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Climate Change Authority

June 21st, 2012

Some big news (at least for me). I’ve just been appointed as a member of the Climate Change Authority. I was pleasantly surprised by this – although I’m a strong supporter of the carbon price policy, I’ve been highly critical of the current government in other respects.

As regards the blog, the main implication is that I’m going to avoid posting anything that might constrain me as a member of the Authority (for example, views on policy issues) and also avoid polemical statements about climate issues. I’ll still post relevant information on the topic, and welcome debate in the comments section, but I won’t take an active part myself.

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  1. June 21st, 2012 at 18:56 | #1


  2. TerjeP
    June 21st, 2012 at 19:45 | #2

    Well at least somebody gets to make a buck out of this fiasco.

  3. boconnor
    June 21st, 2012 at 21:02 | #3

    Congratulations. Hope they take notice of your opinions.

  4. rog
    June 21st, 2012 at 22:36 | #4

    A good appointment, hoping that the govt stands by the authority.

  5. ajwak1
    June 21st, 2012 at 23:38 | #5

    Congratulations, and a sensible addition on their part.

  6. June 22nd, 2012 at 01:25 | #6


  7. rog
  8. Paul Norton
    June 22nd, 2012 at 07:02 | #8

    Congratulations! Be nice to Heather Ridout. 🙂

  9. Hermit
    June 22nd, 2012 at 07:31 | #9

    Congratulations. I hope you get a chance to point out that Australia’s annual export of 280 million tonnes of coal is a tiny bit hypocritical against the stated aims of the carbon tax.

  10. Troy Prideaux
    June 22nd, 2012 at 08:33 | #10

    Congratulations John!

  11. Michael S.
    June 22nd, 2012 at 09:38 | #11

    Congratulations John – it’s good to know your voice will be on that board.

  12. Fran Barlow
    June 22nd, 2012 at 10:14 | #12

    Yes … congrats from me as well PrQ.

  13. Ken Fabian
    June 22nd, 2012 at 11:05 | #13


    And there is strong backing from every mainstream political party but the Greens for massively expanding coal export capacity.

  14. Ken Fabian
    June 22nd, 2012 at 11:07 | #14

    Pr. Q – congratulations. I hope you can make a real contribution.

  15. Uncle Milton
    June 22nd, 2012 at 11:28 | #15

    It seems that the way to get appointed to something important by the Gillard Government is to say that Gillard is hopeless and call for her resignation. I’m sure Abbott will be just as gracious when and if he begins PM.

    Congratulations John. And I see that your sometime co-author Clive Hamilton has also been appointed. The Government could have gone for 100% bland appointments and it’s very interesting that it did not. I wonder if this presages a more aggressive stance against its critics on the Right.

    The reactions at Catallaxy are exactly as expected.

  16. David Irving (no relation)
    June 22nd, 2012 at 12:08 | #16

    Congratulations, Prof Q. Obviously your previous work on climate policy has been noticed by the govt.

  17. Mel
    June 22nd, 2012 at 12:44 | #17

    Well done, PrQ!

  18. TerjeP
    June 22nd, 2012 at 12:53 | #18

    The Government could have gone for 100% bland appointments and it’s very interesting that it did not.

    Seriously? The board is stacked with what might be regarded as the usual suspects. It is as bland as can be.

  19. Troy Prideaux
    June 22nd, 2012 at 13:10 | #19

    Question: Is the Climate Authority replacing the Climate Commission? If not, what essentially is the difference between the 2 bodies? Government advisory?


  20. Uncle Milton
    June 22nd, 2012 at 13:40 | #20

    Clive Hamilton is a professional controversialist. He can be described as many things, but bland isn’t one of them. Neither is JQ.

  21. Dan
    June 22nd, 2012 at 14:37 | #21


  22. Jim Birch
    June 22nd, 2012 at 15:42 | #22

    Seriously, who are you suggesting? Do you want a couple of innumerate denialists and one or two gung-ho she’ll-be-righters on the board for balance or something?

  23. Mr T
    June 22nd, 2012 at 17:06 | #23

    The reason you have been appointed is so that you will not be able to comment.

    it is all a government plot

  24. John Quiggin
    June 22nd, 2012 at 17:21 | #24

    Mr T :
    The reason you have been appointed is so that you will not be able to comment.
    it is all a government plot

    But I’ll still comment on all the other issues, where I’m much more likely to criticize the government. Maybe they need Commissions on everything 🙂

  25. John Quiggin
    June 22nd, 2012 at 17:24 | #25

    Looking at some comments on the usual sites, and one or two here, I’m glad to have announced my decision not to engage in any further polemics. Shaw’s (attributed) advice on wrestling comes to mind.

  26. frankis
    June 22nd, 2012 at 17:48 | #26

    … and 20 short minutes later there’s another wannabe wrestler here on your “Comment on The doomsayers” thread. They do hate to be ignored.

  27. rog
    June 22nd, 2012 at 19:11 | #27

    @John Quiggin a quick tour through Catallaxy confirms that pig sh1t is the plat du jour. But life is too short to deal with such inconsequentials.

  28. Jules
    June 22nd, 2012 at 20:46 | #28

    Excellent – glad to see some smarts being posted to the board.

  29. Fran Barlow
    June 22nd, 2012 at 21:35 | #29

    @John Quiggin

    Yes … there are some occasions when being constrained not to comment, though momentarily annoying, is in the longer run, a blessed relief. The vast majority of the people you’d swing at show themselves through their remarks to be reckless fools without any urging or analysis from you. Troubling to respond directly to them lends them credibility they ill-deserve and from which they derive satisfaction. Nobody whose opinion you value will bother with such folk.

