In Australia the Commonwealth government has relied heavily on advice provided by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) on the economic impacts of global warming measures.
ABARES (formerly ABARE) is "a primary source of economic advice" for a number of government departments an "is routinely a part of Australia's delgation at the international greenhouse negotiations". ABARE advocated clean coal, nuclear power and the promotion of new technologies as the solution to global warming in a report released in time for the meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change (AP6).
According to Guy Pearse:
This bureau has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the provision of economic analysis of greenhouse policy. Whenever you hear ministers refer to modelling or projections they are almost always from ABARE. John Howard and his government have used this analysis at every step to justify policies that allow Australia's emissions to grow indefinitely... While this is not publicly acknowledged by the government, in 2003 the Prime Minister hastily commissioned new work from ABARE which he used to justify overruling the proposal for an emissions trading scheme by at least five of his most senior cabinet colleagues.
Although a government agency, ABARES is required to meet half its budget through external consulting which means that mining and resource companies have become clients (including Exxon, Chevron TExaco, Woodside Energy, Rio Tinto and hte Minerals Council of Australia) and ABARES reliance on these companies for funds means it promotes their interests and often its published and publicised research has been instigated and directed by those companies based on assumptions supplied by them. This research, seeming to come from an independent government agency, is then used to influence government officials and departments as well as politicians.
During the late 1990s ABARE raised $1.1 million from oil companies and industry lobby groups by offered them the opportunity to pay $50,000 to sit on the steering committe and "have an influence on the direction of the model development" (as stated in ABARE's literature). Those who took advantage of the offer included Mobil, Exxon, Texaco, BHP, Rio Tinto, the Australian Aluminium Council, the Business Council of Australia, and Norwegian oil company Statoil. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which could not afford the $50,000, requested a waiver of the fee to be on the steering committee but was refused. According to Clive Hamilton, from the Australia Institute (an environmental think tank), 80 per cent of the funds for ABARE's climate change modelling come from the fossil fuel industry.
Not surprisingly ABARE's model (MEGABARE) predicts huge costs in jobs and income if emission reduction targets are to be met. This is disputed by environmentalists and alternative energy experts, as well as 131 Australian economists who signed a joint statement that said "the economic modelling studies on which the Government is relying to assess the impacts of reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions overestimate the costs and underestimate the benefits of reducing emissions." Professor Mark Diesendorf, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, claims that ABARE's model has serious flaws because it neglects the role of technological change as well as the benefits of different energy paths such as the new industries created. And several Australian studies over the last few years have shown that emissions could be cut in Australia by atleast 20 percent without cost. In fact an earlier 1991 ABARE study "concluded that emissions could cost-effectively be cut by 30 percent."
ABARES organises and convenes meetings and sets the agenda of the Boat House Group, "an annual forum for invited international climate change negotiators and modelers to discuss key climate policy issues and the policy–modeling interface".