Australian Election: Peak Oil Policy Responses

Reposted to main today after the Australian election result, which looks like a relatively sizable defeat of Howard's centre-right coalition.

This is the third article in relation to the Australian Federal Election, coming up next Saturday 24th November, 2007. The previous two articles are:

Garry Glazebrook and Peter Newman - A Public Transport And Green City Manifesto For The Federal Election

Matt Mushalik - Election Time in the Land of Oz

In September, I sent a policy survey to the four main parties (Coalition, Labour, Greens, Democrats) seeking their official view on peak oil and details of relevant policies. I received the first response from the Greens and second from the Coalition (Liberal/National Parties), but no response from Labor (which is especially disappointing) nor the Democrats.

The complete survey responses are here:

Coalition Policy Response
Greens Policy Response and Transport Policy Addendum (Roads to Rails)

Here are some highlights:

(a) Does your party recognise peak oil with specific policy on this issue?

Coalition: The Coalition takes a holistic view of Australia's energy needs, recognising that effective policy is needed to manage all risks and make the best use of all our energy resources.

Other initiatives include taxation incentives to stimulate greater exploration, significantly increased funding to Geoscience Australia to support oil and gas exploration and long-term support for biofuels.

(and from covering letter) The Senate Inquiry was presented with widely differing evidence on the extent of the world's oil reserves. I note, for example, that ASPO's estimates of the ultimately recoverable resource are less than half of the estimates supported by the US Geological Survey.

Greens: Yes. In fact it was due to our concern about Peak Oil that the Australian Greens initiated the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s future oil supply and alternative transport fuels.

(b) How will your policies reduce the vulnerability of Australian communities to the effects of high petrol prices?

Coalition: The Coalition appreciates that fuel is an important part of every family budget. International Energy Agency December 2006 statistics show Australia has the fourth lowest retail petrol prices and fifth lowest retail detail prices among 29 OECD countries.

While no Australian government can control the international factors which set the global oil prices, the Coalition is giving practical help to motorists.

Australia has one of the lowest levels of fuel taxation in the world. The Coalition abolished indexation of fuel excise which means that excise is 17.2 cents per litre lower than it would otherwise have been.

The Coalition has also strongly supported biofuels, such as ethanol. The Coalition has provided almost $100 million in Ethanol Production Grants and more than $30 million in Biofuels Capital Grants to kickstart the industry.

Greens: The Australian Greens have a range of policies that seek to reduce Australia's reliance on oil, including through improving public transport, supporting the development of second generation biofuels and electrification of the vehicle fleet and shifting freight from roads to rail. Key features include introducing mandatory vehicle efficiency standards, tying car industry support to improved efficiency, more stringent Government procurement policies and removing the favourable tariff treatment for four wheel drives. More detail can be found in Senator Christine Milne's report Re-Energising Australia.

(c) What level of federal funding will you provide for urban and regional public transport?

Coalition: The provision of urban and regional public transport is a responsibility of State and local governments. The Australian government's priority is supporting the national AusLink network, in particular the infrastructure essential for the nation's freight task.

Greens: From the public transport policy provided subsequent to initial survey response:

Australia, and much of the world, is on the brink of an economic, social and environmental crunch thanks to our love affair with private transport. With climate change, oil depletion and traffic congestion all coming together, it is clear that we need to change the direction we are heading with transport.

Dealing with these three interlinked problems requires three equally important solutions: improving vehicle fuel efficiency, replacing fossil fuels with low emission substitutes, and shifting people from private cars to safe, fast, reliable and cost effective mass transit, and freight from trucks to rail.

Roads to Rails deals with the third of these, the fundamental shift we must make out of private transport: funding first-rate public and freight transport options, including fast, efficient rail links, busways and cycleways. The policy complements previously announced polices looking at improving private transport: our Cleaner Cars policy and an alternative fuels target.

It is dissapointing and also predictable that the COALition doesn't cannot even bring itslef to say the words "PEAK OIL" in its response. Much of the response was fluff, with empty promises to review things. What I find intersting is that they say we have a biennial review of energy security as recomended in 2004. Well what did the review in 2006 throw up? Nothing to worry about apparently except for the fact that we had $75 oil?

Also taking a holistic (homogenous) approach to energy is naiive and deluded. Please Mr Howard, tell me how nuclear power is going to run my car? At least Howard has grudgingly alluded to high oil prices as being part of the economic storm clouds on the horizon. I think John Howard and Peter Costello are actually very well informed about peak oil and are actaully hoping to be lose thsi election so they won't have to face the consequences. They will be able to thow a lost of it at a Rudd government when it fianlly hits the fan in the next few years.

And Mr Rudd, Is $500M spent to produce an Aus produced hybrid a smart investment of energy when we have a perfectly good car fleet which could deliver the same efficieny as your hybrid experiment with a little good driver educataion and driving pattern modification.

Even the Greens are a bit soft on the PO issue. Their website mentions not a word of Peak Oil and Christine Milnes report is slanted towards Climate Change as being the far more important issue. While there is genuine understanding of Peak oil in the report, CC is clearly the more ideologically pure moral argument for using less fossil fuels. The economic impacts of PO are of little concern to the Greens who don't give a toss about those of us who dwell in consumer land and believe we deserve every misfortune that befalls us.

The only pollie in Australia who I have any confidence in is Andrew McNamara but I fear that he will become the token voice that can be conveniently buried in Qld.

Take only what you need, give everything you can.

Although its not highlighted in the policies on their website, the Democrats are well aware of Peak Oil. See,,,22606,21571863-5006301,00.html for more info on their position.

Its a pity that everyone's basically written off the Democrats as a spent force. From what I've seen, they have a far more realistic grasp of Peak Oil issues than any of the other parties.

Anyway, in mid October I contacted both the Coalition and Labor via the feedback mechanisms on their websites, asking about their renewable energy policies and their planning (if any) for peak oil.

I didn't receive a response from the Coalition, but Labor sent me the following:-

Labor believes Australia's abundance of clean energy resources such as wave, wind, solar and geothermal are crucial to meeting the challenge of climate change. A strong and well-supported renewable energy sector will help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, grow jobs and support
an innovative clean energy export industry.

The Howard Government has announced a clean energy target which piggybacks on existing State Labor Government schemes and takes credit for growth in the renewables sector generated by State Labor Governments.

Labor is committed to genuine long-term support for renewable energy, and believes a suite of clean energy sources will play an important role in Australia's future energy mix.

Labor has already announced a comprehensive portfolio of policies to support clean energy. Labor will:

* Substantially increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target;
* Introduce an effective emissions trading scheme by 2010 that makes clean energy sources more economically competitive;
* Offer rebates for rooftop solar power panels;
* Offer rebates for solar hot water systems;
* Offer low-interest loans of up to $10,000 for homeowners to purchase measures including rooftop solar power panels and solar hot water systems;
* Establish the $50 million Australian Solar Institute;
* Provide $50 million to develop geothermal 'hot rocks' energy; and
* Establish a $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund designed to tackle climate change by driving the manufacture of low emission vehicles in Australia.

These measures will provide significant support to Australia's clean energy sector, and are central to Labor's comprehensive action agenda for tackling climate change.

In regards to your concerns about 'peak oil', Federal Labor believes that better information is required regarding future oil supplies to inform prudent planning.

