Climate Newsletter 28 Oct 2018

The Wentworth by-election is still not finalised but on Thursday independent Dr Kerryn Phelps was 1783 votes ahead. We may safely assume she will win which, from a climate point of view, is excellent. She will aim “to reinstate the funding and the scientific credibility of the Climate Change Authority,” she has said. “It’s very important that we do have an independent authority looking at the evidence and providing advice to governments.”

Good to see the Alex Turnbull, son of former Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull, putting the boot into the government’s energy policy. The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has signalled the Australian government could indemnify new power (coal and gas) generation projects against the future risk of a carbon price, and support the retrofitting of existing coal plants. As Turnbull Jnr asks, what is a Liberal government doing interfering in the free market?

ANU’s Climate Change Institute is running another Climate Café at lunchtime on Monday 12 November and this one is called “How can music encourage people to engage on climate change?” You need to register and can do so here. And the ever-worthwhile ANU Energy Update and Solar Oration 2018 will be all day Thursday 29 November. I recommend you get in early if going – you can register here.

Last bulletin I said that the Queanbeyan Age had given an unfair impression of Monaro MP John Barilaro’s stance on renewables (which he favours despite past support for coal and nuclear). I wrote a letter on behalf of CAM (see attached) saying the problem lay more with his colleagues in the National Party and with his Coalition partners in the NSW government. It was published Wednesday, along with a letter from Minna Featherstone of Nature Conservation Council who is organising a door-knock in Queanbeyan today in support of renewables.

Meanwhile, Barilaro took a step backwards through the week by promising that NSW Nationals would back a private members bill to change the 41,000-hectare Murray Valley National Park back into state forest and thus allow logging. The recent IPCC Report on 1.5oC warming, however, made very clear that we had to stop deforestation. A number of studies have shown that forests must remain intact to maximise their capacity to store carbon.

Repower-Monaro (of which CAM is a part) met with Labor candidate Bryce Wilson on Thursday to discuss his stance on renewables. As a graduate in environmental science, he is very knowledgeable on the issue as well as supportive. We urged him to get his Labor colleagues to provide strong climate and energy policies at both the upcoming state (March 23) and federal elections (possibly May 2019). Since then I have written to him and federal MP Mike Kelly with the article by David Spratt (see below) which provides six pointers on what Labor must do.

Repower-Monaro will meet with other candidates for the seat of Monaro (Greens, Shooters and Fishers etc) as they are announced. And on 21 November we will hold a public meeting in Queanbeyan with excellent speakers on why and how we can make the transition away from fossil fuels to renewables. More information later.

It is becoming increasingly evident that what is needed is a carbon price. Australia had one, of course, and then got cold feet and dropped it without ever replacing it with anything of worth. Canada, however, has now taken the lead and will introduce a carbon price beginning next year.  It will start at $20 per ton in 2019, rising at $10 per ton per year until reaching $50 per ton in 2022. The carbon tax will stay at that level unless the legislation is revisited and revised.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

‘First thing’: Phelps set sights on reviving fortunes of climate body

Kerryn Phelps, the likely new member for Wentworth, will push for the revival of the near-defunct Climate Change Authority as part of her efforts to advance action on global warming at a federal level.

Government could support new coal power ‘where it stacks up’ – Morrison

Prime minister announces plan to boost investment in new ‘reliable’ power

Coalition embraces economic vandalism with worst possible energy policy

Alex Turnbull

We joked the ACCC’s good advice could be turned into a policy to subsidise companies that own coal. Turns out that’s what happened

Coalition could indemnify new coal projects against potential carbon price

Angus Taylor will look at overcoming financing problems new generation projects face

NSW Nats to back national park reversal

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro says his party will back a plan to change a national park to state forest – opening it up to the logging industry.

