Climate Newsletter 27 May 2018

We had a great conference in Queanbeyan this weekend which Climate Action Monaro co-organised with Nature Conservation Council (NCC). We heard some excellent, though at times depressing, presentations on forests but encouraging ones on renewable energy. There was an excellent dinner afterwards and then this morning, a wonderful tour of Mugga Lane solar farm. Labor MP Mike Kelly spoke in a panel session yesterday and was very open to questions afterwards. Today, Labor candidate for Monaro, Bryce Wilson, joined us for lunch.

Speaking of the NSW state election which will be held in March next year, NCC has launched a #Repower NSW campaign which will particularly focus on Monaro and three other electorates. The aim is to elect a candidate who is fully committed to a just transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Our current member, John Barilaro, has still some way to go in this regard with his support for keeping coal-fired power stations open.

The Liddell coal-fired power station saga continues with the heroic Andrew Vesey, CEO of AGL, once again rejecting a bid by Alinta to buy Liddell and thus continue producing electricity from it after the planned closure in 2022. The rejection inevitably enraged the Monash Group (Abbott, Abetz, Andrews et al) and the Australian newspaper who seem not to care that Liddell produces nearly three times acceptable levels of nitrous oxides. This latter information was obtained through an FoI request by Environmental Justice Australia.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the overwhelming majority of Australians think climate change is real, about two-thirds view themselves to be environmentalists “at heart”, and just over half say the government should not allow new coal mines in the country.

A new study has found that rice will be less nutritious under climate change, with reduction in iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 under high carbon dioxide concentrations.

Adrian Burragubba and the Wangan and Jagalingou people, traditional owners of land in the Galilee Basin, are desperate to stop the planned Adani mine. Please help by signing their petition.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Old fossils: What’s at stake if Australia ignores global EV transition
Giles Parkinson
Australia’s inaction on electric vehicles means it could be left behind in yet another round of global disruption, leaving it hostage again to international developments, rather than reaping benefits of helping to engineer the change.

How EVs will fast-track Australia’s shift to 100% renewables
Ten million electric vehicles in Australia will provide enough storage to power the country for a day – helping fast-track the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Worried About Climate Change? Investing in Reproductive Health Must Be Part of the Solution
Chris Turner
By investing in family planning we can transform lives, improve health and economic outcomes, and help reduce our impact on the climate, but right now family planning is scarcely part of the conversation

Can Canberrans really live without fossil fuels?
Frank Jotzo, Penny Sackett & Will Steffen
The ACT government has announced new greenhouse gas emissions targets for the territory. The targets are for full carbon neutrality by 2045, and a rapid rate of decarbonisation over the coming three decades, with targets of 40 per cent reduction in 2020 (the existing target and on course to be met), 50 to 60 per cent reduction in 2025, 65 to 75 per cent reduction by 2030, and 90 to 95 per cent reduction by 2040, all compared to the ACT’s emissions in 1990.

Earth’s climate to increase by 4 degrees by 2084
A new study shows the Earth’s climate would increase by 4 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels, before the end of 21st century. The study also projects precipitation changes in association with a 4 degrees Celsius global warming above the pre-industrial period using the available RCP8.5 experiments of CMIP5 models.

A 100% renewable grid isn’t just feasible, it’s already happening
Debate over whether we can run electric grids on 100% renewables in coming decades misses a key point: many countries and regions are already there.

Neoen wins approval for huge wind and battery plant near Cairns
French renewable energy developer Neoen has won approval for another major wind farm and battery storage project, this time near Cairns in far north Queensland.

Neoen wins council approval for 500MW solar farm and storage
French renewable energy developer Neoen has received council planning approval for a solar farm of up to 500MW, along with battery storage, in south west Queensland.

Can the rooftop solar boom keep going?
Tristan Edis
One-third through 2018 and we’ve chalked up 100MW+ new rooftop solar every single month. But how long can the solar boom last?

Honeybees may be dying in larger numbers due to climate change
Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate.

Climate Newsletter 21 May 2018

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie,
President Climate Action Monaro

Some good news this week. The Climate Council reports that almost half Australian companies switching to renewables. The ACT government has brought forward the deadline for zero net emissions to 2045 (from 2060 initially). At the same time, the European Union (EU) has made its deadline for reaching zero net emissions to 2050. And one of the largest engineering firms in the world, AECOM, is no longer working on the Adani rail line which hopefully will be a deadly blow to the Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin.