For that reason Labor endorsed the first recommendation of the report of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee: Australia's future oil supply and alternative transport fuels.

That Report recognised that there are concerns that we will soon reach 'peak oil' and recommended that Geoscience Australia, ABARE and Treasury to assess the official estimates of future oil supply and the 'peak oil' arguments and report to the Government on the probabilities and risks
involved, comparing early mitigation scenarios with business as usual.

A copy of the Senate report, released on 7 February 2007, is available online at:
A Rudd Labor Government would carry out this assessment, allowing it to properly plan to secure our future fuel supplies.

In addition, a Rudd Labor Government will include projections of future liquid fuel supply and demand in a regular National Energy Security Assessment to better inform industry and the community of the nation's future energy outlook.

At a national level Australia is facing a profound shift in the source of our liquid fuels. Unless significant new oil fields are found, Australian domestic oil production could represent as little as 20 per cent of our consumption by 2015. Importing such large amounts of oil could leave Australia's economy heavily exposed to international oil supply disruptions.

A Rudd Labor Government will encourage increased domestic oil exploration, the development of gas-to-liquids projects that can convert some of our vast gas resources into liquid fuels and coal to liquids technologies that can produce synthetic diesel. Coal to liquids technologies can include
the capture and storage of carbon to minimise the emission of greenhouse gases in the production of fuels.

Labor will also support the research and development of new bio fuel technologies, including the production of ethanol from cellulose.

Labor considers energy security crucial to continued prosperity. Having a diverse range of liquid fuels will help secure our economic future.

In the context of climate change we must ensure that Australia has not only secure sources of energy but also sustainable sources. Federal Labor is absolutely committed to combating climate change while meeting Australia's long-term energy needs.

A Rudd Labor Government will immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol and set a target to reduce Australia's greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

In addition, Labor will introduce an effective emissions trading scheme by 2010 and implement a National Clean Coal Initiative with a $500 million investment to drive the development of technologies that dramatically reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels.

Once again, thank you for making me aware of your concerns about energy security.


ALP Campaign Information Services

thanks for that great info commuter.

i agree that the democrats are well aware of peak oil and have good policy on the issue. Just a pity that their office could not manage a reply to the survey.

Also great to see your response from Labor. That’s encouraging that they’ve committed to the key action from the Senate report to formally get Geoscience Australia and ABARE and Treasury to reassess the situation. ABARE can make believe anything they like, but the data is so convincing now that the combined work of those three bodies would have trouble completely dodging the issue. They may have a little more freedom to act with an election out of the way and a new Government?

i'm just concerned about Labor hoping to get liquids from coal and sequester it. you might in some limited cases pay a one third energy penalty to sequester C02 used for electricity generation. and you can convert coal to liquids at great expense, also losing one third of the energy content of the coal along the way. but i just cannot see it happening that you would do both and lose two thirds of the energy content along the way. if we're going to do Coal-to-liquids in a world constrained for energy, capital and engineers, we won't be sequestering the CO2 it generates.


Great info commuter and I'm glad you recieved a response. I have sent emails to Garrett, Rudd and Ferguson earlier this year and have yet to hear anything. At least in this response they do separate energy generally from liquid fuels. The GTL and CTL fantasy seems to be alive and well though. Wonder how that will fly in Kyoto?

Take only what you need, give everything you can.

Maybe someone should send them Andrew McNamaras report from Queensland. How much more information do they need?

Take only what you need, give everything you can.

Also taking a holistic (homogenous) approach to energy is naiive and deluded. Please Mr Howard, tell me how nuclear power is going to run my car?

I think keeping electricity in your house is far more important than trying to maintain the car culture that got us here in the first place.
John Howard's got this one right.

Actually electricity will one day run your car (or other form of transport, unless you walk or ride a bike).

Its just that nuclear power isn't the best option for generating this electricity...

This is an assumption on your part. There is no evidence that electricity or anything else will power cars in the future to the extent we have now.

I went and saw my local Coalition MP - he did not know what "Peak Oil" was - he'd never heard of it. I explained it, his eyes widened as the implication sunk in.

The Coalition response was totally pathetic, that Labor didn't reply is worrying. I will vote Greens - they really do have their head around this issue as well as others.

Peak Oil will kick Australia's economy in the guts - mining, tourism and transport. We need to start investing in a Solar-Electric near future.

I briefed my Coalition MP on peak oil also and it was quite clear that he was not at all familiar with peak oil. Having immersed ourselves in peak oil on the net, we assume that everybody has heard of it but that is a long way from reality.

We have a lot of work to do to raise the awareness of our politician before we can expect them to make good policy.


I am really confused by the position of Dr Karl. He is running for the Senate on the Climate Change Coalition ticket. As such i posed a question to him regarding Peak Oil and AGW on his Facebook page. he kind of ummed and aahed and promised he would answer it on his blog which he was in the process of setting up.

So shortly after he set up a blog yet so far his blog is just full of rubbish about how he thinks Clean Coal is a good short term solution for Australia and pretty much our only option for the next decade. WTF??

For a guy who positions himself as some sort of genius he appears to be wilfully ignorant of gas powered generation, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. And remarkably evasive on the Peak Oil issue.

Does anyone know much about the Climate Change Coalition of which he is a part? Is it an offshoot of the Libs/Nats coalition?

He's not the only high profile environmentalist supporting the Coalition these days;

Greens astounded as Flannery backs Turnbull

In The Age newspaper today the Australian of the Year says he would vote for Mr Turnbull, and that Federal Parliament needs more people like him to tackle climate change.

Strange times indeed...

I don't mind Turnbull so much. I'd almost vote for him myself if he wasn't a member of the Liberal party. He and Joe Hockey are about the only likable figures from that group.

For a guy who positions himself as some sort of genius he appears to be wilfully ignorant of gas powered generation, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. And remarkably evasive on the Peak Oil issue.

Does anyone know much about the Climate Change Coalition of which he is a part? Is it an offshoot of the Libs/Nats coalition?


The CCC are not affiliated with any major party that I can tell, but are a single issue group pushing for geothermal baseload, which is still unproven commercially and tidal power, which is only available in a few places. That Dr Karl, I used to have so much respect for his opinion, but he’s just another baby boomer flake trying madly to preserve the un-preservable. Supply-side solutions are not enough, we must all live much more lightly to make renewables workable, especially if we want to maintain a high population.

Ahh, cheers Saturn.

I just googled up the CCC website and the extent of their Peak Oil policy appears to be a link to ASPO Australia and this one line about Peak oil in their FAQ section:

Q. Is Peak Oil real?

A. Climate Change Coalition believes Peak Oil is real. Worldwide oil production is unlikely to exceed 85 million barrels per day by any significant amount.

but he’s just another baby boomer flake trying madly to preserve the un-preservable.

Well said SaturnV the Dr has joined the CCC as a political pansy and would wilt like a flower in the face of any real pressure from from the Biz end of town. The CCC are really a bunch of Al Goreites tryibg to cash in on green energy.

Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki.

The major political parties have sold voters a furphy by claiming clean coal technology will be a reality in Australia one day, a well-known scientist says.

Scientific commentator and broadcaster Karl Kruszelnicki, who is running for the Senate on the Climate Change Coalition ticket, today said clean coal technology was physically impossible.

Dr Kruszelnicki said the major parties were lying to the Australian people when they claimed carbon dioxide could be removed from the burning of coal and then compressed and stored underground or underwater.

He said this would require one cubic kilometre of compressed carbon dioxide to be stored every day.

"That is the volume of compressed carbon dioxide that we have to get rid of - not every 10 years, not every year, but every single day," Dr Kruszelnicki said.

"It's just not technologically possible.

Thanks SthPacific,

He has since modified his position to one of grudging acceptance of carbon capture as the "least worst option" for dealing with coal. The only problem is that the techniques are 20 years from realisation, it is impossible to remove the existing gasses already in the air, let alone sequester that much CO2 and store it safely forever. Dr Karl has effectively endorsed continuation of the status quo and bequeathed a death sentence for future generations and the other species, if this crackpot scheme is ever made widespread. In the meantime we will have well and truly crossed the point of no return regarding global warming, if it hasn't already been reached.

Phil, your initiative to get official responses from all political parties to a specific set of questions is laudable and you definitely started early enough.

Whatever the parties may write in their policy documents, what really matters is how they propose to spend available funds. Today, we had this list published in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Rail: $840 + $300 million = $1,140 million for freight lines
Road: $662 million for freeways

Rail: $834 + $300 + $65 = $1,199 million for freight lines
Road: $1,770 million for freeways; big chunk for F3-M2 tunnel

One can easily calculate:
Liberal wastes 60% of $ 3 bn on new freeways, Labor only 37% of $ 1.8 bn

None of the major parties has discovered that crude oil production has already peaked in 2005 and that - barring the sudden appearance of a carbon free miracle fuel to quickly replace declining oil production in adequate quantities - the road congestion problem will be solved by peak oil, without one single dollar of investment.

The 2 conflicting trends of increasing Australian oil imports and declining global oil export volumes are INCOMPATIBLE and will lead to a PERMANENT OIL CRISIS.

I can't accept that we can quickly replace say 50% of current coal use and supplant oil by using unproven technology and voluntary conservation. That immediately cuts out the Greens (per Milne report) and the clean coal enthusiasts. I also question whether my incumbent ALP member deserves to be re-elected. Better not say which electorate but think of large cats which are not tigers. I'm inclined to vote for an Independent who has showed form on air quality issues with pulp mills.

As to the major parties I think it boils down to who will disappoint least.

I guess that Australia will use proven, off the shelf, commercially available technology like wind, solar, nuclear, and sodium sulfur batteries.
Unproven technologies are just going to have to wait their turn.

I'll just deal with the question of reducing our reliance on coal for electricity; dealing with using something other than oil would make this comment excessively long.

My home uses 5.8kWhr a day, about 4 of which is our fridge. I'm here in Melbourne, we use no AC or heating at all. We just turn on the fan and have a cold drink, or put on a jumper and have a hot drink. We have an electric blanket for cool nights. We have TV, two computers, a stereo, and they all see a decent amount of use. We use CFLs, turn off apliances when not in use, etc.

The average Australian, says the ABS, used 20.9GJ of energy in their house. 48.7% of this was electrical energy, and since there are 3.6MJ in 1kWhr, this makes 2830kWhr, or 7.75kWhr a day. So our two person household, we'd expect to use 15.5kWhr daily. In fact as I said we use 5.8kWhr. So we're using 37% of average.

So I think it's trvially simple for the average Australian household to use 50% less electrical energy without in any way compromising their lifestyle or causing themselves discomfort. I think voluntary conservation can work.

People respond to the calls made on them by leadership. In recent years there's been advertising about reducing domestic water use, and some pretty mild restrictions. It says here that

Household water use decreased by 8 per cent from 2278 gigalitres in 2000-01 to 2108 gigalitres in 2004-05. Sixteen per cent of households were reusing or recycling household water, representing a significant increase from 11 per cent in 2000–01.

Since in 2001 we apparently had 18.97 million people, and in 2005 we had 20.19 million, a 6.4% increase in population, we've gone from using 120kl each to 104kl, a decline of 9%.

In our own home we use 27kl each annually, simply by short showers, using laundry and bath water on the garden, and so on. Of course many people will do nothing - I've an acquaintance fresh from Germany who has 40 minute showers, after all (using in one shower what one of we two uses in a week) - but others will do more, so that it balances out, and we come up with an overall reduction. So with more encouragement in advertising we could see a reduction of about 18-25% overall, I think. Let's be conservative and call it 20%.

Now, if we can do it with water, I don't see why we can't do it with electricity. When we had the natural gas blowout ten years ago, people responded well to the public pleas not to use the gas still in the pipes. If they'll put up with significant inconvenience for a couple of weeks, they'll put up with mild reductions forever, I think. But there have been no such calls. This surprises me. Recently we had the coal mine at the Yallourn power station get flooded, it's only at about 1/4 of its 1,500MW capacity - and that's about 1/4 of the state's baseload power, so it's significant. Since we got a couple of 30+C days, I thought there might be calls for us to show some restraint with AC and such to avoid any blackouts, but nope.

Going on the water experience, though, I think that a 20% reduction in per capita household electricity use is quite achieveable. Commerce and industry would have to follow. Commerce can manage it - about half of commercial buildings leave their machinery, lights and airconditioning on when no-one's there at night, wasting 1/3 of their power overall. If we could get them to stop that, it's 17% of commercial power use saved immediately without effort. So they only need to find another 3% of savings to match what households can do.

Thus, voluntary conservation can give us 20% electricity consumption drop, which means a 20% reduction in consumption of coal in Australia (almost all coal used is by power stations).

I agree that "unproven technology", such as geosequestration of CO2, won't give us any reductions - or at least, we shouldn't rely on it. Let's use proven technology, like wind power. Denmark, which has had wind power since the 1970s, in 2005 produced 18.5% of its total electricity from wind turbines. In 1996, the Danes set themselves the target of getting 40% their energy from wind by 2030. So basically from now until 2030 they'll be adding 1% of their total electricity consumption in wind power.

Now, producing wind power does involve some carbon emissions, from mining the ore for the metal for it, the crane raising it into position, even down to the concrete base. This gives the energy payback period of two to three months for new designs, and a year for old designs. But we'll assume that we Aussies produce the things more sloppily than the Danes of thirty years ago, and have a payback period of two years. This gives us CO2-equivalent emissions of 0.04kg/kwWhr for wind power, as against 1.21kg CO2e/kWhr for black coal (though most Aussie coal-fired power comes from brown coal, which is worse - but let's present it as pessimistically as we can for renewables!) So wind has 3% the emissions of coal over its lifetime. And so converting 18.5% to 40% of our electricity from being got from coal to wind will actually only reduce emissions by 18-39%.

And so we have,
Conservation, 20%
Conversion to wind, 18-39%

leaving somewhere between 12% to find elsewhere, or 9% more reductions in emissions than the 50% you describe.

I think I've spoken about it enough, so suffice to say that between solar and geothermal and wave and biomass, I think the prospects of a 50% reduction in coal-burning, using proven technology and voluntary conservation, are pretty good.

If our conservation of electricity is only as fast as that of water has been (9% in 4 years), then the 20% reduction can be hit in 9 years. Assuming building renewable energy is the same rate as the Danes, 1% of total supply annually, then the 18.5% can be hit by 2026, and the 30% substitution mark, or overall 50% reduction, can be hit by 2037. A 20% conservation and 40% substitution, or overall 60% reduction in coal use, could be hit by 2047. The most ambitious target is that of the Greens, 30% greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 and 80% by 2050. In terms of electricity generation, my plan would exceed theirs (32% vs 20%) in 2020, but fall short in 2050 (62% vs 80%). My plan would vastly exceed that of all the other parties'.

When you said you didn't think the reductions could happen "quickly", you didn't say how long "quickly" was. As I've shown, it's quite feasible to achieve very significant reductions in emissions from electricity generation by conservation (20% by 2016) and substitution (1% annually) using proven technologies. I don't know if you count that as "quickly" or not.

Of course here I'm only talking about emissions from electricity generation, but that is after all what you said you were sceptical we could reduce by 50%; to deal with everything that produces emissions would be the subject of an article, not a comment on an article. Suffice to say that it stands to reason that if we can do it with electrical generation, we should be able to do it in other areas of the economy - again, using proven technology.

Points noted, but a couple of quibbles
1) water conservation may be easier than electricity
A green lawn was always a faux status symbol and I bet some are glad to be relieved of the effort. On the other hand AC on a hot day is a matter of physical wellbeing. It could be the next 20% of water cuts could be as hard as the first 20% of electricity. BTW my household power bill is $550 in credit and I have rainwater tanks.
2) Denmark aiming higher in renewables
I've read that new wind build in Denmark has reached zero net marginal benefit. I won't link to that because I think a few years need to go by before a consensus emerges. If that's true it could mean renewable penetration higher than say 20% of current grid output is not always practical, but let's see. If I recall the UIC (sure they could be biased) says Denmark currently has higher relative coal dependence than Australia through electricity import.

1) That's not been my experience.

We had just two 37C (99F) days, though below 50% humidity, in my cheaply-built uninsulated house I got by with just a fan on me. I am 36 years old and not fit, though a healthy weight.

No healthy human between 10 and 60 years of age needs for their health airconditioning or heating between 10C (50F) and 33C (91F). They might like it, but they don't need it. Consider: just as 92% of the world's population has no cars at all, about 90% have no access to AC at home or work. They don't drop dead at an early age because of that.

Our grandparents, and for many of us our parents, spent most of their lives without any kind of AC at all. Let's not confuse "become accustomed to and likes" with "needs". I'm accustomed to tv every day - I don't need it.

Peak oil means we don't get to be whiny pussies anymore, we have to toughen up a little bit. Not a lot, just a little bit. A fan or hot water bottle, and cold or warm drink, instead of AC is not a great and painful sacrifice, I think.

If we can reduce our electricity by 63%, then about half the country ought to be able to reduce by half that amount without trouble, giving us 16%. The other half could also reduce, but will be whiny pussies about it. But I'm more optimistic about human nature, and think that two-thirds of people will reduce by half of what we have. 2/3x1/2x63 = 21%, more or less.

I don't think that's unrealistic, thinking that two-thirds of people can manage half of what we do, which is nothing extraordinary, and involves no real discomfort, and the spending of not a single extra cent - in fact we've saved money.

2) If you're not linking to it and you're not sure about it, sorry but I'm not interested. Hell I could say, "I read somewhere, but I won't tell you where... wind power costs $0.01/kWhr, is carbon negative, and gives you vitamin C."

Link wars round 1

The net effect of this has been growing losses as wind capacity expanded. Official estimates put the expected losses at DKr 1.5 billion per year.

It might just be easier to wait until all sides agree on the true situation in Denmark.

Shopping malls and offices need AC. Don't think that will change anytime soon.

I don't care about the money. Whether this or that makes money is not relevant to the issue of fossil fuel depletion and climate change, since after all, if we do nothing, then those two things are going to lose us a metric shitload of money.

Money in any case is very volatile, dependent on the local situation, government subsidies and taxes and so on.

I'm only interested in the energy from the various sources, and the pollution effects.

With heroic efforts in renewables you will just get a slow elimination of coal over decades.

With heroic effors in renwables and nuclear you would get a far more rapid elimination of coal.

Australian greens appear to be supporting more work on second generation biofuels. This is in contrast to US greens who are aiming to move away from combustion based technology entirely. But, I think that you are making a mistake to think that they are suggesting that second generation biofuels are an immediate answer. They are supporting expanded research.

Greens everywhere tend to be interested in prosperity. So, the Australian greens are urging roads to rails (proven technology) as a way to make everyone's life easier and better. Getting people where they need to go faster and in greater comfort is a good thing. It also addresses the issues of peak oil and pollution.


Chris Shaw, a well known Peak Oiler, has some things to say about the election.

Enough is enough – Kick Howard’s a** this time and show him the exitdoor..please..
You(he) have not signed Kyoto-agreement and to some extent YOU have rediculed it for many years. Now, do you still suffer from any drought down there, or? Are you still planning for recycled toilet/drinking-water ? (sarcanol)

Australia needs responsible politicians who can work on the greater issues like GW and PO, alongside the international community. And you will be very welcome in that club !

I was listening to Julia Gillard (deputy leader, probably deputy prime minister next week) being interviewed on ABC radio in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. Someone sms'd a question asking her what she thought about Peak Oil,

She responded by saying that she assumed the question was in regard to how petrol prices go up and down each week and that she didn't like it either !

LOL, you could have asked me! I'm standing as a Candidate (Independent) in Charlton.

Believe me, I KNOW about Peak Oil

And now the Coalition (friend of coal) has lost, and Labor got a majority in the House. It looks as though in the Senate Labor will only be able to pass legislation with the assistance of the Greens, and one lefty independent Senator. Obviously the Greens will do deals.

The new Senators don't take their seats until July 2008 (we have fixed Senate terms, but not fixed elections for them), so we won't see immediate action as the Coalition will still have a majority there. However, to my mind this is a good thing, as it allows the Greens time to make deals with Labor, so that policies can be properly considered and discussed.

Labor does not appear to be aware of Peak Oil issues, but they are aware of climate change and wish to address it, and since the logical measures for each are the same, that's okay. So we've some hope.

surprising ? i thought they were expecting howard to step down even before the votes were tallied.

as an outside observer, it seem to me that if blair was bush's poodle, then howard was his ....... well, other poodle.

Blair was the poodle--
Howard was the lap dog, which Bush gave a pet to when ever energy or GW came up and the Lap Dog barked the BushCo party line.
He will be missed by the Neothugs.

I hope he doesn't follow Browns path, after his first visit to the US I've been refering to him as Brown-nose for his cozing up to Bush. Hopefully he has enough confidence not to cowtow to Washington.

On Rudd signing Kyoto, plus everything else, I think this line nails it
Meeting the country's original 2012 target would entail stringent, costly and probably unpopular measures in raising energy efficiency and switching to renewable sources.

From,23599,22817609-5007133,00.html Add to that mortgage and water woes and a possible slowdown in the minerals boom. The honeymoon could soon be over for the new PM if expectations are high.

Three years then out.

newscom knows about as much about the environment and measures useful in helping it as Paris Hilton knows about paying the bills. They're full of shit.

The Liberals are gone! Finally!

