Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU

IS there any reason why Irish citizens should be paying for renewable energy contracts, which were awarded without proper authority or planning permissions, which were granted in a manner which was not legally compliant?

According to Pat Sword the contracts are illegal along with the European Unions attempts at enforcing them. Mr Sword is a chemical engineer with considerable technical experience in the design and implementation of renewable energy projects. But now he’s spear-heading a legal challenge that has just had the The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) rule in his favour, in particular that the manner in which the EU is implementing its renewable energy programme (20% renewable energy by 2020) is not in compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Here is a Q&A Mr Sword did on the Convention after returning from a September 2011 Compliance Committee meeting in Geneva.



Mr Sword explains the situation today in the following letter:

Dear Jennifer

This has been a highly complex case of environmental law, for which the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has issued its draft findings and recommendations today…

In a nutshell UNECE has ruled that the manner in which the EU is implementing its renewable energy programme (20% renewable energy by 2020) is not in compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, namely the citizen’s human and environmental rights, see introduction and three minute video clip: .

Essentially the Convention defines the procedural rights of the citizen relating to the provision of information on the environment, the participation in the development of policies and individual planning decisions and finally the right to contest acts and omissions of the authorities in a legal system, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.

To repeat again, this case was complex. The EU ratified the Convention in 2005 and in order to do so brought in the necessary legal provision, namely Directives, which applied to the Member States and Regulations, which applied to its own Bodies and Institutions, Ireland was not only the single Member State, which has failed to ratify the Convention, but it failed also to comply with the necessary EU legislation implementing the Convention. While the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee will investigate Communications from the public, they cannot do so in the case of Ireland, as it will not ratify the Convention, so a much more complex case had to be developed to bring the EU before the Compliance Committee. Furthermore, the Compliance Committee has only a limited amount of resources, so they will investigate only a limited number of test cases and will chose to investigate what aspects they consider important in improving general compliance with the goals of the Convention.

In this respect, they are not a regular legal court, so not all aspects in which EU and National law was breached will be addressed, only specific terms related to the Convention. In addition many of the issues were highly technical, which would be better understood by technical experts rather than a tribunal of legal experts with a limited timeframe.

However, this is a hugely important decision, which goes beyond the Irish situation to all the 27 Member States, the renewable energy programme as it currently stands is proceeding without ‘proper authority’, the public’s right to be informed and to participate in its development and implementation has been by-passed. The goal of UNECE is to achieve compliance with the Convention, a process will now be started to ensure that the recommendations are addressed, if ultimately they are not, then UNECE has the option of requiring the EU to withdraw from this UN Convention on Human and Environmental Rights.

Finally there is another ‘twist to this tale’, as the Convention is part of EU law, there is now a legal ruling that this law has not been complied with. There are long established legal procedures where if a Member State does not comply with EU law, the citizen can seek ‘damages made good’.
Electricity costs are soaring to implement these dysfunctional policies, which have by-passed proper and legally required technical, economic and environmental assessments. Not only is the landscape being scarred as thousands of wind farms are being installed, but people in the vicinity are suffering health impacts from low frequency noise, while birdlife and other wildlife is also adversely impacted. It is long overdue that a STOP was put to this type of illegal and dysfunctional policy development and project planning.


Pat Sword


To spend billions of our money a ‘positive’ has to be proven

Wind and solar energy, when the weather is right, are effective for what is on the clothes line. This does not mean that Ryan air are going to buy gliders or sailing ships will deliver cargo into our ports. Yet we revel in the fact that billions are to be spent in ensuring that 37% of Ireland’s electricity is to be wind powered. Many engineers ‘spoil the party’ by pointing out that this technology is completely obsolete, is ineffective and can only be supported by massively inappropriate subsidies. Others argue that it is ‘free energy’ and our future wealth.

Pat Swords is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and a Chartered Environmentalist. He has not only designed high technology industry throughout Ireland and Europe, but over a decade on EU technical assistance projects helped implement EU environmental legislation into the new Member States. Pat, a specialist in environmental protection, will only tolerate expenditure on that which is cost effective and appropriate; Green and grandiose is out.

Pat’s point is clear, public opinion does not bestow Rights; only the law does. Pat and other similar professionals can demonstrate, that the approximately one thousand wind turbines installed to date in Ireland, have completely failed to deliver their claimed emissions and fuel savings. Furthermore, no additional savings will ensue; as we implement the Government and EU approved plan to increase the number of turbines to nearly four thousand, complete with a doubling of our high voltage grid by an extra 5,000 km.

However, to be clear Pat does not have to prove a ‘negative’. To implement such a plan, the Administration has to prove to us a ‘positive’. After all, even for a small project at home, one has to know how much does it cost and why are we doing it! So Pat started looking for the information, which should have been there by law. He is nearly three years later still looking, but now with the assistance of the United Nations Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, who are well advanced on a compliance investigation (Communication ACCC/C/2010/54) against the EU.

To explain, while Irish law defers to that of the EU, the EU has also ratified International Treaties and Agreements. One such is the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. This is important, it is your Human and Environmental Rights, in particular your procedural rights to participate in the decision making around you. If one wants to implement a significant industrial policy or project, the public has to be provided with information related to costs / benefits / impacts and allowed to properly participate in both the policy development and individual planning decisions.

Ireland won’t ratify the Convention; its Administration does not believe in transparency or in providing its citizens with access to a legal system, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive to contest acts and omissions of the authorities. So in Europe and Central Asia, we are essentially alone with Russia in this regard. However, the EU ratified the Convention in 2005, so it applies to Community legal order here in Ireland.

To clarify, with regard to public participation in decision-making, members of the public do not have a veto right, but the authorities must, to an objectively high standard, show that public comments have been seriously considered. Therefore they should be able to show why a particular comment was rejected on substantive grounds. Indeed in appropriate circumstances a member of the public, whose comments were not duly taken into account, should be able to challenge the final decision in a judicial proceeding. Elsewhere in Europe this is routine with a cost amounting to less than €5,000.

The Irish Administration has already been in and out of the European Court of Justice for a refusal to comply with the EU Directives implementing the Convention.

However, this is where things are getting interesting. The Treaty of Lisbon is clear, the Citizen has a Right to Good Administration and to have damages made good. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice has several decades of case law on citizen’s rights to damages where EU law was not adhered to.

Eirgrid engineers pointed out in 2004, the inefficiencies on the grid which would occur if the current level of wind energy, about one thousand turbines, was installed. They concluded a 15% increase in generation costs was not justified given other alternatives. They were ignored, so household electricity rates have gone from 15 cent per unit in 2006 to the current 20.5 cent per unit, while natural gas, which fuels 60% of our electricity, is still for industry consumers in the 2006 price range. If one installs lots of wind turbines from Denmark, where household rates are a whopping
29.5 cent per unit, then all these billions will have to be paid for.

Pat’s efforts in his private time are demonstrating that neither the Irish Administration nor the EU made the slightest effort to comply with the legally binding Convention.

Not only has no verification been made of emission savings to date, but the costs and emission savings associated with the now legally binding 40% renewable energy target are completely unknown.

Indeed, under the original 2001 EU Directive on renewable energy, the EU Commission was legally required by 2005, to assess the environmental degradation cost associated with the greenhouse gas emissions from conventional power stations and the price distortion effects associated with public support for renewable energy. They simply decided not to complete the report and instead came up with an even bigger programme for renewable energy. This is a plan based completely on political ideology, which has by-passed the legally binding procedures in relation to assessment and democratic accountability.

As Ireland won’t ratify the Convention, the Compliance Committee cannot accept a Communication in relation to alleged non-compliances by Ireland. So Pat had to document a case against the EU. As the Compliance Committee pointed out after their September meeting after hearing evidence from both parties; on approval of the Convention, the EU declared that it would be responsible “for the performance of those obligations resulting from the Convention which are covered by Community law
in force”. They therefore concluded in their follow up letter to the EU Commission

“Could you please explain why the Commission says that it is not responsible for the actions of the Member State in this case?”

The Compliance Committee met four times a year. They propose to issue their draft findings and recommendations after their March meeting. As Pat states; “the evidence of non-compliance is overwhelming, while one will have to wait for the ruling; non-compliance with the Convention is a breach of EU law. The Compliance Committee has already ruled that the EU has to provide better access to the European Courts for citizens to challenge acts and omissions of EU institutions.
There is no reason why Irish citizens should be paying for renewable energy contracts, which were awarded without ‘proper authority’ or planning permissions, which were granted in a manner which was not legally compliant”.

125 Responses to Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU

  1. Peter Lang May 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Pat Swords says:

    “this is a hugely important decision”

    Yes. How can Australia make use of the precedent set in EU? Any suggestions?

  2. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Peter not that I can see
    here’s a list of the current countries bound by the convention

  3. Jon Boone May 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Kudos to Pat Swords for demanding accountability for the claims justifying the silliest energy source imaginable, particularly since it doesn’t provide modern power. Subsidies for wind technology everywhere, not just in Ireland, are not indexed to independently measured reductions in CO2 emissions or fossil fuel usage–its raison d’être. There is virtually no transparency or accountability for this benighted industry, so massively uncivil, so environmentally treacherous.

    Those touting this nonsense should be challenged to show why, with 200GW of installed wind throughout the world, no coal plants have closed in consequence, with many more in the offing. Perhaps it has something to do with the reality that wind is cradled in the manger of large multinational energy companies–GE, Shell, BP, Weyerhaueser, AES, NextEra, ExxonMobile–all with heavy investments in coal; they all know wind will only enhance those investments and, at the same time, provide income via massive tax sheltering. All should know that despite having annual revenues in the billions, GE and NextEra have paid no federal income taxes for years, largely because of their wind “portfolios.”

    Profiteering by delivering dysfunctional energy, making everything and everyone around it work much harder to stay in place, is an international disgrace. And people everywhere should say so. And demand, as Pat Swords has, a proper accounting.

  4. Peter Lang May 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm #


    Thank you for the link. I see Australia is not a signatory to the Aarhus Convention. But can we apply the lessons learned from how Pat Swords and his colleagues have tackled this issue, (scientists, engineers and legal brains working together) to address similar issues in Australia (i.e. renewable energy being mandated and built without proper benefit/cost analyses for example and without properly quantifying the expected outcomes?

  5. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    sorry that list is current as at 29/9/09 but I suspect would be reasonably up to date

    here’s the latest info I can find on the austlii site

    if you google ‘has Australia ratified the Aarhum convention’ you will find a couple of articles (dated 2009) bemoaning the current Govt’s failure to do so

  6. Debbie May 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    This article by Josephine Kelly which was also pasted in full at Jen’s post re Phillip White and the Murray, also deals with the difficulties we face re international and environmental law.

    Good questions Peter Lang.

  7. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    can taxpayers sue the Government for lack of due diligence in decision making – sadly no

    not that I’ve been able to find Peter

    if someone could tell us I’m wrong I would be delighted

  8. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Maybe I should just qualify my last sentence above ‘if someone could provide evidence I’m wrong I would be delighted’

  9. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    also I’ve noticed there’s a couple of documents on that austlii site in which the convention is mentioned

    I’ll go back and have a look at them later

    for any of you who are interested here’s the link to those cases

  10. jennifer May 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Good point Debbie. I was thinking the same. But isn’t it nice when something perhaps back fires on those who demand more regulation?

