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Global Warming - Some Remarkable Claims

March 26, 2011

Today’s press contains some important reports/analyses relevant to the reasoning (sic) being used to support (additional) early action by Australia to reduce emissions. I  draw your attention particularly to the interview with Flannery, the advice being given to Labor MPs to “sell” the impending dangers/threats if nothing is done, and the analyses by Productivity Commission chief, Gary Banks, regarding  the cost/economic implications of early action, particularly in regard to the completely false argument being made by Minister Combet  that Australia is behind emissions-reduction action already taken by China and some other countries. He (Combet) is using calculations by a UK think-tank, Vivid Economics, that add all the emission reduction measures being taken and  derive an implicit (“de-facto”) carbon price. In Quadrant Online on 16 March Tom Quirk had already demonstrated just how wrong the Vivid Economics calculations are.

I apologise for sending together all the various articles relating to the above. We are in a climate hysteria mode that suggests the Government has put itself in a situation of making extremist claims it accuses others of doing.

 Des Moore   

Julia Gillard's tax to make no difference to climate

Julia Gillard's carbon dioxide tax will have you pay more for petrol, electricity and everything made with electricity, but will make zero difference to the climate. Source: Herald Sun

CLIMATE Commissioner Tim Flannery choked when I confronted him with the global warming industry's dirty secret.

But he wouldn't - couldn't - deny it.

The secret is this: nothing we in Australia do about global warming will actually lower the world's temperature.

For all that pain, you'll get no gain.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's carbon dioxide tax will have you pay more for petrol, electricity and everything made with electricity, but will make zero difference to the climate.

Thousands of Australian jobs are about to be thrown away for nothing.

I have asked global warming activists like Flannery - now paid by the Government to talk us into accepting its carbon dioxide tax or emissions trading scheme - two critical questions.

These are questions you'd ask any time someone tries to sell you anything from a ShamWow to a new car.

How much will it cost? And what will it do?

But now watch Flannery fight to avoid confessing to that dirty secret: that Gillard's plans would effectively make no difference to the world's temperature.

Bolt: How much will it cost to cut our emissions by the Government's target of 5 per cent by 2020 and how much will world temperatures fall by as a consequence?

Flannery: . . . In terms of how much it will cut temperatures, that really very much depends upon how Australia's position is seen overseas.

Bolt: No, no, we'll get onto that, Tim . . . On our own, cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, what will that lower the world's temperatures by?

Flannery: See, that's a bogus question because nothing is in isolation.

Bolt: Everyone understands that that is the argument. But we're just trying to get basic facts, without worrying about the consequences -- about what those facts may lead people to think. On our own, by cutting our emissions . . . what will the world's temperatures fall by as a consequence?

Flannery: Look, it will be a very, very small increment.

Bolt: Can you give us a rough figure?

Flannery: Sorry, I can't because it's a very complex system and we're dealing with probabilities here.

Bolt: Are you talking about a thousandth of a degree? A hundredth of a degree? What sort of rough figure?

Flannery: Just let me finish and say this. If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as 1000 years because the system is overburdened with CO2 that has to be absorbed...

Bolt: That doesn't seem a good deal ... So you don't know about Australia, (but) you wouldn't dispute that it's within about a thousandth of a degree, around that magnitude, right?

Flannery: It's going to be slight.

NOTICE? Flannery either does not know what we'll gain from the pain, or does not dare say. But he does not question the truth - that even if Gillard's plans work as she hopes, the difference they'll make to the world's temperature is measured in mere thousandths of a degree. If that.

Don't think Flannery is alone in being evasive on this critical point.

I put the very same questions to Professor John Daley of Melbourne's Grattan Institute, a taxpayer-funded warmist think-tank which this week reported we'd already wasted $6 billion on global warming schemes that had done next to nothing to cut emissions.

Bolt: To get to Julia Gillard's target of cutting emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, how many more of these billions would we need to have spent?

Daley: If you're going to do the whole lot through rebate schemes, you'd have to spend in the order of about $300 billion. (Emissions trading) is a much more efficient way to go.

Bolt: By how much will the world's temperatures fall if we go to this emissions trading scheme that Julia Gillard recommends?

Daley: Well, it of course depends on what other countries in the world...

Bolt: No, no, just ours, John. I'm just looking at us. Us alone.

Daley: This is a classic collective action problem. If every country in the world looks at how much will their reductions make a difference, the answer for any individual country, even for the United States, even for China, is not that much.

Bolt: What I'm trying to do is just get to the bottom-line facts: if we spend these umpteen billions on cutting emissions further, to the 5 per cent by 2020, how much will Australia's action alone cut the world's temperature by? That must be measured somewhere...

