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I am including below several responses to the draft report published yesterday by the Climate Change Authority recommending that Australia’s target for reducing emissions by 2020 (from 2000) should be increased from the existing 5% to at least 15% and possibly 25 per cent.

Terry McCrann’s article is published with the heading “Emitting Climate Insanity” (strangely, the heading Online was changed to “Lets get rid of all the useless windfarms”) and he, accurately in my view, describes the report as “sheer drivel”. 

Not surprisingly, The Age claims the report is not the musings of a group of far-left greenies because “the authority is chaired by former Reserve Bank chairman Bernie Fraser and includes views from across the spectrum”. The web of the authority lists nine members, who include distinguished academics such as the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb (a neuroscientist), Professor David Karoly (a professor of climate science at Melbourne University) , Professor Clive Williams (formerly executive director of the Australia Institute),  Professor John Quiggin (who claims to be “among the top 500 economists in the world”) and CEO Ms Anthea Harris (previously Chief Adviser, Department of Climate Change). In any event, according to The Age the government can't “easily ignore physics or the international processes it has signed up for”.

I leave it to recipients of this message to decide whether the CCA report reflects views across the spectrum. I note, however, that none of the CCA members could be described as one of the growing group of sceptics.

It is of interest that French President Hollande has decided not to proceed with his idea of imposing a carbon tax on trucks. Australian Labor will doubtless note that M Hollande’s primary vote has fallen to about 26% despite promising no austerity measures. It appears that, instead (?), he is increasing taxes.

Des Moore

Emitting Climate Insanity
(“Let's get rid of all the useless wind farms”)

(Article by Terry McCrann published in the Herald Sun, 30 October 2013.)

I STILL have a dream. Of that one day when we start pulling down all the utterly useless, landscape-blighting, bird-killing, people-punishing, so-called wind farms.

We'll leave a few, some stripped of their turbines, some left with a blade to turn lazily and even more uselessly in the occasional breeze; all, like fragments of the Berlin Wall, as testimony to the time when insanity engulfed our supposed intellectual and policymaking elites.

Why, we could even keep one as a particular memorial to a certain former prime minister and his "greatest moral challenge of our time''. This one, shorn of its blades, to mark his squibbing of that challenge.

The Climate Change Authority's 177 pages of sheer drivel, released today, as disconnected from reality as an abandoned wind farm is from the grid, comes close to ranking as the high-water mark of this insanity.

Although it came after a pretty competitive week, after the hysterical fires fanned by the ABC and Fairfax media, and in particular down at Climate Frenzy Central, the Age broadloid newspaper.

For the Big C, as the CCA styles itself, was not content with just doubling down on the climate stupidity, it tripled down in its draft report.

Indeed, it was even gathering its collective loins, to quintuple down in its final, and hopefully FINAL, as in ever, report early next year.

Thanks to Julia Gillard and Bob Brown - endorsed so memorably by that in-chamber kiss from the squibber, Kevin Rudd - Australia is legally committed to cutting its emissions of carbon dioxide by 5 per cent by 2020.

Thankfully, the way the legislation was constructed, the 23 million individual Australians are excused from having to reduce their bodily CO2 emissions by that 5 per cent; or required as an alternative to buy the appropriate permit to emit.

Well, the CCA says that's "inadequate''. It said, we've got to shoot for at least 15 per cent; and it left little doubt that it really thought 25 per cent was where we should be aiming.

That's hardly surprising given the troika of professorial climate hysterics, Hamilton (Clive), Karoly (David) and Quiggin (John) that are the CCA's core. It's only surprising they didn't persuade their fellow members to shoot for something more tangible - like closing down all our real power stations by 2020.

The central argument from the CCA for bigger CO2 emission cuts, was that "evidence is also mounting'' that several other comparable countries were ``gearing up'' to reduce their emissions even more aggressively by 2020.

This was followed by the usual 'what will they think of us' bleat from the policy activist, that a 5 per cent target would leave Australia lagging behind others, including the US.

