Home > Environment > The politics of the CPRS

The politics of the CPRS

August 15th, 2009

In the process leading up to the Senate’s rejection of the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, no one has covered themselves with glory. Starting with the Independents, there’s little that can be said about Fielding except that the sooner he is sent home to nurse his delusions, the better. Nick Xenophon has unfortunately followed his customary line of trying to come up with his own alternative scheme. At this stage of the game, this position is not much different, in practice, from Fielding’s, though it offers more chance of a rethink on the second round. The Nationals have pretty much followed the Fielding line, and the Liberals have been all over the shop, as usual.

That leaves Labor and the Greens, neither of whom can be particularly proud of themselves. In the absence of a disaster, they will control the Senate between them in the next Parliament and will have little choice but to make deals on climate policy. As a leadup to this, it would be great if they could have reached an agreement on an improved, if still imperfect, CPRS. But Labor is more interested in wedging the Libs, and the Greens are more interested in political purity.

What would an improved CPRS look like? First, as I’ve argued already, the government’s conditional target of 25 per cent is about right. There’s no way Copenhagen will produce a number much larger than this – the US is offering 17, and the EU 30 with an asterisk (a choice of start date that makes them look particularly good). The 5 per cent target could be higher, but really, if we don’t get a global agreement, nothing Australia does really matters. The big flaws in the CPRS are the excessive giveaways of free permits (and the correspondingly limited compensation for households and displaced workers) and the fact that the design negates the benefits of any voluntary reductions (I initially thought the changes announced in March addressed this point, but they don’t).

Looking ahead, the politics seem reasonably promising for the government, promising but risky for the Greens and the Nationals, mixed for the Independents, and disastrous for the Libs. The government would be crazy not to take the opportunity of a double dissolution: given the resounding win that seems almost certain, they would be able to pass the legislation in a joint sitting without any outside support. That would create a “fact on the ground” which would make it life more difficult for the Greens; they could scarcely block legislation required to fix problems with an existing scheme as they emerged, and would be stuck with making incremental changes. Against that, they would have the balance of power in the Senate, and the chance of taking a couple of inner city seats from Labor (remote in my view, in the context of a double dissolution). The Nats would be able to demonstrate some independence and perhaps stave off their extinction for another election or two. As for the Independents, Fielding should never have been elected (thanks, hardheads at the Vic ALP for the deal that got him in!) and won’t get back. On the figures from last time, Xenophon could be re-elected with a running mate. I doubt that would happen. He’d probably get back in, but the numbers in the new Senate would leave him on the sidelines.

As for the Libs, the idea of a double dissolution in November fought on an issue where they can’t keep a consistent line for more than a day at a time, seems appalling. They’d be better off backing down and passing the government’s legislation. But if they are going to cave in November, why didn’t they make a serious attempt at cutting a deal this time around? Like Mr Micawber, they are hoping that somethng will turn up, but they are likely to be disappointed.

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  1. Kevin Cox
    August 16th, 2009 at 07:04 | #1

    What appalls me is the abuse of representative democracy. The people we elect are meant to act in the best interests of those they represent. Clearly all parties are acting in what they think are their interests. The overwhelming majority of the electorate want something – anything done and the cynically linking of the Renewable Energy Targets to Emissions Trading is proof that issue is being used as a political lever.

    I am disappointed with the Rudd government for linking the two and hope that they will see sense and delink them and at least we keep the little we are doing moving along.

    I can understand the reason for the delay on Emissions trading as blind freddy can see it will not work and it is best that we do not set an unworkable system in legislation. In the meantime there are many other ways we can get things moving particularly by encouraging investment in Renewables and ways of Saving Energy – hence the importance of passing the Renewable Energy Targets and perhaps increasing it to 40% to compensate for the failure of agreement on Emissions Trading and show the world that we were serious about emissions controls.

  2. Hermit
    August 16th, 2009 at 07:32 | #2

    I fear that major emitting countries will return from Copenhagen full of good intentions but the implementation will be hopelessly compromised. I suggest that instead of free permits all easily monitored industries (not farming) pay their way but get highly visible subsidies instead. That is, they go on the ‘carbon welfare’ list. Offsets should also be limited to say 10% of the required cuts.

    A strong renewables target does not guarantee a reduction in coal burning. See the discussion on the Brave New Climate blog. In any case a jump from 3% to 20% may be unachievable within a decade. The political temperature is sure to rise along with El Nino, Peak Oil and major weather events. In hindsight we will probably realise we should have broken in the ETS by now, not more dithering.

  3. August 16th, 2009 at 08:21 | #3

    I wonder if Kevin Cox could explain the abuse of representative democracy when politicians representing electorates where many residents depend directly or indirectly on coal mining prefer phased-in action that will cause the least damage to the economic interests of their constituents. To many it would seem representative democracy in action.
    Then, he suggests that the “overwhelming majority of the electorate” want something done. I think there is a difficulty in seeing Australia as one homogenous electorate.

  4. nanks
    August 16th, 2009 at 09:00 | #4

    It’s because there is a difference between representative democracy and majoritorianism Economic interests are not the only interests JohnL, and for someone to think the economic interests are served best by insufficient action (the Labor position) shows very short term thinking.

  5. Salient Green
    August 16th, 2009 at 09:42 | #5

    JQ said “and the Greens are more interested in political purity.”
    Kevin said “Clearly all parties are acting in what they think are their interests. ”

    Considering 75% of the general populace and 100% of Greens voters want the Continue Polluting Regardless Scheme toughened up, I would judge those statements as overly cynical.

    The Scheme is crap and the Greens had to make a stand even though it made no difference to the result. Clearly, they are the only ones acting in everone’s best interest.

  6. jquiggin
    August 16th, 2009 at 10:34 | #6

    SG, I want the CPRS toughened up too. But if the Greens want a toughened up version of the bill they can support, consist with the advice the government got from the Garnaut Review, rather than an ambit claim that ensures they can vote No, they’re not getting that message across, at least not to me.

  7. Salient Green
    August 16th, 2009 at 11:18 | #7

    The message they’re getting across to me is that they are sticking to their principles. I agree they may not be getting their message across to nearly enough people in the best way they could.

  8. August 16th, 2009 at 14:32 | #8

    At present the climate sceptics/deniers and vested interests are winning. In a way the government are in the middle of nowhere. They can’t really negotiate with either greens or blues. The public are increasingly bewildered by the science and the economics.

    A double-dissolution is not necessarily a shoo-in. Ask Obama about the politics of change at the moment. Popularity can easily dissolve in the face of a concerted scare campaign around jobs and misinformation about climate change.

