During his 11 years as Prime Minister John Howard oversaw the introduction of 20 major pieces of environmental legislation by four different environment ministers. This resulted in the end of broad scale tree clearing in western Queensland, the declared of large areas of the Great Barrier Reef out of bounds to fishermen, and through the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security the potential return of very large volumes of water to the Murray River. Other initiatives included the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and support for “solar cities”. But John Howard may only be remembered as the Australian Prime Minister who refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
He was Prime Minister during a period when climate change became the global issue and the grand gesture important for people looking for symbolism as much as real action on this and other environmental issues. But Howard has never been particularly good at conspicuous compassion. Rather he listened to environmental activists with impressive titles such as ‘professor’, and he distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Indeed under the Howard government there was record spending on the environment including $4.3 billion in his government’s last budget compared with less than $500 million in Labor’s last year of office (1995-96).
But after 11 years, lots of legislation and billions of dollars, John Howard is still seen as a pseudo-environmentalist – is this a fair assessment? And in particular, why didn’t Howard ratify Kyoto, given that as a consequence of the legislation banning broad scale tree clearing his government was on track to meet its targets uner the Kyoto Protocol?
James Mayeau says
Let me get this straight for once – over in OZ you call the conservative party “Liberals”. And the communists are “Labor”.
Is that right?
jennifer marohasy says
Yes. That is about right.
Not quite – the workers’ rights abusing warmongers are Liberals/Nationals and the sensible persons are Labor. Seriously they’re both pretty conservative and put up with sepos like yourself James. Including your nation’s foreign policy adventurism. James mate – Google egalitarian plus plasma TV.
Why didn’t Howard ratify?
Well we could comply with Kyoto initially with a one-off banning of tree clearing. Not lose many votes (who was the bush going to run to? the Labor party ?)- and even better if you could get the Labor states to do the dirty legislative work of a clearing ban.
So for all this nonsense about Kyoto being a world goverment commo plot, our negotiators knew exactly what they were doing in Kyoto. They negotiated a 108% target because we have long distances, small populations, coal-fired power stations, and whopping aluminium smelters and the Australia clause which recognised things like land use and forestry (and tree clearing of eucalypt woodlands for grazing).
We had a big sook and the Euros fell for it. Motty is a good actor hey? And after all Ian they’re poms, frogs, dagos and wogs anyway hey?
Australia was the one talking up tree clearing – Europe is already developed and we conned them (IMO of course).
We never had any intention of ratifying, as this would start to enmesh us in a system of global reductions and targets.
And bugger that – the place is going gangbusters with growth in transport and stationary energy. You seriously don’t think we were ever going to do anything about that?
The Asia Pacific Partnership (remember that !) was a PR diversion about better energy systems at whatever timescale with no targets. Looks good and no promises.
It’s important for our growth to have no targets and just keep talking.
Meanwhile have Lavoisier and any front group you can find to keep up a full-on denial campaign. Just say anything and get it out there every day. Make everything look uncertain so there is no hurry. Plenty of bored cold war warriors of retired geologist and economists and “true patriots” to fuel that. Give’em some line about commos and world govt and they’ll be off frothing and fuming trying to “save us” all.
Aussie could have got more than 25Mt from land use and forestry but important not to look too closely unless you need to revisit this later.
Real issue is stationary energy and transport – if the rest of the world was smart they’d boot land use and forestry out of the picture post 2012. Too hard to account for and all too uncertain long term. Some property rights nutters might wake up one day in a fit of pique and start torching carbon sinks.
So shortly they’re all off to Bali. Mottsa should be there! (seriously TCA dudes). Hmmmm…
Howard didn’t believe. Still doesn’t. But played the game well and stalled for time. Impressive politics.
Who said it was about the 4C’s – climate, clearing, cows and coal. Always has been.
They’re not communists, they’re Stalinists. We shoot the general tomorrow, collectivise the farms the day after.
Oh surely with Rudd’s language skills he is neither a Communist or a Stalinist but a Maoist?
No, your typical Australian ‘Labor’ party supporter would like the the country to follow the European social democratic model like ‘La Belle France’ with it’s overblown, pampered and unaffordable public sector, high taxation, highly unionized workforce and subsequent over 10% unemployment – but without their heavy dependence on nuclear power to attempt (unsuccessfully) to conform to futile CO₂ emission standards.
JWH’s action on climate change is basically one big handout program. He never really believed in it, and he just allowed a bucket of money to be put into it because they could afford it and to keep people happy. They didn’t really care about the results. Its very easy to say ‘solar cities’ and whack down $75 million. You’ll even get some compliments from green groups for doing it. But is a rubbish initiative compared to looking at something more all encompassing like emissions trading.
And lets not forget that even that bucket of money wouldn’t have been anywhere near what it ended up being without the GST deal – a lot of the initial environment spending and the initial renewable energy target and the initial handouts for solar power are part of the GST deal.
And some of the initiatives Jennifer mentioned are also just in the past year – the year when climate change really hit centre stage, and JWH really started falling in the polls.
Who in their right mind would make their country answerable to some nebulous international body and risk having their country having to pay “fines” to some undefined other country?
Only fools signed it. Look at New Zealand… they look like paying over a $1 billion in fines and the money might go to Russia they think but they’re not sure.
Bigger question … what did anyone sign the accord even before the IPCC made its unsubstantiated claim that human activity had substantially caused recent warming.
You’d have to be mad … and obviously a lot of people are. Whether politicians are just as stupid or simply doing what they think will give them power is anyone’s guess.
Paul Biggs says
Kyoto is irrelavant to climate change, but is relavant to helping the UN achieve wealth redistribution off the back of the contrived IPCC climate reports.