Well, Greg Sheridan at our sister paper The Australian, utterly shredded that claim two weeks ago, so far as action through an emissions trading scheme is concerned.

Of the 195 members in the UN Framework Convention on Climate, only 34 had anything resembling an ETS and 27 of those were in the European Union - where the way it rigged the measurement of CO2 cuts around the closing down of inefficient former eastern European industry, has run out of steam anyway.

Japan had effectively abandoned plans for an ETS, Sheridan wrote. South Korea had one but was going to issue all permits for free. Some of the biggest emitters, like Indonesia and India, actually subsidised carbon-based fuels.

Yes, the US has an impressive target. It also stumbled on shale oil and gas - like winning the CO2-cut lottery. But it does not have either a carbon tax or an ETS and never will.

But it all really comes back to the carbon elephant in the room: China. Which of course buys a lot of coal and iron ore from us and turns that into steel, a little bit of power and a lot of CO2.

It is this context that the CCA lives up to its claim of independence. It just failed to add, that was, independence from reason. The world it projects of robust action on cutting CO2 emissions is like an alternative universe - a universe that exists only in the delusions of especially Hamilton and Quiggin. But now it would appear also, of their fellow CCA members.

The report claimed that China was stepping up its efforts to "reduce emissions.'' And that it was "investing heavily in renewable energy projects, closing inefficient coal power plants''.

The first is simply and completely untrue. As the fine print of the CCA report itself noted, China is only aiming to cut CO2 emission intensity not emissions per se. By cutting emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 per cent by 2020.

That might sound impressive, but given China's phenomenal pace of growth, its actual total emissions in 2020 will be significantly higher than they are today.

Do the math and the very best outcome would see China increase its emissions between now and 2020 by more than the total of Australia's emissions.

More realistic projections would see China increase its emissions by up to `10 Australia's.' That's to say, China would go up by perhaps 200 times as much as we cut at 5 per cent; by 67 times as much even if we cut by 15 per cent,

And that's assuming it actually met its target. It's not binding; and as even the Sydney Morning Herald has noted in an analysis from Reuters, China's actual carbon intensity was unchanged from 2009 to 2011.

The third CCA claim is a deliberate constructive lie. Yes, China is closing down old coal-fired power stations - to reduce REAL pollution, the dirty little bits of grit that really does kill people in poor energy-deprived countries.

But is replacing them with modern plants that pump out just as much CO2 plant food, but does it cleanly. Indeed, it's building far more than it replaces.

As the Economist Intelligence Unit noted in an analysis in July, China's CO2 emissions were headed for a 40 per cent INCREASE by 2020. Why? Because of rapidly expanding coal-fired power generation.

The CCA report is worse than a disgrace. It proposes wilful pain on all Australians and extraordinarily serious damage to the economy.

To cut emissions by 25 per cent in just seven years would require us to send the economy into recession, or write out multi-billion dollar cheques to foreigners, just for `permission' to keep our lights on and (any remaining) factories operating.

And all for utterly no point. Even if you believe the climate hysteria, it would make no difference to global or indeed Australian temperatures; and the CCA lies aside, the rest of the world is NOT following anyway.

The report could just as well have been written by Bob Brown and Christine Milne. It certainly channelled all their fantasies.

Carbon target of 5% 'inadequate'
(Article by Tom Allard and Peter Hannam published in The Age, 31 October 2013.)

Much deeper reductions in Australia's carbon emissions are not only justified and desirable, but also eminently affordable, a report by the government's independent climate adviser has found.

The report from the Climate Change Authority found the current target of a 5 per cent cut in carbon was ''inadequate'', and noted even that minimum goal would be more cheaply and easily achieved by altering the Coalition's $3.2 billion direct action plan.

The authority recommended a higher target of a 15 or 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, saying conditions laid down by both major parties for deeper cuts had been met as more nations had adopted more ambitious goals.