Fair bunkum

Saturday Paper editorial

The condescension in this video is not just to the Avrils and Colins who people Morrison’s Australia, whose bills and service records he uses as props. The condescension is to climate change and to energy policy. The price control is a fiddle: some bills will go down, others will go up. The cost to the environment is the cost of a country with no policy on climate change, willing to destroy the Earth for politics. “Renewables are great,” Morrison says, his expression unchanged, as if calibrating a polygraph. “But we’re also needing the reliable power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.”

World wakes up to scale of climate challenge, so what should a Labor government do?

David Spratt, Renew Economy

Quite suddenly, in the wake of the recent IPCC report, it’s become commonplace to talk about a global climate emergency.

Canada passed a carbon tax that will give most Canadians more money

By rebating the revenue to households, disposable income rises, which can be a boon for the Canadian economy

Meteorologist expects severe drought and heavy rain events to worsen globally

Meteorologists expect severe drought and long-lasting rainfall events to worsen in the future. Researchers have determined how frequent, intense and long lasting these types of events will be in the future.

We need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty – and we need it now

Andrew Simms and Peter Newell

Climate breakdown is an imminent threat. But an international treaty could avert calamity

Climate Newsletter 22 Oct 2018

As I write, the Wentworth by-election is still not completely finalised but independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps seems to have won – she’s 1676 votes ahead of the Liberal Dave Sharma on a two party preferred basis. Assuming she does win, it is an enormous upset and a victory for climate since Wentworth voters had said in a poll it was their top issue. Despite the debacle, Deputy PM Josh Frydenberg says the government will not move on climate policy although it has created tensions in the government ranks at least two of whose members – Environment Minister Melissa Price and Barnaby Joyce – who seem blithely unaware of the gravity of climate change.

Speaking on ABC TV’s Q&A last week, economist and author Jeffrey Sachs, former  head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, slammed the Australian federal government as “unbelievably irresponsible” for its inaction on climate change, and suggested that policy progress in the Coalition has been held hostage by major fossil fuel interests. Got it in one, Jeff.

I have just returned from Sydney where I represented Climate Action Monaro at the annual conference of the Nature Conservation Council (NCC). State Opposition leader Luke Foley was there and in the midst of his speech said he was committed to renewable energy. I asked a question: “In light of the Climate Council report that showed NSW was behind other states in climate action, and what you have said just now about being committed to renewable energy, will you follow Victoria’s example and commit to 40 per cent of electricity coming from wind and solar by 2025?” He replied that he wasn’t going to make an announcement on it on the day of the Wentworth by-election and the start of the Invictus Games. But we’ll hold him to his general commitment.

At the conference, two of the three motions that CAM had submitted were passed. One was criticising federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor for not including emissions reduction in his policies, and the second was to call on the Labor Party to provide a real alternative on climate at the next federal election. Because of strong opposition from a few people, I withdrew a third motion relating to the separation of Energy and Environment portfolios by the Prime Minister. A late motion came opposing Snowy 2.0, based on the argument that the integrity of the Kosciuszko national park would be compromised. I spoke against it, arguing that Snowy 2.0 was going to underpin the renewable energy revolution and that there was bipartisan support for it (both our federal and state MPs support it). Despite my spiel, the motion overwhelmingly passed.

Climate Action Monaro had been nominated for an environmental group award at the conference but the prize deservedly went to Climate Action Balmain-Rozelle who have done a bit more work than us!

CAM, of course, is an integral part of Repower-Monaro, an initiative of the NCC. Last Monday, a delegation went to see Monaro MP John Barilaro who greeted us in a hostile manner as he believed we had accused him of being anti-renewables. He calmed down when we explained that we had criticised him for being opposed to subsidies for renewables, and we managed to have a decent conversation for much of the time. Indeed, he stressed he was in favour of the transition away from fossil fuels (though the time-line was missing). He was very interested in a possible pumped hydro site at Araluen and maps showing where the best spots in the state were for solar and wind.

The Queanbeyan Age covered the previous week’s demonstration outside his office. Some quotes from Repower-Monaro convenor Frank Briggs were wrongly attributed and the article appeared unduly critical of Barilaro. I have written an explanatory letter which will appear on Wednesday in the Queanbeyan Age. Meanwhile, last week’s Monaro Post published my letter congratulating Snowy Monaro Councillor John Castellari on his efforts to get solar power to low income people (see attached).

