Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

What next for Australia’s climate policy?

Australia’s new government is likely to repeal the carbon price, by striking a deal with crossbenchers in the Senate after July 2014, or possibly going to a special election if it looks electorally attractive…

The Coalition has campaigned fiercely on its opposition to a carbon price. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Australia’s new government is likely to repeal the carbon price, by striking a deal with crossbenchers in the Senate after July 2014, or possibly going to a special election if it looks electorally attractive. Still, carbon pricing remains the logical choice for Australia’s longer term climate policy.

Prime Minister Abbott has made it clear his incoming government will make the repeal of the “carbon tax” a priority – in line with his stance since becoming opposition leader in late 2009. It is understood this means getting rid of the carbon pricing mechanism, including the emissions trading phase.

The Senate game

The Abbott government is expected to introduce laws to abolish the carbon pricing scheme and pass them in the House of Representatives. But this change – as well as others that the government may want to make – would require approval by the Senate, where the government has no majority.

The Labor party seems unlikely to agree to a repeal of the carbon price, nor will the Greens. Labor and the Greens together hold a majority in the Senate until the newly elected senators, comprising half of the chamber, take office on July 1 2014.

On current projections, there will then be 33 Liberal/National party senators, 25 Labor senators, ten Greens senators, and eight senators from minor parties and independents. Thirty-nine votes are needed to repeal the carbon price.

The Coalition would then be looking to get the votes of at least six of the crossbenchers. The majority of the crossbenchers from July 2014 are conservatives and several represent single-issue parties. They include representatives from a new party founded by a billionaire miner, and from tiny groups that define themselves around offroad motoring and sports, as well as an obscure libertarian group.

Australia’s compulsory, preferential voting system together with voter disaffection has led to this bizarre outcome of micro-parties holding the balance of power.

Each crossbencher will want to extract political concessions from the government in exchange for their vote, but on the whole they are likely to side with the government. Some may also want to use the opportunity to leave their mark on the government’s climate policy.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, for example, has made it known that he will vote for the repeal of the carbon price only if the Coalition’s “direct action” climate policy is improved.

A double dissolution?

All the while the government will threaten to go to a double-dissolution election. Abbott has maintained that he is prepared to go to a double dissolution over the carbon issue – the very step that then Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd failed to take in 2010.

Such a special election can be called by government if the same legislation passed by the lower house is twice rejected by the Senate. It involves a simultaneous election of the lower house and all members of the Senate, which can be followed by a joint sitting of both houses for passage of the legislation in question.

The government may want to go to a double dissolution if it looks like this will give the Coalition the majority in the Senate, while retaining its comfortable majority in the lower house. If future polls make such an outcome seem likely then we can expect prime minister Abbott and climate minister Greg Hunt to take an uncompromising line in the Senate, forcing a double dissolution.

But the government has every reason to be wary of a double dissolution because it could give micro-parties even more seats: fewer votes are then needed to attain a Senate seat. Meanwhile, some of the existing crossbenchers will want to avoid a double dissolution for fear of losing their seats.

So on balance, a deal in the Senate is more likely than a new election.

Carbon pricing once more?

For the carbon price to survive under the Abbott government, there would need to be a combination of crossbenchers demanding too high a price for their votes, and a double dissolution looking very unattractive to the government.

Stranger things have happened in the rollercoaster that is Australian climate policy. But it seems unlikely given the political prominence that the new prime minister has attached to the “carbon tax” issue.

Down the track however things could change again. Once the “carbon tax” issue loses its excessive political heat, there could once more be room for rational mainstream political discourse over climate change policy. If the Labor party in opposition sticks to its support of carbon pricing, then the option will remain prominently in the mix. And mounting budgetary pressures will put the focus on carbon pricing as a source of government revenue.

How that debate goes will partly depend on the experiences in other parts of the world, not just in Europe where carbon prices remain low but also California, and the budding emissions trading schemes in China and other countries.

And it will depend on the experiences with alternative policies in Australia. Details of the Coalition’s proposed “emissions reductions fund” are not yet clear, but the concerns from many are that it may impose more economic cost and administrative effort per unit of emissions reduced than emissions trading. Recent analysis suggests that much more money than budgeted would be needed to achieve a 5% reduction in Australia’s emissions.

Abbott however has said that no more money than allocated will be spent.

The question must be asked whether the government is indeed serious about cutting emissions. If it is and wants to do so without putting a comprehensive price on carbon and without large on-budget expenditure, then it will need to expand schemes such as the renewable energy target – but indications are it is intent on winding this back. Another option is direct regulation of businesses, like the Obama administration is now doing through emissions standards for power stations.

But direct regulation tends to be more costly to the economy than action through price incentives, and it goes against the Abbott government’s deregulation drive and credo of business friendliness.

At the end of the day, emissions trading or a carbon tax is the obvious climate policy choice for a market economy. But it needs a genuine commitment to take the economy on a lower carbon track, and putting policy ahead of political rhetoric.