  9. Donald Oats
    August 16th, 2009 at 15:08 | #9

    A double-dissolution is not to be taken lightly. I would much prefer that Labor avoided that path and concentrated on getting a seriously decent Copenhagen consensus towards addressing anthropogenic global warming. They should split the bills, take the Renewable Energy bill to the Greens and negotiate with them on it in return for passing the CPRS as is.

    That gives Labor a Renewable Energy path for industry and consumers; it lets the Greens get somewhere with their concerns, and it doesn’t rely on the Liberal/National coalition. The CPRS targets can be changed after the bill is made law; by leaving the CPRS bill untouched Labor still have the double-dissolution trigger to wave at the Liberals. Note: this assumes that unbundling the two bills is consistent with the rules governing the creation of a double-dissolution trigger.

  10. nanks
    August 16th, 2009 at 17:27 | #10

    Why should the Greens accept ‘a little bit dead’ as a compromise? I’m not familiar with the science that shows climate change responds with a ribbon and a koala stamp because we ‘participated’.
    The Rudd CPRS utterly fails to take the problem of climate change seriously. Should the Greens then come onboard and support a position of ‘mere’ failure as an improvement because the short term politics look comfy? I would think that if they do join the Labor farce the Greens will lose credibility.

  11. jquiggin
    August 16th, 2009 at 18:35 | #11

    @nanks, As far as I can see, the Greens position relies pretty heavily on the claim that the science in the 2007 IPCC report is wrong. On the basis of the IPCC report, stabilization at 450 ppm is a reasonable goal, and a 25 per cent cut by developed countries would put us on the right track to achieve it.

    The Greens are relying on claims that the latest science is much more pessimistic, but it’s hard to see how these claims can be made the basis of a policy position in the absence of explicit support from the IPCC or, failing that, a statement by major scientific organizations.

  12. August 16th, 2009 at 20:13 | #12

    Nanks: I take it you believe local MPs should ignore the economic interests of their constituents. What you call “majoritorianism” is actually representing the majority view of voters in an electorate on their livelihoods. Your opposition to this is apparently because you assume you know better than those casting a vote what is in their best interests. Your position seems to be that if people lose their jobs, or are unable to look after after their families properly, they should be thankful because it demonstrates long-term thinking on the best way to tackle climate change. I realise you may not like this fact but it is the politician who best represents the interests of electorate (of which economic interests are a major component) who secures the majority of the votes after preferences and gets elected. Much as you may dislike that reality, it’s actually what representative democracy is all about. I accept you agree with Kevin Cox that representative democracy is not well served when a local MP represents the economic interests of constituents and not the claimed “overwhelming majority of the electorate” (which presumably is derived from the latest opinion poll).

  13. gianni
    August 16th, 2009 at 20:30 | #13

    There are other genuine problems with the CPRS that the Greens are quite correct in objecting to. Ross Garnaut also was very unhappy with the degree of compensation paid to the EITEs, to the extent that he wasn’t willing to support the CPRS before the Senate Committee.
    Ross Garnaut had in sense provided Kevin Rudd with a justification for further watering down his own recommendations by progressively weakening his prescriptions in each report. He was particularly misguided in abandoning a policy outcome dictated by the science, to one based on his assessment of that the “art of the possible” was capable of delivering at the next major climate change conference. Who knew beneath that the econometrician’s exterior beat the heart of an astrologer?

    How did that work out for him? Kevin Rudd took what’d done, and simply kept going, resulting in the CRPS’s risible 5% reduction target.

    In addition to the problems you noted, there is also the lack of limits on the purchase of foreign carbon credits; and the exclusion of the transport sector.

    Malcolm Turnbull’s other problem is that within the Coalition, it is the supporters on ETS and who accept the implications of the science of global warming who are a rump, not the denialists. For every one Greg Hunt, there are five Andrew Robbs, Tony Abbotts, Nick Minchins, Ian MacFarlanes and Cory Bernardis. There may be a consensus on avoiding a double dissolution and the sceptics may simply hold their nose if Malcolm Turnbull is able to extract yet more compensation to the EITEs and big domestic greenhouse gas emitters.

  14. nanks
    August 16th, 2009 at 20:31 | #14

    John, there is the science and there is the politics. The science says current levels (390ppm) cause climate change. Going to 450 makes that change worse. I find the view of Hansen et al that 350 is realistic and necessary more compelling. Using the traditional political scam of the powerful – a strategy of offering compromise that says we want all your life but we’ll settle for half – cannot be allowed this time. A compromise position – which is only being offered to preserve the existing structures of inequality – will be disastrous.
    As far as saying policy has to based on consensus science – there has never before been a problem ignoring consensus science to determine policy.

  15. nanks
    August 16th, 2009 at 20:36 | #15

    I have no idea whose views you are talking about JohnL – certainly not mine.

  16. fred
    August 17th, 2009 at 09:12 | #16

    “…and the Greens are more interested in political purity.”

    I find it strange that this is written as if it is some kind of negative.
    Should they be more interested in political IMpurity?

    I once heard a fella accused in the course of a discussion that he was just a ‘do-gooder”.
    His response was “Would you rather I was a do-badder?”

  17. James
    August 17th, 2009 at 09:27 | #17

    I wonder if this study (SMH article) showing that east coast droughts have been definitively linked to global warming might shift the minds of a few Nationals.

  18. August 17th, 2009 at 16:48 | #18

    What would an improved CPRS look like? First, as I’ve argued already, the government’s conditional target of 25 per cent is about right.

    There are several reasons why 25 per cent is insufficient. Firstly, the point of a conditional target is to induce other countries to cooperate leading to socially optimal emissions reductions. For this reason it does not make sense to not propose conditional targets that are not socially optimal. If other countries don’t reduce their emissions by enough, we don’t adopt the conditional target and nothing is lost by proposing a stronger target.

    Secondly, because Australia’s per capita emissions are so high, it could easily be argued that Australia should do more of a share of reducing emissions. A 25 per cent reduction as part of a 450 ppm agreement strongly rewards Australia for being a high per capita emitter. If Australia was willing to do a greater share of emissions reductions then developing countries would be more likely to participate in emission reductions.

    Finally, stronger emissions reductions would be very cheap. The Senate recently passed a motion calling on Treasury to model deeper reductions than 25 percent (which the government refused to do). But there is enough information in the existing Treasury modelling to see that the costs of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 instead of 25 percent would be minimal.

