Yet another unbalanced climate change policy review by the government

I have, on behalf of the Australian Environment Foundation, made a submission to yet another of those kangaroo court reviews into climate change policy designed to pave the way to causing even more harm to the economy and Australian living standards.  This is an extract from the summary.  The full submission can be read here.

Pursuit of policies designed to suppress emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” is severely harming the Australian economy with no compensatory environmental benefits. We address this in the context of energy, land clearing and forestry.

In the case of energy, measures taken to suppress carbon dioxide emissions have been centred on regulations to promote renewable electricity supply (especially wind and solar). These have, over the past 15 years, transformed Australia from having one of the world’s cheapest electricity supplies to one of the most expensive. This takes a direct toll on household bills. But far more damaging is its indirect costs in undermining what once comprised the key national comparative advantage of cheap energy inputs. Policies forcing higher energy costs destroyed cost advantages across manufacturing, mining and agriculture to the great detriment of living standards.

Land clearing restrictions were devised to meet the 1997 Kyoto Protocol under which Australia agreed to limit its emissions of greenhouse gas to an eight per cent increase by 2012. Those restrictions reduced Australian emissions by 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, without which Australian emissions in 2012 would have seen a 21 per cent increase.

To bring about these land clearance reductions, the Commonwealth in cooperation with the Governments in NSW and Queensland adopted planning regimes that prevented land being cleared for agricultural purposes. Not only did this deprive the nation of valuable resources for agricultural expansion but the land was taken from its owners without any compensation. One estimate is that the costs in terms of devalued land worth were $200 billion. Though relaxed in recent years, such measures remain in place and an ALP Commonwealth Government has said it would fully re-implement them.

In the case of forestry, what commenced as a policy to ensure a balance of timber-getting and environmental conservation has resulted in a virtual cessation of commercial native forestry in Australia. This has throttled a valued domestic industry. Its effect has been augmented by stringent regulations on timber imports, under green pressure, to combat the import of timber supposedly to assist in preventing illegal logging overseas.

The rationale for all these policies rested on supposed global detrimental effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Irrespective of the merits of the science behind that rationale, its implementation possibilities were never more than flimsy.

Global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were ostensibly enhanced as a result of the Paris Agreement of 2015, but this had severe shortcomings. Chief among these was that, although developed nations agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by over 26 per cent, there were no disciplines on developing countries to take similar action except far into the future. Developing nations comprise a growing 60 per cent of global emissions. With the election of President Trump, the US will cease its own abatement program. This renders the Paris Agreement worthless and means Australian policies are a form of pointless self-harm.

The measures addressed in this submission are only some of those Australia has introduced to pursue a meaningless and impossible goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions. The measures should be rescinded at the earliest opportunity.

These views will not come as a surprise to those who have read my latest book CLIMATE CHANGE: Policies and Treaties in the Trump Era published by Connor Court.

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38 Responses to Yet another unbalanced climate change policy review by the government

  1. jupes

    Well done yet again Alan. Please keep up the good work.

  2. val majkus

    Alan that’s a great submission – that linked site to it is rather unwieldy but it’s easy to save. It’s very illuminating and depressing to see the historical cost effect of climate policies in Aust. set out in your submission. BTW Peter Spencer’s problem partially arose because he was overseas at a time when he could have cleared his land for grazing purposes which is all he wanted to do. Here’s the conclusion for other readers:

    The outcome of higher energy prices and consequent loss of energy-intensive industries is clear if current policies are maintained. There can be no half-way measures in correcting this economic stress. The government must immediately cancel all subsidies to energy and other interventions to allow the market to repair itself.
    With regard to land clearing, the government has placed a higher priority on agricultural production, rightly noting that the increased income levels of countries to our north will mean a rapid increase in demand for food and fibre and that Australia is well placed to increase its output to take advantage of these opportunities.
    The reprehensible seizure of private property rights aside, restrictive land use provisions of the sort that were used to bring about a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet Australia’s Kyoto commitment, are inconsistent with national development priorities concerning agriculture. Land use planning aimed at preventing clearing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of higher levels of agricultural output should be removed immediately.
    These restrictions on land clearances have especially detrimental effects on regional jobs and development, targeted as they are at non-urban activities. Any such restrictions in place at the behest of the Commonwealth should be rescinded and the Commonwealth should use its influence to remove the state regulations.
    Much the same applies to the restraints on timber – both the progressive closure of areas where logging can take place and the regulatory costs and risks placed on timber importers as a result of WWF inspired measures ostensibly aimed at illegal logging.