Will Rudd sign up to Kyoto without China and India?
Chrisgo; today I had the good fortune to watch a lot of young couples playing with their kids in a park at North Ryde. We like most of the others were invited to kid’s outdoor birthday parties. Of the ones I met, all voted in inner north electorates including Lib. Joe Hockey’s (swing to ALP = 4.8%). If any supported Rudd’s team I’m pretty certain inions were not the issue. Not even those who worked at Royal North Shore raised the subject of unions.
Given these working youngsters (mostly born overseas) drove their families to the venue in private cars, Sydney must be their oyster despite peak hour traffic, tunnels and extraordinary real-estate prices. I find it so difficult to imagine these folks worrying too much over Kyoto, Rudd’s policy on emission targets even taxation provided services keep up to their expectations.
We relaxed all day directly under the flight path to Mascot. In the end we drove home via the Motorway that passes under the main Sydney Airport runaway.
I reckon vitality was their No 1 choice. Still they expect someone to get us off this endless growth problem in the long run. Only few can see it for the rat race it is. Worth noting, a select group of teens at our
chrisgo – “No, your typical Australian ‘Labor’ party supporter would like the the country to follow the European social democratic model like ‘La Belle France'”
No your typical Australian Labor party member such as myself would like Australia to continue the sensible blend of socialism and capitalism that we have now.
Even Howard could not demolish the social safety nets setup by Labor governments and Australians are too sensible to accept the stupidity and excess of the French system.
Howard did manage to move the net to the right with changes to the PBS etc as my wife’s epilepsy medication is now $32.00 a prescription instead of $2.60 that is used to before Howard took over. Labor’s job now is to move it back toward the centre where it belongs.
Only few can see it for the rat race it is. Worth noting, a select group of teens at our park today had organised club races with their radio-controlled machines. Train them young hey!
Paul Williams says
Ender, assuming that you disapprove of the increase in your wife’s medicine bill, could I ask why you expect me, (and the rest of the Australian taxpayers) to pay for your wife’s medicine?
jennifer marohasy says
I had hoped to get some help with my questions:
“But after 11 years, lots of legislation and billions of dollars, John Howard is still seen as a pseudo-environmentalist – is this a fair assessment? And in particular, why didn’t Howard ratify Kyoto, given that as a consequence of the legislation banning broad scale tree clearing his government was on track to meet its targets uner the Kyoto Protocol?”
Malcolm Hill says
“Who in their right mind would make their country answerable to some nebulous international body and risk having their country having to pay “fines” to some undefined other country?”
John — Your post with this and other comments above is the most significant and serious that can be made about the dam protocol.
It just beggars belief
Why indeed should NZ have to fork out nearly $1bn dollars which almost certainly will go to some failed state in Europe, as their reward for 100 years of backwardness,idleness and the thuggery of despots.
What a farce.
>could I ask why you expect me, (and the rest of the Australian taxpayers) to pay for your wife’s medicine?
Because that way they are productive and can assist the economy and society. It is also an altruistic gesture and at the core of who we are as sentient beings. Just like you may not be asked to pay for people’s medicine, people don’t ask to be sick and then be slugged with huge bills to get treatment (along with everything else they and their families are having to go through).
Jennifer, I think John Howard was of another time and don’t even believe he was even a ‘pseudo-environmentalist’. I think at times he tried very hard to see the value of the environment, but did not see it in environmental terms, particularly for the long-term future.
Jen – Malcolm & John have given you your answer – like Howard they don’t believe in AGW, that AGW is a non-concern and that reducing greenhouse emissions or setting any targets for reduction is a silly dangerous activity.
Howard wanted the moral ascendancy of “complying without ratifying” – so good global citizen on the face of it – but let’s not get seriously hooked up in any of this legally where we really have to do anything really serious down the track.
And you and your mates have helped out heaps in the “no” case.
So we have two views don’t we – AGW is a non-issue, futile and the sky will fall in if we sign and we’ll all become commies subservient to IPCC world government.
Or with technology and some instruments such as emissions trading we can make a start on new ways of doing things on a serious problem that’s just beginning to show.
Howard was never going to sign something he thought was against the national interest. And most of you guys agree with him.
Paul – “Ender, assuming that you disapprove of the increase in your wife’s medicine bill, could I ask why you expect me, (and the rest of the Australian taxpayers) to pay for your wife’s medicine?”
I don’t as I pay a lot of tax as well. However unlike you I am happy for that tax money to be spread around the community helping people that cannot afford medicines and that would otherwise would have very poor health without them. That is the essence of social responsibility rather than individualism.
I am also very happy for people who otherwise could not afford it, to have access to first class medical facilities for free or very low cost.
Malcolm Hill says
Two things luke
This is what the Spectator thinks of Howards loss and what it might mean to the free world.
and lo and behold Harper the PM of Canada has just come out and said that they will not be signing up to a new agreement that does not include all emitters, and what a crock of nonsense the old one was, or words to that effect.
Lets hope the Kruddmeister has the worldy vision and stomach for the debates that will ensue, both here and internationally.
Paul Williams says
Ender, now I’m confused. You make plenty of money, yet you complain that the taxpayers are not paying as much for your wife’s medicine as they used to?
And why insult me in your answer?
Come on Malcolm – what a load of predictable right wing drivel from the Spectator “about the way in which the defeat of Australia’s epic Prime Minister John Howard will weaken the free world in its war to defend civilisation.” Being involved in US adventurism in Iraq has made the world less safe – and I notice they have not mentioned we’re staying in Afghanistan where the yanks should have gone in the first place. Obviously the Spectator has a problem with our democratic majority views. And was that the US withdrawing troops too I notice?
with our 108% target and you can sock all the savings to land clearing – why would you be worried. We conned the Euros big time.