My old friend staggered off into the dark at 4:00AM this morning and being the last of the crowd I retired a few seconds later. Needless to say, I’m a tad weary this morning.

Labor has a hard job now they’re elected- they have inherited a 'tanked' economy but that will not be as hard as the environmental challenge we need to mount. Keeping the planet in a good enough order to support our species and save the biodiversity we're destroying as our rapacious environmental appetite and negligence chews up more and more, will mean some changes that the old school will find unpleasant.

I’m glad I lived through what I hope has been the last blast of Liberal Democracy in this country, which in my view is more about elitism, industrial madness, corporate excess and personal prosperity at the expense of good sense, happiness and the precautionary principle.

I’ve been called a hypocrite, a contradiction and just plain mad as I rant and plead for alternative action in this society; keeping the world and where you live beautiful and healthy. Some believe sadly still, to the point of pathos, that hope for a better future resides in the consumer economy and uncontrolled expansion of ugly things over the natural canvas – a good dose of traffic jams, mortgages and angst. I don’t get how they don’t see it. I still don’t understand how anyone with a child, a love for anything natural or beautiful could have voted for a Liberal.

Oil extraction efficiency declines

“I learned from Jay Hanson’s unrelenting study of the oil industry (, that in the '50s they could produce 50 barrels of energy for every barrel consumed producing finished products for the market. By the nineties, the ratio had fallen to 5 barrels to 1. By the year 2005, the industry will just break even-it will be necessary to use as much energy to produce any given quantity.”

So what? I think what we have to realize is that alternatives and new infrastructure requires a special "escalating" pricing scheme that would baffle most economists. Indeed, I have a background in economics (but, thankfully, I transcended that paradigm), but am not aware of a theory of pricing that will anticipate what promises to be a rather steep slope (sorry) as everything SIMULTANEOUSLY goes up in price. In other words, it won't just be the mining, shipping, manufacturing, workers living expenses, materials, and so forth--there's a 'multiplier effect' going on with prices increasing so rapidly that every sane plan towards mitigation creates a massive cost only assumed by taking on national debt, a bit like the US war in Iraq.

Nevertheless, mitagation is critical. We are already late. Australia could, iif it were to adopt any peak oil provisions, would be setting an international example that is badly needed.

If some writers are correct in anticipating a 'de-industrialization process at $250/b then we only have a couple of years before a new set of 'rules' is imposed upon possible activities and mitigation options.

Where would $500 billion have gotten us in the last 5 years? Dick Cheney can answer that question in front of a war tribunal. Cheney obviously new about peak oil and made public comments about the problem prior to his and his cohorts plan 'solve the problem' through deceit and plunder.

We'll never know how the US might otherwise have dealt with the peak oil crisis if sane people ran this oligarchy-passing-as-democracy. Obviously, the whole thing is run by war criminals, cowards, fools, and scam artists. Plunder. What an idiotic plan. In the end, it just accelerates the depletion and benefits parasitic industries like the weapons biz.

Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 17:23 GMT
Hermit sculptor 'killed by oil'

This is an old story, but metaphorical...

Now that Labor has won and with Green preferences and one more and one more they should be able to get some decent legislation through.
Signing the Kyoto Protocol will be the easy part, convincing the voters that they have to use less, travel less, not be mad consumers and put up with significantly higher fuel prices and most household goods will be the real challenge.
As much as I am happy that Howard has gone, winning the the election might well prove to be a poisoned chalice for for Rudd.
Let's hope the Australian public use some intelligence when things start to get tough.

Congratulations to Australia...

Meanwhile, the world is being run by Dick Cheney...

From Oil Crisis (2005) by Colin J. Campbell, p. 188-192


One can be forgiven for seeing it as something of a house of cards built on
nothing more than faith in the continuation of a System, itself supported by
a wide spectrum of vested interests. It may indeed have been precisely the
issue of confidence that occupied the minds of the analysts in various
Washington think-tanks as they tried to define the country's post-Cold War
foreign policy. A grand plan for American economic hegemony and support for
the dollar was needed to support the System. They soon saw the central role
of oil in the equation, recognising that the country's growing dependence on
imports was not about to abate because domestic production had long been in
decline, mirroring an even more serious earlier decline in discovery. They
realised that the country would become ever more dependent on the Middle
East, including Iraq, where it had already fought a war, as described in
Chapter 4.

The Project for the New American Century was formulated in Washington, and a
letter pressing for military action in the Middle East was sent to President
Clinton in 1998, being signed by Elliot Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, Richard
Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Robert B. Zoellick. A further
document, Rebuilding America's Defences, was drawn up by the same group in
September 2000, together with Dick Cheney and Jeb Bush, the new President's
brother.8 It tellingly contains the following extract

"while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate
justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the
Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddan'i Hussein"

It could hardly be stated more clearly, with the word justification being
particularly telling. The use of the term Defences in the title is also
revealing, since the country was not in any way threatened in military
terms. The strength of the dollar and its control of the economy may rather
have been the concerns. Human rights or the status of women in Muslim
society would hardly have been issues upon which to propose military
intervention. There were much more obvious objectives: namely control of oil
and support for Israel with which several of the analysts had close links,
even to the extent of dual citizenship. The influence of the Israeli
sympathisers in America is clearly colossal,' as amply demonstrated by the
fact that US Aid to the tune of 100 billion dollars has been given to the
country for no obvious reason other than this link. Certainly, other tribal
re-settlements around the World have failed to attract similar support. It
seems that the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, was given authority by the new
administration to implement a decisive policy, based on these long years of
planning. The change of administration itself may have been significant for
the incoming members, being new to their jobs, probably found it expedient
to simply extend past policies, not having had time to develop new ones of
their own. They may also have lacked experience or knowledge of the wider
world, giving their advisers excessive new influence.10

In Chapter 1, I described what I called the Task Force Mentality which I
encountered when I went to work for Texaco in Colombia. It could be
epitomised as "Action without Thought". Later, I came upon a variant, which
could be called the Committee System when I worked in the Standard Oil
Building in Chicago. There were committees for everything that delivered
bland analyses and recommendations, but lacked executive authority. The
Executives themselves were dynamic people but not gifted with knowledge or
insight of the conditions in the foreign countries whose governments owned
the oil rights. Their function had reduced to little more than managing the
budget as best they could. The managers on the ground were either old
retainers, put out to pasture, receiving detailed instructions on every
minor step, or more dynamic figures endowed with the Task Force mentality.
The operations themselves were normally conducted very efficiently, but
overall planning and strategy were inept. Little attempt to integrate or
understand the foreign communities, societies or cultures was made. It is
easy to picture how the Vice-President may have taken command within such a
general administration and mindset. He was evidently cast a Task Force
role, and resolved to take decisive action. In digesting the reports and
presentations from the sundry committees, he was soon able to synthesise two
clear and interwoven themes: control of foreign oil and support for Israel.
He probably determined that a military solution was to be preferred,
matching his own dynamic mindset. Having little sympathy for the subtleties
of foreign diplomacy, he may have asked himself what good would come from
trying to talk to all those fellows in their robes and fancy headdresses,
who barely spoke English.

His first action was to strengthen and expand the chain of military bases
around the World, many of which, including those in the Persian Gulf, had
been in place since the Cold War. The key new ones were located around the
Caspian and more recently on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, off
oil-rich Nigeria and Angola. It proved easy to persuade the countries in
question to accept such bases with offers of loans, military assistance and
training, with no doubt special inducements for the individuals in command.
A base was established in Kosovo on the proposed route for a new pipeline
bringing oil from the Caspian region to the Adriatic, 11 and troops were
also positioned along the new pipeline from Chad to the Cameroons.12

It also probably did not take long to figure out that control of foreign oil
demanded control the Middle East and possibly the Caspian if that should
develop as hopes at the time suggested. However, a glance at the atlas
showed the latter to be a difficult landlocked place, meaning that getting
the oil out would call for special attention. A Balkan export route had
already been secured through the Kosovo War, but it was evident that a
closer presence was desirable. A further study of the atlas identified
Afghanistan as of key strategic importance, especially as it had already
played a role in undermining the Soviet regime, as discussed in Chapter 4.

The next challenge was to determine how to secure domestic political support
for a new foreign war, as it was recognised that the general public would
have little stomach for it unless galvanised into action by some extreme
event. It was soon evident that a strong pretext to move was needed, indeed
a very strong one to reach everyone's TV screen. A further advantage was
identified in that people perceiving themselves to be threatened would be
disposed to rally to their government with a sense of loyalty, which in turn
would allow it to strengthen its grip on the country and improve its chances
of re-election, as indeed has proved to be the case.


So, we may conclude that it was decided to put in hand a bold plan of
action, it took courage to do so, but they were evidently up to the
occasion, deciding to implement it on September 11th 2001. The details of
the operation remain obscure, But the many curious features of the event can
hardly be denied or easily explained. They include:

1. The normal defences being shut down that day or a simulated hijacking.13

2. The rapid identification as hijackers of a group of Egyptians and Saudis,
who had been given minimal flying training at a school in Florida, being
supervised by Intelligence minders in their apartment building.

3. Four airliners were reported as being hijacked, having exceptionally low
passenger lists.

4. Two of the airliners were filmed striking prominent buildings in New
York, which exploded in what struck some analysts as controlled demolitions,
the steel from the sites being later exported to China as scrap, preventing
forensic analysis. The death toll was held to a minimum by timing the
incident to occur before most people arrived at work, some being alerted at
the last minute by the Omega messaging service not to go their offices that
day. Some senior executives also found themselves attending a charity event
at an air base.

5. The Pentagon was depicted as another target. An explosion occurred
leaving a small hole at ground level without trace of a crashed airliner. 14

6. The passport of one of the alleged hijackers was found in the New York
rubble, despite the strength of the explosion.

7. An Israeli film crew was in position on the roof of an adjoining building
to film the event.

8. The manoeuvres undertaken by the aircraft would test the skills of an
experienced pilot, being far beyond those having no more than a brief
training in light aircraft, suggesting that the aircraft may have been flown
by remote control.

9. Within seconds of the event, a sinister figure in an Afghan cave had been
identified as the ring leader of a global organisation, now named al-Qaeda,
threatening the United States. He looked the part in his beard and
outlandish robes, making excellent TV imagery. He was easily controlled
having been previously on the CIA payroll. 15 Various videos and messages
from him declaring a holy Muslim war were broadcast. Knowing full well where
he was, may have made it easy to plan an unsuccessful search.16

10. Finally, the Vice-President took that day to be out of sight, evidently
having taken command from some control bunker, while the President found
himself reading to children at a school in [Florida], evincing no surprise
when an aide burst in to inform him of the incident.

The operation was pulled off immaculately despite a few difficulties that
were experienced when the intelligence services both at home and abroad got
wind of what was afoot, leading to many subsequent claims that the
Government had failed to take proper note of the reported threats.

For good measure, a brief anthrax scare followed to bring home to every
individual the fear that they were personally threatened. A universal sense
of fear was a critical part of the strategy.

Before long, the B52s had been armed and sent into action. Images of the new
sinister enemy in the form of Afghan tribesmen with their robes, beards and
head-dressers, astride donkeys with a musket across their backs, were soon
broadcast around the World. Within a few weeks, it was all over. The Taliban
Government fell to be replaced by a puppet regime, led by Hamid Karzai. He
was a western-oriented man, who had previously been a consultant to Union
Oil of California. The action now was depicted as having a moral objective.
Afghan women appeared before the cameras to explain how they had been
oppressed by the previous regime, which had denied them education or the
opportunity to find careers as dentists, teachers or shop-assistants.

But a setback to the grand strategy came when the Kashagan prospect off
Kazakhstan, once billed as rivaling Saudi Arabia, was finally drilled with
disappointing results…

------------ Australia to sign Kyoto Treaty ------------

Now that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum again in Australia, what can Australians expect from Kevin Rudd’s decision to sign the Kyoto protocol? For those new to Kyoto, here are a few helpful guidelines:

1. Kyoto runs out in 2012

Australia won’t actually have to do anything so no worries there. It's all about warm and fuzzy feelings and not about global warming, because:

2. Kyoto has achieved absolutely no reduction in CO2 emissions

Japan, the home of Kyoto, was supposed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 6%. Instead they are up 8%. This isn’t surprising because Kyoto isn’t about your CO2 emissions. It’s about getting other countries to reduce their CO2 emissions and paying them with carbon credits to do so.

Sorry, my mistake. Make that ‘paying them to use less oil and gas and sell it to us’.

3. Kyoto targets are country based and make no allowance for population growth

The taboo subject. Kyoto is based upon 1990 levels. It’s no accident that the two countries that refused to sign Kyoto (Australia & USA) have both had large increases in population since then. The Australian population is up by 4 million (23.8%) since 1990 and the US by 53.7 million (21.5%).

So what’s it to be? Immigration or CO2 reduction?

4. Europeans are the main cheerleaders for Kyoto

Europe hurls abuse at the US and Bush for not signing Kyoto but is mysteriously silent about CO2 emissions from the 1st, 3rd and 4th largest emitters. Moreover the European Union has a single economy except when it comes to adding up CO2 when the countries miraculously get disaggregated again. Convenient eh?

Now there is nothing unusual about Europeans sneering at Americans. Yes, Europeans are to the left of Americans generally, but it goes right back to the creation of the US when Europe was run by [aristocratic] elites who considered a democratic US republic a threat to themselves. They weren’t wrong either - 1776 US revolution, 1789 French revolution and the king loses his head. Europe is still run by elites, cheered on by the Marxist intelligentsia. The European Union is totally undemocratic – 85% of laws are ‘directives’ issued by unelected European commissioners which are mandatory on countries. We can ignore the anti-US propaganda. It’s not about Kyoto; it happens all the time.

4. So what does Europe really want with Kyoto?

We TODers are all used to the Peak Oil/Global Warming duality and how fixing one will fix the other – peak oil and economic collapse would ‘fix’ global warming; fixing global warming means switching big time to renewables and efficiency so peak oil gets 'fixed'.

Kyoto used to be about global warming but now it's about oil and gas.