    What are we doing to ourselves? What is the Govt doing to us?

  3. cohenite

    Data Dashboard currently shows from the 3100 MW, $10 billion worth of installed wind power in Vic and SA exactly zero electricity is being produced.

    You want to know why this country is stuffed start there.

  4. val majkus

    You want to know why this country is stuffed start there.

    thanks cohenite, those figures are amazing!

  5. cohenite

    Not to worry, they’ve just cracked 8MW!

  6. Dr Fred Lenin

    Threaten to vote informal as a protest to any career pollie who votes for the green destruction plans ,tgreaten their “careers” and future wealth when they retire to spend more time with their families in a high paying job which is a reward bribe for ravouring tge crony capitalists who give them the job .
    That shoukd do the trick they have no hope of a job outside politics ,so tgey should come to heel. Like the mongrel dogs they are .

  7. David Brewer

    Good, but no mention of bushfires? These have become far worse as anti-land clearing policies have taken hold and preventive burns been cut back. The result is megafires that burn hotter and longer than ever before, and what’s more wipe out the short-term CO2 emissions reductions generated by the policies.

    Also, while it is shown in the full submission that electricity use went up 20% in the last 20 years despite gigantic price increases, it is not explained why this is so. The reason is that demand for electricity is extremely inelastic. Consumers need it and even at its grossly inflated present price they are loath to cut their consumption. Big industrial users may do so, but then they just move their whole operation somewhere else where the power is cheaper.

    Another thing that could be explained is why power prices have gone through the roof in a supposedly free electricity market. This is inherent in the nature of the wind and solar power being promoted. Their fuel cost is zero, so they can undercut coal and gas whenever conditions are right. But their intermittency means they need backup, and that backup can no longer come from cheap baseload coal and gas but has to be supplied by much more expensive plants that can be fired up at short notice (mainly smaller, different cycle gas turbines).

    The combination of a high share of renewables and the closure of supposedly unneeded or “uneconomic” coal-fired stations then means blackouts, which have a huge cost in themselves, again unfortunately not mentioned.

    The situation is actually a lot worse than the submission makes out.

  8. incoherent rambler

    Not to worry, they’ve just cracked 8MW!

    They read your post and hooked up the diesel gennie.

  9. val majkus

    Roger Underwood has had a lot to say on bushfires, here’s just one example:

    Until green politics and academic abstractions clouded official thinking, Western Australia was the prime example of how best to minimise mega-bushfires’ destruction of life and property. Now we burn like the rest of Australia …I have reflected again on this conundrum over recent weeks as bushfires in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania incinerated great swathes of national park and farmland and burned into residential areas, taking all before them. They are familiar scenes … we see bushfires ravaging south-eastern and south-western Australia replicated on our TV sets every summer, year in and year out.

    Tragically, the fires were predictable and had been predicted (rare examples of doomsday prophecies that actually came to pass). I was one of the prophets, and it gave me no satisfaction to be right. It gives me even less to predict that more of the same, if not worse, is still to come. This is because the factors predisposing our countryside and communities to bushfire damage are intensifying, while at the same time the counter-measures from the authorities continue to fail.

    Let’s be clear about two things. Firstly, I am not talking about the climate. I do not believe in accelerating human-caused global warming and, even if I did, I cannot see how it would lead to an accelerating bushfire problem. Temperature per se has an insignificant impact on bushfire behaviour, and is greatly over-ridden by the influence of heavy fuels, high winds and steep topography. The Australian climate has always been hot, windy and dry and punctuated by periodic droughts. On the contrary I regard ‘climate change’ as a gutless excuse for failed land management by our authorities and their green supporters.

    Secondly, Australia has wonderful and courageous firefighters. They do a superb job controlling 95% of the bushfires that break out each summer. But it is the other 5% that do the damage. These are the so-called “killer fires” that are beyond the capacity of humans to control. Preparing the fire grounds so as to minimise the occurrence of killer fires is the key to minimising bushfire damage, and it is the failure to do this effectively that is the root-cause of the bushfire problem in this country.