One of the predictions of what will happen with climate change is that rainfall will come less often but with harder falls when it does rain. A perfect example was the 3.4mm of rain and hail falling on Canberra in seven minutes on Saturday.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Coalition backing “big coal” over climate, says Sachs: “Unbelievably irresponsible”

US economist argues Australia should be exporting solar, not coal, and says Coalition government is backing fossil fuel interests. “What is the matter with these people?”

Farmers facing drought are on the front line of climate change

Charlie Prell

We need to stop digging holes in the ground and start planting crops, pastures and trees.

Look after the soil, save the Earth: farming in Australia’s unrelenting climate

Former governor general Michael Jeffery says soil health and regenerative farming is essential for security and carbon emissions

Wentworth backlash reignites tensions inside government on climate policy

“We are going to have to go to the next election with a clear plan to meet our Paris targets.”

Dear Wentworth Voters: Here’s 123 Things Our Leaders Did To ‘Confront’ Climate Change

Liam McLoughlin

A recent ReachTel poll commissioned by Greenpeace Australia found that for the voters of Wentworth – former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat – tackling climate change was their number one priority. With the Wentworth by-election to be staged on Saturday, Liam McLoughlin thought it timely to help the good voters of the eastern suburbs focus their minds on the Liberal Party’s action on climate change over the last five years.

‘Bad news’: IEA chief says CO2 emissions to rise in 2018

Global CO2 emissions will increase once again, according to the head of the IEA.

Bioenergy carbon capture: climate snake oil or the 1.5-degree panacea?

Paul Behrens

Delays on climate action to reduce emissions means that we may have to consider technologies that strip carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But that will come at a cost.

Environment minister accused of misleading House and insulting former Kiribati president

Witnesses say Melissa Price made disparaging remarks and said ‘For the Pacific, it’s always about the cash’

States and territories lead way on renewables, climate

A snapshot of the renewables action happening across Australia shows states and territories blitzing the field, in spite of current federal inaction.

Joyce backs coal over Snowy 2.0

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is backing a coal-led energy policy over the Snowy Hydro 2.0 ahead of a federal government vote on the scheme.–spt.html

Climate Newsletter 14 Oct 2018

I went to a packed out seminar organised by the Climate Change Institute at ANU on Tuesday where Prof Mark Howden spoke to the IPCC report and the need for ‘urgent, transformational’ change to hold global warming to 1.5°C. You can find his article relating to this here.

The response of the federal government to the IPCC report on 1.5oC warming issued on Monday has been appalling. The report said keeping warming to 1.5oC or below will require deep and urgent cuts in emissions, and a rapid phase out of coal. The government basically said that coal was still very important, they weren’t going to throw money at the Green Climate Fund, and the Prime Minister said he had no intention of spending money on global climate conferences and “all that sort of nonsense.”

The report had called for a phase-out of coal over the next 30 years. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed this would cause widespread blackouts. The head of The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Audrey Zibelman, quickly responded, saying there would be no interruptions to supply if coal was phased out.

Former Prime Minister of (soon-to-go-under-the-waves) Kiribati, Anote Tong, reacted with rage while UN’s 47-member of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, pleaded with Australia to keep up funding for the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

Alan Finkel, Chief Scientist, whose recommendations from his report last year were accepted apart from the critical one on a Clean Energy Target, pushed the idea that we can meet our commitments by adopting hydrogen as a fuel.

Meanwhile, campaigning for the Wentworth by-election rolls on with former sitting Member and Opposition Leader John Hewson, as well as the son of resigned Member Malcolm Turnbull, Alex Turnbull, calling on voters to vote for the climate and thus not the Liberals.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) held an Energy Summit through the week with business concluding that they had to “go it alone” on climate.