  11. Peter Lang May 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    OK, so we can’t sue the government for not following their own procedures. How can we progress to get the government and its agencies to have to complete and make public the sort of information Pat Sword’s has pointed out is being left blank on the forms they are supposed to fill out?

    Pat, if you are following this, would you mind linking to the relevant form and elaborating on the sort of information the proponents should be providing and the government authorities should be taking to the public during the planning stage.

    I know little about the planning requirements and processes, so I hope others who know more will chime in, ask the appropriate questions and provide suggestions so we can make some progress on this – given the opportunity Pat Swords’ EU court case has provided.

  12. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Peter just keep in mind this convention does not apply in Australia

  13. Colin Davidson May 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Peter Lang,
    I think that in Australia we have to deal with 9 different governments:
    The Communist govamint, the six State governments and the two Territory governments.

    Maybe it would be best to concentrate on one of the non-dark-green States – perhaps Victoria or Queensland?

  14. cementafriend May 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Val, I do not agree with your assessment. Firstly, there are FOI laws. Simon showed that it is possible to get information on the input to decisions, eg did a competent person in Australia provide advice and what was it. Secondly, every state and the Commonwealth has codes of conduct for public servants and officers in government funded organisations (eg Universities, CSIRO, electricity authorities etc). There is a procedure to file complaints for breaches of the code of conduct. In some states this comes under the criminal code. Queensland has the Public Service Ethics Act which not only applies to government and government funded organisations ( Universities etc) but to local government and breaches are a criminal offense. Finally, Queensland has the Professional Engineers Act under which it is a criminal offense for anyone to supply an engineering service (which includes the capital cost estimation of structures such as power stations, the operation of power stations, the operation of dam storage and release, coastal works etc) if not registered. for the latter, the registered engineers have to be competent (including continuous professional development) and comply to a code of ethics. Unfortunately, the Board of Professional Engineers has been inactive in prosecuting breaches- such as the mess with the Brisbane floods (which could even include the inquiry commissioners -none of whom were registered engineers). I understand a Professional Engineers Act is not far away in WA. Other states have engineering requirements in some specific acts such as Mining Acts and Building Acts.

    I think it is time some legal action was taken which might force a Royal Commission into the whole sorry mess. In a Royal Commission people like Flannery and Steffen would be subject to the Evidence Act and face jail for perjury.

    I might ask some of the pathetic commentators on this blog such as Luke and Gavin are you willing to give evidence under oath (risking jail) that you have any expertise about climate assessment and associated engineering experience? I have been an expert witness in a case involving technical questions and will be happy to do so again.

    Finally congratulation to Pat Swords -chemical engineer

  15. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Peter all I’m saying is that the aarhum convention and the obligations it imposes does not apply in Australia

    I agree with you as to other legislation but which of those laws provides the same obligations upon the non renewable entities as does the aarhum convention

    and keep in mind the engineers are usually the employed not the employee

    and yes, congratulations to Pat Swords, I watched the video and thought he did very well at explaining the result

  16. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    and here’s the convention
    and the portion that Pat Swords is referring to is article 6

    this goes far further than FOI laws (which is essentially about access to information post effect)

  17. el gordo May 5, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Perhaps we need an audit of BoM and CSIRO to find clarity.

  18. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    el gordo Jo Nova et al have applied for a audit of BOM (see her post here
    (in about Feb 2011 – nothing has occurred so far as I’m aware)
    in my view this is not a matter for the Auditor General – I prefer what the NZCSC have done
    – an application for mandamus against NIWA
    (for background see

  19. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    and in respect to the environment at CSIRO see
    I think Dr Spash is now working in Norway

  20. Peter Lang May 5, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Cementafriend, great contribution to this discussion. That is helpful

    Val, thank you for the link to Article 6. I am interested to see (again) the form that would contain the important information that should be made available to the public.

    In one of several comments Pat Swords posted on this thread last year, I recall he linked to the forms that have to be completed by the proponent. I think he gave examples of completed forms and showing the blank form (its optional) which should provide all the important and relevant information the public needs to know in order to assess the cost and benefit of the proposed project.

    Val, regarding your reminder at @4:14pm I apologise for not being more careful with my wording. I do recognise that the Aarhus convention does not apply in Australia.

    However, there are lessons we can learn. When Pat Swords started he had a clear objective to educate the public and the law makers that mandating and subsidising renewable energy would not achieve the objectives they were expecting and they would cost a lot of money. He then, by tenacity, applying appropriate skills and experience, and gathering the right team together, managed bit by bit, to tackle the beast.

    I recognise our laws are different. But our goal is the same. There are lessons to be learnt from how Pat Swords tackled this issue, how he clearly framed the objective he wanted to achieve, and then proceeded towards achieving it. It is not yet achieved because the policies, laws and regulations have not been changed yet. But he is making good progress.

    I am suggesting we look at what Pat Swords has done and try to gain as much information as possible. Then we use our innovative capacities to work out how we should proceed in Australia. The route will be different. But we want to achieve the same result. Stop wasting masses of public funds and the country’s wealth for little benefit.

  21. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    sorry my comment above addressed to Peter should have been addressed to cementafriend

    Peter all I’m saying is that the aarhum convention and the obligations it imposes does not apply in Australia

    I agree with you as to other legislation but which of those laws provides the same obligations upon the non renewable entities as does the aarhum convention

    and keep in mind the engineers are usually the employed not the employee

    I suppose the point being it’s usually the employer who gets sued not the employee
    (unless in those cases where there a sub contractual obligation between employer/employee)

    otherwise I think I’m correct in what I said in that comment in reply to cementafriend – and thanks for that comment cementafriend – it’s always nice to read well reasoned comments which usually happens on Jen’s blog

    and yes, congratulations to Pat Swords, I watched the video and thought he did very well at explaining the result

    AND the second last sentence should read ‘the employed not the employers’

  22. Peter Lang May 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm #


    I think we are talking at cross purposes.

  23. val majkus May 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Peter totally agree with your comment at 8.33 pm
    and your last para

    Then we use our innovative capacities to work out how we should proceed in Australia. The route will be different. But we want to achieve the same result. Stop wasting masses of public funds and the country’s wealth for little benefit.

    and possibly what Colin says start with one government – a less friendly green one like Queensland and I would suggest Western Australia

    Yes, the route will be different but you guys have a lot of expertise

  24. Tony Price May 6, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    When our own UK Climate/Energy bill was presented to the House of Commons, a cost/benefit analysis was not attached (amazing!), but was available. Only one MP, to my knowledge, asked to see that document. He was unable to steer the debate towards that essential issue, and the bill became law without parliament, the public, nor the press knowing what the total costs nor total benefits would be. Peter Lilley (who’s a Tory backbencher, by the way) was the one who read the addendum (the HoC office had to search for it, as no other had asked for it!), and he says the costs amount to £200bn over 20 years, and the net benefits £102bn, most of which was calculated as “benefit to the planet” (my phrase) in terms of CO2 reductions.

    In other words, most of the benefits would (assuming CO2 reduction is essential, etc, etc.) accrue to the rest of the world, and not to UK citizens. Staggering, simply staggering. It’s like signing up for an expensive (and unnecessary, of course!) insurance policy, when you’re not told what the premiums will be, and not told what the payout will be, not told that it will be half of the premiums, and that any payout will be shared unequally amongst you and everyone else in your town or city. Welcome to open and accountable government. Welcome to the “new world order”.

  25. Pat Swords May 6, 2012 at 5:58 am #

    The Aarhus Convention derived from Principle 10 of the UN Rio Declaration:

    Principle 10

    Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.

    Both Australia and the US are signatories to the above, so while they are not Parties to the Aarhus Convention, which is a very sophisticated version of Principle 10, they should be held accountable to the content above.


  26. Minister for Whatever May 6, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Thank you Tom Price.

    That You Tube vid showing Peter Lilley’s speech to a Conference is excellent stuff. Well done.

    As a Member of Parliament, and an economist with some science training his speech is a very good expose of the general stupidity of the political and scientific elites in the UK that has its equivalents here.

    There is only one saving grace at least the Poms did do a cost benefit analysis…unlike here for the NBN etc.

    Their shame however is that they appeared to have kept it hidden and paid no heed to it, despite it saying that the costs are twice the benefits…and it took a “renegade” like Peter Lilley to ferret it out.

    Further, a point not in your summary Tom, is that he says that the costs to consumers of the feed- in tariffs’ are 21 times the benefits.

    How bizarre….how so utterly incompetent and stupid are these so called leaders.

    The rest of his speech is just even more grist to the mill.

    So when Jen comes along and posts Mr Swords work on the illegality of it all in the EU then we should be truly grateful that there at least some people with integrity left.

  27. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Pat at 5.58 am those principles are non binding so far as I can see,_Rio_de_Janeiro,_Brazil#gen2

    Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
    The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is a set of 27 legally non-binding principles designed to commit governments to ensure environmental protection and responsible development and intended to be an Environmental Bill of Rights, defining the rights of people to development, and their responsibilities to safeguard the common environment. It established the “Precautionary principle” and the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. The Declaration recognizes that the only way to have long-term social and economic progress is to link it with environmental protection and to establish equitable global partnerships between governments and key actors of civil society and the business sector.

    interestingly the notorious Agenda 21 resulted from that Conference

  28. Debbie May 6, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I agree Jen,
    It is good that the ‘over regulation’ has backfired in this case.
    The sad part, I think, is that Josephine is probably correct that ‘burden of proof’ gets placed onto the shoulders of the people with the least resources and also the most to lose.

  29. Peter Lang May 6, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Does this mean Australia already has 90 government, local government, municipalities, cities, shires and town councils signed up to Principle 10 of the UN Rio Declaration? (Check the list to see if your council has already signed you up; check for your friends too)

    The Greens seem to be able to apply non-binding agreements to achieve their aims.

    Any suggestions as to how we might progress and how we might be able to adapt for Australia what Pat Swords has managed to achieve for EU?

  30. Peter Lang May 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Tony Price,

    Thank you for the video of the speech by UK MP Peter Lilley

    Is the guy sitting next to him the psychologist?

    I sent this message to all Australian MPs and Senators today:

    “Have you seen this speech by British MP Peter Lilley?

    He dug up a UK Government cost/benefit analysis for the implementation of the climate change legislation.

    Cost: UKP 200 billion (excluding lots of costs such as cost of forcing UK industry to move out of UK)
    Benefit: UKP 105 billion (to the whole world if the UK policy achieves the expected benefits in climate change)

    Renewable energy feed in tariffs:
    Cost: UKP 8.6 billion
    Benefit: UKP 400 million

    These are UK government estimates; no other MP looked at them. Lots more to consider in this interesting speach.”

  31. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    here’s a recent list of all Local Govt Councils who have signed up to Agenda 21
    interesting video links too

  32. Peter Lang May 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Val, thanks for that update. 37 have been added since the list I gave above.