    The Treasury modelling assumes an internationally harmonised carbon price, and the 25 per cent scenario expects the carbon price to be $60 in 2020 (2005 dollars). With an internationally harmonised carbon price, then the difference between a 40 per cent target for Australia and a 25 per cent target would be made up with international permit purchases, which would be subtracted from GNP.

    The Treasury modelling suggests that in the 25 per cent scenario, Australian per capita GNP would be $54,700. This allows us to get a ball park figure for what Australias per capita GNP would by if we were to reduce net emissions by 40 per cent. Subtracting the extra permit purchases from GNP, we find that Australian per capita GNP would be $54,500.

  19. jquiggin
    August 17th, 2009 at 17:36 | #19

    Peter, you seem to be modelling a case where the world and Australia both cut emissions by 25 per cent, and Australia then pays about $4 billion to overseas sellers to notionally make our reduction 40 per cent rather than 25. I can’t see that playing well politically, or in any other way.

    If the world cut 40 per cent, that would make more sense, but then the price would be significantly higher.

    The point of the conditional offer is to ask others to match it. So, an offer no one will match is the same, at the international level, as what the Greens are doing at the national level. We get the moral glory of offering a big cut, then get to do nothing when no one else agrees.

  20. OldSkeptic
    August 17th, 2009 at 19:38 | #20

    Oh for gods sake, hasn’t everyone connected the dots yet.

    The Govt has no interest in the CPRS, Alt energy or anything. It is just politics to cover their real agenda.

    Their CPRS, etc is just a method to beat up the opposition. Rudd, et al, probably doesn’t even believe in GW, or more likely don’t care. The opposition it caught because it is beholden to the same groups that the Govt is (it also doesn’t believe or care), so it can never come up with a different policy. The Govt knows this .. so wedge politics = they win.

    I always work a simple rule with liars (ie all politicians) where do they spend the money, that is what is important to them. Actually in terms of money spent .. Howard was so superior to Rudd that it is not funny.

    And in Coalstralia, it is all coal, coal and more coal.

    And that is the future. And if you don’t like it I’m sure ASIO will take care of you.

    No large scale alternative energy will be allowed to be developed, not solar, not wind, not geothermal, not anything. Oh yes, a few token things for PR purposes, but when Victoria has to build a new brown coal power station for its desalination plant there will be no objections (probably even some big tax breaks and Fed financial help though).

    Solar will be destroyed, or at least kept to minimalist levels (=sod all of anything).

    The only thing that will change Australia? International pressure and, coming real soon, carbon taxes on other countries imports (which means we export nothing).

    Yep, we are going to be the CO2 pariah of the World in the near future.

    Don’t believe it? Remember Rudd boasting how he had got ‘carbon capture’ on the agenda with the support of some other countries recently? Trouble is ‘carbon capture’ requires a few technological breakthroughs, like transporters, mass anti matter creation and building a large starship in orbit .. to beam the CO2 to (say) Mars.

    Trust me, this is easier technology to master than what they are talking about (and doing nothing about as well because everyone knows, including them, it is a scam).

    Coal, Coal, Coal,
    Oz burns it all the time.
    Merrily, merrily, merrily
    Watch the peasants, starve, burn, drown …

    Yes I know it doesn’t rhyme .. but then again they don’t care. E.g. did the British Govt care about the Irish starving in the Famine .. nope. We are now deep into the human pyramid scenario. All the bad GW things are not going to happen to them .. they think, if they ever thought, or cared.

  21. Hermit
    August 18th, 2009 at 08:04 | #21

    Further evidence for Rudd’s unseriousness about carbon cuts is the fact that coal exports generate the same CO2 (about 600 Mt) as the entire domestic economy. It is two faced to talk about a CPRS while flogging as much coal as possible to foreigners.

  22. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    August 18th, 2009 at 08:25 | #22

    Hermit – just to be accurate not all coal is burnt. Some is used in steel production. The carbon atoms get locked up within the steel rather than going into the atmosphere. Policing what foreigners do with Australian coal might be somewhat impractical.

  23. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    August 18th, 2009 at 08:43 | #23

    Actual my last comment is rubbish. Please disregard.

  24. August 18th, 2009 at 13:22 | #24

    John, an issue with international emissions allocations is that equivalent percentage reductions with respect to some base year do not necessarily translate to equivalent levels of effort. A 25 per cent reduction for Australia is less of an effort than a 25 per cent reduction for Europe and is less of an effort than a 25 percent reduction for the rest of the world. This is because Australia’s per capita emissions are much higher (about 27 tonnes per person) than Europe’s (about 11 tonnes per person) or the rest of the world (about 6 tonnes per person). A 40 per cent reduction for Australia by 2020 would be consistent with countries converging to equal per capita emissions some time before 2050 and 450 ppm CO2-e greenhouse gas concentrations. A 25 per cent reduction by Australia could be consistent with 450 ppm and convergence of per-capita emissions by 2050 but with considerable overshooting (this is what was suggested in the Garnaut review).

    The problem as I see it in the international negotiations at the moment is that the Annex I (developed) countries including Australia have put weak reductions on the table and so developing countries point out that this is not fair and hence are not prepared to do much. If Australia put better targets on the table it would help to resolve this impasse. If it is politically too difficult for Australia to improve its offers in terms of targets, it it still could make a serious commitment for financing adaptation, mitigation and technology for the developing world. I recall Garnaut suggested a minimum of $3 billion for technology alone.

    On the modelling, I was trying to estimate what figures the Treasury modelling would have come up with so the figures are very ball park. A stronger global target would be desirable and lead to a higher carbon price. That deeper targets translate to more permit purchases is a consequence of the assumption that global carbon markets are endogenous and so the carbon price is exogenous. This is a somewhat optimistic assumption in my opinion, and the CPRS deliberately limits international trading of permits, by preventing firms from selling their permits overseas for example.

  25. gianni
    August 18th, 2009 at 14:57 | #25

    [email protected]

    Oh for gods sake, hasn’t everyone connected the dots yet….

    This is essentially the argument put forward by Guy Pearse in his Quarterly Essay(#33) “Quarry Vision”. In his view, whatever the outcomes (intended or actual) of the CPRS, a reduction in the amount of per-capita CO2 emitted by Australia won’t be one of them. (In fact, the transport sector will continue ramping up its emissions.) We’ll just keep buying carbon credits from farmers in poorer nations, but there won’t be a gram less of CO2 emitted. I suppose it might save some forests from being cut down. And that assume carbon offset-based conservation agreements will even be enforced or audited.
    The other outcome, reflecting the consensus amongst our political, bureaucratic and business elites is that we’ll continue exporting coal as fast as we can dig it out.