    Take pleasure PrQ in your self-imposed private counsel. It’s a boon. As you say, you can always speak of the many things to which your post is not germane.

  30. June 22nd, 2012 at 21:52 | #30

    Besides the $6.2 million appropriation in the departmental budget, will there be any public information on how the authority will allocate the money?

  31. Ernestine Gross
    June 22nd, 2012 at 23:08 | #31

    Congratulations to you, Prof Q, and to the country, to your appointment to the Climate Change Authority. It looks like you are going to have a very busy time http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8487592/climate-change-authority-board-announced.

  32. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 05:05 | #32

    @John Humphreys
    I assume there will be an Annual Report. That’s been the case in every other organization I’ve been involved with.

  33. TerjeP
    June 23rd, 2012 at 08:07 | #33

    Jim Birch :
    Seriously, who are you suggesting? Do you want a couple of innumerate denialists and one or two gung-ho she’ll-be-righters on the board for balance or something?

    Well if they had appointed Nick Minchin I wouldn’t have called it bland and I’d be begging for meetings to be open to the public. But even a Ziggy Switkowski or a Barry Brook could have kept it lively.

  34. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    June 23rd, 2012 at 09:05 | #34

    I’ve seen the Catallaxy thread on this item and have decided I am justified in continuing with my spoof name.

  35. Ian Milliss
    June 23rd, 2012 at 09:09 | #35

    Inside the tent pissing out? Although being on boards can be just as frustrating as not being on boards in the end change mostly gets enacted from the inside so its good to see you there, congratulations.

  36. rog
    June 23rd, 2012 at 10:04 | #36

    A lot of stuff to digest; from the NREL http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/

    Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.

  37. Hal9000
    June 23rd, 2012 at 10:09 | #37

    An excellent and well-deserved appointment. Dare I say it casts the quality of the government’s judgement in good light, for a change.

  38. Ikonoclast
    June 23rd, 2012 at 12:11 | #38

    Well done.

    However, unless we leave ALL remaining coal in the ground we will not stop or even slow climate change. How many nations around the world are serious about leaving all remaining coal in the ground? My guess would be zero.

    Given that serious and even catastrophic climate change is now built in and inevitable, perhaps all the planning should be how to run a global civilization at a world mean temperature 6 degrees plus above the current level. That would be a sobering exercise.

  39. Nicholas Gruen
    June 23rd, 2012 at 14:07 | #39

    Very pleased to see this John. And a fine thing that those appointing the group are not after a group of yes men.

  40. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    June 23rd, 2012 at 15:10 | #40

    To Terje @33 (and in the process seconding Nick’s comment @39), from your perspective what’s wrong with someone like John Marlay?

    He’s an alumina company executive and a former member of Howard’s task force on emissions trading, and someone that only the hopelessly partisan could regard as a shill for Labor or for left-green orthodoxy.

  41. June 24th, 2012 at 10:18 | #41

    Ikonoclast, coal is a continuous variable, not a discrete variable, and so its not actually possible for a single coal mine to hold the world to ransom by threatening to not to leave all the coal in the ground.

  42. Hermit
    June 24th, 2012 at 10:43 | #42

    I wonder if the remit of the CCA allows them to suggest policy to the govt as opposed to rubber stamping existing policy while looking concerned. I note one of the ideas lambasted by Combet at his last Press Club speech was that of carbon tariffs. Back door protectionism or somesuch he reckons. However the idea is supported by some EU heavyweights, US energy secretary Chu and Nobel prize winning economist Stiglitz.

    Were it not for 94.5% free permits Australian heavy industry could feel dismayed at China and India getting all the Australian coal they want with no prospect of ever paying $23 per tCO2. If the CCA had real teeth it’s the sort of issue they could raise instead of endless motherhood statements.

  43. Fran Barlow
    June 25th, 2012 at 16:58 | #43

    @Ronald Brak

    Ikonoclast, coal is a continuous variable, not a discrete variable, and so its not actually possible for a single coal mine to hold the world to ransom by threatening to not to leave all the coal in the ground.

    That’s true. While I don’t support such a course, one could object that the withdrawal of Australia from the world market for coal (and presumably natural gas and petroleum) would cause a significant spike in world prices which would in turn make renewables more competitive.

    Establishing new supply chains would be disruptive and probably costly to those relying on Australian coal. There would also be issues of sourcing coal of the right quality and at the right volumes at the right time. These non-price factors would also tip the Chinese more in favour on non Fossil HC sources.

  44. Hermit
    June 25th, 2012 at 17:52 | #44

    Despite the likely knee jerk reaction from business interests there could be bigger emissions reduction from a coal and LNG export go-slow than from the domestic carbon tax. Australia has nine coal ports, is in the Pacific region and is politically stable. China leaned on Vietnam for coal exports and bled them dry now Indonesia is talking about conserving coal. I understand India’s steel industry depends on Australian coking coal though the US northwest coast is greatly increasing hard coal exports. We obviously have no monopoly on double standards about AGW concern.

    I think Australia should form an alliance with the EU and countries with nontrivial carbon penalties. Goods from countries (read India and China) that obviously have no near term intention of cutting emissions will be subject to punitive import duties, arbitrarily 10% or 20% to save compliance cost, until they join the club. Chindia’s reaction to the EU airline tax reveals their true colours. The CCA connection is that they could discuss it even though Gillard/Abbott have closed minds to the subject.

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