Dismaying Australian Politics

Sunday’s Guardian carried a telling editorial on the poisonous political climate currently holding sway in Australia in relation to climate change. It opens with the observation that 1700 miles from Canberra the indigenous peoples in islands of the Torres Strait fear that climate change may soon overwhelm them, with communities vanishing under rising seas. Their concerns haven’t a show of being heard in the prevailing clamour against Julia Gillard’s government’s plans to curb pollution generated by the nation’s big companies.

“When parliament returned recently, there were 2,000 protesters outside, equipped with placards bearing slogans such as “ditch the witch”. The opposition leader, Tony Abbott, partly distanced himself from such language, but demanded Ms Gillard scrap her planned carbon tax and call an early election. And last week lorry drivers converged on Canberra to demand an instant poll.” Continue reading “Dismaying Australian Politics”

Popgun for hire: A$20,000

Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, the man who put the pier in peer review, is on his way to Australia at the end of January to make “a barnstorming three-week lecture-tour” designed to reassure audiences in major cities that “‘Global Warming’ is Not a Global Crisis“. His fee? A$20,000 (£11,000), plus all flights and hotel accommodation for himself and his wife. The speaking tour, organised with the assistance of Australia’s Climate Sceptics Party, is expected to cost around A$100,000. Announcing the tour in a forum postin mid-December, the treasurer of the CSP was looking for money:

As you can understand, the cost of this exercise will be very substantial as we have to (and from) fly Lord Monkton (sic) to Australia, all his domestic travel and accommodation plus a “stipend” of $20,000.

Our aim is to cover these costs from donations from individuals, appropriate associations and corporations; we expect the required total to be of the order of $100,000. We would like to keep the cost of admission to Monckton’s lectures at around $20 so as to maximise the number of people that will come to hear him.
We have had a number of offers of the order of $1,000 and would prefer donations to be of that order, but of course any amount is very welcome. Should there be a surplus, this, depending on the amount, will be given to Lord Monckton and/or the Climate Sceptics Party which is assisting with this project.

Sufficient funds were obviously forthcoming, because the tour was confirmed today at the Science and Public Policy Institute blog, Monckton’s personal digital fiefdom. Aussie sceptic Ian Plimer will accompany Monckton on his walkabout, which begins in Sydney on Jan 26th. Monckton also released the text of a letter to Aussie PM Kevin Rudd in which he offers “personal briefings on why “global warming” is a non-problem to you and other party leaders” during his trip. He explains in detail, and at enormous length, what he plans to do:

Nor is the IPCC’s great lie the only lie. If you will allow me to brief you and your advisers, I will show you lie after lie after lie after lie in the official documents of the IPCC and in the speeches of its current chairman, who has made himself a multi-millionaire as a “global warming” profiteer.

Monckton, of course, will only receive A$20,000 for his Aussie excursion — a mere pittance when a cursory check suggests that he usually charges at least £8,000 (A$14,400) for a single speaking engagement. Clearly Aussie sceptics drive a hard bargain. Two mysteries remain. Given the relatively recent plea for funds, who stepped up to the plate to support the tour? And why have New Zealand’s cranks not jumped at the chance of bringing the potty peer over here? I also find it rather suspicious that no mention is made of funding for Monckton’s manservant… I may have to dig a little deeper into the background of the tour. ;-)

[For really deep background refer to: Monckton & The Case Of The Missing Curry, Mycroft Mockton Makes Mischief, and Something Potty In The State Of Denmark]

Rudd brooks no denial

Rudd Somehow Kevin Rudd’s climate change speech to the Lowry Institute earlier this month escaped my detection systems and it took Joseph Romm’s Climate Progress post today to draw it to my attention. New Zealanders, whose political leaders avoid big statements on the issue, can welcome its unequivocal tone. There seems an air of unreality to me in the emphasis our government places on catching up with Australia economically, with never a mention of the environmental challenges faced by that country.  But Rudd meets them full on:

As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia’s environment and economy will be among the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we do not act now. The scientific evidence from the CSIRO and other expert bodies have outlined the implications for Australia, in the absence of national and global action on climate change:

  • Temperatures in Australia rising by around five degrees by the end of the century.
  • By 2070, up to 40 per cent more drought months are projected in eastern Australia and up to 80 per cent more in south-western Australia.
  • A fall in irrigated agricultural production in the Murray Darling Basin of over 90 per cent by 2100.
  • Storm surges and rising sea levels – putting at risk over 700,000 homes and businesses around our coastlines, with insurance companies warning that preliminary estimates of the value of property in Australia exposed to the risk of land being inundated or eroded by rising sea levels range from $50 billion to $150 billion.
  • Our Gross National Product dropping by nearly two and a half per cent through the course of this century from the devastation climate change would wreak on our infrastructure alone.

Continue reading “Rudd brooks no denial”

Come together

ANZlogo.jpg Signals are beginning to emerge (from the 5th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business conference in Melbourne this week) that the “harmonisation” of New Zealand’s emission reduction policy framework may take longer than expected (or feared). Following a breakfast with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, both ministers were reported to be playing up the difficulties of linking the two schemes. The Stuff report quotes Wong:

“The first step for both of our governments is to get our legislation in place, to get our trading schemes in place,” Ms Wong told reporters. “The second point is this — we are doing the work to explore options for harmonisation. There is obviously a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Smith was equally cautious:

“That is why the two governments are in a pretty common space in saying we are going to start these two schemes separately but in time it is our ambition to bring them closer together.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that businesses on both sides of the Tasman are urging their governments to get a move on.

“You don’t shift significant billions of dollars of investment on the basis of what’s likely to happen,” said Barry Harris, director of milk supply for Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter and a pillar of the New Zealand economy. “The financial consequences of reacting to the wrong signals are absolutely massive,” he told the conference.

In NZ, Labour’s climate spokesman Charles Chauvel today warned that softening up the current ETS arrangements to match Australian proposals could cost taxpayers up to $200m a year. But perhaps the most telling statement to emerge this week is this line form Nick Smith’s speech to the Melbourne conference:

It is just unrealistic to continue to pretend we are, or can be, world leaders in reducing emissions.

To some, that may be admirable pragmatism. To me, it demonstrates a catastrophic lack of vision and a failure to rise to a challenge. If Smith wants no part of leadership, he should resign his cabinet post immediately.

[Lennon, J]

Rudd and Key on islands future

pacific Following my earlier post on Oxfam’s Pacific Islands paper I’ve come across an interesting report  in the National Business Review on New Zealand and Australian responses in climate change discussions at the Pacific Islands Forum. 
Continue reading “Rudd and Key on islands future”