    The way the debate has played out since his essay was published in March suggests that there is little chance of Guy Pearse being proven wrong. Just this morning there was the news that Greg Hunt and Penny Wong are fine with the idea of categorising the burning of native forest woodchips as “renewal energy.”

  26. Austin
    August 18th, 2009 at 15:58 | #26

    I don’t understand why you’d paint the Greens as some kind of extremely idealists considering considering that it was them who put up this amendment:

    “That these bills be now read a second time.

    upon which Senator Milne moved by way of amendment:

    At the end of the motion, add:

    provided that the Government first commits to entering the climate treaty negotiations at the end of 2009 with an unconditional commitment to reduce emissions by at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and a willingness to reduce emissions by 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 in the context of a global treaty.”
    Hansard record

    This was voted down by everyone except themselves and Mr X. A commitment to 25% over 1990 levels for Australia is by no means an extreme position.

  27. Hermit
    August 18th, 2009 at 15:59 | #27

    I see two ways of meeting the 20% renewables target within a decade
    1) massive collapse so that the 100% isn’t so big any more
    2) fudging the figures.
    If the latter it shows that Rudd has learned well from his predecessor. The evidence from Germany, Spain and Denmark is that wind and solar need large fossil fuel or nuclear backup. In Australia’s case coal fired power stations that promise to be ‘carbon capture ready’ will get off the hook and new gas fired electrical generation will be deemed as co-renewable since it will be needed to cover lulls in wind and solar output. A blind eye will be turned to coal exports as will be the case when we pay PNG to save forests but they trash them anyway.

  28. OldSkeptic
    August 18th, 2009 at 19:29 | #28

    Gianni, I haven’t yet read his article but the current situation is so blindingly obvious it is not funny.

    Strangely Howard was more pro solar (measured in the only thing that counts – money) than the current Govt. Though I had no illusions that much solar would be tolerated.

    It is just the Rudd will tolerate zero solar, while Howard would allow a bit.

    On that scale, measured in sheer money terms, Rudd is far, far more pro coal than the previous Govt. Possibly because Rudd wants to do a Bliar (deliberate) and earn enough money from the corporate sector to dump the unions. So he will do anything they want.

    I said ages ago, just after they got elected (in LP) that this Govt was far more corporatist and right wing than the last one. Boy did I get howled down .. but guess who was right. Even to the point of putting up ‘anti Haneef’ ‘terrorist’ legislation.

    But, because they are thick, the end is in sight. When Copenhagen fails, plus the second wave of collapse hits economies (we are just starting the collapse) then carbon taxes on imports will be the way that places like the EU can ‘square the circle’.

    Translated: how can they put in tariffs to protect their domestic economies, while still appearing ‘free trade’. The answer ‘carbon import taxes’. The EU will be first (the experts in hypocrisy) followed by everyone else (inc US and China).

    As the World’s worst (on a per capita basis) CO2 emitter … watch the tariff walls go up against our exports … then bye, bye the Oz economy (or what’s left of it by then).

    Odds are Rudd will do the usual ‘lie my way out of it’, but this will pit company against company, lobby group against lobby group, which is where the real power lies.

    Eventually this, or the next, Govt will panic and start to ‘de-carbonise’ the Australian economy.

    Trouble is I can predict exactly how they will do it .. you and me Joe Soaps will cop it in the neck. We will be carbon taxed out of existence, while the Govt of the day still tries to protect the big political donators.

    Enjoy your heating and hot water now boys, you wont have it for long (plus you still won’t have solar).

    Translated for the slow: Australia is now so politically corrupt at State(duh) and Federal levels that no sensible decision can EVER happen.

  29. nanks
    August 18th, 2009 at 20:19 | #29

    I wouldn’t feel too alone in some of those views OldSkeptic. The govt will do whatever they think best maintains and increases privilege for themselves and their patrons.

  30. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 18th, 2009 at 20:54 | #30

    John, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry but OneNewsNow is reporting the CPRS bill was defeated as a result of ‘an outpouring of scientific facts refuting the link between manmade carbon emissions and climate change’.

  31. Ikonoclast
    August 18th, 2009 at 21:26 | #31

    I agree with OldSkeptic and Nanks on this issue. I’ve posted elsewhere in these blogs on how the “Cap” in Carbon Cap is a great big fib and how Rudd is supporting the Big Fossil Corporates all the way (and vice versa).

    We are headed for big trouble.

    (A) Climate change is real and it’s about to get real nasty real soon.

    (B) Everything Australia and the world has done so far is far too little far too late.

    (C) Don’t these people who blather on about “the economy” realise that;

    No viable environment equals no viable economy, no viable anything, full stop, end of story, homo sapiens (sic) go extinct!

  32. Ubiquity
    August 18th, 2009 at 23:28 | #32

    I get the feeling were going to be taxed on CO2 emissions, but achieve nothing. This would be the perfect political scenario. All players duped into believing the government reached a consensus position.

    I just want a tax refund for myself or my progeny if anthropogenic GW is proven to be insignificant.

  33. August 19th, 2009 at 15:03 | #33

    Although the targets are listed in the ‘objects’ section of the CPRS legislation, it is not the legislation that says what the targets are. The legislation, through the sections on scheme caps and scheme gateways, states how the targets are set. But what will actually determine the targets is what is negotiated at Copenhagen. The government will announce the targets in 2010.

    One of the main problems with the CPRS however is that it locks in targets for too long. The government policy is to set 5 years of targets, and 5 more years of upper and lower bounds for the target (the gateways). The legislation in fact allows the government to set upper and lower bounds for an indefinite amount of time. This presents problems because it restricts the government from tightening targets in response to international developments. Industry likes long targets because that provides certainty, and the electricity suppliers want to lock in targets and gateways for 20 years.

    Locking in (most probably weak) targets for 20 years would be a disaster, and I have great fears about what a “browner CPRS” would look like. We do however need the investment certainty provided by a long term price signal. A much better way to provide a long term credible price signal is for a steadily increasing price floor, as has been proposed in the US Waxman-Markey legislation.

    John mentioned the issue that voluntary measures don’t lead to additional emission reductions under the CPRS. I’m not too concerned about this issue in particular, but it hints at a more serious issue, that there is no price incentive to reduce emissions beyond the cap. A price floor is also a relatively simple mechanism to do this.

  34. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 20th, 2009 at 11:55 | #34

    John, when Barnaby Joyce is fair dinkum he never minces his words and today he continued his tirade towards the Liberals and wants ‘out’ of the Coalition. London to a brick on he gets his way very very very soon.