''The costs of moving beyond 5 per cent are relatively small, and moving beyond 5 would put us more in line with what other countries are doing,'' the authority's chief executive, Anthea Harris, said.

Based on growth projections, the cost per person of a 15 per cent target would be just $100 in 2020. A 25 per cent cut would cost a further $100 by then.

Despite the call for action, the report was largely dismissed by the government, which plans to scrap the authority as part of its abolition of the carbon tax.

Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt confirmed the government was not considering any move on the target until nations met in Paris in 2015 to discuss a global deal.

''The world will make a decision at the end of 2015 and we will do our analysis based on how the world is tracking at that point,'' he said.

Government policy prevents companies buying carbon credits from overseas, but the authority observed allowing the practice ''could lower the cost of achieving Australia's emissions reduction goals'', a view backed by at least one business lobby, Ai Group.

Environmentalists and the Greens said the report heaped pressure on the Coalition to change its policies and lift the target. Labor's environment spokesman, Mark Butler, signalled the opposition was open to increasing the pollution reduction target.

The authority said Australia should aim for a cut of 35 to 50 per cent by 2030 to give the world a two-in-three chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming.

But Greg Evans, chief economist with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: ''The Climate Change Authority is showing no understanding of economic reality if it is recommending these aggressive emission targets.''

Climate change report shows holes in Australian debate
(Article by Adam Morton published in the The Age, 31 October 2013.)

When historians have their say on this period in Australian politics, the Climate Change Authority report published on Wednesday could make a handy shorthand – a simple illustration to underline the yawning gap between the rhetoric of the public debate and the underlying facts.

Last month, the hundreds of scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said they were more confident than ever that greenhouse gas emissions pose a problem, uncertainties about the long-term impact notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, Australia is preparing to become the first country to repeal laws requiring big business to pay for the right to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – the most effective way of reducing emissions, according to most economists.

The two main parties are committed to cutting emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, and notionally up to 25 per cent depending on what other countries are doing.

Yet the political debate is stuck on familiar totems: the price of electricity, Tony Abbott's nod-and-a-wink scepticism, Labor's policy confusion and a largely strawman debate over whether climate change is linked to the current NSW bushfires. Long-term risk management is pushed to the margins.

It is only a draft report, but the Climate Change Authority cuts a clear line. It finds the countries that Australia is often compared with – most notably the US and China – are looking to the long term and stepping up plans to cut emissions. The 5 per cent on the table is considered inadequate, whereas 15 or 25 per cent are comparable with what others are doing.

Perhaps most strikingly, it reinforces that the cost of more ambitious targets would be limited.

The economy would keep growing under all scenarios. If the government set a target of 15 per cent and allowed business to buy international carbon credits, the report projects that the pace of economic growth would be only three months slower in 2020 – effectively, the level that would have been reached on January 1 will kick in by the time the footy season starts.

Adopt a 25 per cent target and economic growth would be slowed by just five months.

These are not the musings of a group of far-left greenies. The authority is chaired by former Reserve Bank chairman Bernie Fraser and includes views from across the spectrum, including serious business minds Heather Ridout, former Tomago Aluminium head John Marlay and AustralianSuper chairwoman Elana Rubin.

Based on the British model of a kind of carbon reserve bank advising government, the authority has considered the science, what other countries are doing and the social and economic impact of emissions cuts.

It suggests that Australia should cut emissions by 35 to 50 per cent by 2030 – and that will be easier if it moves now.

It is a worldview that recognises climate change is not a moral challenge Australia can solve on its own, but that as one of the world's top 20 emitters it has a significant proportional role to play.

And it is the latest report to show the government's direct action response does not measure up. Several independent analyses have found it is unlikely to reach even a 5 per cent cut by 2020 through its plan to buy emissions cuts from some businesses using a budget fund.

The authority has found that the effective cost of reaching the 5 per cent target without buying international permits would be $65 a tonne of carbon dioxide – far more than the current carbon tax.