Daley: Well, I think it's not been measured anywhere because it's not seen as being the right way to think about this.

Bolt: Well it would be. People want to know the gain for the pain ... I know it's got all those caveats, but just tell us how much the world's temperature will fall if we do what you recommend and what Julia Gillard plans.

Daley: As I said, we haven't run the numbers on how much it will make a difference if Australia acts completely alone.

Bolt: You should have.

Daley: The reason we haven't done that is because Australia is not acting alone. Therefore it's not a very helpful thing to analyse.

Not "helpful"? Pardon?

If the bloke selling a ShamWow cloth refused to say what it actually did, saying the answer was "not helpful", would you still hand over your cash or walk away?

Now, if you wouldn't even buy a $29 kitchen wipe with answers like these, why buy a global warming scheme that would cost us billions of dollars - and possibly cost you your job?

Join Andrew at 8am each weekday on MTR 1377

MPs told to warn of climate mayhem

JULIA Gillard has told Labor MPs to warn voters that a failure to back a carbon tax will lead to more bushfires and droughts as well as coastal inundation and shorter skiing seasons.

MPs have also been instructed to warn constituents that unchecked climate change would lead to people in northern NSW experiencing a climate like that of Cairns, in far north Queensland.

The Prime Minister has given her troops scripted lines they should use with journalists or constituents, which justify the use of public money on government advertising in an apparent bid to soften up the electorate for a coming campaign in favour of the tax.

Political parties routinely distribute talking point briefs to MPs containing lines they should use to ensure consistency of political messaging.

The latest talking points document distributed to Labor MPs, obtained by The Weekend Australian, exhorts MPs to accuse Tony Abbott of conducting a fear campaign about the carbon tax, but is liberally peppered with scary lines about the effects of not acting on climate change.

Proposed warnings to be offered include: "If we don't act then we will see more extreme weather events like bushfires and droughts. We will have more days of extreme heat and we will see our coastline flooded as sea levels rise.

"People in northern NSW will feel like they live in Cairns. That will affect the crops we grow, it will affect our native animals, and it will affect our lifestyles."

MPs are also urged to warn that extreme weather leads to associated additional deaths.

"Sea levels could rise by up to a metre and possibly even more by the end of the century," the document says. "Up to 250,000 existing homes are at risk of inundation.

"Climate change will see the average snow season contract by between 85 per cent and 96 per cent by 2050, and disappear by the end of the century."

MPs are also given lines aimed at demonising the Opposition Leader, attributing his refusal to back a carbon tax and his condemnation of Ms Gillard's broken promise on the issue to the claim that he "does not care about climate change" and is engaged in a scare campaign.

The dire warnings continued last night, when the head of the government's newly unveiled Climate Commission, Tim Flannery, said in a radio interview that even if all global emissions were immediately cut, it would have no effect on world temperatures for up to 1000 years.

''The talking points document also gives Labor MPs advice about how to respond to suggestions the government will use public money to advertise its carbon pricing plans.

The issue is politically fraught for Labor, which in opposition strongly criticised the previous Howard government for the use of taxpayer-funded campaigns to promote its achievements.

The brief to MPs asked them to stress that "no decisions" had been made -- which is the mantra being used by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.

They were advised to continue to say: "But as part of that process of making sure the community has information, sometimes campaigns are one way of getting that information out -- as Tony Abbott has admitted."

MPs were told to reject any suggestion that Ms Gillard wilfully misled voters last year, when, before the election, she ruled out a carbon tax. One of the suggested responses to any question about the broken promise was: "As the PM said, we never intended to mislead people -- but the fact is that we were faced with a parliament we didn't expect."

Productivity Commission chief turns up the heat on carbon tax debate

UNTIL now, the Productivity Commission has been excluded from Australia's climate change debate. Now he has been let in, Gary Banks has thrown a hand grenade into Julia Gillard's rush to bed down a carbon tax by mid next year.

As "no carbon tax" protesters were rudely attacking "Ju-liar" outside Parliament House, the Productivity Commission chairman suggested inside that Australia's "efficient carbon price" would be less than what other countries were charging.

"It's common sense that achieving any given level of [emissions] abatement is likely to be costlier in a country with a comparative advantage in fossil fuels," Banks says.

In contrast to Labor's rhetoric, he cautions that no other country now imposes an economy-wide carbon tax or emissions trading scheme. And he dismisses estimates that Australia is falling behind because countries such as the US, Britain and China are putting a higher price tag on emissions.