Not sure it’s good news but a Senate Inquiry told Parliament this week that climate change represents a current and existential risk. We can but hope that the Monash Forum of climate deniers (Abbott, Abetz, Andrews et al) will take note.

On the bad news front, we knew emissions were up in Australia for the third year in a row, but now we find it could be an underestimation.  Also, sadly, 21 new acreages in Great Australian Bight have opened up for oil and gas exploration plus 13,000 sq km in Victorian coastal waters for gas. And depressingly, we have passed a new milestone. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that we have had 400 consecutive months of above average temperatures globally. December 1984 was the last time the world had below average temperatures.

The prospect of losing biodiversity (notably insects, see below) under climate change really is bad news but the good news is that if we can limit warming to 1.5 rather than 2 degrees, we will lose less than otherwise.

The ever-excellent Climate Institute is putting on another lecture: The Green Climate Fund, climate finance and the imperatives and pathways for global transformation on May 29 at the Crawford Building in ANU. The speaker is Howard Bamsey who now heads the Green Climate Fund, set up by the UN to support developing countries drive a paradigm-shift towards low-emissions and climate resilience. You can register here.

Glaring inconsistency: National emissions jump may be underestimated
Australia’s greenhouse gases rose for a third consecutive year in 2017, led by emissions from the gas and transport sectors, according to federal government data. Environmental groups, however, say the true emissions figure may be under – estimated because large-scale land clearing – particularly in Queensland and lately in NSW – is not being accurately represented.

Climate change an ‘existential security risk’ to Australia, Senate inquiry says
Climate threat is not a possible future threat.  It is endangering Australia now, parliament told

ACT brings forward zero emissions target to 2045
ACT government brings forward its zero emissions target to 2045, turning its focus to transport and gas, and laying down the gauntlet for other states and the federal government to follow.

Climate change: The EU’s aiming to set a goal of zero-emissions by 2050
Reaching zero emissions is crucial if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. The EU could show other countries how to get there.

Engineering Firm’s Withdrawal From Adani Coal Project Should Be ‘Final Nail In The Coffin’, Says Greenpeace
One of the world’s largest engineering firms – and a key partner in Indian company Adani’s push to open up the Galilee basin in Queensland…

Almost half of Australian big business moving to renewables
Climate Council says capacity of firms to generate solar power has doubled in less than two years

More of the Great Australian Bight opened to oil and gas
Government releases new acreages for offshore exploration as protesters oppose drilling

The earth has had warmer-than-average temperatures for 400 straight months now

For 400 consecutive months — that’s more than 33 years — the earth’s temperature has been above average, and climatologists aren’t mincing words as to why.

Global 2 degrees C rise doubles population exposed to multiple climate risks compared to 1.5 degrees C

New research identifying climate vulnerability hotspots has found that the number of people affected by multiple climate change risks could double if the global temperature rises by 2 degrees C, compared to a rise of 1.5 degrees C.

Climate change on track to cause major insect wipeout, scientists warn
Insects are vital to ecosystems but will lose almost half their habitat under current climate projections

Limiting warming to 1.5 degree C would save majority of global species from climate change
New research finds that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C would save the majority of the world’s plant and animal species from climate change. Species across the globe would benefit — particularly those in Southern Africa, the Amazon, Europe and Australia. Examples of animals to benefit include the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Reducing the risk to insects is important because they are vital for ‘ecosystem services’ such as pollinating crops and being part of the food chain.

Climate Newsletter 13 May 2018

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

The federal Budget was handed down on Tuesday, and despite finding billions for tax cuts and maintaining subsidies to coal companies, the government found nothing to facilitate the vital transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Climate change is probably the biggest existential threat facing the planet, yet there was no mention of it in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. The Climate Change Authority’s budget was cut further and there was no new money for the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERT) which is the government’s main tool for reducing emissions.

The government, of course, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030, a mere 12 years away, yet its own report has found emissions have risen for the third year in a row. They rose 1.5 per cent through 2017.

