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ALP climate change policy failure

By John Le Mesurier - posted Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Senate twice rejected government proposals for reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-e), embodied in its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) - and for good reason.

Opposition rejection was because the majority, deniers of anthropomorphic global warming (AGW), are fundamentally opposed to placing a price on carbon in the form of an ETS or a carbon tax. The Greens rejected it because of what they and a majority in the electorate perceived to be fatal flaws which government refused to rectify. These reasons are worth examining.

Prominent deniers of AGW include Professor Ian Plimer and Lord Monckton. Both have put forward different views about global warming supported by distortion, downright lies and fabrication of scientific findings. Arguments they have put forward in support of their views are listed here, together with scientific conclusions.


Both have provided advice to the National and Liberal Parties. Their advice has, at least in part, been accepted as a basis for formulating policy. The Nationals have declared outright rejection of AGW. The Liberals, while not fully adopting that position have proposed an alternative way of dealing with the need to reduce CO2 emissions, Direct Action, which calls for voluntary action by emitters and rewarding them for their efforts.

The Greens who, like the ALP, accept the scientific basis for AGW and warnings of the consequences of not bringing about rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions saw the CPRS in quite a different light. They accept that an ETS is the most efficient and effective way of reducing CO2-e and of the need to price carbon. However, they saw the following aspects as fatal defects in the CPRS.

Temperature target

The Copenhagen Conference agreed that action must be taken to limit temperature increase to no more than 2C by 2100. The Chief Scientist for Australia and climate scientists world-wide had advised that to achieve this target, CO2-e emissions must peak by 2015 and decline significantly thereafter.

They spelt out the dangers of permitting temperatures to exceed 2C by 2100, noting that among the consequences of not achieving this limit were:

  • more rapid loss of ice and fresh water sources required for agriculture;
  • speedier rise in sea level, flooding of coastal lands and loss of property;
  • drought and higher temperatures threatening food production; and
  • greater severity and frequency of damaging climate events.

The CPRS embodied a response which in effect ignored these dangers by proposing action that climate scientists advise can not limit temperature increase to less than 2C by 2100. Targets adopted indicate a disastrous temperature increase of at least 5C by 2100.


Reduction target

In 2010 the Australian Government proposed its CPRS should reduce CO2-e emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels, note how the previous benchmark year, 1990 has morphed into 2000. The possibility of a 25 per cent reduction by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050 would be dependent on major emitting countries adopt those targets at Copenhagen. They did not.

Government has never explained how a grossly inadequate 5 per cent reduction target by 2020 makes it possible to achieve its barely adequate 2050 target.

By contrast, in 2007 the UK Parliament approved legislation holding the Minister for climate change legally responsible for achieving targets reducing emissions by 2020 to 34 per cent below 1990 levels and 80 per cent below by 2050. Most European countries have long since committed achieving similar targets.

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About the Author

John Le Mesurier born in Sydney and educated at State Schools, then TAFE where he completed a course in accountancy. John is now employed as an accountant with responsibility for audit and budget performance. He has no science qualifications but has read extensively on the topics of global warming and climate change, both the views of scientists and sceptics.

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