Previously, the Climate Institute think tank found it would cost the budget another $15 billion in 2020 to reach a 25 per cent target.

The government has reiterated it has no plan to review its greenhouse target before 2015 and baulks at allowing in overseas carbon credits, but it has some significant decisions ahead.

Next year countries are expected to nominate their final 2020 and 2030 targets ahead of the United Nations meeting in Paris in 2015, where the world is, again, aiming to reach a global climate treaty.

The government can ignore the advice of the authority and abolish it as promised, but it can't as easily ignore physics or the international processes it has signed up for.

Deeper emissions cuts ‘pie in the sky’: industry
(Article by Mathew Dunckley published in the Australian Financial Review, 30 October 2013)

The Climate Change Authority said several other countries that are often compared to Australia are gearing up to reduce emissions more aggressively by 2020, which would leave Australia, with a 5 per cent target, lagging behind. Photo: Peter Braig

The federal government has swiftly dismissed a call from a high-powered advisory agency for more ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt rejected a Climate Change Authority (CCA) draft report released on Wednesday that criticised the bipartisan commitment to cut Australia’s emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 as not going far enough.

The report said a cut of 15 per cent should be the minimum target while a 25 per cut should be considered. It argued the change was necessary to meet longer-term targets and reflected movement in other countries.

But Mr Hunt said the government would not move from its position to review its emissions reduction targets in 2015. “This is one input, it’s a draft report, I respect and appreciate the contribution,” Mr Hunt said.

“Our time frame remains unchanged. The world will make a decision at the end of 2015 and we will do our analysis based on how the world is tracking at that point.”

The government plans to scrap the authority as it removes the previous government’s carbon tax package.

Industry reacted sharply to the call for deeper emissions cuts.

“Talking about deeper emissions targets is pie in the sky without an economically responsible plan to reach them,” Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said. Mr Willox said the existing target of 5 per cent reduction was “already a big ask for Australia and Australian business”.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Greg Evans said increases were out of the question when in reality the 5 per cent target should be under review if it challenged the competitiveness of Australian business.

“The Climate Change Authority is showing no understanding of economic reality if it is recommending these aggressive emission targets be imposed on the Australian economy,” Mr Evans said. He slammed the authority’s modelling saying it was “simply not plausible”.

“Business has no interest in and would not support uplifted emission reduction targets of the order recommended.”

“The impact of these measures would result in substantial economic dislocation and much higher business costs,” he said.

The authority argues that buying carbon permits from overseas could offer cheaper reductions, echoing the Ai Group’s plea to government to change its ban on the use of offshore projects to meet the domestic 5 per cent target. “Without an international link, deeper targets translate directly into sharply higher national costs – and these will inevitably be sheeted home to hard-pressed manufacturers and other vital sectors. The authority appears to recognise this risk,” Mr Willox said.

CCA chairman and former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Bernie ­Fraser said it was pragmatic to source some of those emission reductions through purchasing credits from ­offshore projects.

That would allow for the government to embrace a stronger carbon reduction target for 2020 and avoid much higher costs in the future, he said.

“We think it [the existing target] is inadequate . . . in particular because if you stay with that target of minus 5 per cent that would imply improbably steep reductions in emissions in the post-2020 years,” Mr Fraser said.

“With such a slow start Australia would be very hard-pressed to contribute a fair share of the total reduction in global emissions estimated to be required between now and 2050.”

Mr Fraser said he had not intended his statements to be provocative, although he accepted they might be seen that way.

Further to go

Opposition Climate Change spokesman Mark Butler said the report reinforced the need for a price on carbon.

“The Direct Action con is totally inadequate to meet even the current 5 per cent target, let alone the 15 per cent minimum recommended by the Climate Change Authority,” he said.

The report found that gross national income per person would be $62,450 in 2020 with a 5 per cent target. That result would fall by $100 if the target were lifted to 15 per cent and a further $100 if the target was lifted to 25 per cent.