    So, any suggestions on how we can adapt what Pat Swords has done for EU and apply it ot Australia? Can we build on CementaFriend’s comment:

  33. Debbie May 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Somehow or other the Greens (or whoever) would need to be made ‘accountable’ for the non-binding agreements.
    I’m also assuming that it is not enough to make them morally accountable, a way needs to be found to make them legally accountable.
    I know my legal understanding is limited as I am not a lawyer or barrister, but my limited understanding is that ‘International Law’ takes legislative precedence over “Constitutional Law”, especially when invoked by the Federal Government to over ride Sate Govts.
    The Tasmanian Dam case is one of the first that I am aware of.
    There have been many since….a great deal of them relevant to agricultural production in Australia.
    The Water Act 2007 is most certainly one of those along with the legislation related to the carbon tax and the mining tax.
    Specific to this post would be the legislation that covers ‘renewable energy’ in Australia and how people are legally charged for it and also how organisations can legally access funding for it.
    I also believe that the ‘refugee case’ that the Federal Govt ultimately lost in the high court is another instance where this method can actually backfire on the Governments attempting to use it?
    That ‘precautionary principle’ and the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ seem to have a lot to answer for when they are applied in Australia.
    They ultimately argue that this is all being done for our own survival because the planet and the human species is doomed if we don’t do it this way.
    Amazingly…. and from my limited legal perspective….there doesn’t appear to be a need to specifically identify what is ‘dooming’ the planet and the human species….there is only a need to vaguley identify a ‘potential risk’ ?????

  34. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Debbie that’s a really interesting comment – I love the last para

    Peter I’m still thinking – so far as I’ve been able to ascertain to date politicians are not accountable in tort to the public for laws made by a Government – the only method of effectively dealing with politicians from the public’s point of view is the ballot box and also as we have seen from Gillard’s ‘there will be no carbon tax’ pledge politicians are not accountable to the people in contract either

    where does that leave public servants (who serve the government) so far as their codes of ethics are concerned – their duty is to the government but if cementafriend could direct me to the relevant codes I’d be grateful. I would assume that Prof Flannery’s and Garnaut’s appointments made them public servants

    Then of course there are letters to politicians (the Galileo movement is heavily involved in this method), demonstrations serve their purpose as do publications and of course blogs such as Jen’s, Warwick Hughes, Jo Nova’s, Climate Madness, and others like Piers Ackerman and other right wing journalist type blogs which educate people like me and give us all a voice

    this is Galileo’s site if you don’t know it

    Then there are Land and Environment Courts of various states – I recall there are some Port Macquarie Hastings Council residents who (in brief) have started a case against their council for diminution of their land values as a result of council’s planning maps which show their land as susceptible of rising sea levels – sorry can’t find any updates on this case

    and if you could prove personal damage by neighbouring wind farms you could of course sue in tort

    As for the CSIRO and BOM well they’re off shoots of Government and also dependent upon Govt funding

    Depressing isn’t it

  35. Neville May 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Bob has replied to your questions Gav and asked a few of his own at the other post. Just thought you should know.

  36. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    further to my comment at 1.40 pm I shouldn’t have said depressing because although I can’t see that we could do something like Peter has done there is still a lot we can do and perhaps others will have additional ways in which environmental thinking could be influenced
    and as we’ve seen from what Simon has done FOI is a weapon in some circumstances

    I would be happy to be proved wrong – after all I’m no international lawyer

  37. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    I did have some correspondence with cementafriend in about December 2010 about legal stuff

    I’m not prepared to publish that but with cementafriend’s permission I’m happy to send it to Peter Lang and to Jen if she’s interested

  38. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    and here are fighting words by Dr Tim Ball

    this was originally published in Canada Free Press and this is a copy I’ve located published elsewhere

  39. Tony Price May 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    What better example of groupthink than a government, a parliament, a press, and an electorate, all (most of them anyway) signing up to a policy, a plan to achieve the unachievable, using very expensive means, where the outcome is questionable at best, and benefits (if at all) accrue to others outside the country. Signing up without asking the right, or in most cases any questions, signing up without (in most cases, and that’s just the politicians) actually reading the bill. Signing up (in most cases) to something they didn’t understand, and in most cases didn’t want to understand, or thought they didn’t need to understand. Most (but not all of them, Mr. Lilley and I and others are but a few of a growing band of dissidents) believed they were doing the right thing “to save the planet”. Lemmings.

  40. Tony Price May 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Comment from: Peter Lang May 6th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Tony Price,

    Thank you for the video of the speech by UK MP Peter Lilley

    Is the guy sitting next to him the psychologist?

    Probably, and I’d guess he’s got a switch to cut the mike. I think Lilley is also tagged and chained to the podium. He (like Monckton) is a dangerous man. He (like Monckton) thinks for himself.

    I’ve lost the link to the page I got that YouTube from to give ’em a h/t. I’ll look it up in my browser history and correct my omission.

  41. Tony Price May 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I should have added that I’m opposed to Lilley’s politics on principle, but I support his stance on this suicidal policy, also on principle. If he stood for office in my home constituency, I’d seriously consider voting for him.

    Found the link for my h/t – it’s the non-partisan “Campaign to repeal the Climate Change Act”

    Have a look at the bile in this Guardian (where else?) blog which include a quote by Lilley, with 383 comments:
    “The out-of-touch fringe of right-wing climate change sceptics is a dangerous and expensive drag on climate action, but it needn’t be that way”

  42. cementafriend May 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Val, here is a list which might help.;cond=;doc_id=85%2B%2B2000%2BAT%40EN%2BSESSIONAL;histon=;prompt=;rec=0;term=

    Note particularly the Qld Act and for good measure the Professional Engineers Act Queensland (the only one in Australia and I believe it is similar to the Act in Singapore and some states of USA)
    Qld is more advanced than other states due to the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1984?). The PE Act (Qld) originally came in 1988 and has since been strengthened. Definition of a Professional Engineering Service is included in the dictionary. You will see the following” the application of engineering principles and data to a design, or to a construction or production activity”. I think it should be clear that it applies to the release of water from the Wivenhoe dam which should have included data such as rainfall, runoff, stream flows, and dam levels. No unregistered public servant or minister of the crown should legally have had an input to the operation of the dam.

  43. cementafriend May 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Val, I have no concern about you sharing information with Peter Lang or with Jennifer.
    A short time ago I put up a comment but it disappeared. Maybe too many links. I will put it in an email for you.

  44. val majkus May 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    thanks cementafriend, just in respect to the codes you linked my query would be to whom are these respective duties on public servants owed

    are the decision makers for whom public servants act liable under those codes

    anyway no more time to spend for the next couple of days but I’ll check back on Wednesday to see what’s happened

  45. Neville May 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Will Piers Corbyn’s forecast for May in the UK prove to be on the money? Could be the coldest May for at least 70 years, but time will tell I guess.

  46. cementafriend May 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Val, here is the Qld Act .It applies to all public sector and public sector agency officers but particularly to the the chief executive officer of the entity (eg Universities, Local Government Council, Dept Head etc) who has a duty to publish the Code of Conduct in his section, ensure that everyone has access, train persons in his area and ensure compliance.
    I would suggest that under the last labor government there were many at all levels who breached the act. Just consider the health department (the Patel saga, the pay saga, the $16 M embezzlement etc). I will let others think about the Climate Change Department run by the husband of the Premier. Maybe the new Premier has told him that he could be charged with a criminal offense if he does not do a proper job in dismantling the department.

  47. Tony Price May 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm #


    May has already begun here in the Old Country – I get confused by GMT, CST, daylight-saving time, the International Date Line and sell-by dates on food., but I’m pretty sure it’s May in Oz too. It’s also bloody cold – my heating is on thermostat, when it normally gets turned off completely at the end of March. The Met Office has assured us (and I believe them), that May may (how appropriate!) be warmer, or colder, or wetter, or drier, or windier, or calmer, or sunnier, or more cloudy, or may just be similar to the current decades average. May. The decadal average is, they assure us much warmer than in past history, when May was warmer, or colder, or wetter, or drier, or windier, or calmer, or sunnier, or more cloudy than it is now. I think I’ve got a grasp of this, but I need to run over it again in my mind, just to make sure.

    It might help if they cut all the verbiage, including the pathetic excuses when their one-forecast-fits-all-eventualities doesn’t, and just showed us little icons, like sun-glasses (I wish!), umbrella, beautiful white wind-turbine, Noah’s Ark, etc., though a few might suggest they include one of a big pile of male bovine doodoo.

    The Met Office finally lost all credibility after they moved to Exeter, on the flood-plain of the River Axe, while dishing out propaganda about CO2 causing sea-level rise and flooding. It seems they mislaid their pine-cones and little Swiss weather-house in the move, and Deep-Thought is too busy running GCMs to fill in.

  48. Peter Lang May 7, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Pat Swords – thank you for the post and for your additional comment @ May 6th, 2012 at 5:58 am. If you are still following this thread, I wonder if you could post a link to the document and point to the form that shows what information the developer proponents have to provide, and point cost-benefit and other information they are asked to provide but do not because that form is optional. Some time ago I seem to recall (perhaps wrongly) you circulated examples of completed applications which included the blank form. My memory is a bit hazy, but you’ll recall what I am referring to. I wonder if you could provide a link and a bit of explanation of the relevant.

    To others, here, I recognise that the EU laws and regulations are different to our, but I would like to get the EU example of what they require and see if it may assist us to move forward. I don’t know how yet – I’m just exploring.

    Tony Price Thank you for the video. I think I can use the information to tell a story here. Would you be able to provide a link to the UK benefit-cost study referred to in the Peter Lilley video?

    Cementafriend – thank you for all that excellent and relevant information. I hope we can keep exploring and thinking about how we can use what Pat Swords has done to make some progress in Australia.

    Val and Debbie– thank you for all your comments. These are very helpful. We have to find a way forward and it is better to not waste our time perusing agendas that will get us nowhere in the long run. So your input is invaluable.

    Val, like you, I will have to ponder all this for a while. I hope all others will too, and I hope people will spread the word, far and wide, about what Pat Swords has posted here.

    Thanks also to all the other contributors whom I haven’t mentioned by name. I hope we can spread this far and wide and continue to contribute and discuss here ways we can “move forward”.

  49. Malcolm Hill May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Peter Lang

    This may get you close if not the exact document

    I am trying to find the basis of the costs being 21 times benefits.

    ..and they still proceeded with it.

    That has got to be the all time record for being just plain dumb…but then nothing surprises me


  50. val majkus May 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    o/t (only marginally) the second major FOI victory in a week

    for the first see here

    for the second see here Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data
    and for anthony watts take on it see here East Anglia Climatic Research Unit shown to be liars by results of latest FOIA ruling and investigation

    I’m beginning to think FOI is one of the big weapons in the hands of the right expert

    and for Peter Lang’s article on what can come just in response to a letter see here
    Does anyone know what the real cost if implementing the ETS will be? [To read the full article, visit ]

  51. Peter Lang May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    A few minutes ago, Bazz made an interesting comment on an article I got posted on ‘On line Opinion’ today “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS”

    His comment is relevant to our discussion here and may provide some more ideas:

    “Something Peter Lang wrote triggered this thought.
    If a company receives an emission bill in which electricity is part
    of the amount, why should not that company ask the government to
    specify what proportion of the electricity they used comes from which
    power station ?

