Monday, 24 September 2007

Labor's '11 year' lie and the Kyoto Protocol

24-Sept update: Kevin Rudd can't seem to get his head around the facts of the Kyoto Protocol. It was impossible to ratify it 11 years ago. It didn't exist!

Massive carbon user, Al Gore, backs Rudd's economy-destroying environment policy, which includes ratifying Kyoto.
Mr Rudd criticised the federal government for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol 11 years ago and said failing to act would have a greater economic impact on Australia than on acting.

"The question farmers are asking me is: what are the long-term impacts of climate change on the ability of Australian agriculture to sustain itself?" he said.

"How do we look in the faces of the next generation and kids around the planet if they ask us: why if the evidence was so clear, did you fail to act?"
I doubt they'll be asking that. They'll be looking out at the state-designed 2050 version of the Trabant and asking, "What were you thinking to force policies on us that have led to the immiserisation of the developed world for no environmental benefit?"

Kevin Rudd has woven into his climate change spin a line about the government having refused to set a target for CO2 emission reduction for 11 years.

Kevin Rudd - Leader of the Opposition - 31 May - "Why did the government sit on its hands for the last 11 years and do nothing about the introduction of an emissions trading scheme?"

Anthony Albanese - Shadow Minister for Infrastructure & Water - 28 May - "What Australia needs on climate change is a Government that will lead, not one that will mislead. On climate change the Government has been in denial for 11 years, it needs to stop it’s denial about the climate change advertising campaign. What we actually need on climate change is more policy makers not more jingle writers. This is a Government that’s determined to spin its way out of 11 years of denial on climate change. I think the Australian people will regard this for the cynical action that it is."

Peter Garrett - Shadow Minister for the Environment - 1 June - "After 11 years of climate change denial and inaction, today’s Emissions Trading Task Group report shows just how far behind the game John Howard has fallen...Only Labor has demonstrated the genuine commitment and the practical and responsible plans to combat dangerous climate change. Labor has set a decisive and responsible long term target of 60 per cent emissions reductions by 2050. This target is based on the overwhelming scientific consensus about the reductions required to prevent dangerous climate change."

Tanya Plibersek - Shadow Minister for Human Services, Housing, Youth and Women - 1 June - "But who in the public would believe that after ignoring climate change for eleven long years but now, five minutes away from an election, John Howard is serious about doing something about climate change?"

Labor's '11 year' theme is completely bogus given that 2007-11=1996 and that the Kyoto Protocol was only drawn up in December 1997. The Coalition has been in power since 1996 and I presume that Labor is trying to paint a picture that the government has done nothing on the issue since being elected.

As an aside, the rules for implementing Kyoto were not developed until November 2001 (at Marrakesh) and the Protocol didn't come into force until November 2005.

Of course, Labor's claim is far from the truth, as anyone that has followed the issue knows.

So what's the reality?

The fact is that Australia did negotiate, in good faith, during the Kyoto talks and achieved a target that allowed an 8% increase in 1990 CO2 emissions. Having achieved an increase in emissions rather than the decrease being forced on most other nations Australia was referred to by environmental groups as an "international pariah". The increase was based on two factors. Firstly, we are a huge net energy exporter and a large amount of those exports go to Asian countries that are exempt from Kyoto targets. We would be unfairly penalised in this instance. Secondly, we tried to negotiate a life cycle accounting approach to the cost of carbon (i.e. user pays, which is by far the most sensible and fairest method) but it was cynically voted down by European nations that would have had most to lose. The 8% increase was a pay-off for avoiding life cycle accounting.

Here's something that most people don't know - Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997.

Another thing that most people don't know: Unlike most countries that have ratified Kyoto, Australia is well on the way to achieving its 108% target by 2008-2012 (here's a handy online emissions calculator so that you can see for yourself).

What we haven't done is ratify Kyoto. The reason is because the largest emitter of CO2, the United States, refuses to damage its economy if the large developing nations such as China, India and Brazil are left out of the target equation.

Here's another really important fact that 99.99% of the population don't understand - the effective transfer of sovereign power that ratifying Kyoto causes, as Hugh Morgan pointed out in 2002:
The most serious is the transfer, under the terms of the Protocol, of powers of enforcement, compliance and taxation, to an international bureaucracy based in Bonn; a bureaucracy which will be totally unaccountable to the Australian people. It is proposed that the Kyoto Secretariat will have wide-ranging powers of inspection and enforcement, including the power to impose new carbon taxes on countries which, in their assessment, fail to meet their Kyoto commitments. Such a proposal is unprecedented in Australian history.

In theory, Australia could withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol if the economic sacrifices demanded of us by other countries became too great to bear. But it is the explicit ambition of the EU to change international law and practice so that such recalcitrance could be met with trade sanctions which would effectively cut us off from many of our export markets. Australia would then be powerless to recover the sovereignty which had been de facto yielded up with ratification of Kyoto. It is forgotten that in the lead-up to the Kyoto Conference in December 1997, Australia was threatened by many commentators with trade sanctions, if we refused to agree to what was an open-ended commitment to the de-carbonisation of our economy.

...ABARE calculations suggest that the increase in the price of electricity which will be required to meet the Kyoto commitment will be of the order of 50 per cent. The consequence of that would be economic dislocation, rising unemployment, and political upheaval consequent upon serious increases in household energy costs.
It's interesting to note that ABARE's calculation of a 50% increase in energy costs has been achieved in Europe since they implemented Kyoto and they are experiencing exactly the loss of industry to overseas, non-Kyoto targeted countries that has been predicted.

If Rudd, and Labor, is prepared to tell such a bald-faced lie about the climate change facts then what else is he lying about? The cost? The loss of industry to other countries? The massive loss of employment?

Kevin Rudd needs to come clean on the real cost of implementing a 60% reduction in CO2 by 2050 so that the Australian public can decide for themselves whether it makes sense to impose such a huge cost in the absence of an all encompassing global treaty that would really address the issue and not impose unfair economic burdens on any particular nation.

(Nothing follows)


From the lion's mouth said...

Um, there's actually nothing to say the Government couldn't have set a target BEFORE Kyoto. It's not the be-all-and-end-all, and we did know about climate change before 2005.

Jack Lacton said...

Um, nobody was talking about cap-and-trade before Kyoto. Not even the idiotic Western European nations did that.

Anonymous said...

There's no reason the gummint would have seen warming as a bad thing when the scientific consensus has always been that a new ice age is advancing. The only difference was the reading of ice cores in late 1990's, now thrown into doubt by more accurate readings of same.

The gummint the gummint, why didn't they do something about an approaching epidemic of horrible stomach ulcers, caused by stress and spicy food as all scientists knew absolutely till a couple of Australians defied the majority and showed the helicobacter cause?

Billions of dollars could have been put into an anti-stress and anti-spice campaign. But the gummint did nothing.