Overpromise and Underdeliver

A brief history of Australian climate plans
by Richard Denniss and Matt Saunders

The Morrison Government’s ‘technology not taxes’ approach to climate change policy is little more than new branding for an old strategy – a strategy pioneered by the Howard Government back in the 1990s. Rather than introduce a carbon price, mandatory energy efficiency standards or restrictions of fossil fuel consumption or extraction, the Howard Government pursued a ‘no regrets’ approach to climate action that prioritised the protection of jobs in the fossil fuel sector over climate action and relied on public expenditure on new technologies to ‘prove’ that action was being taken.

An analysis of the Howard Government’s take on ‘technology not taxes’ from his 1997 climate change policy announcement,1 reveals that the emission reductions he promised completely failed to eventuate. Indeed, rather than falling, emissions rose faster compared to the no-policy change Business as Usual forecast at the time. On a cumulative basis, from 1998 to 2010, actual emissions were 411 MT CO2-e higher than Prime Minister Howard forecast they would be with the policy changes.

Full report