5. What Kyoto is really about:

a) Please USA, use less oil and gas so there is more available for Europe.
b) Please Russia, stay poor, raise the price of gas to the world price (which we can afford but Russians can’t) and sell your oil and gas to Europe. We will pay you a premium for your oil and gas in the form of carbon credits no matter what the price is.
c) Third world? For god’s sake don’t industrialise and you get some carbon credits too.
d) China? Well the factories have to be somewhere and, anyway, the US is enemy number 1. China is an ally in the holy war between elite-led government and democracy. Kevin Rudd will find his Mandarin helpful here but he better be careful. His commie hugging might upset the US.
e) Australia? We weren't yelling at you about Kyoto so why do you go and sign it? We actually need your coal and LNG which is very CO2 intensive. Can you please unsign it asap.

German chancellor Schroeder was blatant about point b when he tried to persuade Putin to raise the price of gas internally for ‘reasons of global warming’. Putin turned him down.

I hope this handy guide helps the newbies to Kyoto understand the wonderful world of Kyoto politics.

By the way, Australia's CO2 emissions in 2005 were up 25.6% in excess of the 1990 benchmark according to UNFCCC figures issued last week. That's about the same as Australian population growth (23.8%). What on earth does Kevin Rudd think he is doing signing Kyoto without renegotiating some kind of population adjustment first? His acceptance speech was one sound bite after another so I don't expect his political honeymoon to last long. IMO, this Mandarin speaking prime minister is insider-elite so expect him to get on well with China and Europe. Relations with the US will deteriorate.

Hang on a sec ..... stand still ..... there got it.

You had a chip on your shoulder.

Kyoto was only ever a first step. The problem is politicians failing to understand that and make the movements necessary towards the second - coupled with wilful stupidity by some and a desire to bury their heads.

We have to face facts, GW is going to happen and tipping points are going to be reached. We just don't have the political setup to avoid it. Frankly the only hope we have left is geoengineering, so although we need to continue with getting out of CO2 producing energy for PO purposes we also have to heavily get into really detailed modelling and active sequestration options to understand and control our last hope.

The change of leadership in Australia is useful since it brings closer the day when the US is bought into line with the global consensus and we can get rid of distractions.

Hi garyp, It was written is a cynical style on purpose. I was trying to be humorous about the complete failure of Kyoto to achieve anything. CO2 is up in all countries and not just the countries that didn't sign (US & AU) or are exempt (CN & IN & others).

The basic mechanism of Kyoto (carbon offsets) is flawed because you can't measure the offset and they tend to be temporary only. Planting some trees helps only until they get used for firewood. Carbon accounting is also easy to falsify. The biggest carbon offset available is Chinese factories that make CFC GHG's and then destroy them again. That entitles them to carbon credits. Call me cynical?

We actually need to burn less coal/oil/gas instead of offsetting. There are not enough offsets available. We need 1) renewables and efficiency technology or 2) economic collapse. So far all reductions in CO2 have come from technology.

'Bringing the US into line with the global consensus' is just another feed good. It will achieve nothing without bringing China and India as well. If the US had a crash program to cut CO2 by 20%, that's 20% of 25% of global CO2 or only 5%. What's more, factories would move to China so there would be no reduction in global CO2 at all.

I don't like Kyoto because it's not working and we need something that does work. It's not effective but leaves people with the impression that it is enough.

Generally I think it's too late on GW and agree with you that some kind of geoengineering will be needed but don't hold out for that. Can North African countries be persuaded to allow their deserts to be covered with reflective film? They would use the same argument/excuse that China and India use now - GW is your doing, don't blame us.

We are up against real limitations of human adaptability. We are programmed to compete and only cooperate with close relatives. We will have to take whatever the planet throws at us.

The thing about the US no longer holding out is the attention is on "right how do we make it work" rather than "how do we bludgeon the US into line". Think of the US position in terms of opportunity cost - the efforts could be on fixing the faultlines in global action rather than concentrated on forming that consensus.

As far as geoengineering, I used to prefer the dumping rust in the sea method - however it seems to not be that effective. Despite that I think the sea is the best route to take, since nobody get to say "not on my land". However I want some real detailed modelling of systems, and some getout avenues before attempting widescale geoengineering. Another ice age is too real a possibility if the wrong people are put in charge (eg no political managers).

Kyoto fails not because of a faulty mechanism, it fails because of the self-interest of nation states. Even where nations can overcome their self-interest, any mechanism can only be effective where ALL the major players are party to it. The process never gets a gathering momentum, it has the opposite problem - it only takes one large country to derail it.

The only way a Kyoto-like protocol can take place is the way other international agreements happen - the USA bribes/bullies sufficient countries into agreeing. Until the USA decides that GW will seriously threaten its status as superpower, I don't expect much to happen.

So a country which signed the Kyoto Treaty had its emissions rise by 8%, and a country which didn't sign it had them rise by 25%.

This is supposed to tell us that the treaty had no effect?

You have not reported population or greenhouse gas figures changes accurately.

Japan in 1990 had a population of 123.537 million, and now 127.434 million, a rise of 3.15%. Alan does not mention Japanese population growth; apparently Australian population growth excuses increased emissions, but Japanese population growth doesn't.

Australia in 1990 had a population of 17.169 million, and in July this year 20.434 million, a rise of 19.01%. Alan says it's 23.8%, which is wrong.

As to greenhouse gas emissions, note for example this report telling us that while Japan's current emissions are 6.4% higher than in 1990 (not 8% as Alan tells us), their emissions have fallen 1.3% from last year. If their emissions fall at 1.3% each year, then their progress will be,
2007 +6.4%
2008 +5.1%
2009 +3.8%
2010 +2.5%
2011 +1.2%
2012 -0.1%
2013 -1.4%
2014 -2.7%
2015 -4.0%
2016 -5.3%
2017 -6.6%

Kyoto requires Japan to achieve -6% by 2012; on their current progress, they'll be 4 or 5 years behind. But they are at least on the right track.

By comparison, according to the UN report [54kb pdf download], Australia's emissions have increased 25% in that time, compared to the goal of only rising by 8%. Our rate of increase is slowing; from 1990 to 2000 we went from 423.1 to 504.2 Mt CO2e, or 8.11Mt CO2e annually, and then by 2004 we'd hit 529.2Mt CO2e, or 6.25Mt CO2e annually. On our current progress of the increase dropping by 1.86Mt CO2e every four years, or 0.465Mt CO2e annually, our emissions should level out by 2017-18, with emissions at 568Mt CO2e, or 7.3% higher than in 2004. Whether they'll then drop is another question - carbon emissions are like money, it's easier to stop increasing spending than to lower spending.

So in fact what we see is that a country which ratified Kyoto is behind on its emissions reduction targets, but is on the way to achieving them; and a country which never ratified them has blown out its targets by a vast amount, and has no prospect in the medium term of even approaching those targets.

Note that the Kyoto Protocol, despite being originally written in 1997, did not actually enter into legal force until 16th February 2005. So it's not surprising that some countries would be behind in implementing it.

The US, Australia and EU don't want to renegotiate Kyoto to have population changes taken into account. China had in 1990 some 1,143.2 million people, and has today 1,319 million people. India had in 1990 849.7 million, and now has 1,129.9 million. Together they have increased their population by 456 million people. This is over 1.5 times the entire population of the USA. Should China and India get an increase in the Kyoto allowances equal to 1.5 times the entire greenhouse gas emissions of the USA?

