Climate Newsletter: 20 March 2018

From Jenny Goldie: President, CAM

As I write, people in South Australia and in Batman, Melbourne, are voting and a lot of their decisions will be based on support for renewable energy (SA) or opposition to the Adani mine (Batman). A couple of relevant articles are below. Bill Shorten’s ambivalence on Adani had been disappointing, but he seems to have firmed up his opposition to the mega-coal mine. To what extent it will determine the result in Batman remains to be seen.

A friend has been visiting Venice recently and reports it is already feeling the effects of sea-level rise, not just from rising water but also the effects of seawater on the buildings. He sent this video. Sea-level rise has become a source of morbid fascination for me, and I was struck by this youtube video of what would happen if all the ice on the Earth melted. (OK, it will take 5000 years, but a 2.5 metre rise by 2100 is on the cards.)

We were saddened by the death of Stephen Hawking this week though it was amazing he lasted as long as he did with Motor Neurone Disease. While teaching us about the complexities of space, time and the universe, he also warned that human activity is causing irreversible planetary damage and that we must take action to halt climate change.

US President Trump finally sacked Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, former head of Exxon-Mobil, which denied climate change despite the evidence for decades. (Tillerson more or less accepted the science while in office.) Unfortunately, Trump has replaced him with Mike Pompeo, a climate denier who has received money from the infamous billionaire Koch brothers who have done their utmost to discredit climate science for years.

The Lock the Gate Alliance is holding a massive rally in Macquarie Street, Sydney, at 12 noon in a week’s time to protest against coal and gas mining.  Sydney is a long way away from the Monaro, but if you happen to be there and can attend, you can RSVP here.

Turns out that if fracking is allowed in the Northern Territory, it will release far more emissions than even the dreaded Adani mine. There’s another day of action National Day of Action on Wednesday 21 March in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to show solidarity with Traditional Owners in the NT and call for climate action.

All the best, Jenny


Batman and Labor on Adani

Karen Middleton
As today’s Batman byelection brings Labor’s coal policy into relief, Adani finds it still has not got approval for its Carmichael mine.
https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2018/03/17/batman-and-labor-adani/15212052005957


SA election promises compared: how do the policies add up?

South Australia’s major parties have matching commitments in some areas – here are the major points of difference
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/16/sa-election-promises-compared-how-do-the-policies-add-up


No longer ‘alternative’, mainstream renewables are pushing prices down

Simon Holmes à Court
While the government insists that renewables have made our grid unreliable, lights have stayed on and prices are dropping
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/16/no-longer-alternative-mainstream-renewables-are-pushing-prices-down


CEFC backs push for solar and storage in all new-build homes

The shift towards making built-in solar and battery storage the “new normal” for new-build homes in Australia now has the backing of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, in a joint initiative with leading property development group, Mirvac.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/cefc-backs-push-for-solar-and-storage-in-all-new-build-homes-29088/


Climate change threatens survival of thousands of species in our lifetime

An alarming study finds at 4.5 degrees warming, the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems could witness extinction of half their plant and animal species.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13032018/climate-change-species-at-risk-biodiversity-plants-animal-migration-global-warming


Eastern Mediterranean summer will be two months longer by end of 21st century

The eastern Mediterranean is experiencing monumental climate changes poised to significantly affect regional ecosystems and human health. According to a new Tel Aviv University study, these changes will drastically alter the duration of summer and winter in the region by the end of this century.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/afot-ems031418.php


Models assume we’ll cover Earth in trees. That’s a problem

The farmland of central Illinois might rarely be at the forefront of controversial climate action — but its moment arrived last spring when a Decatur-based ethanol plant became one of the first of its kind to launch an ambitious strategy to combat global warming.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060076159


Stephen Hawking’s final warnings urged world to halt climate change

In his last years, Hawking used his platform to warn that human activity is causing irreversible planetary damage and that we must take action to halt climate change.
https://www.ecowatch.com/stephen-hawking-climate-change-2547368270.html


Scientists just showed what building a new suburb does to the atmosphere

It’s the latest evidence highlighting the environmental consequences of suburban expansion, often accompanied by more miles driven by cars and larger free-standing homes that require more energy for heating and cooling.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/08/scientists-just-showed-what-building-new-suburbs-does-to-the-atmosphere/?utm_term=.72343026b34c


Snowy 2.0 put on development fast-track as environmental concerns rise

https://www.theage.com.au/business/the-economy/snowy-2-0-put-on-development-fast-track-as-environmental-concerns-rise-20180309-p4z3l4.html


Climate 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.
beware-the-green-dragon-not-the-red-one


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.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060075783


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.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/as-climate-change-parches-somalia-frequent-drought-comes-with-conflict-over-fertile-land


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.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/australian-homes-business-installed-6-5-solar-panels-per-minute-2017/


McCormack’s climate view a bigger concern

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

http://www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/story/5263645/mccormacks-climate-view-a-bigger-concern/


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

http://www.independent.co.uk/michael-bloomberg-united-nations-climate-change-paris-agreement-donald-trump-a8242816.html


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.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-05/farmers-and-businesses-take-action-on-climate-change/9502320


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.”
http://news.trust.org/item/20180214161711-02n2y/


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.
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43517-the-precautionary-principle-asks-how-much-harm-is-avoidable-rather-than-how-much-harm-is-acceptable


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.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-carbon-emissions-in-2017-fell-to-levels-last-seen-in-1890


Climate 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.)

Meanwhile:

  • 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.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-02/government-buys-out-states-snowy-hydro-shares-for-$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.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/will-turnbulls-snowy-hydro-continue-its-war-against-battery-storage-22125/


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.
http://news.trust.org/item/20180227043712-hh1bl/


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.
https://theconversation.com/the-nationals-have-changed-their-leader-but-kept-the-same-climate-story-92348


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.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/national-energy-guarantee-leaves-no-guarantees-40910/


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.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-26/canberra-emergency-services-kepy-busy-in-storm-aftermath/9483832


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.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-biggest-coal-state-nsw-also-biggest-electricity-importer-77443/


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.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/south32s-shift-away-thermal-coal-puts-bhp-shame-63970/


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
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises


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.
https://mashable.com/2018/02/22/north-pole-temperatures-above-freezing-europe-deep-freeze/#K3zLuLDMgOq3