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Energy association calls for carbon emissions trading scheme

Chris Uhlmann, ABC Au
TONY EASTLEY: In a dramatic development in the local debate on global warming, Australia’s power industry is calling on the Federal Government to introduce a national carbon emissions trading scheme.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia is the peak body for 40 electricity and gas suppliers, a sector that produces about half of Australia’s greenhouse gases. The association has today released details about the type of emissions trading scheme it wants. Its chief executive, Brad Page, told Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann that doing nothing was no longer an option. ..

CHRIS UHLMANN: Now, is your industry saying that if government doesn’t act soon, in fact not acting is worse than putting a price on carbon?

BRAD PAGE: Yeah, the current view in the industry is that inaction is potentially more dangerous than actually having a certain future. We really need greenhouse policy confidence, and the most important element of this in fact is to stop the policy competition between the States and the Commonwealth. ..
(26 Feb 2007)
Mr Page is also keen to talk down the price of emissions, as the State and Territory Governments are in the process of going-it-alone (without the Federal government) on a
national emissions trading scheme
. –LJ

For farmers, money does grow on trees

Wendy Frew, Sydney Morning Herald
FARMERS could earn tens of thousands of dollars for maintaining trees on their land – vegetation that they may not have had a legal right to clear anyway – under a new scheme that purports to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution.

CarbonSMART, to be launched by Landcare today, is the latest so-called carbon offset scheme to use trees to soak up carbon dioxide, a dangerous greenhouse gas.

But energy experts and environmentalists are worried the scheme may operate as little more than a way to funnel money from electricity consumers to farmers, without achieving any meaningful cut in greenhouse gases. Instead of rewarding farmers for planting new trees, Landcare is proposing to pay farmers for not cutting the trees down.

Landcare hopes to fund the payments to farmers by generating credits in a NSW Government scheme where large energy users and electricity retailers unable to cut their own emissions pay a third party to reduce greenhouse pollution elsewhere. The costs of this scheme are passed on to NSW electricity consumers.

Critics said the trees on properties that might be eligible for CarbonSMART were already absorbing carbon dioxide. To reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere new trees would have to be planted. However, they said even new plantings were problematic because of the difficulty of ensuring the trees did not burn down, die from drought, or be cleared by landowners in later years. ..
(1 Mar 2007)
I share the concerns of critics but consider the scheme worthwhile regardless – anything to slow the decline of remaining perennial native vegetation.-LJ

Call for renewable energy taskforce

Denis Peters, News Corp
A LEADING environmental researcher has called for a government taskforce to look into renewable energy to balance up debate on Australia’s response to climate change.

Barney Foran, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s Centre for Research and Environmental Studies, says Australia is 10 or 20 years behind Europe in thinking on renewable energy. He says current incentives are so small that they produce no incentive for action. He was speaking at an ANU briefing at Parliament House called Climate Change and Australia.

“If we are to have a decent debate in Australia, then we need something the size and intensity of the Ziggy (Switkowski) report (into nuclear energy), to be done on a renewables transition so that we may have balance, if you like, in the national debate that ensues.

“We could have a very different economy here run by renewable electricity mainly, and also by vast areas of woodscapes to supply our liquid fuels. “That’s a physical reality that doesn’t stack up as well economically as it could.”

“Step-change comes when we put a goal in national terms that say we’re going to go for something like 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2050,” he said. “The current goals for renewable energies (in Australia) are so small that they produce no incentive for action.”
(28 Feb 2007)
Fans of Barney Foran might like to hear him on Grumpy Old Scientists from ABC Radio National (~50min, 2nd last on page), where he and peers rail against the sorry state of science in Australia.

Behind the climate curve in Australia

William Pesek, Bloomberg via Internal Herald Tribune
Australian Peter Garrett got famous for tunes such as “Beds Are Burning” as lead singer of rock band Midnight Oil. Even Prime Minister John Howard once counted himself among the song’s biggest fans.

These days, Howard may be wondering if it’s his bed that’s on fire. Garrett is now the main opposition Labour Party’s spokesman on the environment and climate change, and an unrelenting one at that. It’s bad news for Howard, whose government has an impressive record on the economy, but a woeful one on the environment.

Australia had the highest per-capita level of greenhouse- gas emissions among developed nations in a 2004 report released by the Australia Institute. This month, a senior Treasury official, David Parker, admitted Australia hasn’t done a detailed assessment of the economic effects of climate change. ..

Officials in Canberra had better get on that. Howard is up for reelection this year and Australia’s long-running drought is focusing attention on the environment as rarely before. ..
(25 Feb 2007)
The Financial Times is hiding a similar article.

Retired miner attacks conservationists

Joseph Kerr, The Australian
ONE of the seminal figures of the Australian mining industry, Arvi Parbo, has launched a stinging attack on climate-change fundamentalism, singling out Australian of the Year Tim Flannery and Greens senator Bob Brown.

The former chairman of Western Mining yesterday attacked Professor Flannery and Senator Brown for calling for the eventual shutting down of the national coal industry.

Sir Arvi’s speech, at the launch of a book criticising the assumptions behind aggressive calls to fight carbon emissions, came as an Australian National University academic warned that the coal industry could suffer if clean coal technologies were not developed.

Speaking to an audience at Parliament House that included Finance Minister Nick Minchin and senior Labor figures Martin Ferguson and Craig Emerson, Sir Arvi attacked the “social agendas, ideology and even a semi-religious fervour that have come to overshadow it and dominate the public debate”. ..
(1 Mar 2007)
Yawn – how surprised could you be that someone enriched by mining opposes any threat to their wealth.-LJ