kyoto-obligated country passed its own, duplicate Waxman-Markey bills -- which is implausible and would incur significantly higher costs -- the global reduction would amount to just 0.22C by the end of this century. The reduction in global temperature would not be measurable in 100 years, yet the cost would be significant and payable now.

Is it really treason against the planet to express some scepticism about whether this is the right way forward? Is it treason to question throwing huge sums of money at a policy that will do virtually no good in 100 years? Is it unreasonable to point out that the inevitable creation of trade barriers that will ensue from Waxman-Markey could eventually cost the world 10 times more than the damage climate change could ever have wrought?

Today's focus on ineffective and costly climate policies shows poor judgment. But I would never want to shut down discussion about these issues, whether it is with Gore, Hansen, or Krugman. Everybody involved in this discussion should spend more time building and acknowledging good arguments, and less time telling others what they cannot say. Wanting to shut down the discussion is simply treason against reason.



Four current articles below

Predictions, Forecasts or Just Pure Guesses?

By veteran Queensland computer scientist Richard Kelly

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts a "likely" increase in average global temperatures of between 1.5 and 4.5oC by the year 2100, with a "best estimate" of 3oC, and attributes this increase to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, most notably CO2.

Now, politicians of almost every persuasion, bureaucrats, economists and "global warming soothsayers (such as Al Gore)" tell us that there is now a "scientific consensus that global warming and climate change is a fact, not a theory" and that, unless we spend trillions of dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next century, "the whole world will be devastated by catastrophic climatic events"!

Meanwhile, thousands of eminent scientists continue to demonstrate that the IPCC's statistics and computer models are fundamentally flawed (even fudged), yet their opinions are censored and suppressed by those on the populist bandwagon!

Interestingly, there appears to be no rigorous definition of what the term "average global temperature" means. Is it the average between daily maxima and minima; or between day and night temperatures; summer and winter; northern and southern hemispheres; the poles and the tropics; sea-level and mountain tops; or the oceans and the outback? Importantly, what does the term "average" mean across such diverse locations?

Unlike Melbourne (which often experiences "Four seasons in the one day"), Brisbane has one of the most stable and predictable climates in the world (as we like to claim: "Beautiful one day, perfect the next"). For this reason, one might expect that the Bureau of Meteorology, with all of its highly-skilled scientists, monitoring stations, weather balloons, radar stations, satellite observations, over 100 years of accurate historical data and state-of-the-art weather-modelling computers, to fairly accurately predict Brisbane's minimum and maximum temperatures for the following 24 hours!

Interestingly, despite this plethora of knowledge and technology, they rarely attempt to forecast temperatures more than 7 days ahead. With this in mind, I've been monitoring the Brisbane Bureau's 24-hour temperature forecasts and actual temperatures for a total of 2834 days (over 7-3/4 years). So how have they managed to perform?

In 2834 days, they've managed to predict both the minimum and maximum temperatures correctly on only 239 occasions - approximately one day in 12 (or 8.4% of the time). The average total error in their predictions was 2.4 degrees, whilst their maximum error was 9 degrees! If, on the other hand, one made the assumption that "Brisbane's weather is so predictable, that tomorrow's temperatures will be the same as today's", one would have been correct on 187 occasions - one day in 15 (or 6.7% of the time). More recently, I've been monitoring their 7-day forecasts as well, and have found that their forecast is correct only 4.1% of the time or once every 25 days, with an average error of 3.43 degrees.

According to the IPCC's "Guidance on Addressing Uncertainties", any prediction with less than 10% probability is "very unlikely" to be correct! So, where does this leave their own projection of a rise in Average Global Temperature of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees over the next 100 years and with what accuracy?

Earlier this year, I happened to hear a Senior Meteorologist from the Melbourne Bureau interviewed on the ABC's 7.30 Report, who was asked: "How accurate are forecasters today?" Given the statistics I've quoted above, his response literally staggered me: "Well, on average, around about 85-90 per cent - that's the accuracy of the temperature forecast; that's looking at one day ahead. And that falls away to about 60 to 65 per cent out to 7 days." -

Ignorance? Wishful thinking? Or just plain hype? Actually, in quoting the above statistics, I am not attempting to denigrate the Bureau of Meteorology or its staff - merely to highlight the difficulty of reliably predicting temperature changes in the immediate, let alone the distant, future.

In summary, the global warming protagonists have failed to define what they mean by "average surface temperatures", have fewer than 30 years of accurate world-wide temperature measurements, upon which to base their projections, and completely ignore natural phenomena, which have produced global warming and cooling cycles over millions of years.

And what will be the outcome of government-imposed reductions in CO2 emissions, emissions trading schemes, renewable energy targets, etc? - Huge increases in energy bills and the price of food, the distortion of agricultural and farming practices, increased taxes and galloping inflation - not forgetting the adverse impacts on the poorer countries and their economies! These outcomes are already evident in countries such as the USA and the EU, which have mandated and subsidised the addition of ethanol to motor fuels, causing sky-rocketing prices for grains and meat and shortages of other commodities.

Call me a sceptic if you must, but I'm prepared to accept that "the Earth is flat" and that "the Sun revolves around the Earth", before I am willing to accept "the fact that global warming is solely due to human emissions of CO2 and that it will have catastrophic climate change consequences"!

Article received direct from the author

In Melbourne: Big Al, Small Protest

ANYONE who denies global warming is in the pay of big oil. Remember that is what the big man, Al Gore, said in his movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. But like so much that Mr Gore says, it just isn’t true.