The world crossed another threshold  with global carbon dioxide levels reaching 410ppm at the Mauna Loa laboratories in Hawaii where father and son Charles and then Ralph Keeling have measured their inexorable rise since 1958. Pre-industrial levels were no more than 280ppm. These (410ppm) are the highest levels in the past 800,000 years for which we have reliable ice-core data. Back three million years ago in the mid-Pliocene, levels were also around 400ppm but sea-levels were 20 metres higher than today.

As mentioned before, Climate Action Monaro is co-organising the regional conference of the NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) Conference in Queanbeyan on May 26 and 27 – two weeks from now!  The focus is on renewables and on forests, both of critical importance to climate change. Registration is quite modest ($25) and includes lunch. On Sunday there is a tour of the Mugga Lane solar farm.

While our federal government flounders on effective climate action, California continues to set an example, this time mandating that all homes built from 2020 be fitted with solar panels.

This week saw the Bonn climate talks wind up. These are the Preparatory meetings for the Conference of Parties (COP24) talks in Poland at the end of the year that will work on further implementation of the Paris Agreement made at COP21. Unfortunately, the Polish government is repressive and wants to ban environmental and indigenous groups from actively participating in COP24.

I commend the final story to you about what real climate ambition looks like. If you don’t have time to read the article, the message about how to keep within 1.5oC warming is: i) radically increase energy efficiency, ii) radically increase renewable energy, iii) electrify everything! and iv) and maybe do a little negative emissions e.g. afforestation, reforestation, and soil carbon sequestration.

Please sign the petition to the Senate as part of the ‘No new bad investments’ (NMBI) campaign, in this case, calling for a ban on all new off-shore drilling and exploration for oil and gas.

Turnbull’s election budget dumps on climate and renewables
Giles Parkinson
Turnbull government finds $15 billion in short term tax handouts, and $140 billion in long term tax promises for the better off – but nothing on climate and renewables. Meanwhile, Australia misses out on global renewable jobs boom.

Emissions rise for third consecutive year
Climate scientists argue Australia risks cementing its reputation as a “global climate laggard” as the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling climate change threshold
Carbon dioxide concentrations have now passed 410 parts per million, sustained over a month.

California mandates solar PV on all new residential buildings

California Energy Commission has, as predicted, mandated rooftop solar PV installations on all new residential buildings from 2020.

Poland Should Welcome Activists to U.N. Climate Talks
Katharina Rall
As this month’s climate talks in Germany come to an end, some participants are feeling a little queasy. Environmental activists and indigenous peoples worry about their ability to actively participate in the annual UN climate talks, in Katowice, Poland in December.

Renewable energy now employs 10.3 million people globally
The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people worldwide, according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

South Australia solar market slump blamed on Liberals policy void
South Australia rooftop solar market falls sharply in April, confirming reports from solar retailers who blame uncertainty caused by policy cloud of new Liberal government.

Global warming is melting Antarctic ice from below
Warming oceans melting Antarctic ice shelves could accelerate sea level rise

Carbon satellite to serve as an important tool for politicians and climate change experts
A new satellite that measures and provides detailed carbon balance information is one of the most important new tools in carbon measurement since infrared light, believe researchers from the University of Copenhagen. The researchers expect the satellite to be a valuable tool for the UN’s work on climate change related to the Paris climate accord.–cst050818.php

Real ambition on global warming: What it would look like
New scenarios show how to hit the most stringent Paris targets.

Letter published in Canberra Times, 6 May 2018

Rule out coal

The federal government has promised half a billion dollars to the Great Barrier Reef for improving water quality with changed farming practices; for reef restoration science; to combat the crown-of-thorns starfish; for community engagement; and for monitoring reef health.

It would all be splendid were it not for the fact that this same government keeps pushing the National Energy Guarantee with its totally inadequate emission reduction targets and which retains the use of coal in future energy plans.

This same government whose resources minister keeps pushing for the Adani coal mine to go ahead. If the government is serious about saving the reef, it has to rule out coal and new coal mines now.

It has to shift the economy away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible and promote the use of renewable energy.

Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW

Climate Newsletter 5 May 2018

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

There have been a lot of good things happening this week on the climate front (if you ignore the worsening climate itself!)