Meanwhile, SE Queensland, particularly around Kingaroy, was battered with destructive hailstorms and another El Nino was confirmed for the summer and beyond. This means we should be prepared for a ‘seven month summer’. Overseas, the Florida panhandle has been hammered by Hurricane Michael with several dead.

Neither swayed by the above, nor by the IPCC report, the NSW government approved the proposed Bylong coal mine near Mudgee within hours of the IPCC report.

Good to see the Swedish Academy awarding William Nordhaus and Paul Romer the 2018 Nobel Economics Prize for work in integrating climate change and technological innovation into economic analysis.

Some more good news. Climate Action Monaro has been nominated for an award at the forthcoming Nature Conservation Council (NCC) conference in Sydney on Saturday. I’ll be attending on behalf of CAM and, before the awards ceremony, will be speaking to motions that we have put to the conference.

At a local level, we’re likely to see a change in species with climate change. To help the science along, come to the Frogwatch seminar at the Cooma Bowling Club on Thursday 18 October 6-8pm. See attached flyer.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

In a canter? Climate experts say Australia will not meet emissions targets

Australian politics

Guardian Australia spoke to 12 economists and scientists – almost all reject government’s claim to be on track

‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear

IPCC report ‘underestimates potential of these key dangers to send Earth into spiral of runaway climate change’

‘You can’t keep arguing this is just a cycle’: Farmers struggling to manage impacts of climate change

Peter Mailler is a third-generation farmer but if the effects of climate change continue on their current path, he doesn’t expect anyone will be farming his 6,000 acres property in the future.

Voters split on Scott Morrison, but a clear consensus on climate action

Peter Lewis

Australia is divided on the prime minister, the ABC and the detention of children on Nauru – but not on climate change

Political leaders have little to lose in ignoring climate change

Canberra Times editorial

The impact of climate change will be felt by the poor and the young; not the grey eminences trying to water down our response to the challenge of the century.

The economic case for climate action is strong

SMH editorial

The Nobel Prize awarded for economics shows again that the government is wrong on climate change.

Coal is on the way out, the only question is how quickly

Mark Howden and Frank Jotzo

The question that governments should ask is: how can we make the transition socially acceptable and economically attractive?

Coalition’s breathtakingly stupid response to IPCC climate report

Giles Parkinson

It wasn’t too hard to predict what the Coalition government’s responses to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report would be – you just needed to know where they would be making them.

The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency

Guardian editorial

The consequences of catastrophic warming will be political and even military, not just environmental

We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero or face more floods

Nicholas Stern

The world heating up by even 1.5C would have a brutal impact on future generations

Letter published in the Canberra Times, 11 October 2018.

Behind the eight ball

According to your report (“Coal-based power must be phased out”, October 8 , p5) Australian officials allegedly sought to remove references to phasing out coal from the final version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) report on 1.5°C warming. This is an outrage if true.

The Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, denies it but who can believe someone who sits on a report for weeks about Australia’s emissions rising before releasing it late on the eve of grand final day? I certainly don’t.

According to the IPCC report, it will take enormous effort to limit warming to 1.5°C. All countries have to phase out coal and other fossil fuels as fast as possible and they will have to pull carbon dioxide out of the air.

It means an immediate end to deforestation and massive reafforestation. We will have to get on a war footing to achieve the changes needed. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than the report suggests, and the report itself is pretty dire. Capping warming at 1.5°C is still going to wreck the Great Barrier Reef and inundate low-lying islands and deltas. It will see a reduction in food yields. Millions will have to retreat from coastlines.

Does the minister have a copy, I wonder?

Jenny Goldie, Cooma

Climate Newsletter 8 Oct 2018

This bulletin is a bit late, largely because I held off for the release of the IPCC report on 1.5oC warming today.

Basically, the report says that if we are not to exceed 1.5oC warming over pre-industrial levels, it ‘will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’. With global emissions needing to fall by 45% on 2010 levels by 2030, the clear message is that we have to move away from fossil fuels, particularly coal.

