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Pusillanimous liars and cheats

Imagine the reception you would get if, having failed an exam, you went and saw your uni lecturer and said “Remember how I got a credit last year? Well, I want to use those extra marks to convert this failure into a pass.”

Or if you went to your boss, having had dismal sales figures for the year, and said you still deserve your bonus because you had above-average sales last year.

Yet this is exactly what our government is doing regarding emissions reduction by using carryover credits from previous periods.

Russia and the Ukraine also plan to use carryover credits towards meeting their Paris targets but New Zealand, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and France have ruled it out (though Britain is now reconsidering it after they leave the EU who have legislation prohibiting it).

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia’s emissions for the year to December 2018 were actually 0.4 per cent above emissions in 2000, despite having committed to a reduction of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

The purpose of the Paris agreement was for countries to ramp up action towards more ambitious reduction targets. Using our carryover credits would reduce the government’s effective 2030 emissions reduction target from 26 per cent (based on the higher 2005 level) to about 16 per cent, according to the Investor Group on Climate Change.

Many in the Coalition argue that Australia’s emissions are comparatively negligible in a global sense so doing anything won’t make a difference. But as pointed out in the AFR, “Australia’s 370 MT of carryover credits wouldn’t break the Paris Agreement, but the 13 billion tonnes of carryover credits sloshing around the world certainly would.”

What’s more, the reductions the government is claiming from its Emissions Reduction Fund should be taken “with a hefty grain of salt” according to research by Melbourne Law School among others.

To be eligible for ERF funding, projects must satisfy three tests:

  • Newness: is a project new? Has work on it already begun? If it has, the project is ineligible, because it is considered already commercially viable.
  • Existing regulations: is a particular project or emissions abatement already required by law? If so, the project is ineligible for ERF funding.
  • Other government funding: does a project have access to other sources of government funding? If it does, the proponent should use those funds instead.

These tests have been largely ignored with the government handing out funding to projects that were going ahead anyway.

Tim Baxter quotes the case of LMS Energy’s Rochedale landfill gas project.

“First, it predates the ERF by a full decade. Second, the capture and disposal of methane from landfill sites is required by Queensland’s air pollution laws. Finally, it receives renewable energy certificates under the Commonwealth Renewable Energy Target. Nevertheless, this project is funded by the ERF.”

Also, 22 ERF projects have been terminated over the last four years for failing to deliver promised carbon abatement.

“The biggest default contract was the Pilbara Carbon Group which had promised to deliver 4 million tonnes of carbon abatement planting trees in the Port Hedland area. Another West Australian project, the Goldfields Carbon Group – which promised to grow native tree species on former agricultural land to deliver about 4 million tonnes of carbon abatement – was the second-largest project to lapse or be terminated.”

Who is going to use water trying to grow trees in the middle of a crippling drought?

By far, our greatest claimed emissions reductions have come from the land-use sector but these figures, by the department’s own admission, are very difficult to verify and have a large degree of uncertainty. Land-clearing seems to be happening at a faster rate than reforestation yet we claim great reductions in this area every year, mainly by saying we didn’t clear land that we might have. How that amounts to reducing emissions is beyond me.

Whilst the government repeats slogans like “in a canter” and the Murdoch press continues its misinformation campaign, the rest of the world regards us as pusillanimous liars and cheats, more interested in keeping our advantage than in helping with the heavy lifting.

Much to my shame, they are right.


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  1. Aortic

    Well said Kaye. Some are heavy lifters and some are heavy leaners and we are most assuredly in the latter category in the matter of climate change. Angus Taylor and Matt Canavsn are at the coal face reinforced by the voices from the IPA’S Bolts and Jones of the world. ” in a canter” ” if you have a go etc.” ” how good is Austraya etc.” will forever of known as the vacuous, inept meaningless drivel they are when the planet finally gives up on our blinded idiocy, and our descendants are left with a barren unliveable wilderness.

  2. David Stakes

    So on that argument, on the excess money I had 5yrs ago. Means I dont owe anyone anything now. The mind boggles.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Australia is trying to remove mention of phasing out of coal in the communique at the Pacific Islands Forum.

    “Australia’s position on coal is we won’t have a communique where coal and coal-fired generation, or phasing it out now, is a realistic proposition,” Alex Hawke told ABC’s Radio National. “We wouldn’t want to see talks break down, but every country has their position, every country has the things that they need to stick with. Australia has a position that we need to stick with.”

  4. Aortic

    Alex Hawke another like Morrison who manipulated their way into pre selection. And they call themselves Christians their God should be thoroughly ashamed of their demonic like practices.

  5. Terence Mills

    The final communiqué from this forum of Pacific Islands countries in Tuvalu will be interesting.

    Australia will seek to have all reference to coal and fossil fuels omitted whilst the hosts and other Pacific Island countries will want to retain a reference to rising sea levels and the role of fossil fuels in global warming and the need to stop the opening of new coal mines.

    So, it remains to be seen if the communiqué is a pragmatic document or if Australia can spin it into a feel good work of fiction.