  35. paul walter
    August 20th, 2009 at 14:10 | #35

    John L, etc gripes at Cox and Nanks are clumsy and/or dishonest.
    These are not suggesting scapegoating of locals. Quite the opposite: they are proposing the curbing of vested interests in favour of the community,including in locales, when economics and science suggests change needs to happen.
    Locals can be adequately compensated thru reconstructive schemes- we all recall Latham’s $800 mill plan for Tasmania to rescue the appreciating old growth resource from woodchipping and toxic processing. These were foiled by a Howard, Gunns and CFMEU and other vested interests alliance, who wanted to kill the goose rather than harvest its golden eggs over time as to both theindustry and readjustments.
    These reconstruction schemes should not go down the route proposed with Cubby Creek in another resource industry-water.Here there is a monumental contructed rort that ensures an end dividend of $450 millions to cease vandalism, on top of all the money lost thru corrupt peppercorn prices for water. These is compounding an injury; further rewarding the criminals at the cost of victims.

  36. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 20th, 2009 at 19:45 | #36

    John, if the Liberals think Barnaby Joyce is kidding about quitting the Coalition they should think twice for today he maintained his rage arguing that Labor’s ‘CP’ in the CPRS stands for Labor’s ‘Cunning Plan’ to force a double dissolution and the ‘RS’ is what happens to the economy in the process and is immoral.

  37. Fran Barlow
    August 20th, 2009 at 22:53 | #37


    The Greens are closer to the mark. We need a very aggressive plan in which the 25% is the starting point with all permits auctioned, agriculture and forestry and transport in ASAP. There should be no free permits and no compensation. The world should be aiming to stabilise at 400ppmv.

    MRETs shouldn’t have woodchips from native forest in them and certificates should be accounted by their net carbon footprint.

  38. Salient Green
    August 21st, 2009 at 08:41 | #38

    The Greens have mapped out the process for 40% cuts by 2020
    1. Stop logging native forests (10%)
    2. Introduce feed-in tariff legislation modelled on Germany’s as well as
    decent renewable energy targets.
    3. Redirect the billions of dollars from the recent stimulus packages away from
    roads and coal mine-supporting infrastructure, and into sustainable public
    4. A job-creating package of nationwide home and office energy efficiency and
    retrofitting. (10%)

    How’s that? Not a bloody cap and trade in sight. Not a hint of billion bloody dollar handouts to big business. Just some good old common sense.

  39. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 08:42 | #39

    John, Joe Hockey assertion that the Coalition was like ‘a marriage and from time to time there will be an argument over the kitchen table’ is not correct for the Nationals have more or less seperated and are taking ‘separate stances from the Liberals’ which suggests the marriage is ‘over’ and divorce proceeedings are under way, possibly this weekend.

  40. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 09:03 | #40

    Salient Green, you should have mentioned that in 2003 greenhouse gas emissions in Germany were already down 18.5 per cent as against 1990 levels and the figure should rise considerably this year given the recession lowered industrial emissions making Germany a much cleaner and greener place to live than in places like Australia.

  41. nanks
    August 21st, 2009 at 09:12 | #41

    @Salient Green
    It is tragic that Australia will end up with a dumb ineffective system that will shift costs to those least able to afford them, when we could have a progressive solution as per the Greens. How much more impressive was Christine Milne at the Press Club luncheon talk than anyone from the Libs or Labor? It stuns me that people still think Labor and Liberal have anything positive to offer at all on any issue.

  42. August 21st, 2009 at 09:42 | #42

    “it’s about to get real nasty real soon.”

    This is the debatable point – how nasty, and how soon. Wild-eyed proclamations of our imminent extinction are hardly the ingredients of an intelligent debate.

  43. Scything
    August 21st, 2009 at 10:10 | #43

    [email protected]

    I agree with the thrust of what you are saying but the advantages of cap and trade is that it’s a solution that can extend beyond Australia. We do want more than Australia to do this right?

    On the forest thing …

    I also think we should be looking at getting rid of marginal farmland and returning it to something like the condition it was in at the time of European settlement.

    Also … lots of our emissions are in poor building design. Since most buildings are private a cost on carbion usage is essential. Following risies in energy proces in the 1970s, building design in the US improved a lot but then prices collapsed and they went backwards. There’s a lesson there for all of us …

  44. Kevin Cox
    August 21st, 2009 at 10:30 | #44

    @JohnL Survey after survey says that the overwhelming majority of people want something done about climate change. If our representatives keep arguing and making political points rather than addressing the issues then of course that is an abuse of representative democracy. The issue I was addressing is not WHAT is to be done but ask that our representatives address the issues and not procrastinate. Procrastination is as much an abuse as other more obvious forms.

    I would also suggest that the outcry from the electorate – including my small contribution – helped the government decide to decouple the bills.

  45. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 10:31 | #45

    Jarrah, whilst there is a lot of wind here Germany has got on with the job and yesterday the second largest solar park in the world was opened on the Lieberose park south of Berlin site which covers 162 hectares producing enough energy to supply 15,000 homes all year round.

  46. Alice
    August 21st, 2009 at 10:51 | #46

    Jarrah – in case you hadnt noticed (studied ignorance…) the unemployment rate is already bad and deteriorating if you checked today’s papers. Add to that hours lost. Snarks such as “Wild-eyed proclamations of our imminent extinction” (somewhat of an exaggeration here??) are hardly the ingredients of an intelligent debate” are also hardly the igredients of intelligent debate.

  47. Alice
    August 21st, 2009 at 10:56 | #47

    Barnaby Joyce deserves his nickname Back down Barnaby alright…It wasnt long ago that he was threatening to walk across the floor against the VSU legistaion (to protect facilities at country unis). Well now services for students have all but been eliminated and downgraded on unis Back Down Barnaby is at it again…this time he crosses the floor to stop a service fee.

    Back Down Baranaby spends so much time threatening to cross the floor and actually crossing it…he may as well be walking in circles. He doesnt know what he believes in. Another Fielding.

  48. August 21st, 2009 at 11:14 | #48

    MoSH, the neglect of alternative energy here in Australia is abysmal, but understandable given the higher cost and unreliability. My preference is for a carbon tax to make them competitive.

    Alice, I’m not sure why you bring up employment in a thread on climate change (unless you’re worried about job losses due to the CPRS or other CO2 abatement measures). And I’m not sure why you think unemployment is ‘bad’ – it’s less than 6% (though, as you say, deteriorating).