Join the conversation

97 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " The question must be asked whether the government is indeed serious about cutting emissions. "
    Tony Abbott and the Environment minister have both expressed confidence in their direct action plans achieving the current target of 5%
    There seems to be emphasis on a firmness re the budgetted financing and yet we also need to visualise that budgets do change just as forward estimates do, the current estimates only running to 2016 whereas the 5% target is for 2020.
    Meanwhile, there is a lot that can…

    Read more
    1. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Greg North

      "Tony Abbott and the Environment minister have both expressed confidence in their direct action plans achieving the current target of 5%"

      ... and what research have they done or seen that supports this?

      The Howard Govt commissioned the Shergold report, the Rudd Govt had the Garnaut Climate Change Review. Both are extensive studies that recommended a carbon price as the most cost effective policy.

      Do we keep doing studies until we get one which gives the conclusion we want?

      report
    2. Dennis Singer

      Student

      In reply to Greg North

      Speculative technologies should not be relied upon. If in due course some of these are developed satsfactorily, the plan can be adjusted.

      In the meantime they ought to stick with what is known to work best.

      report
    3. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,
      I see a quite clear equation or two.
      Spain got suckered by the green dream, went massively solar and near bankrupt.
      Neighbour France stuck to nuclear power, which really does reduce emissions at moderate cost, and its economy is less troubled than Spain's.
      Germany, hotbed of green fairy stories, is currently building large numbers of coal fired generators, in a policy turnabout before it got into financial difficulties - it was already going down the gurgler.
      .....................
      Wherever you look, governments that lean to green get into financial trouble faster than those that stick with reality.

      report
    4. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "Wherever you look, governments that lean to green get into financial trouble faster than those that stick with reality." So we should continue to trash the planet because it is politically expedient to do so? What wonderful leadership that would be.

      report
  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    I wonder if the hidden agenda behind the underfunded and ill-conceived 'direct action' is 'no action'. That is post carbon tax a token effort is made that then fizzles out. In complete contrast we could have the DD the same time as some extreme weather event and Abbott is thrown out.

    Each carbon reduction model is a dogs breakfast of patchwork clauses. Shortcomings include the weak 5% target, doubling dipping of RET + carbon price, measuring the amounts and permanence of soil carbon, lavish use of free permits or exemptions, purchase of dodgy overseas offsets and the hypocrisy of coal exports. I'd like to see a minimal concessions ETS that allows nuclear power and gives tariff protection (not free permits) to trade exposed industries. I fear another decade of dithering lies ahead.

    report
    1. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to John Newlands

      I think the fundamental problem is that Abbott and others in his party, in spite of their obvious intelligence, can not accept that something outside their comfort zone like climate change could really be all that serious. Surely they just don't get it. If they did they would surely be advocating serious action. Perhaps it comes from being religious, or at least the conservative sort of religious? Perhaps their gut feeling (since it is not rational) is that god could not really let us mess up this…

      Read more
    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      I think Abbott thinks he has an ace in the hole. Hell of a risk, eh.

      This ace I think is soil carbon. If a farmer gets 10kilo per paddock, and all farmers do it, type thing.

      report
    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Maddern

      "Greenhouse gas mitigation : sources and sinks in agriculture and forestry" states that a 2 million hectares could sequester 20 million tonnes, if the trees do well, over a 40 year period. Over that time the forests would have to be managed. They would have to be grown on arable land.
      "Finally it is important to realise that native forests dominate the carbon and water cycles in Australia and that climate poses a significant threat to native forests and to their carbon stocks. Droughts, pests…

      Read more
    4. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      I watched Greg Hunt from a few feet away, being put on the spot over this .....and he clearly understands how dishonest the non policy they've espoused is, but hey power always trumps honesty, doesn't it!

      report
    5. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to John Newlands

      The big problem there is that the media refuses to link severe weather events with Climate Change..And especially now that strategy has stacked the Govt in favour of denial and Mr Abbot has described Mr Murdoch as a "Hometown Hero"I can't see any change there...floods, fires, hurricanes droughts no matter how spectacular will still be ascribed to variation and business will be as usual unless enough people absolutely insist on effective action. The only hope is that role would be so pissed off by a DD that they would go back to basics and make sensible choices especially where micro pretend parties are concerned!

      report
    6. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Thanks Alice, but you aren't trying to convince me. The Bozo who holds the levers is the one.

      report
    7. Dennis Singer

      Student

      In reply to John Newlands

      Probably no action is what we'll get. If the LNP pulls together supporters from among the independents to remove the carbon price, there is a strong chance his direct action legislation won't pass. Some of the new independents are straight out climate deniers.