Rather than promoting "green jobs", Banks suggests a carbon tax would be akin to import protection in imposing "sacrifice" on miners and on efficient manufacturers squeezed by the high dollar.

Trumping Ross Garnaut's "diabolical" depiction, Banks calls Australia's climate change dilemma "wicked". One of his staff suggests that "this stuff is doing my head in": not a ringing endorsement that we're ready to go.

After the late 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit dashed hopes for a post-Kyoto global emissions deal, Gillard's new carbon price push maintains that Australia still needs to keep up with the unco-ordinated action by key nations.

Jumping too far ahead would hit our miners and manufacturers while shifting emissions to competitors offshore. But falling behind would lock us into an uncompetitive, dirty economy that would not generate the "green jobs" of the future, Labor argues. A carbon price would drive a "sweeping technological reform" comparable to the information technology revolution, Gillard suggests.

The reform would be as far-reaching as the Hawke-Keating government's dismantling of import protection for manufacturing a generation ago, the Prime Minister argues. It even would allow Australia to "regain comparative advantage" in "good ideas" rather than in mining.

Of course it was the Productivity Commission that, from the 1960s, did the politically challenging job of leading the intellectual case against Australian protectionism that finally was taken up by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in the 80s. So it's likely to be wary of glib claims about the benefits from reimposing a cost burden on Australia's natural advantages in mining and processing powered by cheap fossil fuels.

Yet to get the crucial backing of country independent MP Tony Windsor after the deadlocked election in August last year, Gillard promised an independent review of the "effective carbon price" in key competitor countries.

The job went to the Productivity Commission, not the Treasury, the Department of Climate Change or Garnaut, who suggests that Australia needs to set a carbon price "commensurate" with the rest of the world.

This has let the commission into the debate. Announcing the six-month review in November, Wayne Swan said other countries were putting a price on carbon, with explicit taxes and permit trading schemes or implicitly through renewable energy targets and subsidies for clean technologies such as solar power. The Productivity Commission would compare effective carbon prices in Australia, Britain, the US, Germany, New Zealand, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

"Australia can't afford to be left behind," the Treasurer said.

Three months later, however, Gillard and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet surprised by announcing their carbon tax framework with the Greens, insisting that "right now, Australia is at risk of falling behind the rest of the world".

Yet the implicit message in the commission's technical working paper is that Australia may not be falling behind and needs to be cautious about setting its carbon price.

To be clear, the Productivity Commission endorses Labor's rationalist rhetoric that putting a price on carbon emissions - through a tax or an ETS - is the least costly way to reduce them. It will not back the Coalition's "direct action" alternative.

But Banks's address to a Parliament House forum hosted by the Business Council and the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network reveals that calculating "effective" carbon prices in our competitor countries is "highly problematic", "very challenging" and no "walk in the park".

The commission has identified 230 emissions-reducing policies in Australia, more than 300 in the US and more than 100 in Britain.

The myriad taxes, carbon permit quotas, subsidies and energy efficiency rules work to raise the effective price of carbon-intensive production (such as coal-fired electricity), so discouraging consumer demand and subsidising "cleaner" alternatives.

Just as an import tariff protects higher-cost local production, a carbon tax encourages less polluting but costlier production. Both penalise Australia's comparative advantage in cheap fossil fuels.

Boiling these all down into an effective carbon price is tricky. Renewable energy mandates may subsidise wind or solar power. But that could simply displace higher-cost gas-fired or hydro power rather than cheaper but dirtier coal. The net reduction in emissions could even be zero, Banks says.

Similarly, Germany's subsidies to solar and wind power may simply raise the cost of emissions cuts that would have happened anyway under the European Union's ETS.

Germany's feed-in tariff may produce zero emissions cuts at an "infinite" abatement cost.

This means the Productivity Commission can only try to measure how much different countries lift the price of their carbon-polluting production.

But Banks says this does not measure "equivalent" carbon prices or the carbon price in each country that would reduce global emissions most cheaply.

First, countries that employ inefficient abatement policies would be credited with a higher carbon price. It would make no sense for Australia to aim for such a high-cost benchmark.

Second, a high apparent carbon price does not indicate the effort required to cut emissions.

As a carbon-intensive economy, it costs Australia more to cut emissions.

Kevin Rudd's proposed ETS allowed businesses to buy emissions credits generated more cheaply offshore. According to Treasury modelling, much of Australia's contribution to combating global warming would come through buying foreign permits to pollute.

That would lessen the hit to Australia while reducing global emissions more efficiently. But this is not allowed under the carbon tax that would apply for three to five years under Labor's deal with the Greens, who want to "decarbonise" Australia's economy.

