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Greenhouse Mafia

Greenhouse Mafia is the reportedly the 'in house' name used by Australia’s carbon lobby for itself. It was also the title of a program aired by the ABC on the February 13, 2006 episode of its weekly documentary program Four Corners.[1]

The program featured Liberal Party member Guy Pearse and Four Corners host Janine Cohen, although some other scientists concerned about the control of the fossil fuel lobby also participated. The show was based on a thesis Pearse did at Australian National University between 1999 and 2005, about the response of Australian business to climate change. The program documents the power lobby groups representing the coal, car, oil, and aluminium industries have allegedly wielded to prevent Australia from reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, which were already the highest per capita in the world in 1990 and have increased since then by more than any other country in the OECD since that year.

According to the research of Pearse, who was speechwriter to Environment Minister Robert Hill between 1997 and 2001, lobby groups representing the largest fossil fuel producing or consuming industries referred to themselves as the ‘greenhouse mafia.’ These groups are represented in Canberra by the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (AIGN). AIGN members told Pearse in recorded interviews how they routinely gained access to what should be confidential information concerning government policy on energy and transport. Pearse cited recorded interviews with AIGN members including claims that lobbyists had written cabinet submissions, ministerial briefings, and costings in two departments on at least half a dozen occasions over a decade.

The consequence of the greenhouse mafia access is that those within groups lobbying for unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions have been able to ensure that government ministers hear mostly matching advice from their own departmental officials. Pearse claims that this influence is entrenched to such an extent that fossil fuel industry lobby groups have actually been writing Australia's greenhouse policy at least since the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and probably even before Howard became Prime Minister. The result has been that even when "reputable" scientists are well aware of the damage caused by anthropoegenic greenhouse gas emissions, Australia has been unwilling and unable to adopt policies that would reduce emissions in a meaningful timeframe.

The Greenhouse Mafia episode of Four Corners also contained considerable evidence that the CSIRO had forced redundancy from a number of Australia's most eminent scientists because they had spoken unfavourably of government policies on climate change since Howard came to power. Several CSIRO scientists said that the censorship of their views in recent years was completely unlike anything they had experienced in over thirty years working for the organisation.

Following the Greenhouse Mafia program by Four Corners, a talk was given on February 20 2006 by Clive Hamilton, the director of the Australia Institute and one of Guy Pearse's PhD supervisors, elaborating more on the Greenhouse Mafia. The talk listed a "dirty dozen", a group of climate change skeptics with considerable influence over Australian policy. The dirty dozen includes: Hugh Morgan, John Eyles, Ron Knapp, Alan Oxley, Peter Walsh, Meg McDonald, Barry Jones, Chris Mitchell, Ian Macfarlane, Alan Moran, Malcolm Broomhead, and John Howard. The talk states that greenhouse mafia is predominantly from the coal, oil, cement, aluminium, mining and electricity industries [2] In early 2007 Hamilton expanded on his views in Scorcher, drawing heavily on Pearse’s research. In July 2006, Pearse released his own even more extensive book, High & Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia’s Future.

Pearse and Hamilton have cited various examples of greenhouse mafia influence on the Howard government's response to climate change. One of the best documented examples involved a group called the Lower Emissions Technology Advisory Group (LETAG). Minutes of one of its meeting with John Howard and representatives of the Australian government in May 2004 were leaked. LETAG consists of the leaders of some fossil fuel companies and energy intensive industries, including Rio Tinto, Edison Mission Energy, BHP Billiton, Alcoa and Orica. The minutes describe how both groups worried that Australia's mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) was working too well and were "market skewed" towards wind power [3]. Their shared concern would become the basis for the Howard government’s 2004 Energy White Paper and its decision to create a $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund rather than expanding the MRET. 81% of the LETDF funding has gone to subsidising fossil fuel based energy projects.

Media mentions

  • Geoffrey Barker, journalist and author, made mention of the Four Corners Greenhouse Mafia program in relation to a discussion on the politicisation of the Australian public service.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Transcript of Janine Cohen's report "The Greenhouse Mafia". 4 Corners (2006-02-13). Retrieved on 2007-01-21.
  2. ^ The Dirty Politics of Climate Change. Australia Institute (2006-02-20). Retrieved on 2007-01-21.
  3. ^ Minutes of a meeting of the Low Emissions Technology Advisory Group (LETAG) with the Australian Government (2004-05-06). Retrieved on 2007-01-21.
  4. ^ Canberra: Politicisation of the public service. Late Night Live. Retrieved on 2007-02-14.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Greenhouse_Mafia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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