    My comment wasn’t snark. I’m just trying to keep the extremists (on all sides) from derailing the discussion. And I made no exaggeration – see Ikonoclast at #31.

  49. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 12:26 | #49

    No Jarrah, what we are witnessing in Australia is a case of five finger discount as a result of doing very little.

  50. Alice
    August 21st, 2009 at 13:18 | #50

    Jarrah..my humble apologies. Ikono and I must think the same way – I seem to recall saying something remarkably similar about unemployment…I must have lost the thread!

  51. August 21st, 2009 at 14:26 | #51

    MoSH, your comment is unclear, but if I interpret you correctly, you feel the CPRS has a component akin to robbery, ie the free permits and exemptions. I agree.

    [pauses to enjoy moment of agreement on a blog]

    Alice, apology humbly accepted.

    [further pause to enjoy moment of charitable goodwill on a blog]

    Now I’m off to argue with the stupid and rude elsewhere, to get back a semblance of bloggy normality.

  52. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 14:54 | #52

    Correct Jarrah but you must take into account the lost opportunities under the Howard years and their failed policies to make any significant inroads in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions which gets Australians under their craw.

  53. Scything
    August 21st, 2009 at 16:10 | #53

    Ubiquity above

    I just want a tax refund for myself or my progeny if anthropogenic GW is proven to be insignificant.

    Firstly, that’s not going to happen. The basic science is beyond doubt. We are merely about to find out exactly how serious an injury to the biosphere our CO2 emissions are proving. If it did prove to be not that serious, I’d be so releived that tax refunds would be the least thing to worry about, esepcially since the funds would have been used to do worthwhile things like remove sources of other biospheric pollutants — mercury, lead, actinides, VOCs, SO2, PM etc … which are also seriously injurious — and to reduce the call on fossil fuels which are of course finite, and cut the flow of funds to nasty people in the middle east, improve global equity etc.

    You don’t need to accept the science on climate change to see that protecting and restoring terrestrial vegetation and shifting the Ph of the sea back to being more base, or foreclosing the deaths of coal miners or stopping wars over oil or reducing the number of vehicle miles and there for raod deaths and trauma are good things.

  54. Ubiquity
    August 21st, 2009 at 18:57 | #54


    Setting aside the issue of the reality of climate change which I have no interest in discussing. I would much rather see several private entities fund the climate change policies on behalf of our society. The government can oversee the role of these entities on behalf of the people (not itself) for a fee. These entities would be accountable to the people. Contractual arrangements with the companies would be enforceable. In which case failure to use money wisely would result in some sort of compensation. At the moment we can only throw out the current party in power and replace with another of similar motive. There is no real accountability or repercussions other than a politicians ego (and perhaps reduced income). The government machine roles on regardless not held to account.

    I know this is not a Social Democratic philosophy, but it is one I would prefer thus my comment above.

    So would Penny Wong, Kevin Rudd et al sign a contract with me guaranteeing that the climate change policies they fund with my money will make a better world for me and my progeny and will they offer compensation if there (incomplete, consensus) policies don’t work, are wasteful or dangerous, other then to fill the purse of our governments. I bet the answer is no, because…… blah blah and blah.

  55. Salient Green
    August 21st, 2009 at 19:26 | #55

    On Revegetating marginal farmland. What a job! I’ve seen country in northern SA (Quorn) which was cleared of I don’t know what and cropped for a few decades until things dried out and the cropping bowed out to grazing. What I saw on the bare plains was pretty much a monoculture of some sort of prickle which the sheep wouldn’t eat and even the rabbits resisted. I saw some old man saltbush thriving because it was started with irrigation.

    How do you revegetate if it stays dry? How does it succeed if there are still rabbits? I’ve seen masses of beautiful desert oaks (Belah) die during a drought only because rabbits dug down and ate their roots.

    But, we have to try. I have a 14yr old son and older step children who we have stolen nonrenewable resources and large chunks of the natural world from.

  56. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    August 21st, 2009 at 19:45 | #56

    Under the MRET system coal and gas are on an equal footing (ie neither is classed as renewable). Relative to the situation that would exist with a pure ETS (or pure carbon tax) bundled in the MRET scheme is a boost for coal. If the Liberals (or Labor) wanted to elliminate the most CO2 emissions at the least cost they would not have increased the MRET but would have abolished it. Assuming of course that they are also going to implement an ETS which both say they would. Given this context MRET is symbolic rubbish.

  57. Salient Green
    August 21st, 2009 at 19:49 | #57


    Define “a better world for me and my progeny” Please. To me this is a very important aspect of the whole climate change issue. I have my own definition of a better world and it includes controlled depopulation, redistribution of wealth, preservation and restoration of the natural world, and a return to society before self.

  58. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 21st, 2009 at 20:39 | #58

    TerjeP (say tay-a), according to the ORER since 2001, $5.6 billion has been invested in renewable energy capable of generating approximately 9,500 gigawatt hours per year and enough energy to meet the needs of 1.5 million households. And whilst you may think the MRET is rubbish, it is a fifth of the way in meeting Labor’s target of 45,000 GWh by 2020. But having said that, what Australians prefer is a higher renewable energy target by 2020 and it is not beyond our means.

  59. Salient Green
    August 21st, 2009 at 20:59 | #59

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    The MRET is not ‘symbolic rubbish’. It is about creating a fertile and nurturing environment for technologies which will one day “elliminate the most CO2 emissions at the least cost”.

  60. Ubiquity
    August 21st, 2009 at 22:11 | #60


    It is the order and mechanism, in which we see all these things you wish to happen, on which we differ (generally speaking). For me it starts with self and ends with society. With you it starts with society followed by self.

  61. Donald Oats
    August 22nd, 2009 at 02:19 | #61

    @Salient Green
    I agree pretty much with this comment, Salient Green; and I depart from Prof Q in that I think the Greens position on CO2 reduction targets is based on a more realistic assessment of the science. The way I see it, they are the only show in town in so far as they have worked backwards from what are the GHG concentrations which are unlikely to cause dangerous climate change – in accordance with the best scientific assessments of that point – and have determined the necessary reduction path to achieve those concentrations. That is the only way in which risk exposure can be kept acceptably low.

    Garnaut’s report failed in that he tried to establish what the poker players would accept, and then to work out a compromise “reduction path” which was so low as to be acceptable to all concerned. Aside from signalling that Australia would be an easy mark for the spoiler countries, Ross Garnaut unfortunately mortally wounded an otherwise good document.