      report
  3. Mark Matthews

    General Manager

    What is critical here is that climate is not a constant and is becoming increasing unstable. I fear that in time the public will start to fully appreciate the significance of climate change on our way of life and they will be very unforgiving to governments that messed around on this issue

    report
    1. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      The public will be fearful easily spooked sheep, much the same as now until it all falls apart.

      report
    2. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      By the time things really go pear shaped, the tipping point will be past. The problem for Australia now is far more deap-seated than people realise. Not only with Mr Coal himself buying not just a lower house but two upper house seats... but I just heard Fran Kelly gain an admission from the micro micro WA Sports party Senator-to-be that he works for Ms Rhinehart, best mate of the no doubt soon to be leader of the Nationals!!...How many more of them are out there? Scary scary Machiavellian stuff... Subverting our entire political process to impose a single anti-science pro fossil fuel agenda for the foreseeable terrifying future. Our best hope now is that India's slow implosion will mean that they can't afford the coal developments and that the Chinese really get going and turn their backs on it. Faint hope, eh.

      report
  4. Comment removed by moderator.

  5. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

  6. Jo Lewis

    logged in via Twitter

    This article states that our preferential voting system is responsible for electing small parties to the Senate. This is not quite correct because the senate voting system is proportional representation which actually gives a clearer picture of the way the populace feels. This is also the reason that the senate often differs from the House of Reps.
    I think the call, coming mainly from the Liberals, to change to an optional preferential system is an attempt to shift that balance by quietly dropping proportional representation under the guise of making the system more functional.
    If we change anything in the voting system we should make sure that we retain proportional representation.

    report
    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jo Lewis

      We should make the parliamentary system MORE proportional, not less.

      1) make the Senate the house of government, so that PM and Cabinet are all senators.
      2) elect the Senate from a single national electorate, so that Queenslanders (and everyone else) get to vote for or against all senate candidates.

      This way, all voters get to vote on candidates for PM and all cabinet positions - instead of just the electors of whichever safe seat they're in.

      report
    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jo Lewis

      "Australia’s compulsory, preferential voting system together with voter disaffection has led to this bizarre outcome of micro-parties holding the balance of power."

      There is another thing that gives undue power to independents, that we don't cause and it is party strictures and the hideous crime of crossing the floor. If all votes were free it would depower the independents, and give us more democracy.

      report
  7. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Good article but if you are still asking whether the government is serious about cutting emmissions you haven't been paying attention

    report
  8. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    The trouble with this article, like most articles in these pages around the issue, is that it neglects the fundamental issue of whether or not the current "carbon pricing" scheme is good policy.

    There seems to be an assumption that because we need to cut carbon emissions, therefore it's good policy. Well, no; we need to cut carbon emissions, but current policy is the lousiest, most stupid way of which I can imagine to do it.

    Mind you, I've not yet seen what this "Direct Action" stuff.

    What I would appreciate is a discussion in these pages of what the optimal policy for decreasing CO2 emissions might look like.

    To date, Australia's academic economic community has failed the nation in not participating in any such discussion.

    report
    1. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      You are absolutely right that this should be all about policy. However, my understanding is that putting a price on carbon pollution obviously provides a disincentive to use fossil fuels for energy. A market based system that also encourages pollution reduction has also been recommended by experts from various relevant academic disciplines (economists, etc).

      I am unsure how you have reached the conclusion that the academic community has failed in not participating in this discussion when there have been numerous studies that have reached the conclusion that an ETS is the most effective way forward.

      report
    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      We can either have an emission cap set, under which we have any and every derivative-trading creep looking to manipulate markets, destroying enterprises in the real world through price volatility, or we can simply have consumption taxes put on fossil fuels, and make those consumption taxes revenue-neutral by offsetting cuts to income and company taxes.

      We target fossil fuel use, rather than this nebulous "carbon pollution" nonsense, because it is the recycling of geosequestered carbon (coal…

      Read more
    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Arthur

      I would also David add the media. I'm going to switch from fairfax to the guardian which has comprehensive regular coverage. I do not read any coverage in all our major papers, which tell the public that if we (Australia and the world) continue on our present path , the biosphere will be fundamentally and destructively altered, the economies of the world as they are, will be memories only, agriculture? I am an alarmist, with the best science on my side. And we are at a disservice when fundamental scientific projections have been so comprehensively not stated, and baseless crap over stated.
      John Howard started the lie that it was too expensive, and now we have an unleashed pack of deniers and bogans who use a dead loved poet as a basis of climate policy. Newspapers have not been doing their work. They're coverage has been soap only.

      report
    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, you're right about the media; the Guardian doesn't have much on whether emission capping (Soviet-style authoritarianism) or consumption taxation (facilitating individual optimisation) is preferable.