    When I talk about predisposition, I have the following in mind:
    •The number of rural residential communities that are undefendable from high intensity bushfires is increasing every year;
    •The people living in these communities are increasingly disconnected from practical, hands-on bushfire experience, and have little idea how to prepare their properties for fire;
    •National parks and “conservation reserves” adjoining or infiltrating fire-vulnerable rural communities, continue to be neglected and are accumulating combustible bushfire fuels year by year (the ticking time bombs awaiting a spark);
    •There is an insidious delusion that the answer to the bushfire threat lies in aerial firefighting technology, even though it has been proven over and again that water bombers are valueless in the control of a high-intensity fire, cannot operate under high winds or at night;
    •The negative influence of Australian academics, especially the game-players at the ANU with their laughable GIGO computer models. Beloved of the greenies within government agencies, the anti-fire academics continue to promote a bushfire approach that every firefighter in the bush knows can never succeed under unfavourable conditions; and
    •Political leaders who will not or cannot lead.

    The result is inevitable. Every time there are hot, windy, dry conditions and fires start in bushland carrying decades of accumulated fuels, there is a bushfire calamity. Fire sweep through the bush, leapfrogging into paddocks and subdivisions and searing down long-unburnt road reserves. Firefighters find themselves powerless to do anything but work on the fringes, and the authorities focus on evacuation, leaving houses, stock, fences, powerlines and community assets to burn.

    Can anything be done? Curiously, the answer to the Australian bushfire challenge is not only well-known, it has been successfully field-tested. From about the mid 1960s to the mid-1990s, bushfire management in south-western WA was so effective that an entire generation went by without a killer fire. The system was three-pronged: first, there was an excellent resource of well-led and well-trained firefighters whose philosophy was to get to an outbreak quickly, get a containment line around it with bulldozers, and then mop it up before the wind changed.

    Second, there was a large, committed and extensive program of fuel-reduction burning. This ensured that south-west forests were subjected to mild-intensity prescribed burns every 6 years to 9 years. When a fire started it never had far to go before running into 0-3 year-old fuels, making it easy and safe to extinguish, even on really bad days. Finally, Local Government Authorities in those days were still being run by people with bushfire experience — for example old-hand farmers — and they insisted on high standards of bushfire preparedness, including fuel reduction on road and shire reserves.

    All of this was dismantled, leaving the southwest of WA almost as fire-vulnerable today as Gippsland or the Tasman Peninsular. The environmentalists saw to this. Initially they operated as political activists to whom the ALP was easy prey and then, after they had captured the bureaucracies, they called the shots from deep within government agencies and local councils.

    The answer to Australia’s bushfire problem is thus abundantly clear. First, governments must take charge. Root the anti-burning brigade out of the agencies and stop funding and listening to the academic ideologists. Get decision-making about land management into the hands of people with hard-won practical experience, people who understand the principle of preventative medicine, people who are not afraid to enforce bushfire regulations.

    Second, re-institute or introduce a regime of broad-acre periodic, mild-intensity fuel-reduction burning in our national parks and forests. Yes, I realise there are greens and academics out there who claim that fuel reduction makes no difference to fire behaviour on a bad day, and whose idea of a good bushfire strategy is to retreat into a bunker every time smoke is spotted on the horizon. This “Abandon all Hope!”approach is not just wrong in science but flies in the face of real-world bushfire experience. Worse, it is the ultimate defeatist strategy and one which I would be ashamed to see ruling Australian society.

    The simple fact of modern Australia is that a fire-vulnerable society has been inserted into a fire-prone environment. Fires are going to start, one way or another, and unless something is done beforehand, some of these fires will be unstoppable. The options are (i) to instigate a proven effective fire-management regime (incorporating fuel reduction); or (ii) accept that a huge fire will inevitably bear down upon us on a bad day, causing grief, financial pain and loss of well-loved landscapes. To me it is a simple choice, made even tastier by the fact that the Australian bushland thrives on fire.

    So the question is not what to do, but whether our political leaders at Federal, State and Local levels have the guts to get on with it.

  10. Nerblnob

    I can only admire Alan’s tenacity and courage in continuing to put the sensible case on behalf of all Australians, whether they know it or not.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Nearly OT, but entertaining: a wind farm caused a bushfire recently in an unusual way.

    Wind farm company sued over bushfire caused by electrocuted crow (today)

    The owners of a wind farm near Canberra are being sued for sparking a catastrophic bushfire in January, in what is believed to be the first class action of its type in Australia.

    Victorian firm Maddens Lawyers filed the class action against Infigen Energy Ltd in the NSW Supreme Court after a crow electrocuted by a transmission line carrying power from the company’s Woodlawn wind farm sparked the fire, which burned 3400ha and caused up to $20 million damage.