    The Green’s position is one that makes the science front and centre in determining where to from here. They clearly appreciate that as the science evolves some climate impact risks may need reappraisal, and they definitely appreciate that the IPCC has been conservative in its risk assessment – as the most recent four years of scientific observational evidence demonstrates. Only the Greens have recognised this flaw in the IPPC risk assessment explicitly, and only the Greens have attempte to include the recent evidence in structuring the reduction path.

    The fact is we are where we are, and while a bit over a decade has been irrevocably lost to the cause, the task now is to try and salvage something from the smoking wreck called the CPRS. Only the Greens are facing the problem squarely. No other political party has the guts.

    Time to spin the wheel and put all of the loot on Green. After all, the alternative is no alternative.

  62. paul walter
    August 22nd, 2009 at 06:30 | #62

    ” …the greens are more interested in political purity”.
    What exactly does this vague description; “political purity” actually mean?
    Is it criticism for basing policy on principles and science and not running off with developer bribes because that is more “pragmatic” and heck, someone else can pay for it later.
    I’d hope not yet more criticism for the Greens proposing policy responsive to science and economics of a genuinely rational nature, rather than capitulation, with or without brown bag, to the greed and whims of people like John Gay of Gunns, or the creeps who gave us Bernie Banton or a damaged Murray Darling, or the trillion dollar bailouts as reward for the hubris of criminals while millions lose homes, jobs, or their lives if they live in the poverty stricken third world.
    Heaven forbid economics should deal with rational and efficient use of resources rather than functioning merely as an ideological platform to justify the plunder and vandalism of later day robber barons.

  63. Scything
    August 22nd, 2009 at 09:51 | #63

    [email protected]

    How do you revegetate if it stays dry? How does it succeed if there are still rabbits? I’ve seen masses of beautiful desert oaks (Belah) die during a drought only because rabbits dug down and ate their roots.

    Tough I grant you but

    1. I’d favour a program of coherent government re-acquisition of marginal farmland as part of a longer term project in rehabilitation of ecosystem services. Let the banks carry any losses and allow the displaced farmers to be employed (with training) as land managers with the ability to keep their houses as tenants

    2. Lots of pumping of treated water from sewage or other sources …

    3. Use of biological agents for the rabbits …

  64. Scything
    August 22nd, 2009 at 09:56 | #64


    So would Penny Wong, Kevin Rudd et al sign a contract with me guaranteeing that the climate change policies they fund with my money will make a better world for me and my progeny and will they offer compensation if there (incomplete, consensus) policies don’t work, are wasteful or dangerous, other then to fill the purse of our governments. I bet the answer is no, …

    So would I, and nore should they. There are no guarantees in life. Never have been and never will be.

    There’s only more or less well-considered guesswork and I like the IPCC and other guesswork a lot better than I like yours, which seems to be based on a purely egoistic paradigm.

    I don’t care about your personal interests except that serving them may serve the interests of most people. Where these diverge for you or for me is where you and I and every other individual get to make our own arrangements.

  65. Donald Oats
    August 22nd, 2009 at 11:24 | #65

    South Australia had a greening program in the 70s during the Don Dunstan years. As premier, he arranged for an area stretching along the major roads from Adelaide to Murray Bridge to have native shrubs, mallee, whatever it took to re-establish foliage as permanent ground cover. The greening extended to government owned land at and near Monarto. Monarto, which is only a few km from the Murray Bridge CBD, and about 75km from Adelaide, was declared as the location for a “satellite city” away from Adelaide. Dunstan’s aim was to keep Adelaide to a manageable size.
    In the 80s the land was sold off to private owners and the Monarto satellite city scrabbed. Haven’t seen much in the way of re-greening since then, either.

    BTW, I lived in Monarto in one of the government owned properties, before the sell-off. The great shame of Australia is that too often we find the most forward-thinking politicians only in the pages of Australian history.

  66. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 22nd, 2009 at 11:50 | #66

    Update, Update, Update, the National party has just rejected the federal government’s emissions trading scheme legislation at its annual council meeting in Canberra.

  67. Alice
    August 22nd, 2009 at 12:47 | #67

    Hey Jarrah, my apology was all in the spirit of peace and love…it must have been the 40 year anniversary of Woodstock at the Basement last night that did it!. (And its one two three…what are we fighting for?…dont ask me I dont give a damn!..next stop is Vietnam. Then there was feeling alright, take the load of fanny and lots more. Even lots of baby neo hippies dancing. Much better than neo liberals!).

  68. Salient Green
    August 22nd, 2009 at 14:56 | #68

    Donald, I think there’s a bit of greening happening at the Army Range. I haven’t seen it but I know the treated water from Murray Bridge’s sewage goes there to create some wetlands.

    Those Monarto forests don’t seem to be evolving into natural forests. I think they need a mild fire in there to stimulate seedlings and get rid of the Radiata and pepper trees.

  69. fred
    August 22nd, 2009 at 21:29 | #69

    Takes a helluva long time for mallee to grow to maturity Salient.
    I live just north of that Monarto area and we have been revegetating with local species here on our property for 15 years or more [hand planted about 15,000 trees with a success rate of about 5-10%] and even our oldest tree plantings are recognizably babies next to the mature trees on our remnant scrub which may be centuries old.
    We’ve also tried to introduce understory stuff and species that should be here but are not and we have had limited but some success.
    I won’t live to the ‘babies’ we have planted become mature.
    And its got harder now that we have no water to grow locally provenanced seedlings or nurse our newly planted ‘babies’ through their first summer.
    Still we are pleased with what we have achieved thus far.

  70. Salient Green
    August 23rd, 2009 at 09:31 | #70

    Wow Fred, that’s an amazing effort and even more credit to you for persevering when so many die. The ‘experts’ say you shouldn’t need irrigation if planting in autumn but it doesn’t always work out that way as our local primary school found out in their revegetation project.

  71. Donald Oats
    August 23rd, 2009 at 13:46 | #71

    @Salient Green
    Good on you Fred! That’s a humungous effort. From your experience, what are the major factors affecting the success rate with tree survival?

    That’s good to know, Salient Green, concerning the Army range; every bit helps.

  72. fred
    August 23rd, 2009 at 14:38 | #72



    We plant after the first prolonged heavy rains of winter, usually around June, when we reckon the field capacity is sufficient to keep them going for a while until the rest of the winter rain gives them a chance to consolidate for the onslaught of the summer dry.

    We do a lot of other things of course.