    After all the emissions from each power station will be different.
    Until the government supplies the answer do not pay the bill.

    The weights and measures laws require anyone demanding payment on
    quantities to use calibrated and certified measuring equipment to
    support their demand for payment.

    Unless the government can support their demand with such evidence
    then the demand is illegal.”

  52. val majkus May 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I don’t know why Ergon Energy is not on the whatever numbered list now

    problem is with Bazz’s comment how does the billed company persuade the energy provider who issues the bill to wait for its payment if the Govt’s answer does not come before the due by date

  53. val majkus May 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    but Bazz is right not all power providers are on the top pollooders list

    My energy provider (Ergon) is not

  54. Peter Lang May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Malcolm Hill, thank you for the link to the UK Treasury report. I am swamped at the moment so will get to it later. Are you able to point me to the relevant part(s)?

  55. Peter Lang May 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Val, Bazz has a good point for another reason. His question will make it clear that not one single power station in Australia can say what its emissions were at any point in time.

    We have no measurements. And the estimates are as rough as you know what. AEMO has provided a list of power stations’ emissions intenstity. It is based on an estimate of their anual average emissions intensity (based on who knows what year and what calculations). That same emissions intensity is applied to every generating unit in the power station, no matter what power output each unit is generating at, what thermal efficency it is operating at, whether it is ramping up or ramping down in power output, how old it is, etc., etc., etc.

  56. cohenite May 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    The audit application cosigned by Jo Nova, directed to the C’Wealth Auditor General, and seeking an audit of the BOM’s High Quality temperature network has been rejected because BOM has released its new ACORN temperature record which supposedly addresses and rectifies acknowledged deficiencies in the HQ data.

    Despite acknowledging that the HQ data did have a warming bias due to ’rounding’ the new ACORN data shows a warmer trend than the superseded HQ data.

    Sueing the government for delivering huge subsidies to the failed wind and solar industries would be difficult.

    It would be more germane to sue the wind and solar industry for misrepresentation.

  57. val majkus May 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    well I think this is the legislation Bazz is referring to
    NATIONAL MEASUREMENT ACT 1960 (as amended to 3/12)
    essentially an introduction of the metric system
    so don’t know that it’s applicable

    Maybe industry knows under which legislation the emissions measurement is being estimated

    does anyone know?
    I’ve read somewhere there are internationally recognised protocols for measuring emissions; does anyone know where they are

  58. val majkus May 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    cohenite I’m sorry that Jo et al were unsuccessful
    is Jo going to do a post?

  59. cohenite May 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    There has been a request made for the data code which BOM used to produce their new ACORN temperature record. In the peer review [sic] of ACORN BOM undertook to release this code to the public so the temperature record could be checked. In fact this undertaking to publically release the code was nominated by the Auditor General as being a dominant reason why the audit should not occur.

    We’ll see.

  60. Tony Price May 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    I must say it’s come to a pretty pass when government departments, taxpayer-funded bodies, quangos and even local, medical, and education authorities have to be threatened with FOI requests or bashed over the head in an adjudication or even legal action to reveal what belongs to us in the first place.

    My local authority was FOI’d to cough up a copy of the covenant which was drawn up after WW2, concerning the use to which a fighter-pilot training airfield could be put. They wanted to kick off the many private pilots and small firms who use it currently (including air taxis), and build a sports centre (we’ve got a large, increasingly neglected one much closer to town), and of course lots of valuable private housing. No-one had asked for a new sports centre, most wanted the existing one spruced up and modernised (at a fraction of the cost, of course).

    When they finally coughed up, the “support our airfield” group got an almost illegible facsimile with the vital “allowable use” clause redacted in thick marker-pen which had soaked through the paper to further obscure the second sheet. The RAF (the other signatory) on the other hand, had already produced a neat photoscan double-quick, with no redactions, delivered by courier. The council will need a lot more than planning permission to proceed, yet they haven’t shelved the plan. A legal brick wall looms, but they just won’t give up. They think they can do just what they want, and it’s not what WE want. Open government in action.

  61. Bazz May 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    If a company receives a demand for payment for emissions the claim has to meet the requirements of the weights and measures legislation.
    The company should ask for a breakdown of which power station supplied what part of each electricity measurement.
    As each power station involved will have different emission levels the government has to provide a breakdown of emissions for each stations part of the bill.
    Failing that information being available, the lowest CO2 emissions could be used for the calculation.

    The government should also on demand provide the latest calibration certificate which show the accuracy achieved at calibration. If the government cannot supply the requested information the demand is illegal.

  62. cementafriend May 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Peter Lang, Interesting point about estimation of emissions. Such a calculation should have been done by a registered engineer particularly when applied to any power station in Queensland.
    I would suggest that would be a good basis for a challenge to the Clean Energy Act regulations and payment of the tax.
    You may recall that Prof. Ian Lowe (President of ACF) was criticised by the President of the Land and Environment Tribunal in a 2007 case for exaggerating emissions from a coal mine by over 15 times. How does anyone know the emission figures for Queensland Power stations have not been exaggerated by some unqualified public servant (who may be in breach of the public service code of conduct.)
    Could one of our legal friends draft out a FOI to the Dept of Climate Change and Energy asking
    a) who was responsible for signing off on the emission data applicable to Queensland Power Stations
    b) was the person a registered engineer who was competent and complied with the Code of ethics of IEAust or AusIMM
    c) was the person concerned and the CEO of his section or agency aware of the Public service code of conduct which requires adherence to state law.
    d) any email, letter or other recorded instruction from any person (including ministers) which may have influenced the way emissions were calculated.

  63. Pat Swords May 8, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    With regard to measurement of carbon emissions, power stations and other quite large industries in the EU have to declare these at the end of each reporting period. There has been quite a lot of work gone into this to ensure the accuracy of this data, see the right hand side of the webpage below:

    However, what exactly is the environmental impact of a tonne of carbon? A key legally binding principle of environmental protection is the analysis of cost, benefits and consideration of alternatives. As a result we know the impacts of pollutants, such as that of fine airborne particulates on human health, as the EU and some national governments have assessed both the cost of those impacts and the costs of reducing the concentrations of those pollutants, such as by tighter emissions standards for power plants and new vehicles.

    Yet when it comes to carbon dioxide there has been essentially a complete failure to properly fund and execute these vitally necessary, albeit complex, studies. We are in the dark about the external cost of carbon dioxide. To explain, the internal cost is what we pay directly, such as on our electricity bill, while the external costs does not appear as a direct charge to the consumer, but which has a cost to society as a whole, such as through environmental degradation. Obviously external costs are an absolutely key element of cost, benefit analysis and the resulting decision making.

    Indeed the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’, which was formally adopted through the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, sets the aim that external costs should increasingly become internalised. If mandatory targets related to renewable energy are to be implemented to reduce the external costs associated with the use of energy, what are the relevant external costs and additional internal costs incurred in avoiding them? Without this information one cannot distort the Citizen’s Right to access the benefits of a highly competitive social market economy, by forcing them to pay through State Aid Programmes for Environmental Protection to support expensive and inefficient renewable energy.

    Simply put the EU has essentially no data on what are the external costs of carbon dioxide emissions. The EU Commission was legally required under the 2001 Directive on renewable electricity (Article 8 2001/77/EC) to prepare a report on: “Consider the progress made in reflecting the external costs of electricity produced from non-renewable energy sources and the impact of public support granted to electricity production”.

    This wasn’t done, The EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger replying recently to the Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson that as the Member States did not provide information on the externalities related to the generation of non-renewable energy, which the Directive didn’t required them to do so, the Commission didn’t produce a separate report to deal with the above. While he didn’t mention it at all, it clearly wasn’t seen as important either to evaluate the impact of the considerable public support given to renewable generation.

    An overriding principle of EU Legislation is the Principle of Proportionality, which requires that the extent of the action must be in keeping with the aim pursued. When applying the general principle of proportionality, the European Court of Justice frequently states that the principle requires an act or measure to be “suitable” to achieve the aims pursued, or it rather concludes that a decision is disproportionate because it is “manifestly inappropriate in terms of the objective which the competent institution is seeking to pursue”. One might well point out then how do we know that the increasingly massive burden, which is being placed on industry and the citizen to fund the Green agenda on climate change, is actually proportionate, particularly as the objective in terms of environmental degradation to be avoided has never been quantified? There is only one answer to that; nobody has yet brought the subject matter into a legal forum.

  64. Pat Swords May 8, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    The UNECE Compliance Committee determined that the EU did not comply with the provisions of the Aarhus Convention in connection with its 20% renewable energy by 2020 programme (Directive 2009/28/EC) and its implementation throughout the 27 Member States by the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs).

    In particular the Compliance Committed ruled that the EU did not have the proper legislative framework, with regard to the implementation of the NREAPs by the Member States. Namely ensuring that the public affected had been provided with the necessary information in order to participate within a transparent and fair framework, allowing sufficient time for informing the public and for the public to prepare and participate effectively. This has to occur when all options are open and effective public participation can occur. Furthermore, the authorities have to ensure and document that in the resulting decision, due account is taken of the outcome of the public participation.

    The Compliance Committee also ruled that the EU had failed to monitor the implementation of the NREAP in Ireland and therefore the EU had failed to comply with the terms of the Convention above.

    Finally the Compliance Committee ruled that due to the failures in relation to a required proper legislative framework for implementation of the NREAPs, the EU was in non-compliance with the Convention in relation to its obligations to take the necessary legislative, regulatory and other measures, including measures to ensure the compatibility between the provisions implementing the information, public participation and access to justice provisions in the Convention, as well as proper enforcement measures, to establish and maintain a clear, transparent and consistent framework to implement the provisions of the Convention.

    In fact EU law is more specific than the Aarhus Convention, in that for such a plan or programme a detailed Strategic Environmental Assessment has to be completed and subject to public participation, the content of this documentation is clear, see Annex I of the following Directive (right side of webpage):

    Indeed UNECE has now adopted a similar protocol throughout the greater European area:

    Sadly all this sensible stuff was by-passed in the rush to turn Europe into a wind and solar farm. Indeed nineteen of the Member States left Section 5.3 of the NREAP template completely blank, providing zero information on expected greenhouse gas savings, expected costs and expected job creation. In essence they didn’t even start to collate the necessary information that is required to complete the legally binding Strategic Environmental Assessments (see Annex I of Directive 2001/42/EC).

    The position of the EU Energy Commission Oettinger when he finally replied to Struan Stevenson MEP on this point is very interesting. Section 5.3 of the NREAP template, last page of the below, was an optional reporting requirement “to avoid an excessive administrative burden on the Member States”.

    So to summarise, nobody has a bean on what greenhouse gas savings will be achieved, what the costs will be, what job creation / job losses will occur, what the impact of the greenhouse savings will be, if they occur at all, what the environmental impacts will be, what alternatives have been considered, etc.

    Yet, billions and billions of Euros are being handed out to put more and more of this stuff onto a grid, which function perfectly well without any of it.

