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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Development of the CPRS - Part Three: Research Reports

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Research reports provide scientific, social or economic information that relates to draft policy development. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is based on scientific research reports into how to combat global warming. Many research reports have suggested that Australia needs to take action regarding climate change, whilst others suggest that the changes in climate are natural and all action would do is make Australia uncompetitive in global markets. One of the reports that suggest that climate change is real is the Stern Report, which also suggests that Australia is one of the countries most at risk from the negative consequence of climate change ( Also, according to the Climate Change Action Network Australia, Australia is the highest per capita carbon pollution emitter of all developed nations ( Another group, the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), suggests in turn that global warming as a result of the human contribution of greenhouse gasses is only half the issue, and changes in climate in the US and Canada are equally the result of changing currents in the Pacific Ocean and human activity ( However the research report that has had the most influence on the formulation of the CPRS is the Garnaut Report.

When Professor Garnaut presented his report to the Government, he suggested that an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) would be preferable to other schemes, such as a tax scheme or hybrid scheme, in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.(1) The report suggested that, through the use of an ETS, Australia should reduce it’s emissions by 25% (on 2000 levels) by 2020, and 90% by 2050.(1) The government at first adopted a modified version of Garnaut’s lower targets, but in May 2009 this was revised and Garnaut’s suggestion of 25% by 2020 was adopted, provided that the rest of the world agrees to similar targets. (


The Development of the CPRS - Part Two: Social Movements

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Social movements are a broad changing in general public opinion that can influence government policy. A number of campaigns have changed the way people around the world view what they consume and dispose of, and how much power and pollution is attributed with day-to-day activities and purchases. The Victorian Government’s black balloon campaign is an example of such a campaign. This campaign measures carbon emissions in ‘black balloons,’ each representing 50 grams of greenhouse gas, allowing people to visualise the impact of certain high power-use actions on the environment, aided especially by the associated television advertisements ( This awareness of household ‘carbon footprints’ naturally extends to the source of the black balloons – the power stations. Increasing media attention on unclean energy sources (the Four Corners documentary ‘Heat on the Hill’ is a prime example of this) directs people to demand that every part of society should do its bit, not just households.

This social movement helped Kevin Rudd and his government gain power, with his promise to ratify the Kyoto agreement seen by many as a step forward (,,

Earth Hour is another popular “green” movement. Earth Hour achieves wide television and advertising coverage, including stories on every free-to-air channel and pictures on Australia Post stamps. Another broad social movement is youth taking action against climate change, with the recent appearance of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition being a prime example ( Groups like this focus on getting young people to take actions such as demonstrations, to attempt to influence government policy.

Also supporting the public’s drive for climate change action is a wide range of music stars/groups (such as Bono, or Radiohead who offset emissions from their concerts and takes environmental protection measures for both concerts and merchandise,, other celebrities such as Sir David Attenborough ( and well-known or powerful people like Al Gore( driving for action and taking action themselves. This adds support for public social change, which in turn pressures the government at election time.

The Development of the CPRS - Part One: Interest Groups

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Interest groups are bodies that seek to influence government policy to be in line with their own views, beliefs or interests. There are many interest groups involved in the Carbon pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) from all areas of industry and lifestyle. The Executive Director of the ‘green group’ Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Don Henry, warned the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy that the extreme summer experienced in 2008/9 was only a “foretaste” of what is to come if climate action is not taken soon. Mr. Henry also mentioned that “more than 50,000 jobs in the tourism and recreation sectors” are at risk if action is not taken( This appeal was in the interests of protecting jobs that would be lost if the targets in the CPRS are not made greater.

On the other side of the argument is the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). The MCA said in a September 2008 media release that a 10% cut in emissions on 2000 levels by 2020 (with the maximum cut in the CPRS white paper at the time being 15% if other nations agree( would “be extremely difficult to achieve given that it represents a 30% reduction on a “business as usual basis”. This amounts to a reduction in the order of 210 million tonnes by 2020 which is equivalent to the current emissions from Australia’s entire electricity generation sector.” ( This statement portrays to the government that productivity will be crippled by greater targets and goes on to say that the targets suggested are only realistic if major technological advancements are affordably made.

Both of these interest groups attempt to protect their areas of society from any areas they see as a danger in the CPRS.

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