Didn’t Labor also say something about not signing up unless all the emitters are in too?
mitchell porter says
Australia signed the protocol during a US presidency that supported it, but refused to ratify during a US presidency that opposed it. Perhaps we would have ratified during a Gore presidency.
You arent making sense Ender, you prefer that your medication to be paid by your taxes rather than yourself?
Public Hospital system is stretched to breaking point in Aust and the UK – the NHS is a bottomless pit costing 9/10% GDP
The current inquiry into Royal North Shore is an inquiry into a service provided by a quasi-socialist Labot Govt that has failed many with allegations of overcrowding, lack of hygiene and death shocking the panel.
There are no easy answers, medicine costs money.
Back to the original Q: Why Didn’t John Howard Ratify the Kyoto Protocol?
Because kyoto was seen as a political statement by the UN which would cost Australia.
In a debate between Garrett and Turnbull the point raised by Turnbull was that ratifying Kyoto whilst allowing major emitters to go free would do nothing for GHG and would cost our economy. To Garretts chagrin Rudd has agreed that this is the better option and this is to be the policy taken to Bali.
Rudd will ratify Kyoto, his corrections were about post-kyoto negotiations I think Rog.
JWH didn’t ratify because he had an ideological opposition to it, that went beyond considering the pros and cons rationally. Not ratifying, and taking a big hit on international relations and domestically, but then meeting the targets anyway? How does that make sense?
Ian Mott says
Howard was a prudent man, responsible for the consequences of his actions, and inactions, to those who elected him. But Kyoto was, and remains, a blank cheque that no responsible leader should have anything to do with.
The 6% of voters who changed their votes, were in most part “middle class battlers”, people who had got themselves into excessive debt for so-called “unaffordable houses”. These record unaffordable houses owe their unaffordability, not to any lack of attention from Howard but, rather, to the fact that unlike past more “affordable” housing, these had twice the floor area, five bedrooms for an average of 2.6 people, three bathrooms, three garages (one for the boat) and ducted aircon. These people, stuggling to reconcile their consumerist greed with their real earning capacity, actually took offense at Howard’s suggestion that they “never had it so good”.
Rudd, on the other hand, gave no specific undertakings but cleverly dished out loads of sympathy to these “working families” (as if some are not) and undertook to give them a classic piece of pointless symbolism, in the form of signing Kyoto.
What neither Rudd, nor Howard, to his own disadvantage, bothered to point out that the poeple most responsible for excessive human emissions are these very same people who simply could not envisage a future without a “living room” that is fully furnished but only used three times a year, a “family room”, a “dining room” that blends into a “TV room” and a “rumpus room”.
It is actually true, Howard was out of touch with these people. But so he should be, so should we all be. For it is they who are out of touch with even themselves, let alone with the majority of people on both sides of the body politic.
But if they think they are doing it tough now, just wait till Uncle Kevvie brings around their share of the blank cheque he will sign at Kyoto.
Paul Williams says
I agree with that Ian.
I think we are also seeing the fruits of the education revolution that replaced learning with indoctrination in the classroom. (I exaggerate only slightly.) These students of the 70’s and later are becoming a majority of voters now. Only the lunacy of Mark Latham saved us from Labor in 2004.
Personally I’m not convinced that Howard really believed in AGW, despite his announcements. I think he believed the electorate wanted him to believe in it.
Howard didn’t ratify Kyoto because he had commonsense. Rudd signing Kyoto now won’t alter the present course of climate one iota. But Labor voters apparently think it will.
Around here your typical Labor voter wears a fluro shirt, smokes, drinks beer excessively, is poorly educated and inarticulate.
Paul – “Ender, now I’m confused. You make plenty of money, yet you complain that the taxpayers are not paying as much for your wife’s medicine as they used to?
And why insult me in your answer?”
Because I am thinking of other sufferers of the same type of conditions that would have seen a similar rise in the price of medications. My wife was an example only – one that I personally knew of.
I did not insult you it is just that your answers seem very single minded.
rog – “You arent making sense Ender, you prefer that your medication to be paid by your taxes rather than yourself?”
And yes rog I prefer a system where life saving medications are priced where I can afford them. Are you advocating abolishing the PBS??? That should be an election winning platform – why don’t you run?
rog – “There are no easy answers, medicine costs money.’
And that is why more should be put into the system. The US model that Howard was gently steering us too does not work either:
“The United States spends approximately 15 percent of its gross domestic product on health care,
making health care the largest single sector of the U.S. economy. Despite these levels of expenditure, Americans are not healthier and do not live longer than citizens in many other nations (World Health Report 2000—Health Systems: Improving Performance, online at http://w3.whosea.org/healthreport/main.htm). Nearly 45 million Americans are uninsured—about 18 percent of Americans under 65.
American adults receive just half of recommended health care services. And we find that quality of
care does not vary much by socioeconomic factors: Quality is similar in cities with higher and lower
rates of those without insurance, poverty, enetration of managed care, and supply of hospital beds and doctors.”
So maybe the Labor/socialist approach is not all that bad after all.
Schiller Thurkettle says
I am very glad that Australia will shortly ban mining and exporting coal.
The USA has lots of coal, won’t sign Kyoto, and will take your export markets.
I am also glad you won’t approve GM canola. Canada will continue to take your export markets, while you languish in greenism.
Hooray, North America! We sell propaganda, and sell *real* things, too!
What’s smarter than that?
So Ian subscribes to the McMansion theory of aspirational voters. You must be a Clive Hamilton fan?