The IPCC report, while seemingly dire, isn’t quite dire enough according to some. For instance, it says we will reach 1.5oC warming by 2040. Melbourne climate scientists, however, say it is more likely in about a decade (2026-2031).

I gather from the Canberra Times today that Australian officials tried to remove this call to phase out coal when the summary was being prepared. The Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, denies this. This is the person who for weeks sat on the report about Australian emissions still rising, only to release it late in the day before Grand Final weekend, so her credibility leaves something to be desired.

Not that Minister Price is necessarily the worst in this government. Take the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, for instance who on Monday said he would not to spend money on climate conferences and “all that nonsense.” Or backbencher Craig Kelly who said: “The climate was always dangerous. We didn’t make it dangerous, [and] it’s fossil fuels that protect us from that climate.” Spare us.

No surprise then, that the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, the respected French diplomat and economist Ms Laurence Tubiana, came to town and said the government’s failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions was ‘anti-science’.

While 1.5oC will be a lot better – both environmentally and socially – than 2oC, nevertheless, it is apparent that even 1.5oC warming is unacceptable given its effect on all coral reefs, but particularly the Great Barrier Reef. It will still lead to inundation of coral atolls and major deltas, and cause a loss in food production. Have a look at the graph at the end of the media release. Without radical action, we are heading for 3 or 4 degrees warming.

The Wentworth by-election will be on 20 October and, should the Liberals lose, the government will lose its majority. A possible winner in Wentworth, former AMA president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, is fairly strong on climate action. She opposes Adani and would ban political donations from fossil-fuel companies. Meanwhile ALP candidate Tim Murray commendably favours a carbon price.

The same day, I shall be representing CAM at the Nature Conservation Council annual conference in Sydney and speaking to the three motions we have put forward. These relate to the separation of Energy and Environment portfolios, Energy Minister Angus Taylor refusing to accept emissions reduction in his brief, and calling on the ALP to make climate an election issue.

CAM participated in two demos in the last week or so: at Tathra making a human sign, and on Friday, bearing sunflowers, outside John Barilaro’s Queanbeyan office calling for a shift to renewable energy.

Finally, if you need a laugh, you may enjoy this First Dog on the Moon cartoon.

World Is Locked into About 1.5°C Warming & Risks Are Rising, New Climate Report Finds

 Earth’s climate monsters could be unleashed as temperatures rise

Graham Readfearn

As a UN panel prepares a report on 1.5C global warming, researchers warn of the risks of ignoring ‘feedback’ effects

Phase out coal to save reef, UN report to say

The Morrison government has denied a claim it sought to have reference to the coal phase-out removed from the final report.

Coal binge puts Paris climate targets further out of reach, study finds

The capacity of the world’s coal-fired power stations would increase by a third if all 1380 plants planned or under development are built, making it tougher to meet Paris climate goals, a leading German non-profit group says.

Against science: Morrison’s climate stance slammed

Architect of the Paris agreement unloads on the Coalition government, lambasting its inaction to tackle climate change.

Phelps would ban fossil fuel firms’ political donations, oppose Adani

The independent candidate for Wentworth released a six-point climate plan highlighting differences with her Liberal Party rival David Sharma.

Scientists say halting deforestation ‘just as urgent’ as reducing emissions

Protecting and restoring forests would reduce 18% of emissions by 2030 and help to avoid global temperature rise beyond 1.5C

How global warming is turbocharging monster storms like Hurricane Florence

The frequency of more potent storms is growing, but the storms are also slowing down in speed, inundating the ground below.


‘This drought is different’: it’s drier and hotter – and getting worse

On the land and in the towns they’re affected to varying degrees; some find it harder to cope. But they all agree something has changed


Tesla big battery claims its first major fossil fuel victim

Elon Musk’s crusade to rid the world of fossil fuels and lead the transition to clean energy took a small but significant step forward this week, when the Australian Energy Market Operator decided to put an end to a market that has been rorted outrageously by fossil fuel generators in recent years.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro