Australian PM Kevin Rudd; climate change hero


Australian PM Kevin Rudd gave a speech on climate change at the Lowy Institute for International Policy on ‘Australia, the region and the world: the challenges ahead’ last Friday.  I ran across the text of the speech today and was beyond impressed. This man, a mere politician, truly seems motivated by this issue. He really seems to get what is at stake, what needs to be done and what the political forces opposing action on climate change are.  And he quotes from Kenny Rogers!  That would win millions of red state voters here in the wild west.  (You gave us Men at Work, we give you Kenny Rogers in return).

The full speech can be read here and you can download a PDF of the transcript or listen to the speech here. And ill excerpt some highlights below.

…we are just 31 days away from the Copenhagen Conference of Parties – an historic moment to forge a global deal to put a global price on carbon.

Today we are approaching the crossroads. Both these policies are reaching crunch time.

When you strip away all the political rhetoric, all the political excuses, there are two stark choices – action or inaction. The resolve of the Australian Government is clear – we choose action, and we do so because Australia’s fundamental economic and environmental interests lie in action.

Action now. Not action delayed.

As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia’s environment and economy will be among the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we do not act now. The scientific evidence from the CSIRO and other expert bodies have outlined the implications for Australia, in the absence of national and global action on climate change:

  • Temperatures in Australia rising by around five degrees by the end of the century.
  • By 2070, up to 40 per cent more drought months are projected in eastern Australia and up to 80 per cent more in south-western Australia.
  • A fall in irrigated agricultural production in the Murray Darling Basin of over 90 per cent by 2100.
  • Our Gross National Product dropping by nearly two and a half per cent through the course of this century from the devastation climate change would wreak on our infrastructure alone.

In Australia, we must pass our Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme – to deliver certainty for business at home and to play our part abroad in any global agreement to bring greenhouse gases down.

President Obama in the United States is also working hard so that he can take strong commitments to Copenhagen. And let us never forget that in the US, as in Australia, under both our respective previous governments, zero action was taken on bringing in cap and trade schemes meaning that the governments that replaced them began with a zero start. Other countries are striving to build domestic political momentum in their own countries to take strong commitments into the global deal.

The opponents of action on climate change fall into one of three categories.

  • First, the climate science deniers.
  • Second, those that pay lip service to the science and the need to act on climate change but oppose every practicable mechanism being proposed to bring about that action.
  • Third, those in each country that believe their country should wait for others to act first.

It is time to be totally blunt about the agenda of the climate change skeptics in all their colours – some more sophisticated than others.

It is to destroy the CPRS at home, and it is to destroy agreed global action on climate change abroad, and our children’s fate – and our grandchildren’s fate – will lie entirely with them.

It’s time to remove any polite veneer from this debate. The stakes are that high.

Seven times the Liberals and Nationals have promised to make a decision on their policy on climate change – and seven times they have delayed.

  1. In December 2007 they said wait for Garnaut.
  2. In September 2008 they said wait for Treasury modelling.
  3. In September 2008 they said wait for the White Paper.
  4. In December 2008 they said wait until the Pearce Report.
  5. In April 2009 they said wait for the Senate Inquiry.
  6. In May 2009 they said wait for the Productivity Commission – forgetting that the Productivity Commission already made a submission on emissions trading to the Howard Government’s Shergold Report.
  7. Now the Liberals and National have said wait for Copenhagen and for President Obama’s scheme.

It is an endless cycle of delay – and I am sure that with December almost upon us, the eighth excuse cannot be far away – which will be to wait until the next year or the year after until all the rest of the world has acted at which time Australia will act.

What absolute political cowardice.

What an absolute failure of leadership.

What an absolute failure of logic.

The inescapable logic of this approach is that if every nation makes the decision not to act until others have done so, then no nation will ever act.

The immediate and inevitable consequence of this logic – if echoed in other countries – is that there will be no global deal as each nation says to its domestic constituencies that they cannot act because others have not acted.

The result is a negotiating stalemate. A permanent standoff.

And this of course is the consistent ambition of all three groups of do-nothing climate change deniers.

5 thoughts on “Australian PM Kevin Rudd; climate change hero

  1. I’m pleased to see that Kevin Rudd has spoken so strongly against climate denial (which has been treated with a rather kid-gloves approach by both major parties generally, not least because of the significant numbers of deniers in their own ranks).

    However my overall verdict on Rudd’s climate performance to date is very negative indeed. The CPRS as it currently stands is probably worse than useless, given its hopelessly weak emission targets and its diversion of many billions of dollars in free permits to big polluters, not to mention ludicrous legislative complexity and counterproductive hacks like the price ceiling on carbon.

    And that’s before it gets made even worse by negotiation with the Liberal opposition.

    At this point I see Rudd’s comments above as rank hypocrisy. If his actions matched his rhetoric, the current CPRS would be ditched, and evidence-based (i.e. far stronger) targets would be adopted, via a system that is actually effective in sending sufficient carbon price signals to make enough change in behaviour to achieve the targets.

  2. The PM Kevin Rudd would presumably have endorsed the Letter to Senators concerning climate change legislation – 21.Oct.2009, by 18 US scientific organizations (The entire letter at: :
    Here is an OPEN Letter dated 12 Nov.2009 in reply:

    Subject: Letter to Senators concerning climate change legislation – 21.Oct.2009

    Dear President or Executive Director,

    How could it happen that more than a dozen of the most prestigious scientific associations signed and submitted this letter on ‘climate change’ without having ensured that the used terminology is sufficiently defined. Good science can and is required to work with reasonable terms and explanations. The science about the behaviour of the atmosphere should be no exception. But WMO (1) , IPCC and other institutions simply are using the layman’s term of weather and climate not even recognizing that this is very unscientifically. Actually nowadays climate is still defined as average weather, which may be fine for the general public, but nonsense as scientific term. This can be well demonstrated with the most relevant international legal instrument, namely the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992 (FCCC).

    Article 1 of the FCCC providing definitions offers none on the term “climate”, and if it had been based on the common explanation on “average weather”, the word “weather” would have required a definition as well. That the drafters failed to do so is a clear indication that they either lacked the scientific competence to do so, or they knew it would make no sense, because ‘average weather’ is statistics, and remain statistics regardless of any name given to the set of statistics. Instead the FCCC defines in
    · Para. 2. “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
    · Para. 3. “Climate system” means the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their interactions.
    Both explanations explain nothing. It is nonsense to say: Climate change means the change of climate, while ‘climate system’ does not say anything more as the interaction of nature. Science is using layman’s terms without being able or willing to define them in a scientifically reasonable manner, or not to use them at all. A detailed discussion is available at:

    It is therefore very unfortunate if the reference letter of just 240 words mentions ‘climate change’ seven times. If your organization believes that “rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities“ has an impact on air temperatures, then any alert should be restricted to this aspect. But as long as science is not able and willing to define CLIMATE, and subsequently CLIMATE CHANGE it is misleading and wrong to tell the general public and politics, that greenhouse gases are the “prime driver” of climate. That are the oceans as expressed in a letter to NATURE 1992: “Climate is the continuation of the oceans by other means” (2), or to say it with Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): “Water is the driver of nature”.

    Yours sincerely
    Arnd Bernaerts

    (1) The WMO site has a theme-section, which include the two terms in question. Concerning weather the section “Weather” offers no explanation but has the opening sentence: “Everyone is interested in the weather”, while subsection: What is Climate begins with the sentence: “At the simplest level the weather is what is happening to the atmosphere at any given time.” In the same section the Organization offers for climate three options namely:
    · in a narrow sense Climate is usually defined as the “average weather,”
    · in a more rigorously way, Climate is the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time, and
    · in a broader sense, Climate is the status of the climate system which comprises the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the surface lithosphere and the biosphere.
    (2) “Letter to the Editor” , NATURE 1992, Climate Change, Vol. 360, p. 292;

  3. What democratic societies should learn lessen from Australia election 2010:
    1. What productive action for Kevin Rudd’s $7b UN wrangle face lifting?
    Voter’s pains being indirectly forced $7 billion converted $330 from each man, woman and child every year, because it’s not the pain of high income Politician and Bureaucracy.
    The Australia historical hung parliament demonstrated the big gap of inequality society between the small educated elite groups who get highest pay by talk feast used mouth work controlling live essential resources of the country in every social platforms against the biggest less educated groups who get lowest pay by hands work squeezed by discriminative policies that sucking live blood from individual poor/less wealth off?

    Voters’ voices do not hear?
    Voters’ pains do not ease?
    Voters’ cries do not care?

    1. Poverty will not be phase out if no fairer resources to share;
    2. Illness will not be reducing if no preventive measurement in real action;
    3. Agriculture will not be revitalize if urbanization continuing its path;
    4. Housing affordability will not be reach for young generation if government continues cashing from young generation debt by eating out the whole cake of education export revenue without plough back;
    5. Manufacture industry will shrink smaller and smaller if no new elements there to power up to survive;
    6. Employability will not in the sustainable mode for so long as manufacture and agriculture not going to boost.

    Ma kee wai
    (Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

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