Monday, December 11, 2006

Australia. Following the way.

John Howard, recently skeptical of AGW until polls showed otherwise, has convened a carbon-trading taskforce.
Howard says the world as a whole needs "to find new practical global solutions to climate change that include all major economies and emitters and that take account of national goals for economic prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability".
So far, so good.
"While there is no one single solution to the global climate change challenge we need to maintain the prosperity that our abundant fossil fuels have given us while at the same time exploring options for global climate change solutions and accelerating the development and deployment of low emissions and clean coal technologies," he adds.
OK, I’m with you. ‘Low-emissions’ must be code for renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind.
The group will advise on the nature and design of a workable global emissions trading system in which Australia will be able to participate.
Our task-force is designing a ‘global’ trading emissions scheme?

No, that can’t be it. We don’t have global sway. Oh! They’re advising us on exactly what kind of scheme it’s OK for us to join. Or one we shouldn't join. Like Kyoto.

The make-up of the investigative team will shed some light on Howard's motivations.
Peter Coates, Executive Committee Member, Xstrata, one of the big three Australian coal producers along with BHP and Rio Tinto.

Tony Concannon, Managing Director, International Power, owner of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest power station, Hazelwood, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

Russell Higgins, Non-Executive Director Australian Pipeline Trust and recipient of numerous bureaucratic and board gigs from the Howard Government.

Margaret Jackson, Chairman, Qantas, Australia’s biggest transport polluter.
Chris Lynch, Executive Director, BHP Billiton, one of the big three Australian coal producers.

John Marlay, CEO, Alumina Limited, Australia’s biggest energy consumer and recipient of billions of dollars in subsidised power from Victoria taxpayers over the years.

John Stewart, Managing Director, National Australia Bank, chief banker to Australia’s mining establishment.

When asked about getting some environmental input on Insiders yesterday, the PM could only point to the secretary of his environment department, David Borthwick, being one of four bureaucrats making up the numbers among the seven business types.

But Borthwick is no green and he runs a department that has shown great scepticism about climate change. Indeed, Borthwick was previously coordinator of industry and resources development policy in the PM’s department and this followed a long career in the Federal Treasury that dates back to 1973.

It is notable that John Howard has also deliberately rejected the involvement of any CEO who signed up to the Australian Conservation Foundation’s business roundtable on climate change earlier this year.

This included the CEOs of IAG, BP Australia, Westpac, Swiss Re, Visy Industries and Origin Energy.

Why am I not surprised?

Labor, you have a golden opportunity to show that Howard is not the least bit interested in combating climate change. Please use it.