      We don't see much critical thinking happening anywhere outside of science and mathematics.

      report
    5. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Arthur

      OK then, there's nothing left for those like me except catastrophe to shake up sleepers, and revolution.

      report
    6. Andrew McNamara

      Helpdesk Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      I do not believe my eyes. A discussion about alternatives to Carbon Tax and Direct Action. I thought these were the only two options. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a national discussion about the best solution to tackle Climate Change, instead of the "your plan is crap, my plan is better" rhetoric that is happening at the moment.

      report
    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andrew McNamara

      Thanks Mr McNamara, you miss my point, which is that the "Carbon Tax" which was uncritically railroaded through was one of the most poorly designed, hopelessly complex boondoggles I've ever seen.

      Have you ever read James Hansen's "Dreams of my Grandchildren"? Not only does Hansen explain why it is fossil fuel use rather than "carbon pollution" that is the quantity to be taxes, but he also explains exactly the dead simple consumption tax that it needs to be.

      report
    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to David Arthur

      James Hansen is someone who should be listened to on climate science but outside his area of expertise, he has no more authority than the next person.

      Hansen is a former registered Republican who has conservative views. For example, he opposes renewable energy.

      His support for a revenue neutral tax on carbon is because he like the Tea Party is opposed to "large government". There is also a belief in the USA that a revenue neutral tax could get past the anti-tax groups funded by the Koch Bros…

      Read more
    9. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Fair comment, Mike, but here's what you do with the revenue from a fossil fuel consumption tax: you use it to CUT company taxes and personal income tax. That gives companies and people incentives and the money to invest in alternatives to fossil fuel use.

      "The existing carbon tax raised revenue so that the poor could be compensated and so that funds could be directed to clean energy."
      Mike, the taxfree threshold was increased across the board ie for everybody - not just "the poor".

      You're…

      Read more
    10. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Andrew McNamara

      "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a national discussion about the best solution to tackle Climate Change ..." No, it would be nice if we had an INFORMED populace having an INFORMED debate. At present, Mr. and Mrs. Average have little scientific understanding of the issues and their opinions are moulded by "Home Town Hero" Murdoch. If the greater population had been fed the truth - in digestible bites - they would be marching on parliament to demand effective action.

      report
    11. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      No, Doug,
      They would be marching on CSIRO, BoM and the Universities for doing such poor science.
      It seems you have not fully informed yourself. I'm merely trying to fill in some missing parts of your reading. What you do after you read more widely is up to you. But you don't gain kudos by merely parroting some Establishment line.

      report
  9. Michel Syna Rahme

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    By 2014, if Anthony Albanese as opposition leader and Tanya Plibersek as deputy opposition leader manage to consolidate, unify, and present a viable alternative to the government, then a double dissolution is likely, and by no means will it be in the bag for the Abbott government. Australia and the world have until 2014 to see for themselves the inevitable incompetence of Abbott and his govenment so let's wait and see.

    If Labor walk away from carbon pricing and climate action then that is the end of them! Rudd's biggest mistake was turning away from the fight over the CPRS - its time for Labor to re-establish and shine light on their core principals again.... Lessons have been learned!

    report
  10. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Why does the Conversation continue with this type of article after producing an article like "Warming slowed by cooling Pacific Ocean."
    https://theconversation.com/warming-slowed-by-cooling-pacific-ocean-17534
    Despite the original forecasts, major climate research centres now accept that there has been a "pause" in global warming since 1997. The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10294082/Global-warming-No-actually-were-cooling-claim-scientists.html

    Read more
    1. Jane Rawson

      Editor, Energy & Environment at The Conversation

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark, I'm not sure that article means what you think it means. For example, it says

      When the climate cycle that governs that ocean cooling reverses and begins warming again, the planet-wide march toward higher temperatures will resume with vigor.

      report
    2. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      There is no pause in global warming Mark. What you are referring to is "land surface warming", which has slowed, but not decreased.

      However, global warming continues unabated. Note that we are in neutral conditions at present (not El nino) and regularly breaking temperature records. This is pretty disturbing.

      You might also want to glance at this:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=64

      It seems that the Arctic sea ice data doesn't agree with your opinions either.

      report
    3. Rory Cunningham
      Rory Cunningham is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Test Analyst

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      You cite the tele and then a blog which got its source for the tele, which by the way is known to be a climate change denier. You may as well quote the daily mail while you're at it

      report
    4. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      NG did you actually follow the link I posted in the comment?

      Do you see a trend? How about all those hilarious "Recovery!" marks on the graph... That is what the daily mail is doing in the article you posted.