  65. val majkus May 8, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    cementafriend that’s an excellent idea

    here’s the latest list of LE’s (I think); could you send me an e mail of which ones in that list are Queensland energy providers

    and Pat thanks so much for your very informative post and comments and thanks to everyone for theirs as well

  66. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Val and everyone, Let’s kweep thinking about how we can adapt what Pat has done to Australia. I recognise the laws and regulatiosn are different, but we have laws and regulations too.

    Pat, I second Val’s vote of thanks.

  67. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Pat Swords,

    Thanks you for the three very informative posts. Your contributions are very helpful.

    Pat, you have assumed the measurements are OK and focused on what are the external costs of CO2 emissions. I agree that the external costs is an important issue, perhaps the most important. We have no idea of the damage costs. I’ll return to this below. However, just before I get onto that, I do not agree that the measurements and monitoring is anywhere good enough for international trade in a virtually unmeasurable commodity (emissions of CO2 and other Kyoto gasses). Furthermore, I do not believe we have any idea what the ultimate compliance costs will be for measuring and reporting emissions to the level of precisions and accuracy that will ultimately be required. The compliance cost issues are being discussed in a thread my On line Opinion post “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS”

    Getting back to your main point, with which I agree, I’ll add some comments.

    The accepted best modelling studies are showing that the benefits to be achieved by CO2 pricing are negligible this century and the cost would be very high.

    Even this list of papers by alarmist economists admits:

    “Economic models of climate change often take the problem seriously, but paradoxically conclude that the optimal policy is to do almost nothing about it.”


    “Economists have often projected very small damages, or even net benefits, from the early stages of warming.”

  68. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Pat’s final paragraphs said:

    “So to summarise, nobody has a bean on what greenhouse gas savings will be achieved, what the costs will be, what job creation / job losses will occur, what the impact of the greenhouse savings will be, if they occur at all, what the environmental impacts will be, what alternatives have been considered, etc.

    Yet, billions and billions of Euros are being handed out to put more and more of this stuff onto a grid, which function perfectly well without any of it.”

    Even the most authoritative economists on CO2 pricing are saying that CO2 pricing will cost more than the benefits (and that is assuming the benefits stated by the alarmists). Below is a calculation of the cost and benefit for Australia to 2050.

    According to Treasury’s figures [1] the CO2 pricing scheme will cost $1,345 billion (undiscounted), or $390 billion discounted at rates used by Yale economist and world carbon price authority, Professor William Nordhaus [2] or $600 to 900 billion by Professor Ross Garnaut.

    However, the estimated benefit (cumulative to 2050), i.e. the damages the CO2 pricing scheme is estimated to avoid, would be just $41 billion (discounted at the Nordhaus rate). The damage estimate is probably well on the high side; it is based on a small number of studies, mostly in developed countries and likely biased towards high damage cost estimates.

    Therefore, the benefit to cost ratio is just 0.11 (i.e. $41/ $390). We should not proceed with a policy that would have a benefit to cost ratio less than 1.

    The advocates argue that most of the damages occur beyond 2050. However, the damage estimates seem to be highly exaggerated, and do not make proper allowance for adaption. Projecting damages out to 2590, as Nordhaus does, in order to make the damage costs seems high, and based on a small number of studies that seem to seriously over estimate the damages, is not a sound basis for policies that will seriously damage our economy now and forever.

    [1] Treasury (2011): (Chart 5:13)

    [2] Nordhaus Yale-RICE Model (2010):

    For more explanation of the calculations see my two comments on 4 May 2012 here

  69. cementafriend May 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Val, No link to your list but a list is here
    Peter Lang may know better but my estimate of ownership is as follows:-
    Unlike Victoria, SA and NSW, Queensland Government has not sold their power stations. In TAs & WA power stations were moved into government owned companies which have expanded to provide services outside the respective states. I am not sure if some of the power stations in Queensland have been corporatised for eventual sale. Any way back to the list;
    Coal Fired
    To my knowledge Millmerran is the only private coal fired power station
    Gas Turbine
    These are all relatively new and I think all are private except Oakey, Swanbank and Tarong
    Gas (recprocating)
    Swanbank is government owned, the landfill ones are likely owned by local government while the rest would be privately owned.
    I believe all are government owned
    Wind Farms
    The Thursday Island one would be government owned, do not know about the other
    These are mainly at sugar mills using bagasse and I would think are all privately owned or co-op concerns.

    To impose a tax on power generation of any sort (including base load coal fired) is stupid but to impose a tax on the combustion of waste products eg coal bed methane (ie methane drainage during coal mining), methane drainage from landfill and biomass is extremely stupid.

  70. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Johanna said on Judith Curry;s web site:

    “Hi Peter

    In theory, a Regulatory Impact Statement should have been prepared for the legislation, and is publicly available. This is supposed to canvass the costs and benefits and possible alternatives to regulatory proposals in legislation. Having laboured over writing these things in a previous life, if properly done it should be a long and perhaps even informative document.

    However, there is a history of RIS requirements not being properly met for controversial legislation, which (I think) the Auditor-General reported on a year or two ago.

    I am not sure if RIS’s are online, but they are definitely publicly available. You could ask the Department where to find it, but if they are unhelpful, the relevant staff in Parliament House are usually very good – although Budget week might not be a good time to inquire!

    Best wishes – J”

    Does anyone have the means to follow this up?

  71. George B May 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    To spend billions of our money a ‘positive’ has to be proven

    Sadly, that is not the case if the agencies have “internationalized” themselves such as Defra has in the UK. Under the “uncertainty principal” of “sustainable development” it must only be “plausible” that environmental damage would result from not taking action and that uncertainty surrounding that plausibility should not be considered if it would mean not taking action. In other words, the onus of proof comes not in showing a favorable result of the action, but that NOT taking the action WON’T cause environmental damage. It basically turns the onus of proof into the impossible where one has to attempt to prove a negative. You can not prove something will NOT happen, you can only prove what DID happen. You can not provide evidence of that which did not happen.

    This is about allowing organizations such as the UNFCCC to control local decisions by various governments around the world bypassing their local elected governments. We have a gaggle of unelected commissars basically managing environmental and development policy globally. Most often this occurs in the form of shoveling money from the taxpayer’s pocketbook into the pockets of political cronies and NGOs.

    It doesn’t really have anything to do with “the environment” as much as it has to do with adding unbelievable overhead expense to doing anything in the “developed” countries while there are no such restrictions on “developing” countries. The idea is to move industrial activity out of the “developed” world in a global “redistribution of wealth”. Often this wealth flows into the open arms of various people and groups who have positioned themselves to receive it.

    Bottom line is that you are being robbed in one of the largest and most sophisticated global corruption scams ever conceived. Even better (for them), they are even robbing your children and grandchildren as governments borrow money to pay this environmental tribute.

    I am wondering when these people are going to start landing in prison.

  72. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi Cementafriend,

    The ownership of the power stations, summarised by state, is in Chapter 1, Table 1.3 here.

    Details can be found for each power station on the AEMO web site.

    Regarding the estimated CO2 emissions from electricity generators, see here:

    Regarding CO2 emissions from power stations, I’ve just posted a comment on the On line Opinion thread: “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS”. Join in the discussion here:

    Silly Filly @ 8 May 2012 2:31:15 AM:

    “The companies that will be subject to the tax already have a substantial reporting system. …. So the systems are all in place.”

    No, the systems to measure emissions are not in place. There are no measurements of CO2-eq emissions anywhere in Australia. Not even on the power stations. The links to EPA documents in the lead article provide an example of what is required to measure emissions. Only USA does that. But even what USA is doing is just a start; it is nowhere near what will ultimately be required for trade in CO2-eq emissions.

    The reporting we have in place at the moment serves its purpose because there is no money attached – no trade and no tax, yet. However, once money is involved the challenges, litigation and fraud will begin. Look how the ATO pursued Paul Hogan for a decade and ruined his life, only to give up eventually after they’d destroyed him. That sort of thing will happen in spades and all emitters will be vulnerable if we don’t have proper measurements in place. And how can we measure, precisely and accurately, emissions of CO2 and all the other Kyoto gasses. It’s impractical.

    SillyFilly, if you think we are measuring emissions, you should be able to point me to a web site, e.g. AEMO, where the emission factors are reported for each generating unit for every 5 minute, or 15 minute or hour interval. No such data is available. No such data is collected in Australia. The emissions factors used for estimating emissions from power stations are the same for every unit in the power station at all times no matter what level of efficiency the individual units are operating at (e.g. running at optimum power or part loaded, ramping up or ramping down, old or new, etc.) (Available Generators file, Column: ‘CO2 Emissions Factor’).

    Clearly, emissions are not measured. They are crude estimates. The current procedures will not be good enough for trade. Imagine what the compliance cost would be when emissions monitoring is extended to all emitters.

  73. George B May 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    There are no measurements of CO2-eq emissions anywhere in Australia.

    Pretty easy to calculate. The amount of CO2 generated by burning a ton of coal or oil or a given amount of natural gas is well known. Basically you can convert BTU of heat created directly to CO2 produced. To produce a megawatt of power you are going to produce the same amount of CO2 whether you use gas, oil, coal, peat, or potatoes for fuel. The more important point is that nobody has shown good reason to regulate CO2 emissions at all. If you go back 150 years, CO2 rise and temperature rise correlate for only one 30 year period of the record from 1976 to 2005. That’s it. During the period 1910 to 1940, temperatures rose by the same amount at the same rate as from 1976 to 2005 without any significant change in atmospheric CO2. Between 1941 and 1975 temperatures fell while CO2 emissions increased fastest. Other than that one 30 year period, there has been no correlation between CO2 and global temperatures. After pointing out all of the errors in their models (we are currently below the “low” projection for global temperatures according to the IPCC) and in their papers (see Climate Audit and Watts Up With That for the latest news on the Yamal series and how it was manipulated to show warming where there wasn’t any) have them justify their need to regulate CO2. Then finally point out that temperature response from CO2 is logarithmic and we have already experienced most of the change that would be expected to occur from a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels.

    The bottom line is that there is no good reason to regulate CO2 in the FIRST place. It doesn’t appear that any of the speculative positive feedbacks that the now-discredited IPCC models depend on actually exist. In fact, it appears that feedback might be negative and the additional CO2 might be more beneficial in increased food production than detrimental.

    Hold their feet to the fire. Make them justify the regulations in the face of current observations and the latest science and the latest revelations about the older “science”.

  74. George B May 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Note that the conversion rate of BTU per pound of fuel only varies because of incomplete combustion. If you get 100% complete combustion (e.g. inject some pure oxygen into that oil or coal fire) you will get the same efficiency as for natural gas. The difference is the carbon in soot and ash that isn’t oxidized.

    Pounds of CO2 per billion BTU of heat: Coal 208000 pounds. Oil 164000 pounds. Natural Gas 117000 pounds

  75. Peter Lang May 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    In the Budget announced tonight, projected Carbon Tax revenue:

    2012-13 = $4.02 billion
    2013-14 = $6.61 billion
    2014-15 = $7.3 billion
    2015-16 = $6.7 billion

    Taking that out of the productive economy and distributing it through Centrelink should really help Australia’s productivity, eh [sarc]?