Or maybe you are just tying the threads of your urban=bad, rural=blessed view back together post election.
How do you explain the National’s poor performance? Presumably it means that the number of rural people who don’t believe in climate change is shrinking? Dawson lost from a 10% margin with a swing of 13.5%. ouch. Page and Flynn too. Mark Vaile to step down.
Paul Williams says
Ender, medicines cost money, and we want those unable to afford them to have access. So why subsidise those who can afford them, such as yourself? (Hope that’s not too single minded for you.)
Jennifer: Howard thought he could get away with not signing Kyoto Mark 1 based on all his apparent upwardly mobile constituents. Sydney like New York etc could not be seen contemplating cutbacks in lifestyle in the first instance.
I would be interested in the likely numbers who saw JH as an environmentalist. Looking through any major city today we can find only tokenism beside all the concrete, cars and crass. The younger generation may well be content with not owning as much of the concrete jungle as we older boomers did. They (the upwardly mobile) may also accept more penalties in the form of Kyoto Mark 2 given the swing on Saturday.
Paul – “So why subsidise those who can afford them, such as yourself? (Hope that’s not too single minded for you.)”
Because a means tested PBS would be more of a nightmare to administer than just subsidising it for all people in Australia. Plus money invested at this level usually is paid back many times over in less hospital admissions etc.
What do you have against the PBS anyway. Do you not use it?
Schiller – “I am very glad that Australia will shortly ban mining and exporting coal.”
Did anyone say this??
“The USA has lots of coal, won’t sign Kyoto, and will take your export markets.”
You also have lots of mountains – do you really want to blow the tops off all of them? Also you don’t have as much coal as you think.
“In 2005, significantly lower volumes were exported. The largest net exporter was Australia (150 million tonnes), followed by Indonesia (60 million tonnes), South Africa (47 million tonnes) and Colombia (36 million tonnes). China and
Russia also released coal onto the world market. These six countries contribute around 85 percent of exports worldwide. However, in a few years, China will no longer be an exporter.
On paper, the coal reserves in the USA are sufficient for more than 200 years. However, there is plenty to suggest that peak production there is not far off, if it hasn’t already been passed.
As the share of black coal has been receding since 1990, the contribution made by domestic coal to energy supply in the USA has been stagnant, or even decreasing, since 1998. It is already necessary to import high-grade coal. It is probable that the estimated coal reserves in Montana will never be mined, as opencast mining there has to compete directly with the farmers’ pasture land. Livestock farming is this state’s
most important industry. Yet as much as half the USA’s coal reserves are in Montana.”
Paul Williams says
Ender. You are not serious, I hope. You do understand that you can’t take more money out of a system than you put in? If you are getting cheap medicine, someone else is paying for it.
You seem quite happy for other folk to subsidise your healthcare, despite your good income.
I don’t currently use PBS, but after being forced to pay for the health care of high income people such as yourself for the last 30+ years, I will have to when my health starts to deteriorate.
Ian Mott says
Steve seems to live in this strange parallel universe where all the voters in National Party seats are farmers. If he had a rudimentary grasp of regional demographics, and had not spent Saturday night with his head in a paper bag, he would know that Ms Kelly lost her seat due to an influx of miners to alter the balance of her previously part urban, part rural seat.
In Page(NSW), like Richmond before it, it was an influx of sea changers and tree huggers, many of them spending a newly acquired inheritance, others maximising the luxury they can gear from the sale of a metropolitan house. Most of them are under interest rate pressure and almost all of them gambling on the delusion that house prices will continue to rise indefinitely.
That is, the very factor that they claimed they needed protection from, continuing rises in housing unaffordability, remains the very core of their “investment” strategy.
“Because kyoto was seen as a political statement by the UN which would cost Australia.”
You mean, Kyoto was portrayed as a political statement, to scuttle it.
Maybe he didnt ratify it as a demonstration that he wouldnt bow down to mob rule, that he still had a choice and he would exercise it..
Maybe JWH and the Treaties Committee recognised that Kyoto was not the perfect document in that it allowed some countries to continue emmiting and failed to even account for commercial aviation in the emmision equation.
By not signing, the debate had to continue (led by Luke and Ian) and by being a thorn in the side of the UN over this issue, there will be a better protocol developed, starting with the Bali talks.
One needs to remember Australia had a whole gaggle of Aussie negotiators – pollies, scientists, policy wallas and minders at Kyoto. WE Aussies PROPOSED what we wanted and acquiesced to any compromises. Wasn’t something we were handed on a stone tablet – where do you think the Australia clause came from?
Anyway when they brought it home the Howard govt still didn’t like it.
Also Schiller needs to remember it’s the nation who burns the coal not the exporter that cops the emission debit. And fair enough too. But if you have not signed it’s all hypothetical.
Remains to be seen if any serious inclusive post-2012 agreement can be put forward at Bali.
The only reason we would want to sign the Kyoto Mk I agreement is solidarity giving us a front row seat in the Bali and subsequent negotiations vis a vis observer status. Won’t affect the climate as it is.
Ian Mott says
It is quite clear that Luke has never negotiated on anything. If he had, he would know that one rarely gets even a reasonable deal by telling the world that you will accept the deal before the offer is made.
This is about the level of sophistication of the KRuddites, grovel for a seat in the front row and hope to scrounge some crumbs from the table. The average Afgani five year old has better negotiating skills, and for nothing more than a 7-up.
Good one Kevvie, show us all what you learned in “International Wankfests 101”.