      I suggest you don't get your climate information from the daily mail. They have a tendency to cherry pick data to suit their arguments.

      report
    5. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      At the heart of all of this it seems to me is the desire for people to allow leadership to decide everything and for them not to bother thinking or finding out stuff. Abbott's positioning himself as a General leading an army to protect the populace suits a majority of people. The Senate certainly needs sorting out and fast before any new election...an employee of Climate Sceptic supremo and bankroller Ms Rhinehart garnering .22 percent of the vote and entering parliament should be ringing alarm bells everywhere and should be the first order of the day before any policies on anything can be implemented. This has nothing to do with science or thoughtfulness and everything to do with rounding up the sheep.

      report
    6. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark , you seem to be unable to accept the science.
      In the arctic, scientists are at the moment "looking for harbingers of what could be a massive release of carbon (as CO2 and methane) from thawing permafrost soils of the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere)." This includes in Russia, Canada, Greenland, Iceland etc. Which is not a small area http://climate.nasa.gov/news/958 Temperature increases and unusual weather patterns are both discussed in this article, but you would have to be interested enough to click on the words, "a sharp bend in the jet stream" http://climate.nasa.gov/news/947 It is not enough for a single concept to be so used (mis-represented) in your posts. There is a body of evidence out there you could read, Including this summary about Arctic ice, the north west passage is a part of the arctic region only.
      http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
      I don't really think policy can be discussed, unless the science is understood. You have done neither.

      report
    7. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Jane Rawson

      Greetings Ms. Rawson, it also says , "We do not know if the current cooling phase will last as long as the last one." Despite carbon (sic) levels at 400ppm, they don't know.
      Mark Mathews, is that Trenberth's missing heat that has been hiding in the oceans, or another type of unidentified new source of energy that is now causing that warming you talk about? http://www.npr.org/2013/08/23/214198814/the-consensus-view-kevin-trenberths-take-on-climate-change
      Rory C, we all know how evil those websites are. Aluminium beanies required. Any opinion about the science?
      Alice Kelly, IPCC said polar caps will be first to show global warming. The ice is still there. It is supposed to be gone.
      IPCC: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/mains1.html
      Ice gone 2013 NASA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztz3ZdPbdKo&feature=player_embedded

      report
    8. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark - you are just plucking convenient stuff from around the edges to assist in your "rebel" status. That's fine of course. At the end of the day I very much doubt that your opinion will be heard anywhere but in comments sections on websites - maybe down at the pub... who knows.

      The internet is where the trolls hide because they cannot do the work required to disprove what is now considered to be an irrefutable fact. That work is called scientific research and if you were to embark on a career in climatology, do the research, have your work accepted by your peers and publish in a reputable scientific journal - research that disproves AGW and is able to provide a reasonable and well founded explanation for the climate phenomena we are observing, you would be the most famous scientist of all time.

      Of course, no one else has managed to do this as yet, despite enormous effort and money.

      So good luck with your "science by internet" endeavours.

      report
    9. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      You have made a slip that makes you less credible.
      Good scientists rarely, if ever, describe science results as "irrefutable fact". Many times in history, the dominant paradigm has been overturned by new data. "Fact" in this context is a word for the armchair amateur.
      You should, by now, be realising that a paradigm shift on climate theory is taking place, in its early stages now but gaining momentum. You have a choice of staying in the dark or hopping on board the change. Up to you, of…

      Read more
    10. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice,
      Your comments relate to what "might" happen.
      Back in the real world of observation, Arctic ice extent is much larger just now than at the same time last year. The North-West passage has not been open in 2013. Antarctic ice extent has been increasing since measurements began. Is this a sign of a warming world?
      Global temperature estimates for the past 10 years show a small cooling, probably insignificant statistically, but certainly not a warming as (wrong?) theory predicts.
      Little can be said about Ocean Heat Content, because the sampling, with modern equipment, is so sparse that the confidence limits are very broad. Probes before Argo are considered unreliable. One Argo probe accounts for an average of 165,000 cubic km of water; they don't go below 2,000 m depth, so the deep ocean has little data at all.
      Etc Etc.

      report
    11. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Georgina Byrne

      Georgina,
      Mr Abbott has stated his desire to work calmly and methodically, to reduce the size of Government especially where its intrusion is not wanted.
      You have an issue with THAT??!!!

      report
    12. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Of dear lord - you are right Geoffrey. I am not a good scientist. How about 99.9% certainly. Is that ok?

      Let's be honest here though. I am going to predict that you will never accept the theory of AGW. If it hasn't happened by now, it ain't gonna happen.

      report
    13. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      You are dead wrong.
      Every main, official purveyor of global temperature observations (including GISS, NOAA, Hadley, UAH, RSS) has shown graphs of land + sea with temperature not rising for 15 years or more.
      End of story.

      report
    14. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Nope. That is surface temperature. The deep oceans read a very different story. 90% of the heat in fact.

      Just out of interest, where exactly do you think that energy is going? Are you now convinced that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas?

      report
    15. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Oh yeah thats a classic link. Arctic ice reached record low in 2012 - the refreeze is going to be a record.

      Climate news for the brain dead.

      report
    16. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      So have YOU observed any signs of global warming?
      I suspect that estimated global temperatures have not changed in your adult lifetime.

      report
    17. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "Antarctic ice extent has been increasing ..." Geoffrey, I'm sure you will agree that the key measurement is ice volume, not extent. In other words, how much ice is up there? Far thinner ice being broken up by weather and drifting with winds and currents, may result in ice extent increasing while volume decreases. The cryosphere is shrinking, by all sane measurements.

      report
    18. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      What energy is going where?
      There is continuing debate about the accuracy and validity of TOA balances and their errors. Until that is resolved, one should not jump ahead to claim there is missing energy, or energy in excess of what is modelled.
      Are you not concerned that modelling of temperature trends (as in CMIP % for example) is hopelessly wrong when compared to past actual?

      report
    19. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug,
      If you read the reports close to source, you will find that this year, there is more than usual first year and second year ice and that implies a volume increase as well as an extent increase. The art of measuring thickness and hence volume is still being developed, so by default most people use extent, which is easier (but not easy) to measure.

      report
    20. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      Andrew,
      So how do you explain the measurements that show an increase in extent of both Arctic and Antarctic ice?
      Absence of global warming has to be a candidate.

      report
    21. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Interesting question. Do I have to observe something to know it exists I wonder.

      Actually no. I cannot see a virus, but I have a cold. I cannot "observe" CO2 but I know it's there. I can observe its effects even. I can even rely on the vast amount of scientific research in the field of atmospheric physics conducted by the likes of NASA to allow me to reach a conclusion about it's effects.

      Or I could read wattsupwiththat and feel safe in the knowledge that man is too small to have any impact on the environment.

      Then again, that virus is pretty small and I feel pretty bad with this cold.

      report
    22. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "... this year, there is more than usual first year and second year ice ..." Precisely! More thin, new ice and less thick, multi-year ice. Thanks for shining the light here.

      "... that implies a volume increase as well as an extent increase ...": but you just disproved that! What do you really mean?

      "... The art of measuring thickness and hence volume is still being developed ...": so the GRACE satellites do not produce results you are happy with? Where do you get your data from?

      report
    23. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Increase in Arctic ice?? What - from Summer? or from a record low in 2012? The long (and short term) trend is clearly down.

      Antarctic ice is complex - involving increased snowfall, changing currents and weather patterns in the southern oceans etc.. Study is ongoing (and fascinating!)

      If you think one metric - an increasing ice mass in Antarctica - negates all other temperature measurements - land, satellite and ocean - across the globe for the last century that's really clutching at straws.

      report
    24. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug,
      If you have a hard figure for the accuracy of Grace measurements, I'd sure love to see it.
      It's not a single figure for ice, as compared to land. A large number of passes of the satellite are needed to get spatial resolution to an acceptable figure. The properties of ice are ever-changing between orbits.
      Grace, measuring gravity, does not measure just ice thickness or elevation. Its signal is a mixture of effects from low density to high density material at various depths below the surface, loosely covered by an inverse square effect. The variability of the crust below the ice has to be subtracted from the variation assigned to ice.
      No, I've not seen evidence that Grace can accurately measure ice thickness. If it can, I'd be grateful for a reference.
      Cheers Geoff.

      report
  11. Dave Roarty

    Retired, once was young.....

    Just went to the AEC site which indicates that the L/NP currently has about 38% of the first preference senate vote. Anyone care to explain how that translates into a clear mandate?

    report
    1. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Dave Roarty

      What the libs mean by mandate is completely wrong. They have a mandate to govern, but not a mandate to do whatever they want - this is a democracy. They still have to negotiate legislation through the senate, which is how it should be.

      Only 37% of the public want the carbon tax gone. That is NOT a mandate.

      Sounds all a little "born to rule" to me

      report
    2. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Dave Roarty

      The Coalition parties claimed almost 46% of the primary vote and 53% of the 2 party-preferred vote. This means that 53% of the electorate preferred the Coalition over Labor knowing full well that Abbott wanted to repeal the carbon tax. That sounds like a mandate to me.

      Contrast this to the 2010 election where Julia Gillard claimed 'there would be no carbon tax under the government she led'. Gillard only obtained office by meekly caving into the Greens and by acquiring the support of 2 independents who betrayed their electorates. The Gillard government clearly had no mandate to introduce the carbon tax.

      The Labor senators should do the honourable thing and allow the repeal of the carbon tax through the Senate given that the tax should not have been implemented in the first place.

      report
    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      The ALP and Greens senators should hold the line.

      There is not a single significant scientific organisation anywhere on the planet that believes in the climate crankism that motivates the position of the Abbott government.

      Governments are elected for three years. Climate change is forever.

      report
    4. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey - the reason why the Libs got so many votes is because they wanted to see the end of the ALP. Surely you realise that this is the case.

