03/12/2009 - 00:00

Climate platform hides a deeper agenda

03/12/2009 - 00:00

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A WA senator believes local climate evidence contradicts the case for a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

I RISE to speak on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2] and related bills. In my opinion this is some of the most significant legislation to be debated in this place.

As a Western Australian senator I am deeply concerned about the impact these bills will have on the Western Australian economy and employment. I am not anti the environment and I am not a climate sceptic. I do, however, have a different opinion to others in this place.

Having been farmers for most of our lives, my family and I have respected and worked closely with the environment to ensure good farming practices and ongoing viability of our farm business. Our family was one of the first in the district to reduce stubble burning and switch to no-till methods, which stores carbon in the soil rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. We have planned and used water wisely on our properties and protected and revegetated our waterways and more vulnerable areas of land.

We also kept good rainfall records. The records of our property go back just over 100 years, and they do not indicate that what is currently happening is abnormal when compared to the high and low average rainfall periods during the past century. I have heard the same story from farmers throughout Western Australia.

As people who work directly with the climate, because our livelihoods depend upon it, we farmers have, to date, not seen any first-hand evidence in our paddocks or rain gauges to back up what we are reading in the newspapers, which is, more or less, that the end will soon be here if we do not change our practices.

We are scratching our heads, because what we are reading about this we are not seeing in evidence on our properties.

As with rainfall, there is also real historic evidence about temperatures in Australian country areas, as opposed to cities where the temperature is affected by non-climatic factors or ‘big-city warming effects’ such as cars and air-conditioning.

Bureau of Meteorology figures taken from weather observatories throughout Australia with data going back 100 years or more indicate that the countryside has not been warming.

In Deniliquin and Bathurst there has actually been a fall in temperatures over the past 100 years. Many regional areas show no trend at all, neither up nor down. These historic local records are all very inconvenient truths.

After careful analysis of the scientific opinion and many publications – minus the political spin – that have been presented to me, on balance I have tried to align them with my own experiences with the land and climate and the reliable data that has served our farming operations well.

When farmers invest in a new property, as we did on a number of occasions, they make their decision based on sound historical data and trends. The less prudent might go to their local Blockbuster and rent an Al Gore movie.

I will continue to consider very seriously the opinions of my peers, who are so much at one with nature and working with the changing seasons. I will lean towards these opinions before those formed by the much-questioned data generated by supercomputers.

Details of the draft Copenhagen treaty have finally come to the surface and they are very worrying. There are some deeply troubling elements of the draft Copenhagen treaty, which Australians have not been informed about to an appropriate extent.

I am most concerned that a central tenet of the treaty is the creation of an unelected world government, which will have the power to direct our domestic policies and overrule our sovereign rights.

Developed countries such as Australia will also be required to pay a climate debt to developing nations at a suggested rate of 0.7 per cent of GDP. That would mean that Australia would have to pay $7 billion per year to this global government with no say on how it is to be spent.

Mr Rudd must start explaining this treaty to us before he tries to sign anything in Copenhagen on our behalf.

I too am horrified and left suspicious that the climate change platform is being used as a front for a deeper agenda. It also makes me suspicious when parts of Mr Rudd’s summer holiday essay, which effectively espouses a New Age global socialism, mirror so many tenets of the Copenhagen treaty.

Leading proponents of the global warming debate have made comments that warrant suspicion. Stephen Schneider, one of the original leading proponents of global warming, said: “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

And there is this remarkable statement by the former Canadian Minister of the Environment, Christine Stewart: “No matter if the science of global warming is all phoney … climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

I am very concerned when I look at the make-up of many of the so-called climate groups pushing for action; groups that have innocuous names, as climate representatives, that would sound safe to the general public but underneath are affiliations of hard green groups and unions. I have also noted too many vested interests associated with the arguments to ‘act on climate change’, such as people with interests or shareholdings in companies that will profit from carbon trading.

The core of the climate change movement is deep green and hard left. Their principles are generally very hostile to strong, market-based economies like Australia.

The government has not been upfront with the Australian people, by failing to tell us what the impact will be on jobs. Where is the detailed economic modelling for such a significant change as this? Why on earth would we allow Australian jobs, investment and CO2 emissions to be exported to countries that do not have a price imposed on carbon?

The cement industry is a glaring example of the effect this legislation will have on Australian business and on the Australian workforce.

Cement manufacturing in Australia emits approximately 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every tonne of cement produced. That sounds like a significant amount, but in reality Australia is one of the most efficient cement manufacturers in the world.

Until we find an alternative to cement, we must keep manufacturing it. If we do not manufacture it locally, we will need to import it from elsewhere. Cement production in China emits 1.1t of carbon for every tonne of cement – 0.3t more than if it had been made in Australia.

So, if an ETS makes our cement industry unviable and shuts it down, hundreds of Australian jobs will be destroyed and additional carbon will be released into the atmosphere as we turn to countries like China for our cement supplies. Local jobs will be lost and global emissions will go up. How does that make sense?

Why are we not considering significant infrastructure upgrades and projects that could alter the whole way we power our nation? For example, what serious consideration has the government given to harvesting the immense power of our unique tides in northern Australia? What research and consideration is the government giving to high-voltage DC cabling, which would completely change the way we transport our electricity and open up significantly better access to the lower emitting energy sources we have in Australia, such as the giant natural gas reserves of our north-west?

Why is nuclear power not being properly analysed in Australia as an alternative energy source? We must compare the 320,000t per annum of toxic waste produced by a 500-megawatt coal fired power station with the 20t per annum produced by a comparable nuclear station.

Why is the government not opening up debate on better forestry management practices? There has not been enough consideration given to some very practical measures we could be taking that could significantly reduce our levels of emissions, which I believe could negate the introduction of an emissions trading scheme.

n This is an edited extract from WA Liberal Senator Judith Adams speech, delivered this month, on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2].

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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