Mr Howard – the protectionist

19 02 2007

The Sydney Morning Herald paraphrases John Howard in an article from 11th February.John Howard

 “PM:  carbon market will have to protect industry”

What a topsy-turvy way of looking at things.  Surely the PM’s approach should be – a carbon market will have to protect Australian citizens, citizens of other nations and our global environment.

How succesful would we be at limiting global warming if a carbon market had as a key goal the protection of  industry.  We know too that the inference here is heavy industry – coal mining, aluminium extraction, blue chip industries generally.  It certainly seems an odd thing for an economic liberal to talk about protecting certain industries.  He hasn’t worried too much about textiles, manufacturing, agricultural protection in the past, so why suddenly leap to the salvation of industries which, left unrestrained, will bring us all unstuck?

The transcript of the original interview on the Sunday program is here.




10 responses

20 02 2007

Hi Verduous,

We’re all stuffed.

Middle Australia is my mum, who listened to me vent about my distress about the implications of global warming and then spent the next day internet searching to produce a few pages about “how it’s all down to sun spots” and that her friend reckons it’s all going to be “ok.” Aaaargh!

I’ve got a very noisy bee in my bonnet and I’m not sure what more I can be doing???

Ok. deep breath…. Keep up the good work Verduous.


20 02 2007

Come now Ruth. I hope that dour sentiment is not purely the result of my (only sometimes) ominous pennings.

I suspect that sometimes a face-to-face argument/disagreement with the folks is not always the best approach. How about slipping her a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth” for the next birthday/mother’s day etc.? Let the DVD do the arguing for you. I don’t know many people you can see that movie and not be moved on some level.

Just chip away slowly. It is very hard for people to change long held, deeply entrenched beliefs. It can involve a “25 point turn”. The idea that we can alter the planet’s natural systems irretrievably is completely and utterly new to Wetern thinking. Until now, there’s always been somewhere else to move on to once we trash a particular locale. It’s a shocking thought.

The good news is that naysayers are really quite rare now (though often noisy). There is very, very little serious doubt about global warming. The argument is moving from “is it real?” to “what do we do about it?”

I could never have hoped two years ago that this issue would be all over the media now. Things can move very quickly. Often not quick enough. But hope remains nonetheless. POWER TO THE PEOPLE !

23 02 2007
John Feeney

Verdurous, you’re right that the media really has moved fast in picking up the climate change issue. It’s easy to lose sight of that. So there really good reason to stay hopeful.

Ruth, you might try running this web page past her:

I agree as well that giving her a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth” would be a great idea.

Also, one of the best one-sentence points I’ve heard made on the issue takes as its staring point the now overwhelming scientific consensus on the matter, and goes something like this:

Taking the “skeptic” position on global warming is like saying, “If 99.9% of experts believe one thing, and 0.1% claim another, well, I’m going with the 0.1!”


23 02 2007

Wow, thanks John. That’s an impressive collection of sources at logicalscience.

23 02 2007

Ruth, I found this interesting article on why some people dismiss or ignore global warming. It is from a psychological perspective. It suggests that humans generally are not hard-wired to respond to the kind of threat that it represents (for clear evolutionary reasons). It comes via and the link to the article is below:

24 02 2007
Magne Karlsen

Quote: “Prime Minister John Howard said today he would not introduce a greenhouse emissions trading market if it made Australian industry less competitive.”

Here in Norway, where all politicians, industrialists and market leaders, plus (so it seems) the vast majority of the population itself, place every climate policy bet on the cap-and-trade scheme, the authorities have reached the decision to postpone the introduction of CO2 capping technologies on the natural gas power-plants, until Norwegian-made technology is in place. So even if some foreign companies have come up with technological solutions already, the Norwegian decision is to wait until Norwegian technologies can start to compete in the international market, some time in the future, as this is certainly going to be a big business in which Norwegian scientific milieus, like SINTEF, must become a winner.

I could provide a source to this news, but I’m afraid the language would be “gibberish” to you. 🙂

24 02 2007

Hi Magne,

Thanks for posting. Although I’m unfamiliar with Norway’s approach, I guess one could look at what you have described in two ways. It could be seen as an excuse for delaying much needed carbon reduction. Alternatively, it could be a clever gamble which will reap Norway many benefits in years ahead.

It is very embarrassing to us in Australia that some Scandinavian countries are so far ahead. In 2003, Sweden derived %26 energy from renewables and only %32 from oil. It aims to have an energy sector that is free of oil by 2020. Amazing. At present the state where I am originally from (New South Wales) dervies %6 from renewables with the aim of %15 by 2020. Appalling. Especially for a country so rich in sunlight, waves, wind, geothermal etc – and we don’t have the burden of needing to heat our homes like in Scandinavia. I’d love to learn more about Norway!

26 02 2007
Magne Karlsen


In terms of environmental policies, any comparison of Norway versus Sweden is embarrassing. I’ll give you but two examples.

1. While Norway’s overall CO2 emissions have risen by 14% since 1990, the Swedish emissions have decreased by 3%.
2. While more than 300 bio-fuel (ethanol) pumps can be found on fuel stations across Sweden, Norway has only 3, I think (the last two bio-fuel pumps was opened a few weeks ago).

26 02 2007

Quite a difference. Is this because of the attitude of the public in both countries or because of the convictions of the current governing parties?

2 03 2007
Magne Karlsen

That’s a very good question. I believe the first thing you’ve got to understand, is that Norway is an oil and gas producing country; among the world’s top producers, as a matter of fact. Sweden doesn’t have any oil or gas resources of its own. While the idea of making emissions cuts poses a big problem (a direct threat) to the Norwegian economy, it simply doesn’t do that in Sweden. Norway’s economy depends on continued oil and gas export, while Sweden is, quite naturally, an importer of fossil fuels. If Sweden can become less fossil fuels dependent, it will probably mean good news to the country, in economic terms?

Money talks, you know. And hey! A fantastic lot of Norwegian oil dollars is at stake here. The perfect Norwegian state of denial is, I believe, a product of our industrial and economic history.

While the Norwegian Minister for Environment, Helen Bjørnøy, tries to keep up with the EU’s emission cuts goals (a 30% cut by the year 2020, is the latest EU target), she is constantly being interrupted and put in place by the Ministers for Finance, Industry, and Energy. Even Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister, has told her to simply shut up her mouth, as the Government has not yet figured out how much the proposed emission cuts will cost.

The Norwegian Labour Union is another problematic political actor. People are afraid of their jobs, of course, if industries will have to close down, and (as they say, mostly (methinks) in order to scare people from taking green views) “relocate to other countries, where environmental laws are not very strict.”

Here in Norway, being “too interested” in green issues, actually amounts to anti-social behaviour.

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