Paul – “I don’t currently use PBS, but after being forced to pay for the health care of high income people such as yourself for the last 30+ years,”
How do you know if I have a high income??? What you have never had antibiotics in the last 30 years. You are now arguing for the sake of it. Forced to pay the health care of others – what a load of crap!
I guess a rugged individualist such as yourself has no need of healthcare.
Ender, logically you must have an income that is commensurate with your tax, *as I pay a lot of tax as well*
Perhaps I am in error and you volunteer more tax than you have to.
Pirate Pete says
There seems to be something missing in this discussion about Kyoto, climate change, emission targets and so forth.
The missing issue is that Australia has a non nuclear policy in electricaal energy generation.
The primary drivers of Kyoto are the european countries, whose electrical generation capacity includes very large components of Nuclear energy. For example, France, a primary supporter and driver of Kyoto, has 56 nuclear power stations which generate about 75% of their electrical energy needs.
This means that they have a lot more room for manoeuvre when it comes to emissions reductions.
As a non nuclear country, Australia has fewer options. Basically, we are stuffed if we want to retain the same standard of living enjoyed by the europeans while making significant reductions in emissions.
It’s fascinating that after the election I’m not aware of how the property rights extremist nutters went? Has anyone got any numbers?
Plenty of bulldusting and spruiking before the election and oh look the ignorant, now definitely, un-representative swill without a constituency is still frothing on.
Saturday night was a referendum on right wing arseholes.
P.S. Back on Kyoto who got 108% and the Australia tree fudgerooni clause – I’m sure the Euros offered it for thrills.
What are you frothing on about now Luke? the election was about change of leadership with most of the current policies being adopted excepting workchoices and kyoto.
Paul Williams says
Ender, rog pointed out the income tax comment you made earlier. Do you volunteer more tax?
Of course I am forced to pay for the health care of others. It’s called the Medicare levy. The money taken in by the government is used to subsidise medicines etc, such as your wifes epilepsy medicine, leaving you, who pays a lot of tax, with more money to buy solar panels or pool chemicals.
Of course, you may not necessarily be a net benificiary of the health system. Most of us aren’t, after all. In which case you are subsidising someone elses health care too.
Paul – “Of course I am forced to pay for the health care of others. It’s called the Medicare levy. The money taken in by the government is used to subsidise medicines etc, such as your wifes epilepsy medicine, leaving you, who pays a lot of tax, with more money to buy solar panels or pool chemicals.
Of course, you may not necessarily be a net benificiary of the health system. Most of us aren’t, after all. In which case you are subsidising someone elses health care too. ”
So you would much rather have a system that you just pay exactly what you use? If such a system was setup what would happen to you if you needed more than you paid in?
Why do you resent so bitterly paying for the healthcare of others. It does not bother me in the least as I have been both in a position where I have needed every bit of Medicare assistance that I could possibly get and also where I can afford private health cover. The gap between both states is very small and it is comforting to know that there is a safety net there if I need it.
This discussion probably is at the heart of our political differences and why my thinking is more to the left and I guess yours is to the right. In the end I would rather be in the centre than either of the two extremes.
Our healthcare system though it has its faults works reasonably well and is the envy of a lot of countries. Life saving medications are available to those that need them at a reasonable cost which saves millions of dollars in the long run.
Governments also need to kick start industries like solar and wind. Really we will just be removing the subsidies paid to fossil fuel companies and put them toward more sustainable industries.
Pirate Pete – “The missing issue is that Australia has a non nuclear policy in electricaal energy generation.
The primary drivers of Kyoto are the european countries, whose electrical generation capacity includes very large components of Nuclear energy. For example, France, a primary supporter and driver of Kyoto, has 56 nuclear power stations which generate about 75% of their electrical energy needs.”
The think that you are missing is that if there is one county in the world that has the resources to go 70% renewable it would be Australia. With our small population and massive sun and wind resources we have the best chance to be a showcase for renewables and export billions of dollars in renewable technology.
By contrast nuclear technology is pretty closely guarded and would be almost certainly imported from overseas along with the nuclear fuel giving no real benefit to local industry. Quite apart from the fact that if we really want to reduce greenhouse emission we cannot wait for nuclear.
We do not need nuclear.
Jennifer – Why Didn’t John Howard Ratify the Kyoto Protocol?
Maybe it’s just as simple as the reason he gave – he didn’t want to commit Australia to a treaty which didn’t require major emitters to make reductions themselves.
I frankly have never understood why that is so difficult to accept.
If Rudd is going to ratify – and he clearly received a mandate to do that on Saturday – then we need more information asap.
1. How are we placed to meet our targets?
2. What proposals does the new Government have to drive down emissions if we aren’t?
3. What sanctions will apply if we don’t get there?
Ender – ” ….we have the best chance to be a showcase for renewables…”
That may be the case but we don’t have to leave anything to chance with nuclear – it’s proven , currently available , reliable, emission free technology.
Renewables ( which may well hold great promise )apart from being emission free , are none of these.
Well at least we know how long it will take us to develop nuclear power – we have absolutely no idea how long before we solve the problem with renewables – we don’t yet have any export renewable technology to speak of yet.
This isn’t about ( or shouldn’t be about ) ideology ; it’s simply perverse to argue on one hand that a serious environmental , globe threatening crisis is or soon will be upon us and on the other reject a serious , technologically proven and feasible partial solution.
If we really want to make sustained , serious reductions in AGW then, at this point in time, nuclear has to be part of the solution.
Paul Williams says
Ender, I don’t “bitterly resent” Medicare. Over the years I have noticed more and more how governments have got their hands in our pockets, and to an extent I resent that.
I don’t think that it makes me “Left” or “Right” to believe I know better how to run my affairs than the grandstanders who meet in Canberra. Small, accountable government with minimal interference in our daily life is what I would prefer, so I really have no political party to represent me!
