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Climate Action Monaro Newsletter 10 March 2018

Jenny Goldie:  President CAM

I hope you saw the excellent Four Corners program on Monday night which showed farmers taking action on climate change while politicians fail to do so. It also included this quote from a corporate risk expert:

“It is clear that directors do have duties to take climate risk into account as a foreseeable financial risk, and a failure to do so may expose them to liability for a breach of their duty of due care and diligence.”

Bring it on.

Floods continue to wreak havoc in Queensland with some places recording 100mm in an hour. It bears out Dorothea McKellar’s description of a land of “droughts and flooding rains” but there is an extra edge to it these days. You feel climate change is making these events more extreme.


Sometimes life is good and this week it was the appointment of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as UN special envoy on climate change. It is an antidote to President Trump’s denialist views. Trump, meanwhile, is bleeding staffers for one reason or another, but one rising star in the White House is Peter Navarro who is very strong on climate change so, you never know, he may be able to turn the president around on the issue.

If the Brits can do it, we can too. As they turn away from coal, their carbon emissions have fallen to levels last seen in the 1890s. See below.

On Wednesday, the Climate Council has launched its latest report, Clean and Reliable Power: Roadmap to a Renewable Future,” (see attached) on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). It includes the following key messages:

  • The proposed NEG risks derailing Australia’s investment and jobs boom in renewable energy and storage
  • The expected 26% emissions reduction for electricity by 2030 under the NEG is inadequate to tackle climate change.

You may be aware that the NT government has been holding an inquiry into the benefits and risks of fracking, the findings of which will be handed down on 26 March. The organisations Seed and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) are campaigning against fracking and are planning a national day of action  to Ban Fracking in the NT on 21 March.

All the best, Jenny

Beware the green dragon, not the red one
Crispin Hull, Canberra Times, 4 March.

As China’s President Xi Jinping came closer this week to becoming the next Emperor of China for Life, western leaders wrung their hands and worried about China’s military power; cyber power and soft power – meanwhile naively surrendering, without a scintilla of opposition, primacy the one field that made the British and then the American empires world dominant – energy.

A ‘pit bull’ for climate could soon sit next to Trump
An ascendant aide in the Trump White House has warned of the threats posed by climate change, has argued for taxing carbon, has promoted wind power and was even endorsed by the Sierra Club.

As climate change parches Somalia, frequent drought comes with conflict over fertile land
Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone report on how climate change is threatening a way of life that has sustained Somalia for millennia.

Australian homes, business installed 6.5 solar panels per minute in 2017
It’s official: CER data says Australian homes and businesses installed record total of 1057MW of solar, mostly on rooftops, in 2017.

McCormack’s climate view a bigger concern

Michael McCormack’s climate change views leave constituents high and dry.

Michael Bloomberg is the new UN special envoy on climate change and says he hopes Trump ‘changes his mind’ on Paris Agreement

While politicians question the reality of climate change, farmers and businesses act
One of Australia’s biggest wine makers has already moved part of its operation to a cooler climate and other industries are also taking action. They’re not waiting for the politicians to make up their minds about the changing climate.

Dutch plan to build giant offshore solar power farm
“There is more sun at sea and there is the added benefit of a cooling system for the panels, which boosts output by up to 15 percent.”

The Precautionary Principle asks “How much harm Is avoidable?” rather than “How much harm is acceptable?”
”Acceptable harm” has brought us to the brink of disaster. Risk assessment is easily manipulated. Two groups of fully qualified risk assessors, given identical data, can reach wildly different estimates of risk.

Analysis: UK carbon emissions in 2017 fell to levels last seen in 1890

Carbon Brief analysis shows the UK’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels fell by 2.6% in 2017, driven by a 19% decline in coal use.

Climate Action Monaro Newsletter 5 March 2018

Jenny Goldie: President CAM

The weather seems to get crazier and crazier with a deluge in Canberra not long ago then Brisbane last night, while Europe freezes from “the beast from the east”, and that  followed a heatwave in north-eastern US, never mind the one in the Arctic. This is all to be expected under climate change yet it is all coming about much faster than expected.

The federal government has bought Snowy Hydro from NSW and Victoria for $6 billion for the purpose of implementing Snowy 2.0 (pumped hydro as a form of energy storage). We share Giles Parkinson’s concerns (see below), however, that this may prevent the other main form of storage – batteries – from taking off.

The latest data from GetUp and Green Energy Markets show:

  • The solar industry now supports more than 10,000 full time jobs
  • Queensland is leading the country on renewable jobs with 6,421 construction jobs. (Note: This is way more jobs than the Adani coal mine will generate.)


  • South Australia now leads the world in overall solar power generation (as a proportion of total electricity generation) and is second only to Denmark in wind generation.

We were thankful that the successor to Barnaby Joyce as Deputy PM and leader of the Nationals was not Adani-loving Resources Minister Matt Canavan, nevertheless, it seems that the new leader Michael McCormack has a history of opposing climate action as well, so it’s back to square one after all.

All the best, Jenny

Government buys out states’ Snowy Hydro shares for $6b
The Federal Government announces it will spend $6 billion buying out New South Wales’ and Victoria’s shares in Snowy Hydro Limited, bringing it one step closer to starting work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme.$6b/9500908

Will Turnbull’s Snowy Hydro continue its war against battery storage?
Giles Parkinson
Turnbull’s purchase of Snowy Hydro means he is now both utility owner and policy maker. More concerning is that the newly purchased Snowy Hydro has a strong economic interest in preventing the battery storage market from taking off.

Climate change pushing weather extremes ‘off the scale’, says global cities group
Storms, floods and other extreme weather events are hitting cities much harder than scientists have predicted, said the head of a global network of cities tackling climate change.