    The good news is that many of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs have been axed or their subsidies reduced.

  76. George B May 9, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Example in the US of the “environmentalists” stealing from the taxpayers:

  77. Ian Thomson May 9, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Hi George B
    True, there is no GOOD reason to regulate CO2. There is , however a reason.
    A lot of people will make a lot of money trading in the stuff and a lot of others will get to play God saving the planet. ( See the next post.)

    While the US’ political system is slowly doing its job and lumbering to a position of economic and political reality ,regarding the Nation’s well-being,our Australian system is not very healthy at all.

    Under our Westminster system many of the major decisions made on both sides should be regarded as treasonous. The Crown, as the people’s representative is meant to rein in rogue parliaments when they harm the citizens.
    Unfortunately, with the blessing of a mislead public, the Crown has been weakened to the extent that they are bored and nearly useless. ( Yes again,see the next post .)
    We will never get a POPULARLY elected President to replace them if the current dictatorial mindset holds in Canberra.

    Treasonous ?
    When Aung San Suu Kyi was released recently she gave a speech. One important turning point in her struggle was, she stated, when the Burmese Monks took to the streets to protest.
    She said they did it because they had to support ‘ the basic right of the people to be able to afford to cook food’. The regime had priced cooking fuel beyond what the people could pay.
    – How are the power bills looking ,when old people and families cannot pay for this’ right’,
    let alone keep warm? When more than 30.000 families in NSW alone cannot pay them. When around 50 percent of help requests to Vinnies are for energy bills. ( We need some monks here, has Saint Vincent got any?) )

    When all ongoing local processing of our mineral wealth is now to be taxed to move offshore.
    Incentives to leave the country , rather than incentives to stay.
    Why not provide tax discounts from the Mining Tax for investment in onshore processing of the products you dig up ?

    The carbon and mining taxes, the listing of the Lower Murray under Ramsar as fresh, the indiscriminate closing of the redgum forests and purchase to close of the like of Toorale are all acts which hurt the people and the Nation, for no proper answerable, accountable reason.
    – Not to mention the relentless disposal of the people’s assets to commercialisation. Assets politicians were elected to manage, not sell.

    A few hundred years ago the British, ( upon who’s system ours is based,) would have demanded action from the King. If they got none , they would have,( and sometimes did,) promptly found a King who did love his people, but one way or another ” heads would have rolled “.

  78. Pat Swords May 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    UNECE has just accepted a Communication ACCC/C/212/68 in relation to wind farm developments in Scotland. The written phase which now follows specifies the questions that have to be responded to by October the 6th by both the Communicant and the Parties. Question 3 addressed to the Communicant is the key one as it throws open the whole aspect of what CO2 reductions are actually occurring with wind generation and as to whether the EU / UK complied with their legal obligation to ensure that the information they disseminated on the programme, which wasn’t a lot, was transparent (Article 5(2) of the Convention) or as the relevant EU legislation states, accurate, up to date and comparable.

    Fred Udo in Holland has obviously done a lot of work on engineering analysis of how wind energy actually interacts with the grid and in reality it generates little or no savings, particularly as the number of turbines is increased to comply with targets set by the NREAP. There is now a legal forum at UNECE in which the EU / UK can be brought to task on this issue. Clearly the basis for approval of thousands of wind farms and billions of Euros of subsidies for them was on the basis that they are providing a significant reduction in fossil fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

    In law there is a legal term “Res Ipsa Loquitur” – the thing or matter speaks for itself! The EU / UK position is that 1 MW of wind energy displaces 1 MW equivalent of emissions from the grid. That this was not accurate was brought to their attention and they refused to address it. While it is important not to overload the UNECE legal committee with technical facts, it will still be clearly important to present that this assumption is just that, a poor assumption which demonstrates negligence with regard to a duty of care to provide clear and accurate data on which to base the fundamentals of such a massive wind energy programme.

    The UNECE format is that following the written submission there is likely to be a one day hearing in Geneva, which will then lead on to the draft findings and recommendations of the Compliance Committee.

  79. gavin May 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    A couple of points re comments above.

    We know what carbon emissions are, state by state, plant by plant based on 1, fuel consumption, 2, direct measurement of flue gas etc. Mid 60’s onward EPA’s everywhere got into licensing big polluters with the aim of reducing smog and improving air quality. Add effluent and you can guess what I did in industry around Melbourne over several decades. With this prior knowledge, I Googled “CO2 emissions Victoria 2011” and found this link –

  80. Peter Lang May 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm #


    Could you please read the previous comments on this thread. There are no measurements of CO2 emissions in Australia. The link you provided to ABS has a chart and numbers. The numbers are not from measurements. They are from crude estimates. This is explained in several comments above, with links included. Please read the comments and the links.

  81. Peter Lang May 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm #


    My sincere apologies. I was thinking of the other similar thread that is running where the issue of measurements verses estimates of CO2 emissions has been discussed/debated in a number of comments. If you are interested, please look at the comments on the thread:

    “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS”

  82. gavin May 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm #


    My introduction to furnace control began with a quick move to instrument engineering under one of Australia’s leading system design consultants during a period of rapid process automation using the latest technology from America’s space age manufacturers. From power house to lab, a small band of cobbled together wits did all the installation, calibration and commissioning of the gear associated with new levels of combustion efficiency and compliance as local industry grew up in the post war boom.

    I specialized in probes, remote sensors, analyzers etc as used in control loops where overall accuracy could be as close as one percent of range and generally we knew what the competition, customer or supplier was capable of too. Engineers in every establishment from hospitals to oil refineries had their btu’s off by pat before those instruments arrived. Now that’s going on to be about fifty years back. What is probably missing today is the old NATA oversight

  83. gavin May 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Checking the list again but we still miss out on Met gear,

  84. Peter Lang May 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm #


    I think we may be talking at cross purposes. I think you are saying we have the technology to measure CO2 emissions. I agree. The USA are doing it on their power stations.

    What I am saying is we do not measure and report CO2 emissions in Australia.

    If you believe we do, you should be able to provide a link to the reports of the actual CO2 emissions measurements from each generating unit for each 5 or 15 minute period.

    I can tell you that we do not and, furthermore, there is no current intention to do so.

    I think this matter is off topic for this thread so I wont go any further here for fear of distracting the discussion from the topic of this thread. You might like to post a comment and take up the discussion on this thread:

    You may want to read the comments especially the ones by SillyFilly and the replies to her. One relevant reply you might want to look at (there are several others) is at Tuesday, 8 May 2012 4:35:50 PM

  85. Pat Swords May 11, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    You may be interested in the report of the UNECE Compliance Committee meeting held at the end of March. In particular from point 63 on concerning a more widespread application of the principles of the Convention and the role of the Compliance Committee:

    Point 43 records the new Communication in relation to the Renewable Energy programme in Scotland and Point 28 the issuing of draft findings and recommendations in relation the the renewable energy programme in Ireland and the compliance of the EU as a Party to the Convention.

  86. Peter Lang May 11, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    Pat, thank you for this information. It is very valuable and I hope you can continue to post information that is important and relevant here. There is a group working on trying to establish the systems to support a “Citizens Inquiry” in Australia. It is early days, but all this information that you and others have contributed here will be very valuable. So please don’t stop. When we can release some information on the ‘Citizens Inquiry’ we will do so.

  87. gavin May 11, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Peter; since finding this thread I have been musing over the comments here and over at OLO but only between my extended salvage operations at home, Today it’s has to be lots of fine hand tools left out in the rain overnight.

    My first Google long since lost raised several issues, particularly those companies eager to assist industry through transition and they refer to an old compliance standard ISO something or other (14001-) relative to creating good environment citizens. However the point raised by SF at OLO is the issue over the next stage. Not everyone “burns” the same stuff and so I must be sympathetic with those who can’t easily calculate their CO2 emission base line.

    Back in the 90’s I got involved briefly with policy development prior to the JAS-ANZ treaty but it nearly cost me my job because I insisted on our age old NATA process rather than building further standards. Some other body wanted to make money out of it but I won’t go into that. To put a finer point, we already had the mechanism for MOU’s up and running for most technologies and the world wide accreditation process falling into line.

    Along these lines other work was started (guessing).

    Bottom line; we don’t need a plethora of companies or programs adding to the cost of C trading!

  88. gavin May 11, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Further; we don’t want the accreditation people issuing standards or vice versa. Btw NATA was industry driven, non profit, peer reviewed etc. Three ticks and more!

    Back to industry where we can’t do CO2 emissions on line in every case, it becomes essential to have these MOU’s as the basis of regulation, compliance and trading. This can also avoid silly retro fitting monitoring systems at every turn.

    Take oil and gas, been there done that too. A guy I worked for between other jobs won big contracts in Victoria for installing RT emissions monitoring systems in major manufacturing plants, a program we worked on for years as most of it was live including many hot flues. No welding or grinding was permitted within a mile or so of the sites. Everything had to be intrinsically safe too. Guess what, his smart electrical foreman on the oil refinery side managed to burn out all the gas sampling fans in one hit because there was no time for prior testing of those loops during construction. Luckily I was moved off that project too well beforehand along with some of the other sixty odd guys who had a hand in it early on. So we have a typical example of planning, budgeting and people on the move in major engineering.

    Another point to note, at one time this contracting outfit had to own and warehouse all the electrical conduit manufactured in Australia, both imperial and metric stock during that transition, thus hedging out the competition. Ruthless practices reign in times of shortage. Another part of that is double booking the manpower. But have faith in human nature.

  89. Peter Lang May 11, 2012 at 11:58 am #


    Thank you for your comments.

    @ May 11th, 2012 at 8:20 am: Your comment makes lots of points which seem to support the view that the ultimate compliance cost of CO2 pricing would be huge. CO2 monitoring cannot be done to the accuracy and precision needed for trading a commodity without measuring and compliance to standards such as those imposed by the ES EPA. You can get some idea what is involved with that here: . After studying these it is clear that the compliance cost would be huge. And tha tis for the simplest industry to monitor, fossil fuel power stations. The costs for othe industries would be far higher.

    @ May 11th, 2012 at 9:27 am: Although you didn’t acknowledge it, I get the impression you now recognise that Australia does not measure CO2 emissions. The emissions figures reported by AEMO and DCCEE are based on crude estimates for power stations where all generating units use the same emissions factor no matter what age the unit, how efficient the unit, what output the unit is running at, what level of efficiency it is running at or whether it is cycling up or down. The average for the whole power station is calculated from what data and from what year? How relevant is it? What is the assay for the fuel burnt at any point in time? Clearly, the CO2 estimates have a large margin of error at any point in time.

    Bottom line:

    • We don’t have the systems in place to measure emissions, even for power stations let alone for all the other industries and businesses that emit CO2 and other Kyoto gasses. Regulations change every few years and the monitoring and reporting systems have to be changed as do all the downstream legacy data systems. The cost would be huge.

    • Apparently, the government has not estimated the compliance cost of the system needed now, let alone estimate the cost of the system that will ultimately be required.

    • Compliance would be hugely expensive.