    Our seedlings are local species obviously and the seed purchased from a reputable local company [I can name them if you wish, they have been enormously helpful] or we use Trees for Life [also enormously helpful] recently cos we have no water to grow our own seedlings anymore.
    Either way the seedlings we plant are quality and we pick the strongest looking.
    Dig deep holes, well as deep as I can manage in the thin soil on top of limestone rock. I have swung my trusty mattock named “Otto’ [‘ottomattock’, get the joke?] about a 100,000 times.
    The property was severely degraded for decades before we got it.
    We tree guard against rabbits sucessfully.
    We hand water upon planting just to make sure they can consolidate.
    We have been mulching with native veg mulch for several years kindly supplied by a passing truck fresh from trimming under power lines [that was a real bonus], previously we gathered litter for mulch and we surround the seedlings with some of our ubiquitous white limestone rocks as further mulch.
    We weed around the seedling site, and use some for mulch putting it rootside up on top of the rocks.

    We have experimented a bit with ‘companion’ planting, planting next to established shrubs always down wind, I have an unconfirmed anecdotally backed hypothesis that some sort of symbiosis operates. Results are inconclusive.

    We bribe friends and rellies with red wine and homemade pasties as a reward for breaking their backs.
    They love it.
    And we drink a bottle of red ceremonially at the last seedling planted and pray to the gods we dont believe in and deposit the bottle next to the tree and cross our fingers.
    Very important.

    But for the last 3 years its all been to no avail.
    We’ve planted about 800 seedlings in those 3 years and not a single one has survived,

    I’m firmly convinced, and my neighbours rainfall records that he keeps bear this out, that the amount and seasonality of our rainfall regime is changing here,
    Winter rain is decreasing and the trees can’t survive the searing heat of the last two summers in particular, you know those weeks of 40 degree plus temps.

    So we are considering plan B.

    Only plant 50 a year, grown in Adelaide by a relative cos we have no water, and hand water once or twice a month for about a year to get them through the summer and then they are on their own.
    We can afford that much water.

    I won’t say its been ‘fun’, but it has been, still is, rewarding. There are about a 1000 plus trees out there that weren’t there before and wouldn’t be there unless we, plus friends and rellies, put them there.

  73. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2009 at 15:15 | #73

    Fred, you just made me hungry now I’m dying to have a real pasty.

  74. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 15:46 | #74

    Fred – that is truly amazing as an effort. Amazing what you are doing….and your neighbours but its horrible to think all that effort goes in vain when not a single one survives…when its the rain that isnt there.

  75. fred
    August 23rd, 2009 at 17:16 | #75

    Ta people, as a relevant aside I get just a little bit hot under the collar about irrigation and the Murray partly because of the effort we have put in as described to grow a 1000 trees or so in about 15 years on 100 acres or so.
    We can look out the back of our house and see the rewards of our efforts.

    But if we look out the front we can see where our lagoon used to be.

    And where there was once about 5 s.kms of fairly healthy wetlands there is now a dry partly barren, partly weed infested ex-lagoon complete with toxic water in the water table and acid sulfate soils and devoid of the life, both plant and animal, that was there 3 years or so ago.

    So over-irrigation, the Murray demise, CPRS are a little more than abstracts to us.
    We can look at them.
    They are physical.

  76. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 18:07 | #76

    and I should have added Fred – that your efforts are even more valuable than the govts who have so greedily sold off water rights that they have starved the rivers…even more valuable Fred.

  77. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 18:13 | #77

    And maybe Fred – we dont really even need State governments any more. Maybe they ARE a relic of times gone when communication was lesser…maybe we dont need them, and their in fighting and their squabbles and their pathetic managements. Maybe we need only one government for the whole country and state governments should be cleaned out as a relic of a bygone age.

  78. fred
    August 24th, 2009 at 15:31 | #78

    I took a day or so to have a think about your point re state govts.
    Its not an issue I have considered much in the past nor paid too much attention to when it has been discussed, sort of a tangential idea for me.
    But maybe I’ll have a deep rethink about that.
    I kinda like the idea of local governments as being closest to the community in our 3 tiered sysytem. Even where I live the apparent homogenity of the area hides several fundamentally different local micro ‘geopolitical’ variations, so much more so are these local issues obscured with a state context.
    I lived in Canada for a year and local govt. operates several services eg police and schools, that are state responsibilities here.
    The Canadian model seemed [my familiarity was brief and superficial] to run well.
    Maybe state govts are unnecessary.
    I’ll think a bit more.
    Certainly they bear a huge resposibility for the plight of for the Murray.

  79. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 16:50 | #79

    Im beginning to think so myself Fred. The State govts have become a bit of a relic. They cant tax sufficiently so they make a mess collecting fees and charges over puny assistances – and they make money through donations and shonky deals with developers that dont do us any good. They are constantly crying “broke, broke broke” and their trains dont run on time and they sit around trying to get the private sector to fix their messes and they individually get on the gravy train big time…Im seriously starting to wonder if it shouldnt be all fed and local myself.

  80. Donald Oats
    August 24th, 2009 at 21:26 | #80

    Thanks Fred, for providing that information; it’s great to get some insight into what is really required to regreen – perhaps revegetate is closer to the mark, given the previous state of much of the land here – the area. With the regional rainfall being typically low and lumpy (correct me if I’m wrong here) it’s difficult to imagine new plants sprouting and maturing without human intervention these days.

    You also pointed out that the heatwaves challenge the saplings and other plants, which is interesting to me because in the past in Adelaide I’ve lost plants through a single day of extreme heat. They look like the plant equivalent of the overseas tourist on one of our beaches in January: sunburnt and dehydrated to the nth degree. I’m no greenthumb however 🙂 For the local area, meaning Murray Bridge and surrounds (South Australia, 80km from Adelaide) the move towards a hotter drier climate – as the CSIRO boffins have predicted – means that the odds of getting several extremely hot days and extremely hot nights (defined as > 40C for day and > 30C for night) sadly rise considerably. My limited horticultural knowledge not withstanding, I recall hearing that for Australian trees extreme night time temperature is what gets them. That seems consistent with other information I’ve found on tree thermal death. It shows how hollow the claim by Plimer and others is, that a warmer global mean temperature will be good for plants. Not if the plants are in South Australia, it’s not.

    I share that frustration concerning the Murray, not that I have clear ideas on how to fix it. I remember how we used to swing on the rope, tied to a branch of a long gone tree, out into the water – naturally, teenagers don’t see danger – and now, whenever I do a morning walk down the reserve all I see is an extended shore line and the bits of junk us kids luckily avoided landing on.

    Keep up the great work, Fred.

  81. August 24th, 2009 at 21:56 | #81

    Personally I’d keep local and state governments and discard the federal government. The feds are expensive and don’t do much that is of use.

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