The Nationals have changed their leader but kept the same climate story
Marc Hudson, University of Manchester
Barnaby Joyce had a long history of opposing climate action. His successor Michael McCormack seems to think the same way, despite climate being a growing threat to the Nationals’ rural voters.

National Energy Guarantee leaves no guarantees
David Ryan
There are some significant issues still to be resolved around the NEG – complexity and potential costs are concerning.

Canberra storm drains ‘unable to cope with major rain events’, report warned
Just weeks before a “1-in-100-year weather event” flooded some Canberra residents’ homes and brought parts of the city to a standstill, a report warned the capital’s storm-water drains would be insufficient in a major downpour.

Australia’s biggest coal state, NSW, also biggest electricity importer
South Australia’s renewables grid is often criticised for relying on “imports” from other states. But no grid relies more on imports than NSW, the grid with the highest percentage of coal generation.

South32’s shift away from thermal coal puts BHP to shame
Where South32 has moved to divest from thermal coal, BHP is increasing its exposure – and undermining its climate credentials.

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises
Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

It will be warmer at the North Pole next week than in much of Europe
The polar vortex split, and now the North Pole is comparatively balmy.



The war on renewables by “the Australian” newspaper

The Australian newspaper has not allowed facts to get in the way of a good story in its sustained war on renewable energy.

Independent Australian: Norm Sanders: 27 Feb 2017,10063


Severe heatwaves show the need to adapt livestock management for climate

As the climate changes and extreme weather effects become are common, cattle and other livestock are becoming more stressed. … Farmers that already find it difficult to make a profit will need to adapt to these changing conditions, ensuring they mitigate the effects on their livestock. This could take the form of more shade and shelter, but also the selection of different breeds to suit the conditions.

The Conversation: 28 Feb 2017
Elisabeth Vogel, University of Melbourne;
Christin Meyer, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and
Richard Eckard, University of Melbourne

Thanks to Jenny Goldie, Climate Action Monaro, for alerting me to this article.

Northern hemisphere sees in early spring due to global warming

Spring is sprung 26 days earlier than a decade ago, causing problems for the natural cycle of plants and wildlife … While these earlier springs might not seem like a big deal – and who among us doesn’t appreciate a balmy day or a break in dreary winter weather – they pose significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society.

The Guardian: Tim Radford: 2 March 2017

Thanks to Jenny Goldie, Climate Action Monaro, for alerting me to this article.

Massive permafrost thaw documented in Canada, portends huge carbon release.

Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers.

A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama. …

Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. ….

Permafrost is land that has been frozen stretching back to the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, the long-frozen soils thaw and decompose, releasing the trapped greenhouse gases into the air. Scientists estimate that the world’s permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere.

Inside climate News: Bob Berwyn: 28 Feb 2017

As global food demand rises, climate change is hitting our staple crops

The world needs to produce more food to feed a larger and wealthier population – and climate change, with its heat and extreme weather, is reducing yields of a number of staple crops around the world.

The Conversation: 1 March 2017
Andrew Borrell, The University of Queensland

Thanks to Jenny Goldie, Climate Action Monaro, for alerting me to this article.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Trumpian disregard for the energy facts

“The Coalition campaign in favour of coal, and against renewables, is relentless, even after study after study is produced highlighting how wind and solar, even with integration costs, are a significantly cheaper option than sticking with a coal-based centralised grid.

Last week, the ANU released an analysis highlighting just that. It echoed another detailed study last year, from the CSIRO and the network owners lobby, that put the savings of a high renewable grid at $100 billion over business as usual.

The main fossil fuel generators admit that building new coal power plants is not just a dumb idea, it is uninvestible.

And the financing secured for the third stage of one Australia’s biggest wind projects illustrates why. Electricity from the 109MW Hornsdale 3 project will deliver electricity to its customer, the ACT government, at a fixed price of $73/MWh for the next 20 years.

To put that in context – that is cheaper than electricity almost anywhere on the Australian grid at the moment. It is one-third of the cost paid by Queenslanders for electricity in February, one-half the cost paid in NSW, and it’s cheaper than the predicted prices in any state over 2017/18. ….

And the ACT government that commissioned this? They’re laughing. They know that their cost of electricity is capped for 20 years, but better than that, they get a refund from any excess. So if wholesale prices go above $73/MWh, which is where they are now, then the excess comes back to the ACT and its consumers.

Yet the Coalition continues on, digging themselves deeper into discredited and unfinanceable “clean coal” technologies such as IGCC [Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle]. The world’s flagship IGCC project is at Kemper in the US, where $7 billion has so far been invested and it still hasn’t produced anything.

Renew Economy: Giles Parkinson: 2 March 2017

Electricity prices rises not driven by renewables

Australian states with less new renewable energy (and more coal) have seen higher electricity price increases than those with more new wind and solar.

The argument that a rapid shift to renewable energy generation, such as has been seen in South Australia, drives up consumer electricity prices has been thrown about a lot, lately, by the federal Coalition and right wing media outlets. But that’s not what the data says.

Renew Economy: Sophie Vorrath: 2 March 2017 

Thanks to Jenny Goldie, Climate Action Monaro, for alerting me to this article.

Why we need an ‘Energy Landcare’ to tackle rising power prices

Without help, lower-income people could miss out on the clean energy revolution – hence the arrival of community projects aiming to boost access to solar panels, batteries and other green technology.

The Conversation: 27 Feb 2017
Nicky Ison, University of Technology Sydney

Thanks to Jenny Goldie, Climate Action Monaro, for alerting me to this article.