    The statement of claim, filed on behalf of lead plaintiffs Fred Kuhn and Liz Stewart of Mount Fairy, east of Canberra, alleges Infigen was aware of the risk a bird strike on its high-voltage ­infrastructure could cause a fire.

    The blaze, known as the Currandooley fire, was caused when a crow connected with overhead electrical infrastructure, caught alight and dropped into dry foliage beneath the powerline that transfers electricity from the Woodlawn farm to a substation at the nearby Capital wind farm.

    It’s a serious problem since wind farms need lots more wires than a coal fired power station. The payouts also could be huge: Maurice Blackburn extracted $500 million in damages from SP AusNet and Utility Services Group for the Black Saturday bushfire.

    If I were an insurance company I wouldn’t be insuring wind operators.

  12. val majkus

    and from that link Roger Underwood who inspected the area:

    Many of the deaths on Black Saturday were caused by the transformation of roads under firestorm conditions into “channels of death”. Roger Underwood, an experienced forester from Western Australia, came to Victoria after Black Saturday and was taken through many of the regions devastated by fire. He subsequently wrote:

    I was shocked to observe kilometres of long-unburnt road reserves running through semi-cleared and agricultural landscapes. These are more like tunnels than roads, with a narrow strip of bitumen winding between overhanging trees and bush right at the road edge which had clearly not been burned for over 20 years and carried a fuel load of about 35 tonnes to the hectare. These roads are potential death traps, not escape routes.

    Currently the clearing of fallen logs and other debris from roadsides is prohibited. This prohibition is another example of Green Power in action. People should not only be allowed, but should be encouraged, to obtain firewood from the roadside and to keep the road verges clear of debris.

  13. gbees

    “The rationale for all these policies rested on supposed global detrimental effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Irrespective of the merits of the science behind that rationale …”

    There are no ‘merits of the science’ in the rationale that human CO2 emissions are causing runaway catastrophic global warming (aka climate change). Therefore there is no need to limit Australia’s CO2 emissions or chase the fanciful notion that ‘renewables’ are the answer to Australia’s energy requirements. It’s a complete fraud and our hapless politicians have been sucked in big time.

  14. Trader Perth

    ‘Consensus beats Proof everytime’.

  15. min

    For all those who live within cooee of Bunnings Hawthorn , I have Dr Howard Brady coming to speak on Climate Change in this area on the 18 th May at 7.30 . The venue is near Camberwell junction free entry.
    Howard speaks on the models , sea level nonsense, but look him up on Google . Not a Co2 believer and acclaimed by late Bob Carter as well as Plimer.
    Leave a post and contact no if interested so I can organise seating .

  16. Will

    It’s a complete fraud and our hapless politicians have been sucked in big time.

    They appear to really believe this fraud. There is no-one on the political landscape who will stop this unbelievable idiocy, no-one with the intellectual courage, except PHON. The LNP actually got rid of their House skeptic, Dennis Jensen.

    As the Orange one would say, “sad”.

    The real catastrophe of AGW is about to happen, is plainly visible, and yet no-one in a leadership position either is blind to this, or seems not to care.

  17. H B Bear

    Onya Alan. Keep fighting the good battle. Not sure reason is winning but it will have its “I told you so moment” at some point. Not sure if we will be around to see it but at least we will have had to stop paying for it by then.

  18. val majkus

    They appear to really believe this fraud

    they may but only because they haven’t taken the trouble to question or even listen to the alternate view

  19. john constantine

    The deindustrialisation of the forests is something that must be done, because it is a ‘felt truth’ that is a fundemental organisational bedrock of their left.

    Money and activist hours flow whenever the cry goes out to help and save the trees from industry.

    If the cannon fodder flock towards one battleground, the left chant encouragement.

  20. john constantine

    The deindustrialisation of agriculture has many advantages for their left.

    Deindustrialisation of agricultural electorates leads to depopulation, leads to their electoral commission killing off the rural tory electorate and redistributing the seat to a new australian imported suburb.

    The end game of their left is to completely wipe out capitalist agriculture, and feed the proles of the vast megacity human battery farms on State controlled rations of flavoured yeast, glopped away from the State yeast vat factories.

    No compliance, no rations.

  21. Boambee John

    Use the Greenslime’s own tactics.

    Demand that the Precautionary Principle be applied to fire management practices.