  90. Peter Lang May 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    The Australian’ this morning:

    ONE of the nation’s leading carbon-pricing experts has described as “unrealistic in the extreme” Treasury’s budget forecast of a $29-a-tonne carbon price in 2015-16, and warned of a multi-billion-dollar risk to the budget and a failure of the scheme to change emissions behaviour if a floor price is not maintained.

    Frank Jotzo, the deputy director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, told The Australian an oversupply of credits in the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism meant carbon prices would stay low and a more realistic estimate was $5.

    Read the article here:

  91. Robert May 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    I have an idea.

    We create a massive new bureaucracy promoted by many handsome pamphlets and brochures. That bureaucracy will be able to explain to the public that the new system is very simple, just not comprehended by anybody, including its creators, implementers or explainers.

    Funding of this bureaucracy will come from tax-like mechanisms and debt-like mechanisms, but no taxes or debts. Any durrdy polluders who are unco-operative will be fined, denied contracts…and get yelled at by that McTernan guy.

  92. gavin May 12, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Peter; between emptying the wagon after my dawn raids and a hair cut, I Googled your “compliance would be hugely expensive” + CO2 2012 seeking like statements before seriously disagreeing with your conclusion because “compliance” is not the issue for us downunder. We don’t need to keep carbon emitters in line by constantly gauging their output. In my view we just evaluate their contribution up front then bang on the penalty or trade off as required, then wait for an assessment “review” after some production changes are authorized. However those insisting on in line assessment can be sure there is technology in the pipeline.

    From my search today I found this. Part of my own experience was putting probes in bad places, but that was a quite while ago now. See also the lab leader’s recent statement re ocean/CO2 predicament

  93. Peter Lang May 12, 2012 at 11:47 am #


    You seem to have completely missed the point. The point is that to trade a commodity, the quantities have to be measured accurately and precisely. If not now, then certainly in the future. Otherwise there will be largefraud, conflict and litigation costs. People will be chased and demonised like happened to Paul Hogan.

    That will not be acceptable to the public.

    However, I’d suggest you present your arguments regarding compliance cost on the ‘On line Opinion’ thread “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS” rather than on this thread which is about “Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU”.

    You may also want to contribute on this new thread, started this morning, on “Australian clean energy future costs & benefits”

    See for example this comment “Benefit to cost ratio for the Australian CO2 pricing scheme to 2050”

  94. gavin May 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Peter; thanks for the invitation but I don’t find the format at WH as inviting nor can I put up with adds at OLO and you see, I’m a doer not a writer. If something needs to be done I usually ring my target and blast their ear.

    Thinking I should relay further concern your way I started a who is Peter Lang search tonight and so found your Critique of “Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market” again. I can agree with most of it too but your view that we are headed into a costly CO2 verification and tracking scheme is a real worry.

    Firstly we should just focus on the big emitters. Second, we should not go selling or buying cow farts. Putting someone’s farm in a tent is not on either despite what the Euros or the Kiwis are doing. This smacks of sour grapes because the big players don’t want to knuckle down. Thirdly, the big energy users may have to travel before gaining a sustainable source among the renewable.

    I am also bored with energy producers thumping the table on behalf of business. I lost interest about the end of our “Shannon Rise” and later on with the closure of little old “Lake Margret” power station with it’s ancient wooden penstock being the most feeble excuse. This was an era when Tasmania’s Hydro Electric Commission’s programs consumed up to 70% of the state’s annual budget, mostly borrowed money that other citizens considered a dam builder’s ransom. Generator grid monopoly won’t do either.

  95. Robert May 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Sometimes ingratitude reaches insane levels.

    I’d like to thank all the energy producers who have made my life better, safer and easier than that of nearly all the other humans who lived before my time. Cheap, abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy have reached into every corner of my life to make it better. I, and many of the people I cherish, probably owe our very survival to the stupendous improvements made possible by cheap abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy. I flick a switch and – without smoke, flame, noise, danger, waste or filth – light and heat are provided in precise and controllable quantities. THANK YOU.

    I’d also like to thank the providers of cheap, abundant water and sewage. THANK YOU.

    That’s it. Just THANK YOU.

  96. Peter Lang May 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm #


    You comment seems like a bt of a rant. I think your comment is off topic, but since no one has objected, I’ll provide an answer.

    Most of your comment seems to be a vent of spleen. However, one statement yiu made needs to be answered (again):

    “Firstly we should just focus on the big emitters.”

    Firstly, it is not sustainable to penalise some businesses and not others for emitting CO2 and other Kyoto gasses. All emitters will have to be included eventually. The “fairness and equity” people will demand it – as will the shareholders, the competitors and our international trading partners and competitors.

    Secondly, the big emitters are the power stations. Yet even for them the monitoring cost would be huge as already explained on the OLO thread, as shown by the US EPA and as is obvious from the EPA regulations linked in the OLO article .

    So, clearly, if we are going to price carbon, it will have to be measured, all emitters will have to be included and the cost will be very high (as shown on the other thread).

    The bottom line: C pricing idea is a dud.

    Warwick Hughes has started a thread “Australian clean energy future costs & benefits”

    You may prefer the style there (and no adds). I just posted this comment which is also relevant to your last comment:

    should we mitigate or adapt?

    A C-tax or an ETS seems to be the favoured mitigation method. But this is bound to be a low-confidence response. Such schemes are wide open to rorting and rent-seeking, they have high compliance costs, the chances of the world acting together are very low, and the technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to make large reductions at reasonable cost. Nor is there a shred of evidence that C taxes or ETS’s actually work. Even if they did work, it would only be partial mitigation.

    In contrast, adaption is a high-confidence response. If we feel it is necessary to build dykes along Bangladesh coastline, we can be very confident that it can be done and what it will cost. As climate changes advances, our responses can be tailored accordingly. It may (or may not) be very expensive, but we can be reasonably certain that the money spent will meet the objective.

  97. Peter Lang May 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Benefit to cost ratio of the Australian CO2 pricing scheme to 2050

    In an interesting exchange between Roger W. Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen, reply by William D. Nordhaus on “The New York Review of Books” William Nordhause (hereafter WN) said:

    The final part of the response of CHL comes back to the economics of climate change and public policy. They make two major points: that the difference between acting now and doing nothing for fifty years is “insignificant economically or climatologically,” and that the policy questions are dominated by major uncertainties.

    Is the difference between acting now and waiting fifty years indeed “insignificant economically”? Given the importance attached to this question, I recalculated this figure using the latest published model. When put in 2012 prices, the loss is calculated as $3.5 trillion, and the spreadsheet is available on the Web for those who would like to check the calculations themselves. If, indeed, the climate skeptics think this is an insignificant number, they should not object to spending much smaller sums for slowing climate change starting now.

    I am surprised that WN says the $3.5 trillion is a significant number, given that it is cumulative to 2050 for the whole world. I am also surprised that WN says skeptics “should not object to spending much smaller sums for slowing climate change starting now.” I calculate the costs to achieve the predicted $3.5 trillion reduction in climate damages would be around nine times greater than the estimated $3.5 trillion saving. Here is how I did my calculations.

    I converted the estimated $3.5 trillion world damages avoided to the Australian proportion on the basis of Australia’s share of world GDP, i.e. 1.17%. So Australia’s share of damages avoided is 1.17% x $3.5 trillion = $41 billion. That is the cumulative damages avoided by Australia to 2050. It assumes an optimum CO2 price and assumes the whole world implements the CO2 price in unison.

    The Australian Treasury estimated the loss of GDP that our legislated CO2 tax and ETS will cause. [However, it seems they may have underestimated because they, apparently, have not estimated the compliance cost, The cumulative loss of GDP to 2050 is $1,345 billion (undiscounted), or $390 billion discounted at 4.34%, which I believe is the discount rate that is the default in RICE 2012 and gives the value of $3.5 trillion quoted by WN.

    If my calculations are correct, the benefit, to Australia, of the optimum CO2 tax rate (if the world implements it in unison) would be $41 billion and the cost in reduced GDP would be $390 billion. Therefore, the benefit to cost ratio is 0.11. [benefit/cost should be greater than 1 for the policy to be justified] .

    Therefore, I do not understand WN’s statement that “[skeptics] should not object to spending much smaller sums for slowing climate change starting now.” My calculations suggest we would spend nine times greater sums, not smaller sums, to achieve the benefits estimated by WN.

    I expect WN would say most of the damages occur beyond 2050 and I have not included these. However, the damage estimates seem to be exaggerated, and may not make proper allowance for adaption. Projecting damages out to 2590, as WN does, and based on a small number of studies that are likely to over estimate the damages, is not a sound basis for policies that will seriously damage our economy now and forever.


    [1] Treasury (2011): (Chart 5:13)

    [2] Nordhaus Yale-RICE Model (2010):

  98. Peter Lang May 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    In the Climate Casino: An Exchange
    Roger W. Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen, reply by William D. Nordhaus
    April 26, 2012

    I received this pertinant commment regarding this exchange:

    Behind all the sniping, this debate seems to hinge on how to handle uncertainty. The alarmists believe things might be much worse than the “best estimate” projections therefore the sky is falling; in contrast the sceptics feel that things won’t be as bad at the “best estimate” therefore no worries. It occurs to me that both are missing the point.

    Uncertainty about the problem is a given; uncertainty about the chosen solution is inexcusable. Which is to say, that we should be confident that solutions we implement are going to be effective, and the more expensive the solution the more confident we should be.

    To illustrate what I mean, suppose we detect a large asteroid whose orbit will intersect earth’s, and on best estimates there is a 1% probability it will hit earth. Clearly, we wouldn’t let uncertainty prevent us from reacting to the threat. One response might be to spend trillions of dollars to build a fleet of nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy or deflect the asteroid. Is this a good idea? Well, it depends on how certain we are that missiles will work. If there is only, say, a 5% chance, or worse we don’t know the odds, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

    In short, big responses require high levels of confidence that they will work. I am not sure our C tax meets this test.

  99. gavin May 13, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    C’mon Peter Lang; while chasing cow farts you only had the black bull by half a hoof and at about 25, 000, 000,000 tons of CO2 /Y going on, it’s nothing less than procrastination for you to infer the energy industry here can’t account for their massive contribution in time for a tax. Also the whole idea of compliance in the measure is wrong as nobody is about to set limits on combustion output or efficiency. Carbon burnt by the ton gives us almost three times that weight as CO2. Weighing the waste, ash or cinder for the different fuels is going to be a lot easier than planning for the same error in your proposed sea walls.

    Peter; I come from the Can-do Tribe. My forebears cleared forests, surveyed and built roads, drained swamps and poured a lot of concrete walls but nobody I know did a whole coast line or a complete river delta dyke system. It.s nonsense to compare the Bangladesh land-seascape battle with weather and climate to our well established energy business’s battle with new regulators.

  100. Peter Lang May 13, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Robert @ May 12th, 2012 at 9:21 pm said:

    I’d like to thank all the energy producers who have made my life better, safer and easier than that of nearly all the other humans who lived before my time. Cheap, abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy have reached into every corner of my life to make it better. I, and many of the people I cherish, probably owe our very survival to the stupendous improvements made possible by cheap abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy.