On Thursday, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators  (AMPTO) issued a declaration on climate change demanding strong climate policies to protect the future of the Reef. It was signed jointly with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Not long before, of course, the federal government threw half a billion dollars at the Reef but not in the area that would do most to save the Reef, namely, climate mitigation.

Meanwhile, the Queensland government passed its strong tree-clearing legislation after a three-day gruelling debate. This has huge implications for climate change, of course, because forests are a major sink for carbon dioxide. The Wilderness Society expects the new laws will reduce emissions substantially, ‘possibly akin to shutting down one or two big dirty Hazelwood type coal plants’. It was particularly commendable because it was even stronger than the legislation that was voted down by one vote not long ago.

Also on Thursday in Melbourne, the Repower Australia campaign was launched. Here’s a video from Environment Victoria about it. As part of the national campaign, there is Repower NSW organised by the Nature Conservation Council. (Don’t forget the conference we are co-organising with NCC on May 26-27).

During the week, Climate Action Monaro signed onto the national statement of concern against burning forests for energy, initiated by the Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA). You can find the fact sheet attached.

Rio Tinto has decided to get out of coal in NSW, for the first time citing climate change as the reason. Its not the only business who cares, however, with the Carbon Markets Institute conference this week addressing ways in which businesses could reduce emissions.

Two notable visitors have been in Australia this week. First was climate activist Bill McKibben who addressed a good crowd in Canberra on Wednesday (though the star of the night was Bega councillor Jo Dodds of Tathra who spoke passionately about the links between the recent fires there and climate change). Second was French president Emmanuel Macron who called on Australia to lift its game when it comes to climate change.

President Macron was in Sydney to witness Sanjeev Gupta signing an MOU with French renewable energy developer Neoen to buy power from the soon-to-be built 100MW Numurkah solar farm in northern Victoria, for Gupta’s steel works in Victoria. Malcolm Turnbull was also there, and as ReNew Economy writes below, we hope the lesson about using renewables to reduce costs for Australian manufacturing was not lost on the PM.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported on Tuesday that Australia had its second-warmest April on record, with a monthly mean temperature 2.38 °C above average. It was also the eighth driest April on record.

SA faces “big step backwards” on renewable energy
A visiting American climate campaigner and prominent environmental journalist says South Australia would be making a “big mistake” if it were to remove its renewable energy target.

Pilbara renewables hub adds 3GW wind and solar to $20bn plan
Plans for huge renewable energy hub in Pilbara expanded to 9GW of wind and solar, producing as much as planned by Australia’s renewable energy target. Hydrogen storage has also been added to the $20 billion project menu.

Commercial solar hots up in WA, as business wakes up to savings
Perdaman Group says WA commercial PV market is booming, as businesses seek to cut their exposure to grid electricity costs.

Germany reaches 100% renewables for a few hours, 42% so far this year
Giles Parkinson Germany reached 100% renewables for a few hours on Sunday and has averaged 42% for the year – well ahead of its 2020 target.

Sapphire wind farm turns on for ACT’s 100% renewables target
Sapphire wind farms turns on 100MW of capacity to help meet ACT 100% renewables target, with more wind and solar to come.

Gupta signs up solar farm to power Victoria steelworks
Sanjeev Gupta signs contract with Neoen to use new solar farm to power Laverton steel mill in Victoria and slash costs. Turnbull and Macron were on hand to witness signing, and the promise of a cheaper energy future via renewables.

Global warming of 1.5°C or 2°C: The lower limit would reduce flood hazards
A research group led by Goethe University Frankfurt has simulated the scenarios of limiting global warming to 2°C versus 1.5°C with global hydrological models. An important result: High flows and flood hazards will increase significantly over an average of 21 percent of global land area if the temperature rises by 2°C. But if the rise in global warming is limited to 1.5°C only 11 percent of global land area would be affected.

Macron calls on Turnbull to show ‘power of conviction’ in climate change fight
French President Emmanuel Macron issues a challenge to Australia to lift its game when it comes to tackling climate change, citing concerns about the future of Pacific nations.

Powering on: Five ways businesses can cut their electricity bills
Electricity price shocks are the main concern for Australian businesses, but energy analysts say there are five ways companies can drive down power costs.

Our position on climate change is unconscionable for a wealthy country
David Shearman
For most of us climate change is of much less concern than the cost of living, taxes, schools and health services. It’s not good enough