      Tony Abbott is the most unpopular opposition leader ever to get elected. That's how much we thought the ALP was on the nose. And if you think the electorate did this to reduce their electricity bills by a paltry 10% you are having a lend of yourself. Don't forget that there is NO guarantee that the electricity providers will pass on all the savings either.

      report
    5. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      And next time, my son will be voting, two years after that, my daughter. Bushfire season seems active already.

      report
    6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      A significant number of people - if my network of friends are an indication - voted Lib to see the carbon tax removed.

      report
    7. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The position statements on climate change put out by various scientific organisations are virtually meaningless. They are nearly always composed by a small group of warmist zealots and are never voted on by the membership of each organisation. Roger Pielke Sr, who sat on the committee to establish an updated position statement for the AGU, describes in detail how the whole process is totally compromised.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/05/pielkes-response-to-agu-statement-on-climate-change/

      report
    8. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Science is not carried in the comments sections of websites Geoff. Anthony Watts has had heaps of time to find holes in the fundamental principles of climatology, but all he does is dance around the edges, cherry picking little mistakes here and there.

      Whilst he certainly performs an important role in pointing out some inconsistencies here and there, he has not even come close to producing anything more than just squeaky noise really. It's kind of like an annoying little fly on an elephant. You have to pay attention to it, but it is just a minor irritant when

      There is an insurmountable amount of evidence that he cannot even go near without looking like a complete turkey. He conveniently ignores this and just buzzes around. Good luck do him. Who wants to be a professional troll.

      report
    9. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      Your slip is showing.
      Even Wiki notes that "Watts has continued his analyses of the Surface Station Project data, and has made available on his blog site a "pre-print draft discussion paper", intended for submission to a journal. The draft, titled An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends, was announced in a press release posted on WUWT on July 29, 2012."
      As to peer review processes, before he reached pre-publication, his incomplete data on surface station deficiencies was taken over by NOAA who did an faulty analysis that was passed by peer reviewers, despite its faults.
      This is important. If the basic estimate of global warming is wrong, so is much of the work based on it. Watts has done a service by taking on voluntarily and neutrally, a task that causes considerable doubt about the accuracy of climate change temperature estimates.

      report
    10. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      My slip is showing??? Are you flirting with me Geoffrey?

      Actually, I think you might have a little slip showing yourself. It does not follow if "the basic estimate" (it's not an estimate Geoffrey - it's a theory) " is wrong, so is much of the work based on it" That's not really what is going on here. There are lots of independent lines of evidence that have lead us to conclude in AGW. It is not just - "oooooo. I found a broken thermometer - let's throw out the baby with the bathwater"

      report
    11. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      How is Watts doing in accepting the B.E.S.T. project results he was party to? Oh, the result was not what he wanted, so he threw a tanty and won't play nicely any more? Sounds about right.

      report
    12. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Interesting that you completely avoid commenting on the main point I was making by diverting to a criticism of Anthony Watts. One wonders if you even bothered to click on the link supplied?

      In any event, your criticism of Anthony Watts in this instance is completely irrevelant since the link essentially provides a reproduction of an article by Roger Pielke sr (a bona-fide climate scientist, unlike the authors of most of the articles on climate change published at The Conversation).

      The article provides a detailed account of how the process of developing a position statement on climate change is totally compromised, at least in the case of the AGU. My point has always been that unless a position statement is voted on the membership of a particular organisation, it is essentially meaningless. It appears that these position statements are merely cobbled together by a small group of warmist zealots for political purposes (and maybe to ensure Government funding).

      report
    13. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      My local member Catherine King has a mandate to represent me and stick to carbon pricing.

      Sorry Tony. Welcome to democracy.

      report
    14. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Yep. Clicked on it. You were right - I was wrong. Because the process of developing a position statement by this group of geophysicists is compromised I have decided that everything to do with this AGW thing is a load of old baloney. Quite a relief actually.

      If only science was this easy usually. I also rather dislike one of the laws of thermodynamics - can never remember which one. Entropy I think. Pretty sure they had a position on that too.

      report
    15. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      That paper is classic. The poster boy weather station on the cover of his paper showed a station with structures built around. The NOAA analysed the data from that station as an example and found a cooling trend.

      I'll dig up their response. What they did is analyse the data - something Watts failed to do, and found it largely corresponded to their uncalibrated data.

      In summary they thanked him for explaining to his followers why the NOAA don't use raw surface station data.

      report
  12. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    "What next for Australia’s climate policy? "
    A good start would be a professionally scientific audit of data and conclusions.
    This has been resisted because people are becoming aware of the foolery that is going on.
    The Establishment view is incredibly poor and does little more than suck in the gullible.
    I would not fly in an aircraft designed by such people. Massively incompetent scientists, they can see little further than where the next government grant is coming from. Treading the fine line…

    Read more
    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "A good start would be a professionally scientific audit of data and conclusions." In a few weeks time when the latest IPCC starts coming in, you'll have exactly that.

      report
    2. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey Harold Sherrington (Boss)..

      What would you recommend doing a "professionally scientific audit" into exactly?