Put another way, their population has risen by 22.9%, so should they have got a 22.9% increase? In fact they had a 50% increase, but putting this in perspective, that was still only to 3.8t CO2e per capita for China, and 1.8t CO2e for India, compared to 25.9t CO2e or 22.9t CO2e for the USA. So while their overall emissions went up, their per-person emissions are still a small fraction of ours.

And that's why Australia and the USA don't ask for a "population adjustment". Because that brings up the unpleasant (for us) question of a "fair share." China and India could quite reasonably say, "when we rise to 24 or even just 12 tonnes per person, then you'll be in a position to criticise," or "when you've reduced to 5 or 10 tonnes each, then we'll try reductions on our side."

A "population adjustment" also ignores the simple fact that we're talking about the physical limits of the Earth. To the Earth, it makes no difference whether it's 25 tonnes for each of 300 million Americans, or 5 tonnes for each of 1,500 million Chinese or Indians. The system is indifferent to the nationality of the greenhouse gases. Since the world population has increased, a "population adjustment" would mean our emissions would increase globally, which means the world is toast.

It's time to stop thinking about excuses for doing nothing, and to get our shit together. Our countries are like a bunch of children. "But it's not fair!" or "Only if he does first!" It's time for us to grow the fuck up.

My prediction for the Bali conference: our new Preznit Rudd meets his Indonesian counterpart. A deal is worked out whereby Australia keeps burning coal so long as they pay the Indos a few dollars not to cut down the forest. This changes everything, like community awareness, or something.

Not sure how that will work out. As well as cutting and burning forests Indonesia is also a major coal exporter. In fact they are looking to raise production.

The Suharto govt lost power in '96 because (amongst other things) the price of cooking oil went up dramatically. Currently much of indonesias cooking oil supplies comes from Palm oil plantations that are huge GHG emitters. I can not see the Indo govt doing anything that would make cooking oil scarcer for the masses.

Alanisthename is right. Immigration is the elephant in the centre left's living room. We have the same problem in Britain. Greens preach population control and then allow mass immigration. The incompatability of reducing resource consumption and increasing your population never occurs to them. Signing Kyoto or anything else will be a waste of time until this is adressed.

We'd address population by having greenhouse gas emissions per capita be the subject of a new treaty, rather than country by country.

So for example at the moment the world average CO2e emissions is around 4.5t per capita. We might want to have 1.0t by 2050. We'd then say that the goal each year would be to reduce the average by 0.1t from 2010 to 2045.

So Australia with 25t or so would be way over the 4.5t target in 2010, and China, currently 3.8t, pretty much dead on with its rates of increase. But by 2020 with the goal at 3.5t, while Australia would have drastic reductions to do, China would have relatively mild reductions to do - and India, currently on 1.8t, could have increased without breaching the treaty.

But we don't want to look at population and per capita amounts, because that means we in the West would have to change our wasteful lifestyles, and those darkies and wogs would get to have some wealth just like us. We don't want that, we want them to know their place, in miserable poverty supplying us with cheap raw materials and labour.

This morning in my reading of papers from around the world, I caught this op-ed in Sydney's Morning Herald by Steve Biddulph, an Australian psychologist and author, offering a postmortem on Australia's recent elections. It is rare that I find the words "peak oil" in daily journals and so it is quite refreshing and reassuring that at least Australians are conversant in our impeding future. It bodes well for both Australia and the world that they now have a government willing to discuss energy and climate in stark terms. The article follows below:

The Party's Over and Liberals Will Soon Be History
By Steve Biddulph
The Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday 29 November 2007

The Liberal Party is in trauma. The corporate sector is attempting to calm its nerves, and even the victors in the Labor Party cannot quite believe the seismic change in the landscape of power. But the ramifications of last Saturday may be much greater than just one election won or lost. In a way that seems unthinkable to us now, 2007 may mark the end of the Liberal Party itself. It won't happen overnight, but just watch it happen.

We are so conditioned to the idea that two main parties define politics, we even call them left and right as if they were parts of our body. But parties spring up in response to the primary tensions in a certain time and place. In the 20th century that polarisation was capital versus labour. A century earlier, before even the idea of power among the working poor, politics was aristocrats versus tradesmen, the growing middle class of shopkeepers and artisans that formed the basis of the Tories.

This is no longer the central tension in modern democracies. Centrist governments cover all the bases, and conservative politics has begun to wither away. This is a change that has come late to Australia. But social evolution is now speeding up and even this alignment is becoming dated.

The issue of the future, coming down on us now like a steam train, is of course the environment, the double hammer blows of climate change and peak oil. Energy, weather and human misery are the factors that will define our lives for decades to come. You can cancel your newspaper, those are the only four words you need to know.

Linked to this, but compounding it in frightening ways, is the imminent demise of the United States economy. In fact the whisper, the subplot in economist circles, was that this election was one to lose. That whoever inherited Australia in 2007 inherited a coming economic collapse in globalised trade that would suck Australia and much of the rest of the world down with it. For two years now the best predictions have been that the subprime meltdown would act as merely the detonator of a much larger explosive charge created long ago by US consumer debt, concealed by Chinese and Arab investment in keeping that great hungry maw that is America sucking in what it could not begin to pay for. The avalanche-like fall of US house prices will be closely followed by the same in linked economies worldwide, and presage a harsh and very different world than the one we have lived in. In short, the party is over. We are a civilisation in collapse.

Labor is the right party to manage this. Despite the widespread belief after years of cynical politics that politicians are all the same, Rudd and Gillard are not in power for power's sake. I am willing to stake my 30 years as a psychologist on this, but I think many observers have also come to this conclusion. Kevin and Julia, as Australia already calls them, want to make this country a better place for the people in it. In the coming times of deprivation, they have the value systems that will be needed to care for the sudden rise in poverty, stress, and need. They also have the unity.

So what will be the new polarity in future elections? It's the ecology, stupid. The Greens will emerge as the new opposition, though this will take probably two election cycles. By the 2010 election, 20 per cent will vote Green, simply because peak oil and climate catastrophe will have proven them right, and thinking people will see the need for austerity now for our children's tomorrow. The Liberal Party will be lucky to attract 30 per cent, which is the habitual, rusted-on portion of the community that thinks greed is good.

By 2014, we will have a struggle between a new left and right - Labor and Green - and the issue will be simply how green, how to balance the need for a much simpler and more communal kind of life, with the need to give people comfort and amenity now. This issue will continue to define life for the rest of this century.

Climate change will bring horrific costs this century unless a global effort is rallied in a way that has never been done before to regulate our gluttonous use of the air and water. Perhaps a billion lives are at risk, let alone 2 to 3 billion refugees, as agriculture and water supplies collapse across southern Asia and elsewhere, and producer countries, like Australia, find they can barely feed themselves.

The big lie of Liberal supremacy was economic management. In fact, they knew how to generate income, but not how to spend it. We could have been building what Europe built in this past decade - superb hospitals, bullet trains, schools and training centres, low cost public transport of luxurious quality, magnificent public housing. We pissed it all away on tax giveaways and consumer goods. On bloated homes that we will not be able to cool or heat, or sell, and cars we won't be able to afford to drive. A party based on self interest may evaporate along with our rivers and lakes, and have no role to play in a world where we co-operate or die.


Steve Biddulph is a psychologist and author.

Posted by Charles Lemos, Facta Non Verba, San Francisco, CA