Banks takes aim at the low estimates of Australia's effective carbon price commissioned from the London-based Vivid Economics by the Climate Institute.

These claim China already has imposed a price tag on reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation that is more than eight times higher than Australia's. "There is absolutely no danger of Australia leading on pollution pricing - we have already been overtaken by competitors including the UK, China and the USA," the Climate Institute claims.

But Banks suggests the Vivid Economics carbon price measure for Australia is technically biased downwards for Australia because the denominator simply reflects our dependence on fossil fuels. It gets technical, but he says the number cannot be converted to a comparable effective carbon price.

"Crucially - and this point seems not to be widely understood - it will not be efficient from a global perspective (let alone a domestic one) for a carbon-intensive economy such as ours to abate as much as countries that are less reliant on cheap high-emission energy sources," Banks says.

The commission's technical paper points to estimates that Australia's "efficient" carbon price in a world without a global carbon scheme would be less than one-third of western Europe's. Even then, the hit to Australia's economy would be one-third bigger.

Importantly, the Productivity Commission's brief excludes the issue of compensation for so-called emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries. But its first foray into the field damns the high cost of Australia's existing climate change policies, such as the requirement that 20 per cent of electricity be generated by high-cost renewables by 2020. With a carbon tax, this mandate should be ditched.

"Replacement of high cost by lower-cost schemes domestically has the potential to reduce impacts on business costs and production processes, irrespective of the policy settings in competitor countries," Banks says.

And the commission's early work poses the question of why some international body - such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - is not already calculating "effective" and "efficient" national carbon prices in the absence of a global deal.

If it stands up, the idea that Australia's efficient carbon price is lower than offshore poses a tough political task, notes Tim Wilson from the Institute of Public Affairs. It may not generate a domestic carbon price high enough to shut down coal-fired power stations in favour of cleaner combined cycle gas investment, a big potential source of emissions cuts.

Instead, opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb wickedly suggests that our comparative advantage in cheap fossil fuels means Australia "would be one of the last countries to transition away from coal for electricity generation" under a global carbon tax or emissions trading scheme.

Doomed Planet - Quadrant Online

“Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”

Vaclav Klaus
Blue Planet in Green Shackles

Carbon facts in freefall

by Tom Quirk

March 16, 2011

Free with the facts – The implicit price of carbon dioxide

Both Greg Combet and Bob Brown have been stressing how far China is ahead of Australia with carbon pricing. Brown quoted $15 a tonne of carbon dioxide while Combet was more modest at $8. The difference was whether you used purchasing power parity rather than market exchange rates.

The source of the politicians’ statements is a report from Vivid Economics issued by The Climate Institute and apparently funded at least in part by a $70,000 grant from the Department of Climate Change. This chain is interesting on its own.

The report estimates implicit carbon prices for select countries being Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, UK and US. Each of the countries is considered in some detail and the conclusions are given in units of US$ per tonne of CO2 calculated using purchasing power parity (PPP) and market exchange rates. This is an advance on the IPCC scenarios that used market exchange rates leading to some extraordinary economic growth!

The country that has been picked out as an example to us all is China. Using PPP Australia has an implicit price of US$1.68 and China US$14.22.

When you look at the detail for China 94% of the implicit price comes from one component, the ‘Large Substitutes for Small’ program. This program is the phasing out of electricity generators of less than 200 MW. Regional electricity supply was shared equally amongst all generators, an effective subsidy to small plants rather than dispatching the large lower cost plants. Evidently the number of small plants increased until the government intervened in 2006 with the ‘Large Substitutes for Small’ policy of shutting down the smaller generators and building advanced technology coal fired generators that are more efficient users of coal. At a World Bank Conference in March 2009 a senior Chinese engineer presented the program as ‘How does China reduce CO2 emissions from coal fired power generation’ while showing that coal will account for 90% of 1340 GW of power generation in 2020 when it was 78% of 792 GW in 2008! Like all other industrializing countries that expand their electricity supply, there is always the closure of small less efficient plants. This has even happened in Australia as local council plants were shut down as the economy grew.

So this is a case of fitting the facts to the storyline. The calculations may be correct but the policy of supplying more power, more economically to more customers has been taken to be the secondary benefit to reducing CO2 emissions. The price on carbon if you looked at the detail was in PPP terms $600 per tonne of CO2 for less than 3% of the installed generator capacity in China. The savings in CO2 emissions is a collateral benefit but not the reason for the policy. In the United Kingdom there might be a parallel with Mrs. Thatcher switching from coal to gas in the ‘Dash for Gas’ and the closing of the coal mines when battling the National Union of Mineworkers. The costs to the economy were great. Could that be equated to an implicit price of carbon?