“I frankly have never understood why that is so difficult to accept.”
If we are meeting our targets anyway, why
a) tarnish our international reputation
b) take a domestic popularity hit
c) make emissions reductions potentially more expensive by locking us out of international kyoto carbon trading mechanisms
by not actually ratifying?
The point on major emitters is weak because it was always understood that developing countries such as china and india would need to eventually take mandatory targets down the track, and as far as the USA is concerned, Australia not ratifying helped to take some pressure off them to ratify. It was crap policy, and even many in the post-Howard liberal party are starting to reverse their opposition.
Ian Mott says
Good point, Pirate Pete. Latest news is that China has just signed up for 32 (yes folks, 32) french nuclear power plants.
And while KRudd may claim to have a mandate to continue a ban on Australian Nuclear Power, there is not the slightest doubt that the swing voters have had no costings of the impact of this policy on their own financial circumstances.
First up, power bills WILL go up but not just for the so-called “aspirationals” (read, the dumb $hits who over borrowed for too much house at the top of the cycle). These power bills will feed through into every part of the production cycle and produce inflationary pressure, on top of that which will already be present from reduced oil supply, higher food prices and competition for commodities.
Combine this with a restored centralised wage fixing system and a union movement with a huge campaign advertising investment to recoup and the days of the 2%-3% inflation band are over.
And ironically, it will only take a single 0.25% interest rate rise (due in January) and John Howards statement, “that interest rates will always be lower under a Liberal Government”, will be proven absolutely correct.
As the song goes, “but don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone”.
And KRudd has, rather conveniently, made it clear that “the future” is all his, warts and all. Never mind the spin, it is a case of “come in spinner”.
1. “tarnish our international reputation” – with whom? No Government should adopt poor policy positions simply because we’re worried what others will think.
2. ” take a domestic popularity hit” – ditto above
3. “make emissions reductions potentially more expensive by locking us out of international kyoto carbon trading mechanisms” – any evidence that we’re finacially disadvantaged so far? Evidence not speculation.
The “major emitters point” was probably critical to Howard’s considerations and certainly undermined the principle that a global crisis was developing – Australia contributes a very small percentage of AGW; Russia ,China and India much more.
I expect the real reason they were not asked to reduce their own AGW was that it was well known they would have said no.
Is this the same thinking which underpinned the theory of unilateral disarmament back in the 80’s – if we do it , so will eveyone else?
Jim – “That may be the case but we don’t have to leave anything to chance with nuclear – it’s proven , currently available , reliable, emission free technology.”
What about the nuclear waste?
“Renewables ( which may well hold great promise )apart from being emission free , are none of these.
Well at least we know how long it will take us to develop nuclear power – we have absolutely no idea how long before we solve the problem with renewables – we don’t yet have any export renewable technology to speak of yet.”
We do?? Starting today and with probably 4 billion dollars we could possibly have a nuclear power station up and running by 2020. Remember that we have no nuclear expertise and would be bidding on the open market for skilled workers and specialised materials.
Wind costs approx $1500 per kW to install. 4 billion dollars buys approx 2666666 kW which is 2.6GW of wind energy which could be installed starting today not in 15 years. Even if you took 2 of the 4 billion dollars and spent it on storage it buys you 4000000 kW of storage which is 4 GW you would then get a power system with a capacity factor of at least 45% if not higher displacing more greenhouse gases faster that any nuclear plant. Additionally you can save the 5 or 10 billion dollars cost of a waste disposal facility. With that money you could build quite a few thermal solar plants with storage.
You would not do this of course however nuclear is the worst way of quickly acting on climate change. Renewables do not have problems to solve – they are ready TODAY. We need to change a bit and waste less energy. We did have a renewable industry here however lack of investment forced it all offshore. The storage is a Australian invention that we would have to buy from Canada now. If we want the Fresnal solar thermal power stations we will have to talk to David Mills in California.
Ender – nuclear waste?
We store it ( ours and everyone else’s) safely and responsibly in the outback ; world best practice and a great little business – nuclear waste storage as a net income earner!
And if we fast tracked nuclear we could be operational in 10 years ; with 25 power stations we could reduce our AGW output by 50% – a really significant outcome.
We compete for expertise around the globe all the time and there are plenty of reactor designs for sale.
I’m with Gordon Brown ( see link above ) on this one.
Ian Mott says
Ender is plucking numbers out of his bum again. How did you get the $10 billion number for waste disposal?
Note, China has just signed up for 32 Nuc power plants, can’t find the link again but seem to recall it was about $1B each, not $4B as per Ender.
But the numbers don’t even have to add up in Ender’s head, especially if we talk nuclear.
Jim – “We store it ( ours and everyone else’s) safely and responsibly in the outback ; world best practice and a great little business – nuclear waste storage as a net income earner!”
Sure and who guards it and ensures that it does not leak for a thousand years or so?
BTW the 12 billion cost is from:
“The cost of the Swedish nuclear waste program
Esbjörn SegelodE-mail The Corresponding Author
Mälardalen University, P.O. Box 325, SE-631 05 Eskilstuna, Sweden
Available online 27 October 2005.
The nuclear waste programs, which nuclear power countries are implementing today, are extremely long-term and some of the largest construction projects ever undertaken. Sweden has 12 nuclear power plants and the Swedish nuclear waste program is estimated to cost about 80 thousand million SEK or approximately nine thousand million euro.”