Consider the 30-odd protesters who held placards outside the breakfast he spoke at this morning in Melbourne. The scruffy-lot, lead by a farmer Leon Ashby, were not there because someone paid them, but because they are outraged by Al Gore and what he has thrust on the world. In particular, his belief that we already have a climate crisis and that the only solution is carbon trading.

It might all sound well meaning. But it is going to be expensive. Indeed, quoting Ronald Bailey from Reason magazine, cap and trade in the US will be the largest corporate welfare program ever enacted in the history of the United States. And the corporations hope government is just as generous to them here in Australia.

Indeed if there were any in the pay of big oil at Dockland Peninsula this morning, they would have been inside applauding the big man. Has the big end of town ever taken to holding placards? I don’t think so.

A protest like the one in Melbourne this morning was about the seemingly disempowered and disenfranchised attempting to be heard. Of course history is replete with stories of such groups finding their voice and a crowd – eventually.


Greenie goes yellow (as in yellowcake)

Economic realities defeat ideology -- jobs and revenue needed -- even from the evil uranium

PETER GARRETT, whose first tilt at politics was a run for the Senate with the Nuclear Disarmament Party, gave the go-ahead for a new uranium mine yesterday. The Environment Minister approved the Four Mile mine in far northern South Australia, the first fully fledged uranium project to be approved by the former Midnight Oil frontman and one-time anti-uranium campaigner. Last year Mr Garrett approved an expansion of the Beverley mine, about 600 kilometres north of Adelaide. The Four Mile mine is about 10 kilometres from the Beverley project.

As Mr Garrett's opponents rushed to ridicule yesterday, he said the decision was difficult and "came after a rigorous and comprehensive assessment". "I have not taken the decision lightly," he said in a statement. "As with all proposals examined under national environment law, this mine was subject to a comprehensive, scientifically robust and transparent assessment process."

The Opposition environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, accused Mr Garrett of hypocrisy by reminding him of his speech to the ALP national conference in 2007 in which he spoke against abolishing Labor's three-mine policy on uranium. "I have long been opposed to uranium mining and I remain opposed to it. I am unapologetic about this. In fact, I am proud of it," Mr Garrett said two years ago.

He said there was no absolute guarantee Australian uranium would not end up in nuclear weapons "but we can guarantee all Australian uranium will become nuclear waste". The conference voted to abolish the three-mines policy and this made possible the approval of the Four Mile project, which will become Australia's fourth operational uranium mine.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the decision was consistent with party policy. Despite expanding the uranium industry, he remained opposed to nuclear energy in Australia, saying our low emissions energy future lay in "clean, green renewables".

The South Australian Liberal senator, Simon Birmingham, said the Government was sending mixed messages and should now ratify a deal to export uranium to Russia for peaceful purposes.

After entering politics in 2004, Mr Garrett accepted he was bound by party policy. "I'll be expected to accept the policies of the party. It doesn't mean that my strong views about different issues can't be expressed but they'll be expressed within the party," he said.


State Premier goes in to bat for coal industry

THE Queensland government is demanding special treatment to shield its coalmines from the cost of Canberra's action on climate change. Jolted by a $15 billion crash in treasury revenue, Premier Anna Bligh has written to the federal government's junior climate change minister, Greg Combet, raising "a number of significant outstanding issues" with its greenhouse emission trading scheme, known officially as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

"The CPRS will significantly reduce the competitiveness of coal production in Queensland," Ms Bligh wrote in a letter tabled during a state parliamentary estimates committee hearing in Brisbane yesterday. "Options to assist the coal industry ... need to be developed that go beyond that currently proposed."

Ms Bligh said modelling by the federal Treasury confirmed that Queensland faced the greatest impact from emissions pricing, with the biggest cut in economic growth of any state or territory by 2050. Her decision to go in to bat for the coal industry betrayed the Premier's fears of further job-shedding in the state's struggling mining sector. The state budget in June predicted the mining downturn would rob Treasury of $1.6bn in royalty revenues this financial year. It also forecast a $15bn cut to revenue through taxes, royalties and the GST over the next three years.

Forced to defend her economic management yesterday, Ms Bligh conceded that the 110,000 jobs she has promised to create through an $18bn infrastructure program over the next three years might merely replace jobs shed elsewhere in the private sector. She blamed wet weather on underspending by $900 million in last year's capital works program.

Ms Bligh also defended her decision to sacrifice the state's AAA credit rating by plunging Queensland deep into debt to pay for record infrastructure spending. "Every single project is absolutely necessary. It might be all very well for rating agencies to sit down and look at our set of numbers, but they don't live here."

In her letter to Mr Combet, Ms Bligh warned that hundreds of jobs could be lost when NSW abolished its Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, to be replaced by the CPRS in 2011. The NSW scheme gave an incentive to generate electricity using waste gas from coalmines. "As a consequence (of the scheme's abolition) existing ... projects that are delivering lower emission electricity are at risk of closure with the potential for hundreds of jobs to be lost," she wrote. "Clearly this would be a most perverse outcome."

Ms Bligh called on the federal government to give "specialised assistance" to Queensland underground coalmines which she described as being "very gassy", with limited capacity to cut emissions. "Some coal companies have also advised that they cannot pass on carbon-related costs to their energy generator customers because of restrictive long-term contracts. Firms would need to absorb these costs, with a direct reduction in the profitablility of these investments," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Combet said yesterday the minister had not yet seen Ms Bligh's letter, written last Thursday.



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