So striking this element out of the sum of contributions to the implicit price of carbon in China leaves us with 87 cents ($0.87) per tonne of CO2. This puts Australia ahead at $1.68 per tonne of CO2.

It is remarkable that there can be a different interpretation of measured data but this is not the only field where this occurs. What is also intriguing is the financing of the study by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who are gracefully acknowledged at the start of the report. The Department is clearly encouraging favourable reports. But why finance them through the use of third parties unless of course the third parties are rather more imaginative than the Department.


Dear Mr Moore

Thank you for your email of February 9 concerning Lateline.

As your correspondence raised concerns of a lack of balance, your email was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC's editorial standards. In light of your concerns, we have reviewed the broadcast and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial requirements for balance in news and current affairs content, as outlined in section 5.2.2 (e) of the ABC’s Editorial Policies: In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News.

The story you have complained about set out to answer the question of whether the recent spate of record weather events could be explained by climate change. This was clearly stated in the introduction to the story: "Australia's deadly bout of extreme weather has left many parts of the nation battered and there are warnings that there's worse to come due to climate change. However, climate scientists admit they're not certain how much global warming is influencing such disasters. Lateline's Margot O'Neill spoke to three of Australia's leading climate scientists about what they know and don't know about predicting more extreme weather."

The headline on the Lateline website summed up the doubt reflected in the reporting: "Climate change may not be to blame". In essence, the three climate scientists said the jury is still out. One even said that cyclone numbers had, in fact, decreased.

The ABC believes that it is accurate to state that the majority of scientific opinion favours the view that the world is warming. You contend that there is only 80 years of data and therefore it is irrelevant. It is obviously true that the further back in time one looks, the data is progressively less precise and detailed. However, useful data exists for than 80 years and more importantly, the most respected organisations measuring temperatures agree that warming is occurring.

In that context it is valid to explore what phenomena can or cannot be linked to climate change without debating on every occasion whether the globe is warming or whether the warming is anthropogenic.

In fact, it is more interesting to find that scientists who do accept that climate warming is occurring, are not prepared to link the Queensland floods to climate change.

On the broader issue of anthropogenic global warming, the ABC does not claim that all scientists, or indeed all members of the ABC's audience, are in harmony.  As Lateline's story clearly demonstrated, the ABC does not assert that there is no uncertainty in either the science or the projected climate outcomes.

The ABC’s Editorial Policies in relation to balance state:

Balance will be sought but may not always be achieved within a single program or publication; it will be achieved as soon as reasonably practicable and in an appropriate manner. It is not essential to give all sides equal time. As far as possible, present principal relevant views on matters of importance” section 5.2.2(e).

The Lateline program and other ABC Television current affairs programs have had a number of climate change sceptics as guests.

Among them has been Professor Ian Plimer, who has appeared twice in recent times, in an interview with Tony Jones and in debate with British writer, George Monbiot. Those appearances can be located on the Lateline website.

The ABC is committed to presenting a range of relevant views on the subject at appropriate times.

Accordingly, while noting your concerns, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied the broadcast was in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for balance. Nonetheless, please be assured that your comments have been noted and conveyed to ABC News management.

Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated. For your reference, a copy of the ABC Code of Practice is available at: codeofpractice-revised 2008 pdf.

Should you be dissatisfied with this response to your complaint, the avenues of review which may be available to you are outlined at section 7. Please note that the ABC is making changes to its self-regulatory arrangements in 2011 and the Complaints Review Executive and Independent Complaints Review Panel will be discontinued on a date to be announced. Should you wish to pursue your complaint with either of these bodies, please do so within 14 days. Your opportunity to seek review from the Australian Communications and Media Authority will be unaffected by these changes.

For more information about the changes the ABC is making to its self-regulatory framework, please refer to the report available here -

Yours sincerely

Mark Maley
Audience & Consumer Affairs

ABC program: Lateline

Date of program: 9 February

Location: VIC

Subject: Bias

Comments: The Lateline program on weather conditions that may be behind the recent natural disasters interviewed three scientists (Matthew England, Andy Pitman, and David Karoly) who are well know for their alarmist views about global warming. As indicated by the 30,000 scientists who have signed the Oregon petition, there are numerous scientists (and others) who reject this dangerous warming theory. The Lateline program should stop being one-sided and give its viewers the opportunity to hear the other side.

Network - ABC Television
RecipientName - Audience & Consumer Affairs

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