He said it was not clear whether the authority would be given the time to finish its final report.

The authority’s chief executive Anthea Harris said the government’s view on purchasing offshore permits to satisfy a cut to emissions above 5 per cent was not known.

Australia ‘lagging behind’

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the report showed the need to shoot for deeper cuts to emissions.

“The report confirms that Australia’s current 5 per cent minimum emission reduction commitment is internationally inadequate and fails to support our national climate interest in keeping below 2 degrees of global warming,” he said.

The report predicted that the task of reaching the 5 per cent reduction had fallen from a cut of 754 megatonnes to about 593 megatonnes thanks to lower than expected emissions growth. It also found that job of reaching that goal would be made a little easier by a credit from the Kyoto process worth about 91 megatonnes.

But Mr Connor said the idea that the Kyoto uplift would not solve problems with direct action was misplaced.

“The Kyoto bonus is not a get out of jail free card,” he said.

He strongly backed the push for international abatement of emissions to lift Australia’s ambition.

“The core thing is you can get greater emissions cut but you do need international linkages,” he said.

He said modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz and Monash University found that direct action would not meet the target.

The authority argues in its report that evidence is mounting that “several other countries Australia is often compared with are gearing up to reduce their emissions more aggressively by 2020. A 5 per cent target would leave Australia lagging behind others, including the United States”.

“The authority is well aware the present government is proposing climate policy approaches which differ in significant respects from those followed in recent years,” it said.

“It is also aware, of course, that draft legislation has been prepared to rescind the carbon price arrangements and abolish the authority.

“That said, this review is being conducted in conformity with existing legislation. Until Parliament changes that legislation, the authority proposes to pursue its statutory obligations.”

Greens leader Christine Milne said the authority had thrown down the gauntlet to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“This report is yet another nail in the coffin of Mr Abbott's Direct Action sham. How much more evidence does the Prime Minister need before he will pull his head out of the sand on global warming?” she said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said a cut of 25 per cent was the least Australia could do to meet its international obligations.

The CCA will provide its final report to government by the end of February next year.

“Costs are undoubtedly important and the Authority takes the economic and social impacts of

“Labor has been crystal clear on our position on climate change – we know that the only way to deal with climate change is by introducing an emissions trading scheme with a legal cap on pollution that lets business work out the cheapest and most efficient way to operate within that limit.”

With AAP


The Australian Financial Review

Carbon tax dies as voters turn on Francois Hollande
(Article by Adam Sage published in the The Times, 31 October 2013.)

FRANCOIS Hollande has dumped another key policy pledge as a poll found him to be the least popular French president since records began.

His retreat over a hotly contested plan to impose a carbon tax on trucks left him to fend off accusations that he is leading a rudderless government.

Although the move may prevent further violent strikes by truckers, it reinforced claims Mr Hollande has become a figure of ridicule, scared to push through unpopular policies when faced with the first sign of protest.

Four days ago he abandoned plans to impose a 15.5 per cent tax on interest on savings accounts and life insurance. To make matters worse, the government has spent E800 million ($1.15bn) introducing technology to track trucks and the distances they travel to impose the carbon tax - an investment it now has to recoup. As alarm spread through Mr Hollande's Socialist camp, MPs called for a change of direction to reinvigorate his administration before it was too late. He faces a daily drubbing by the French press, with one newspaper describing the left-wing administration as incompetent, indecisive and incapable of stopping the national decline.

An opinion poll published by the news magazine L'Express indicated that only 26 per cent of those polled approved of his performance. None of his predecessors had fallen below 30 per cent since it started measuring popularity in 1981.

Francois Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement, said the Socialists had come to embody the failings of the French political class as a whole. "There is a feeling that the French have had enough of their rulers," he said. "A sort of revolt is under way."

Mr Hollande, who promised to end austerity measures, has raised taxes by E27.6bn and plans a further hike of E11.5bn next year.

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