    I agree. And this Figure shows why Robert is correct. It shows that CO2 is good for wealth, health and happiness (sourced from: Figure 2 here: )

    Until we are ready and willing to move on to a better source of energy, fossil fuel is the best we have available. The past progression shows that each step forward is to fuels with higher energy density, so we certainly will not be stepping back to energy sources with low energy density like solar, wind and other renewable energy.

  101. Peter Lang May 13, 2012 at 10:38 am #


    Your assertions have already been addressed on the thread “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS and more recently on “Australian clean energy future costs and benefits

    I’d be happy to debate them further on either of those threads, but not here as it is way off topic and it will distract from the value of what has been posted on this thread so far (for a Citizens Inquiry).

  102. gavin May 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Perer; I assumed you were trying to link our case with their case of “Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU” when we are simply not in the same boat yet.

    “It shows that CO2 is good for wealth, health and happiness” is another red herring too in either context and you are not in a position to decide for others including all those living on the fringe of the ocean. I for one have lived without mains electricity at every turn ant it doesn’t reduce wealth, health or happiness at that time.

    I have faith in fellow man, when it comes to technology, I go with the practice. A surgeon has saved my bacon more than once with a scalpel. But a little knowledge can also go a long way.

    Yesterday I salvaged three vintage spanners. Two were patented adjustables, one a “King Dick” type made in Sheffield UK about 1940, the other an original “Crescent” USA. The third patented by “Cyclone” Aust was a double openender with fixed “Gripmaster” cloverleaf jaws. Only one design has survived as the standard tool. In fact technology change is so rapid now, we don’t bother to register domestic electronics.
    Any scheme lives or dies now only by it’s continuing usefulness.

  103. Robert May 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    “I for one have lived without mains electricity at every turn ant it doesn’t reduce wealth, health or happiness at that time.”

    Maybe those running massive hospitals and wielding scalpels for your continued existence were of a different opinion…at that time.

    Global Ingratitude is causing rising intellectual bilge to wash over our minds.

  104. gavin May 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Robert; we live in an aberration of good times when more than half the youths working behind our local Woollies deli counter don’t eat fish and can’t say why. Add too; less than half the kids in our communities, here and in the UK actually eat fresh fruit or veg on a regular basis. Those that would probably try after harvesting a school based garden may have to educate parents in cooking same at home.

    I say turn off the lolly and the TV then do some work before and after being bottle fed.

    On a more practical note; I say we must hasten generator conversion to natural gas thus cutting emissions while improving response to solar /wind downtime grid demand

  105. Robert May 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Gav, in the good old days of meat-and-three-veg, Australia was powered by fossil fuels, coal in particular, in facilities which were modern at the time. In these naughty days of computer games and fast food, we burn (and waste) coal in aging facilities while we send 70% of our coal o/s to be burnt in facilities that are modern, and consequently far less wasteful. Mystifying, is it not?

    As our dependence on coal and coal revenues increases, we waste the coal domestically by burning it in last century facilities, and we then waste the coal revenues by investing in medieval piles of junk. One might also note that all those grossly inefficient solar and wind installations are not manufactured by power from solar and wind installations – or Timmy’s Geothermia! You guessed it! They burn fossil fuels to manufacture that junk, they burn fossil fuels to supplement that junk, and when that junk has to be dismantled, we still won’t have modern coal power turbines or nukes. Because we spent the money on junk.

    Sounds like the food we give to kids these days, doesn’t it? Fad-based junk.

  106. Peter Lang May 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    “global warming would be net beneficial to human welfare, at least through 2C degrees of warming”

    See Section 3 here:

    As Tol’s diagram quite clearly indicates, the consensus of economic studies finds that global warming would be on net beneficial to human welfare, at least through 2C degrees of warming (and this is relative to the current baseline, not to preindustrial times).


    using Nordhaus’ own preferred studies, in conjunction with the standard IPCC simulations, the best estimates currently predict that unregulated greenhouse gas emissions will provide net benefits to human welfare for the next sixty years.


    When Nordhaus claims in his New York Review of Books article that his work shows the benefits of a carbon tax, the reader must realize that he means an optimally calibrated tax that is simultaneously implemented by all governments around the world, and is maintained at the (time-varying) optimal level through the year 2100. Nordhaus is saying that the best science tells us that that outcome would be better than governments doing nothing to restrict the market’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

    Obviously, this standard of a textbook-optimal, decades-long, world-comprehensive carbon tax is quite an unrealistic benchmark to contrast with the real-world market outcome. Using Nordhaus’ own model, we can test the robustness of his result by looking at what happens when (say) only half the world participates in a carbon-limitation program, or when (say) governments penalize carbon emissions at more than the economically efficient rate. These tweaks can significantly reduce the “net benefits” flowing from a carbon tax.



    The actual situation is that the physical climate models have indeed predicted more warming than has actually occurred, while the economics literature casts serious doubts on the case for immediate government mitigation efforts.

  107. gavin May 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Rob oh mate; you can be so way off the mark with some of our engineering. For a while I could fly over then drive past a big white factory purpose built on the edge of the airport in my old home town. There was no stack or coal burning power plant within a cooee so the air was as pure as an ocean breeze. However they built and erected all the wind turbines for one of our largest wind farms right under my nose. My brother’s schoolmate was their electrical foreman for the duration.

    Earlier, I had encouraged the pair of them, there was a future in that state growing beyond the power of its hydro, quite cheap in the first instance but over sold to large base load users in the end.

    Getting independent reviews on that predicament required more than just my patience. The campaign had to move back to the Loans Council and Federal Parliament. Every state as it happens want’s to exploit the local resource but often the public users can’t see the wood for the trees. It is only a strip of green generally shielding the plot. Grabbing our tax dollars becomes the main event.

  108. gavin May 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Peter; you can’t say where in that 2C rise might the ice trigger lie for a meter or so SL rise.

  109. Peter Lang May 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm #


    Can you provide links to the most authoritative estimates of the damage costs due to an assumed sea level rise, of say 0.5 m in 100 years, including allowance for increase in steps.

    I want to see the details of the basis of the damage cost estimate to understand how it has been done.

    I’d like to see an estimate of the damage cost estimate for Australia or for a city e.g. Sydney. Where can I get such an estimate (other than by clearly alarmist groups such as Greenpeace and politically partisan players such as Ross Garnaut)?

    See David Brewerss comment here:

  110. Peter Lang May 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm #


    Peter; you can’t say where in that 2C rise might the ice trigger lie for a meter or so SL rise.

    Can you say that CO2 tax and ETS will prevent the threats you are concerned about (but Tim Flannery and Al Gore clearly are not concerned about given where they have built their houses)?

  111. gavin May 14, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Peter; without looking round the traps as I normally do when faced with such questions (nice day, stuff to do). I would expect to start with a bottom up approach. Since a few of my tech school mates landed careers in coastal ship engineering, marine board diving etc I followed their interests when I could. Choose therefore Bass Strait and it’s coastal development post WW2, find hard and soft targets, protected ports and extensive real estate development behind dune systems then seek the local studies and planning re climate change.

    Bottom up strategies require a knowledge of previous infrastructure costs for the developing the shipping routes, breakwaters, terminals, railways, roads, bridges right along the coast and up in the estuaries. The most sensitive infrastructure though is all our sewage and water treatment works where outfalls can be seriously affected by high tides and floods.

    Last but not least, another long term acquaintance was the supervisor for all regional power line maintenance. His nightmare was storms that left salt caked on all the overhead gear.

  112. Peter Lang May 14, 2012 at 9:22 am #


    “I would expect to start with a bottom up approach.”

    Good!. So where is it?

    Would you agree it should have been done for spinning a web of propoganda about catastrophic climate change?

    Would you agree the government should do proper cost benefit analyses before legislating high cost policies lie the CO2 tax and ETS?

  113. Peter Lang May 14, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Here is an example of the sort of study Ross Garnaut, Treasury and DCCEE have relied on.

    “the present analysis assumes a homogenous global rise of 0.5 m above current levels by 2070. This is in the upper range of IPCC projections (IPCC 2007) and well within the ranges of other projections (e.g. Rahmstorf 2007). The storm enhancement factor (reflecting the potential increase in extreme water levels due to more intense storms) was developed as part of this study; for tropical storms a 10% increase in extreme water levels was assumed, with no expansion in affected area; while for extratropical storms, a 10% increase in extreme water levels was assumed between 45and 70 degrees latitude. …a uniform 0.5 m decline in land levels was assumed from 2005 to the 2070s in those cities which are historically susceptible, commonly port cities located in deltas. Together, this approach gives a variable change in extreme water level from roughly 0.5 m in cities only affected by global sea-level rise, to as much as 1.5 m for those cities affected by global sea-level rise, increased storminess and human-induced subsidence.”

    Can you spot the wild and unjustified assumptions.

    David Brewer here says:

    Note that not a single actual datum on observed change in relative sea level is used for any of the ports in the study.

    Now, actual observed changes in relative sea level around the world averages around 3 mm a year – i.e., 20 cm per 65 years. No acceleration is evident in recent decades. Yet the paper assumes rises of 50-150 cm in the next 65 years.

    Read more of David Brewer’s comment and other comment here:

    This is the sort of nonsense our Government uses to justify its highly damaging policies.

  114. Peter Lang May 14, 2012 at 9:35 am #


    By now, anyone with an open mind would at least have begun to question their beliefs. Many would have recognised their beliefs are wrong and recognise they’ve been sucked in by propoganda.

  115. Peter Lang May 14, 2012 at 10:59 am #


    I asked for a link to a cost estimate (including methodology and basis of estimate) for damages attributable to a sea level rise for Australia or Sydney or some other Australian city (I suggested the estimate could be based on an assumptions such as say 0.5 m over 100 years).

    You said:” “I would expect to start with a bottom up approach.”

    Then you provide links that make no reference to costs and do not address the question.

    There are millions of links on the web site. Trolls post unrelated links and comments that have nothing to do with the questions asked or the issue under discussion.

    Are you a troll? Is your intention to spam this thread?

  116. gavin May 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    That settles it Peter.

    No body is obliged to serve up info, arguments whatever precisely in the form demanded especially when you are about to belittle anything that is not quite on your blog theme. Be pedantic because you wont learn another way.

  117. Peter Lang May 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm #


    You didn’t answer the question. Is the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

  118. toby May 15, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Peter dont waste your time.

  119. Peter Lang May 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Robert Mendelsohn (2009), Climate Change and Economic Growth
    World Bank

    Grim descriptions of the long‐term consequences of climate change have given the impression that the climate impacts from greenhouse gases threaten long-term economic growth. However, the impact of climate change on the global economy is likely to be quite small over the next 50 years. Severe impacts even by the end of the century are unlikely. The greatest threat that climate change poses to long-term economic growth is from potentially excessive near-term mitigation efforts.

  120. Tony Price May 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Many, if not most of the so-called “cost estimates” for likely damage to person or property assume no future mitigation whatsoever, and in that their authors are being at best disingenuous, at worst telling lies. They also assume (though not explicitly stated) that development will continue apace, “business as usual”, and organisations and individuals will march like lemmings to the cliff edge.

    Gavin’s reports calculate damages for a sea-level rise that’s unknown, and for a future situation that’s unknown also. The word worthless ascribes them too much value.


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