  6. wam

    Good sounding word pusillanimus, kaye!
    What would you use to describe writers who use ’emissions’ over and over but not a word about greenhouse gases or (shush)GW. Could we use echewal or truculent, perhaps obstreperous?

    Dear Kaye and the crow,
    This is from a summary of a 2004 documentary:
    A detailed overview of contemporary life in the tiny South Pacific country of Tuvalu, this film documents the earth’s first sovereign nation faced with total destruction due to the effects of global warming’

    Note effects of global warming is NOW climate change is ‘god knows when’?

    Kaye, this is a bit of a laugh on the deniers:

  7. corvus boreus

    The recent triggering of feedback loops like massive methane releases in the Arctic and increasing oceanic acidification means that our planetary biosphere is already locked in for catastrophic warming and worldwide flooding regardless of whatever belated attempts humans might make to slow the processes.
    Your grandchildren will all have diminished lives then suffer premature deaths due to their habitat being rendered inhospitable.
    Have a nice day.

  8. Kaye Lee


    I cannot for the life of me understand what your problem is regarding the term climate change. As we have discussed countless times, global warming causes the climate to change.

    I am also very confused as to why you think the word ’emissions’ has nothing to do with greenhouse gases as that is exactly what we are discussing – we are not discussing greenhouse gases, we are discussing how our elevated emissions of greenhouse gases has warmed the planet causing the climate to change.

    What term would you use to describe people who do not understand this despite the enormous body of evidence? Deliberately obtuse?

  9. wam

    thanks kaye and crow,
    Do you not have lnp deniers in your circle to listen to their beliefs?

    The point is clear to wanking trolls that the concept of ‘anthropogenic’ global warming and the concept of the greenhouse effect is demonstrable and visible, see the TUVALU film from 2004.

    The complexity of climate change makes it hard to understand and easily denied as natural and not anthropogenic?
    But who cares you believe what you wish.

    I am arguing that man returning to the atmosphere that which nature took billions of years to remove is certain to upset the natural order. Global warming is the manifestation of this greenhouse gas emission and the results can be seen.
    As you consider this assertion to be dumb, so be it, I have often been called dumb because 50% of us are below average but we vote.

  10. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think you are dumb wam and no, I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t think climate change is an existential threat.

    I understand the idea that the climate has always changed. What I don’t understand is how people fail to see that climate change has taken millennia in the past, not decades. The only time there has been rapid climate change has been due to a catastrophe. This time, we are the catastrophe and what’s worse is we are not a one-off disaster – we are an ongoing disaster which continues to get worse.

  11. Kaye Lee

    There are a couple of reasons that I use the term climate change rather than global warming.

    If all that happened was the temp went up a couple of degrees, that would probably be tolerable, and even welcome in lots of places. But it’s how that changes the climate that causes the problems. More moisture is held in the atmosphere so we get rain bombs which cause massive flooding. Warmer oceans allow more intense cyclones to form. Rainfall patterns change leading to intense droughts. Warmer winters keep undergrowth growing extending and exacerbating bushfire season. Ocean currents are changing which changes our seasonal weather. Heatwaves are more frequent and more intense. etc etc etc

    The other reason I don’t say global warming as much is because idiots who don’t understand the difference between weather and climate like Barnaby Joyce say well it’s really cold in Canberra, or Craig Kelly will post articles about snowstorms in America.

  12. margcal

    Anyone who denies climate change could at least be challenged on the rate we’re using the world’s resources.Talking coal specifically, It’s not like trees turn to coal overnight or even over century. Definitely not fast enough to be termed a renewable in any practical sense.

  13. Matters Not

    Speaking about liars and cheats, one should be encouraged by the recent legal decision re Glencore and their pending tax obligations (perhaps the biggest tax avoider operating in Australia – and elsewhere). But probably not because while we tut, tut about franking credits, Centrelink payments et al, the big picture seems beyond us.

    Not surprised because the Opposition remains silent as well.

  14. guest

    wam, you ask: “The complexity of climate change makes it hard to understand and easily denied as natural and not anthropomorphic?”

    I do not understand your quibbling about use of climate change or global warming. That kind of argument leads us nowhere.

    Have you seen attempts by deniers to deny what you say can easily be denied? They think they have a valid denial whether it is about global warming or climate change, but in fact their denial can be easily disproved. When their denials are placed alongside each other, we find that their arguments have no cohesion; they contradict each other.

    There is no cohesive science of denial. To deny is much harder than deniers think it is.

    To merely say there is no climate change/ global warming, or to say there has been climate change/ global warming before, fails to address the facts.

    So then we get into quibbling about “facts”.

    We had a post at AIMN just recently to which there were over 100 comments, sustained by a poster who produced a barrage of strange ideas and refusal to answer questions and to hop from one position to another, maintaining an incoherent barrage of gobbledegook.

    He was quite happy to accept contrary denialist nonsense because each gave, for him, further ammunition in his false argument.

    A waste of time.

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