      Are you assuming that peer-review isn't professional, or scientific, even though it is conducted by professional scientists? I am sometimes not convinced that many on the "denialist" side have any comprehension of how extensive the research has been into this field of science. It is not just some layabout group of corrupt scientists working to extract more money from government.

      report
    3. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark,
      You are going to have to do your own homework because that's the way to learn.
      There are verifiable accounts on the Net, many of them, discussing how peer review was (a) slow, deliberately slow (b) done by an author whose work is being challenged, yes, strange but true (c) done without adequate quality.
      This does not mean that all peer review is useless. It just means that some is. It is not a gold standard any more.
      Some of the most serious errors in climate work have been picked up by blogs. Without blogs, there is a chance that they would never surface.
      An example of the latter is the debunking of Michael Mann's hockey stick by bloggers Steve McIntyre & Ross McKitrick; and further debunking of aspects of dendroclimatology by these and other bloggers.
      Open your eyes, lad.

      report
    4. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "More funds flow to those who best toe the party line." Ah, the old chestnut of a conspiracy by thousands of evil scientists, over every imaginable discipline, for 150 or more years. Geoffrey seems to be pumping the hard-line, extreme right-wing, denialista Tea Party line. How unusual.

      report
    5. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice,
      The IPCC has a narrow remit, to collate research into alleged climate change by the influence of greenhouse gases.
      If you do not accept that GHG plays a significant part, then you don't rely on the IPCC. They are designed to promote the importance of CO2, for a living.
      I thought I'd read that the IPCC 5AR is delayed a month at least for a major re-write because a number of Governments regard the draft as unacceptable.

      report
    6. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Ah yes. Awesome. Science by the internet... My favourite kind. That is where I like to go to find all truth in scientific research as it is so much better than the peer-review process. You know how I know that - because I read that the peer-review process is bad and I read that on the internet too.

      Of course, not all peer-review is useless, only the ones involved in climate science. I love the peer-review in particle physics and am also pretty comfortable with medical research. Even though…

      Read more
    7. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "I thought I'd read that the IPCC 5AR is delayed a month at least for a major re-write because a number of Governments regard the draft as unacceptable."

      Let me guess - you read that on the internet Geoffrey? Even though many of the reviewers are professional scientists? This does raise an interesting question. Do the professional scientists conducting your audit have to "not accept GHG play a significant part" before they are to be included?

      I am also not reading the IPCC report Geoffrey because I believe that CO2 is a weightless and invisible gas and therefore, can have no impact on the environment whatsoever. I read that somewhere... no - wait. That was Tony Abbott.

      report
    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "... the debunking of Michael Mann's hockey stick by bloggers Steve McIntyre & Ross McKitrick ..." ROTFLMAO! You quote one of the most discredited papers being kicked around the denialosphere and then ask Mark to open his eyes? How about you lead the way, by opening your mind. No? I thought not. At least you have the goodness to be endlessly entertaining in your rabid denial of science.

      report
    9. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "... a number of Governments regard the draft as unacceptable." Wow: science is being done by governments now? So, they can legislate the greenhouse effect into oblivion? Why has no-one thought of that before? Let's all just make laws saying physics is a crock, then there will be nothing to worry about!

      report
    10. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Who is denying science?
      I'm just pointing to progress in our understanding of science. If that makes you uncomfortable, that's for you to work out.
      My quest is to improve the quality of the science.
      What is yours?

      report
    11. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Science isn't something you "understand" Geoffrey. It is a methodology that assists us in moving towards an objective understanding of the world around us. GHG/AGW are not new theories.

      Have you got any scientific training whatsoever?

      If your quest is to improve the quality of the science, why not get out there and do the research rather than spend all this time on the internet cherry picking sites that align neatly with your world view.

      I don't really think your quest is to improve the quality of the science. I think it is to bash it around any way you can to make it fit with whatever you have already decided is the truth.

      report
  13. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "The question must be asked whether the government is indeed serious about cutting emissions." Are you kidding? Abbott's backers are dead set against rational carbon policies. Expect nothing from Abbott and you will not be disappointed.

    report
  14. Andrew Kewley
    Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Student

    The carbon tax is a market based approach, whereas "direct action" is a classic top-down government picking winners approach (that rarely works).

    At the end of the day it shows that Abbott is more of a centrist-conservative than a true liberal.

    report
  15. ops two048

    logged in via email @incybr.com.au

    Australia's aristo elite care not about climate change because they erroneously believe that they've enough in the bank to survive whatever catastrophe. Further, if the rest of us die off well that's survival of the fittest innit and the only ideologically palatable "final solution" to the overpopulation "question".

    Regards the carbon "tax" the aristo's will forgo the revenue yet are committed to continuing the "compensation". In a situation where there are newly emerged structural budget deficits the fact that these clowns are considered to be fiscally responsible economic managers proves the hallucinatory cognitive dissonance of a fatally lied to polity

    report