    Persuade insurance companies to refuse coverage where proper precautions are not noise, or charge very high premiums. The insurance companies hopped on to AGW and sea level rise to boost premiums, repay the Slime in their own currency.

    If you have shares, attend the AGM and make lots of noise.

  22. Mark M

    Your electricity bill will fall thanks to renewable energy — but you’ll have to be patient: Analyst
    “- coal is incompatible with a safe climate.”
    Where else but their abc:

  23. Bruce of Newcastle

    Your electricity bill will fall thanks to renewable energy — but you’ll have to be patient

    Empirical data suggests otherwise.

  24. Tim Neilson

    Yes, our present generation of middle class pinkos and their catamites in Parliaments all ought to be in jail for at least manslaughter, but actually this isn’t a new problem.

    My great-uncle headed the Royal Commission into Victoria’s 1977 bushfires, and his report referred to failure to learn the long known lessons about proper backburning and other preventative management measures. It seems there’s always a new generation with some homicidal agenda.

    (He also recommended that the government keep their hands off the CFA. I wish he was still around to kick Dan Andrews’ arse all the way up Spring Street.)

  25. duncanm

    Use the Greenslime’s own tactics.

    Demand that the Precautionary Principle be applied to fire management practices.

    Sorry John – that only works if they care about lives. They don’t.

    The carbon genie is about saving the planet, not people.

  26. val majkus

    My great-uncle headed the Royal Commission into Victoria’s 1977 bushfires, and his report referred to failure to learn the long known lessons about proper backburning and other preventative management measures

    Respect to your great uncle, Tim. And proper backburning and preventative management is what Roger Underwood is always on about. Plus all the bushies who say the same thing.
    Politicians are deaf and blind.
    BTW what has happened to the CFA in Victoria?

  27. val majkus


    12 February

    look at the result of the 1977 Vict fires
    Penshurst, Tatyoon, Streatham, Creswick, Pura Pura, Werneth, Cressy, Rokewood, Beeac, Mingay, Lismore, Little River.
    •4 people
    •108 houses/shops
    •More than 236,000 livestock

  28. Texas Jack

    The bushfire that’s coming will burn its way through the Liberal Party in the most savage political repeat of Black Saturday. There’ll be few trees left standing. The difference with Victoria 2009 will be in the stark lack of tears shed for the losses that are coming.

    Imagine having as parliamentary leader a well-known supporter of the very policies that are going to take electricity bills further through the roof at a time when wages growth is half what it was and mortgage arrears are starting to ramp higher? Give a Gonski or not. It won’t matter. The Liberal party is toast.

  29. Sydney Boy

    True story. My parents installed a 2 kW household solar electricity system about 8 years ago when NSW were buying your electricity for 66c/kWh. When the great subsidy finished at the end of last year, after accounting for costs of purchase and installation, my parents made a $6,000 profit. And the Greens whine about (non-existent) subsidies for coal!

  30. Rabz

    Great work, Alan. Anyone prepared to publicly fight this staggering idiocy earns my respect.

  31. John Carpenter

    “The end game of their left is to completely wipe out capitalist agriculture,”

    The LNP has already achieved this,agriculture is under the control of the Dept of Agricukture and various exempt public authorities disguised as so called “producer owned”corporations.Labor fully supports this policy so there is no hope of any deregulation.In fact the sugar industry has been re-regulated.Farmers are forced to operate in a centrally planned socialist structure.

  32. gabrianga

    What else did we expect from Turnbull? This is HIS legacy turning Australia into a Greens centre of worship?

    He doesn’t give a stuff about the future of Australia as he will be laying back in the harbourside mansion looking in his egoistic mirrors congratulating himself.

    Fuck him off and do it quickly.

  33. gabrianga

    All is solved.

    SKY Political Commentator, the Left leaning Kieron Gilbert in New York just happens to bump into Kevin Rudd so they have a chat (recorded) on what advice Rudd would give Turnbull when meeting President Trump.

    Surprisingly Rudd’s first two jewels were

    1. the environment

    2.the Paris Agreement

    SKY “News” has now re-broadcast these words of wisdom at least 4 times each time adding a few extra slurs about President Trump.

    Suggest we send Alan Moran’s paper to Trump staff to assure not all Australians are worshipping the Green Dream

  34. val majkus

    Surprisingly Rudd’s first two jewels were

    1. the environment

    2.the Paris Agreement

    must still be after a UN spot; should we remind him how the Aussies’ plane got frozen in the ice in Prague?

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