“Nevertheless, an objective evaluation of total system costs is essential if one is to have any basis for judging the veracity and credibility of past and future DOE cost estimates. To that end, the State of Nevada has, over the past year, put together a report titled, “AN INDEPENDENT COST ASSESSMENT OF THE NATION’S HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE PROGRAM.” This report, which was released publically on May 1st, was prepared by a highly qualified team of contractors and reviewed for accuracy and reasonableness by the accounting firm, KPMG Peat Marwick.
What the State’s study found, when compared to what DOE would have the country believe about program costs, is truly astounding. The bottom line is that the total cost of the federal high-level waste program is at least $53.9 billion. Assuming that all currently operating commercial nuclear power reactors operate and generate fee revenues for their full licensed lifetimes – an assumption that is conservative in the extreme given the likelihood that high operating costs and cutbacks due to electric deregulation will cause many reactors (by some estimates more than 40 of the 100 functioning reactors) to be shut down well before their licenses expire – the Nuclear Waste Fund will generate at most $28.1 billion.
Despite the clear intent of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1983 that the generators of spent fuel and high-level waste should pay fully for the cost of managing and disposing of the waste, the American taxpayer will be on the hook for a whopping $25.8 billion or more if this federal program goes forward.”
“And if we fast tracked nuclear we could be operational in 10 years ; with 25 power stations we could reduce our AGW output by 50% – a really significant outcome.”
Yes there are plenty of designs but only so many welders for instance. Fast tracking it in 10 years would mean shortcuts and massive cost overruns.
With a similar massive investment like the one you are talking about for nuclear we could do more faster and cheaper with renewables and save the massive cost of the waste dump.
We’re going round in circles Ender – the waste dump would MAKE money with nil taxpayer investment if we privatised it and offered it’s services to the world.
Repeat – it’s doable now ; no real problems to solve.
Ian Mott says
Hmmmn, now $25B for the waste from 100 power stations is only $250million per station. And the report does not make clear whether the costings are for a number of storage sites with resulting major duplication of functions, or for a single site based on a prime, low risk location with no duplicated supervision, protection and monitoring functions. I suspect it is based on the former because that is the current state of play.
The latter option, especially for Australia, would produce major savings.
Pirate Pete says
It is interesting to note that I pointed out that the Australian policy of non nuclear power has a substantial impact on the options available for carbon emisssions reduction in this country.
Whenever this is raised, there is an immediate rush by some to rationalise and justify this policy, by whatever means.
This rush to justify the policy ignores the fact that there are many new nuclear power plants being constructed, or in the very early stages of construction, around the world. It also, indirectly, ridicules those developed nations which are currently reliant on nuclear, or are intending to increase their nuclear power generation capacity.
A couple of years ago, the Australian media noisily reported that the Japanese government had ratified the Kyoto accord, but carefully neglected to mention that simultaneously, the japanese government announced the construction of 13 nuclear power plants which would enable it to meet its treaty obligations.
Jim – “We’re going round in circles Ender – the waste dump would MAKE money with nil taxpayer investment if we privatised it and offered it’s services to the world.
Repeat – it’s doable now ; no real problems to solve.”
So are you trying to tell me that Yucca Mountain is open and ready to receive waste??? How may years has it been delayed due to unexpected problems???? Would you like to post the sorry story or shall I??????????
No problems other that radionucleide leaching, embrittlement of storage containers, separation of dangerous radioisotopes from less dangerous ones, long term safeguarding of waste (1000 years+), transport of thousands of tons of high level waste to your new facility, contamination of ground water etc
Apart from these minor problems I would put my money into it. Don’t you think that in the land of the free, the US, if someone could make money from disposing on nuclear waste there would be someone doing it. The reason that nuclear has stalled in the US is because it is uneconomic even with the massive subsidies that it gets.
The poster child of nuclear, France, is a state run energy company which I am sure is against your free market ideas. The same as Sweden and Japan and of course China, who you seem to be holding up as the new nuclear good old boy, is a bastion of freedom and democracy.
So for nuclear to get a leg up in Australia you want more socialism?? Thats a reversal.
Jim – Just thought I would throw this in as well. You can put it in your prospectus.
Invest about 28 billion dollars and expect a return in about 2035 – should have investors flocking to it.
“In May 2000, the Japanese parliament (the Diet) passed the Law on Final Disposal of Specified Radioactive Waste (the “Final Disposal Law”) which mandates deep geological disposal of high-level waste (defined as only vitrified waste from reprocessing spent reactor fuel). In line with this, the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO) was set up in October 2000 by the private sector to progress plans for disposal, including site selection, demonstration of technology there, licensing, construction, operation, monitored retrievable storage for 50 years and closure of the repository. Some 40,000 canisters of vitrified HLW are envisaged by 2020, needing disposal – all the arisings from the Japanese nuclear plants until then.
NUMO has begun an open solicitation process to find a site, and by 2007 will shortlist those that are proffered and potentially suitable. The promising ones will be subject to detailed investigation by 2012. A third phase to 2025 will end with site selection.
Repository operation is expected from about 2035, and the 3000 billion yen (US$ 28 billion) cost of it will be met by funds accumulated at 0.2 yen/kWh from electricity utilities (and hence their customers) and paid to NUMO. This sum excludes any financial compensation paid by the government to local communities.”
Ian Mott says
Funny how Ender can list ‘possible’ problems as if they were actual problems involving a cost.
He lists contamination of groundwater as a problem with a cost but it will only become a cost in the highly unlikely case that the repository is located in or below a water table and only then if all other safeguards are neglected for an extended period.
He lists “embrittlement of storage containers”, a rather slow process for which adequate monitoring can be performed on a decadal, rather than annual or monthly basis. And the cost of solution? Well, even assuming there is absolutely zero improvement in storage technology over the next century, we can still buy at least another century or two of security by placing the existing (allegedly) failing container inside another one of the same material like a Russian doll.
As readers can see, Ender is looking for excuses to stop Nuclear Power. They are not reasons to stop it because they are mere issues, to be dealt with as part of a normal project management process. And in most part, they will not even exist as real problems in a real world.
And one must reserve a good belly laugh for the notion that Australia would suffer international disapproval by going nuclear. From who? New f%$@&$g Zealand? Certainly not China, Japan, India, The USA, Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden.
Wake in fright, my friends, wake in fright.
Pirate Pete says
If Ender was to take a walk around the Northern Territory with a geiger counter, he would find very large areas which are radioactive at ground level. This means that radioactive material is being continuously leached into groundwater as a natural phenomenon.
If radioactive material in groundwater is such a dangerous issue, what is he going to do about this problem in the NT? Is he going to insist that these naturally radioactive areas are fenced off, marked with black and yellow signs and banned from public access? I think not. Aborigines have travelled these radioactive lands for the past 40,000 years. What is he going to do about protecting these aborigines from radioactive contamination? They are drinking radioactive water from the creeks and springs. The natural foods that they eat contain radioactive compounds. What is he going to do about this?
Of course, many materials that we use daily are radioactive. Many granites are naturally radioactive, yet granite is becoming the surface material of choice for modern kitchens. Is he going to mount an awareness campaign against granite in kitchens? I think not.
Is he going to take his geiger counter around the centre of Sydney and Melbourne and check radioactivity in the granite facades of downtown buildings and declare those which are radioactive as being a danger to public health and demand that they be pulled down? I think not.
Ender will know that radioactivity is a natural phenomenon, the air that we breathe contains radioactive dust. Is he going to mount an awareness campaign and demand that every person in Australia wear a face filter to screen out radioactive dust? I think not.
Pirate Pete says
Of course, the big question now is whether Kevin Rudd will actually steer the Australian parliament to ratifying the Kyoto accord.
The reality is that the process of ratification of international treaties is a slow and complicated process.
There must be a full impact assessment on the Australian people and economy. This has not been started yet.
There will need to be legislation passed in all applicable parliaments, both federal and state.
This will take years. And of course he faces a hostile senate.
The present term of the Kyoto agreement, due to expire in 2012 may expire before Australia can actually ratify the agreement.
And Rudd knows this.
Ian Mott says
Yes, Pirate Pete, I saw that piece on the MSN page but was surprised that it was cut very early in the day. The only surprise might be if Turnbull gets the Liberal leadership and lets it pass through the Senate. He is stupid enough to do it but the full impact assessment will still be needed.
One thing for certain is that a merger between the Liberals and Nationals will be right off the radar if republican Turnbull is leader of the opposition.
Pirate Pete – “If Ender was to take a walk around the Northern Territory with a geiger counter, he would find very large areas which are radioactive at ground level. This means that radioactive material is being continuously leached into groundwater as a natural phenomenon.”
So plutonium, a totally man made element, is present in the NT??? I don’t think so.
The radiation that is detected is from uranium not from fission products like:
“The radioactivity in the fission product mixture is mostly short lived isotopes such as I-131 and 140Ba, after about four months 141Ce, 95Zr/95Nb and 89Sr take the largest share, while after about two or three years the largest share is taken by 144Ce/144Pr, 106Ru/106Rh and 147Pm. Later 90Sr and 137Cs are the main radioisotopes, being succeeded by 99Tc. Note that in the case a release of radioactivity from a power reactor or used fuel that only some elements are released, as a result the isotopic signature of the radioactivity is very different to an open air nuclear detonation where all the fission products are dispersed.”
This is typical of nuclear power proponents that try to cover the problem by confusing natural radiation with man made elements and isotopes. These radionucleides are the dangerous ones when leached out into ground water. As they are analogs for elements such as calcium and iodine they are taken into the body and expose delicate tissues to ionising radiation.
That is the problem – not walking around with a geiger counter.
Pirate Pete – “Ender will know that radioactivity is a natural phenomenon, the air that we breathe contains radioactive dust. Is he going to mount an awareness campaign and demand that every person in Australia wear a face filter to screen out radioactive dust? I think not.
BTW if the air that you are breathing contained plutonium you would be dead. If the water or milk you drink contained any of these fission products you would have a hugely greater chance of thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer or leukemia.
Before you call people hypocrites perhaps you should visit a nuclear reactor and see if they will let you have a good whiff of the spent nuclear fuel. If they do and you survive this ‘natural’ radiation then I will stand as a hypocrite however I am sure I will attend your funeral.
Ian Mott says
More sophistry from Ender and minimal substance. He said;
“These radionucleides are the dangerous ones when leached out into ground water. As they are analogs for elements such as calcium and iodine they are taken into the body and expose delicate tissues to ionising radiation”.
What he should have said was “IF leached out into the ground water”. He is arguing as if they already have been leached, or wil certainly be leached.
The whole point of nuclear waste site selection, storage and monitoring is to ensure that;
a. it does not leach, and
b. if, in the very unlikely event that it does, it is detected early and prevented from getting anywhere near ground water, and
c. if, in the even more unlikely event that it might reach groundwater, it is detected and remedied before it comes in contact with living organisms.
Note that some groundwater has remained in situ for millions of years.
Funny how Ender can treat an extreme improbability as if it were a contemporary fact or high certainty. But whats new?
Pirate Pete says
So, Ender, are you saying that radiation from uranium is not dangerous?
Are you saying that all of the protests about shipping uranium through urban areas was rubbish?
What are you saying about radioactive materials?