Climate Newsletter 25 Nov 2018

  • Our renewables forum on Wednesday in Queanbeyan,
  • Release of Labor’s energy policy,
  • The Victorian state election yesterday, and
  • Forum and demo on Thursday.

Renewables Forum: It was a very good night with Profs John Hewson and Andrew Blakers giving excellent talks and my arguing that the main reason we needed to adopt renewables was because we face a climate emergency.  In February, Repower Monaro will be organising a candidates’ meeting, again in Queanbeyan, to see how the various candidates compare on renewables policy.

Labor’s energy policy: This was excellent as far as renewables were concerned with a $15 billion package for fixing the transmission networks including interstate connectors (something that Andrew Blakers said was necessary as we work towards 100% renewable electricity); huge discounts on batteries to home-owners to support rooftop solar (and thereby reducing peak demand in the electricity grid); and adding $10 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.  Labor’s policy also includes a 45 per cent emissions reduction target and 50 per cent renewable energy target (RET) by 2030. Unfortunately, it has failed to rule out banning the Adani mega-coal mine although it will not provide finance for it. Labor leader Bill Shorten has said Adani won’t add to Australia’s emissions. This is strictly correct as the coal will all be exported but it will add to other nations emissions instead. He rejects that those emissions will help destroy the Great Barrier Reef through climate change. This attitude, understandably, has enraged climate activists who also complain the emissions reduction target and RET don’t go anywhere near the science required to keep warming to safe levels. Nevertheless, Labor at this stage is way out in front of the Coalition (though the Greens are much stronger than both on targets).

Philip Sutton summed it up well: “Our choice is now between a government that is going to actively promote fossil fuel use and a government that will let fossil fuel investment continue if the market is motivated but which will build renewables capacity so that coal fired power stations in Australia are gradually driven out of the market.”

Victorian election: Thanks to an enormous amount of work on the ground by climate activists, and Premier Daniel Andrews basically co-opting many of the Greens’ policy positions (like reinstating the Victorian Renewable Energy Target and more sustainable transport infrastructure), Labor swept back to power with three times the number of seats as the Coalition. There were other issues than climate and energy, of course, but the Liberals vowing to get rid of the RET did not help them at all. Some organisations like Environment Victoria really worked to get the climate message across on the sandbelt line (Brighton down to Frankston) and those seats saw up to 10 per cent swings, making them all safe rather than marginal Labor seats.

Action in Canberra prior to the start of COP24 in Poland next week: For those who can get to Parliament House, Canberra, on Thursday 29 November, there will be a climate briefing called “The human face of climate change” from 1.30 to 3.45pm. You have to register and can do so here. At 5pm there’s a demo on the lawns below the main entrance to Parliament House, called “It’s time for climate action NOW”.

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro


Why aren’t they doing anything?: Students strike to give climate lesson

A 15-year-old Swedish student’s demand for climate action is resonating half a world away in Australia.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/why-aren-t-they-doing-anything-students-strike-to-give-climate-lesson-20181123-p50hvu.html


Qld community prepares for new mega-mine

A north Queensland regional council is preparing for talks to ensure a company behind a $6.7 billion mega-mine operates responsibly.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/qld-community-prepares-mega-mine-163037930–spt.html


Climate-heating greenhouse gases at record levels, says UN

Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are far above pre-industrial levels

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/22/climate-heating-greenhouse-gases-at-record-levels-says-un


Labor to adopt Turnbull’s energy policy and throw billions at renewables

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is set to announce Labor’s energy policy tomorrow, which will include the policy that led to Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-21/labor-energy-policy-ahead-of-election/10519018


Labor to offer $2,000 rebates for battery systems in homes

Bill Shorten pledges to underwrite new renewable generation and a transition plan for coal communities

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/22/labor-energy-policy-rebates-battery-systems-residential-homes


Big business laments NEG in front of PM

The prime minister has been reminded of the coalition government’s failure to pass “sensible energy and environment policy” by a big business lobby’s chair.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/big-business-laments-neg-front-pm-163257288–spt.html


‘Scandal’: NSW coal power plants will kill thousands before they close

Air pollution from NSW’s five coal-fired power stations carry a “substantial health burden”, including leading to an estimated 279 deaths a year with thousands more to come before they close.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/sustainability/scandal-nsw-coal-power-plants-will-kill-thousands-before-they-close-20181120-p50h66.html


Climate change: Report raises new optimism over industry

Cutting emissions from heavy industry would generate savings and boost economic growth, commission argues.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46263770


Labor to dispense with bipartisanship in power plan targeting coal workers and energy efficiency

A future Labor government will not rely on a potentially hostile Senate in its efforts to encourage renewables investment.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/labor-to-dispense-with-bipartisanship-in-power-plan-targeting-coal-workers-and-energy-efficiency-20181120-p50h5w.html


Fresh thinking: the carbon tax that would leave households better off

Richard Holden and Rosalind Dixon

The UNSW climate dividend proposal will be launched on Wednesday by the Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps.

https://theconversation.com/fresh-thinking-the-carbon-tax-that-would-leave-households-better-off-107177


Climate Newsletter 18 Nov 2018

The death toll from the California fires rises inexorably with 76 dead and over 1200 still missing. President Trump still denies any connection with climate change, unlike outgoing Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles fire chief who do say there is a strong connection.

A number of school children walked out of school this week to protest inaction on climate change. Meanwhile the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned they may be the last generation to see coral reefs.

Some good news came from the NSW government this week. It unveiled its Transmission Infrastructure Strategy to enable a more rapid development of the state’s renewable energy potential. The Strategy aims to bring forward $2.5 billion worth of high voltage transmission projects, shore up the power grid, and accommodate a $23 billion wave of renewable energy investment.

Meanwhile, the Climate Council has issued yet another report, this time on climate change and water scarcity. It warns of worsening drought and more extreme weather events, and says the impact will be felt severely on the NSW northern tablelands.

It was startling to see Woodside CEO Peter Coleman advocate a carbon price but it may have been a case of vested interest as Woodside deals largely in gas, not coal, and a carbon price would favour lower-emitting gas. Nevertheless, gas is the guilty party when it comes to Australia’s emissions, since half of Australia’s emissions are linked to WA Gorgon’s gas plant.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the top global energy watchdog but often slow to come to terms with reality, has finally acknowledged that the world cannot build any more fossil fuel plants. This is important, as our federal government flags new coal-fired power stations, ignoring the pressing need to reduce emissions.

Meanwhile, the insurance giant IAG has warned a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could result in a world that is “pretty much uninsurable”, with poorer communities likely to bear the brunt of the effects.

Don’t forget the Victorian election on Saturday 24 November with Labor strengthening its renewable energy targets while the Liberals promise to get rid of them. Labor is also wanting to extend rooftop solar rebate to renters.

All the best, Jenny
Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro


World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants, warns IEA

The world has so many existing fossil fuel projects that it cannot afford to build any more polluting infrastructure without busting international climate change goals, the global energy watchdog has warned.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/13/world-has-no-capacity-to-absorb-new-fossil-fuel-plants-warns-iea


Want to slow down climate change? Plant a tree

A new comprehensive study shows planting more trees and preserving fields and wetlands can help to combat climate change.

http://www.wbur.org/news/2018/11/15/want-to-slow-down-climate-change-plant-a-tree


Longer fire seasons threaten to disrupt US-Australia firefighting cooperation

Longer bushfire seasons in Australia and the US threaten to disrupt the sharing of vital personnel and equipment between the two countries, fire experts and coordinators have revealed.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/16/longer-fire-seasons-threaten-to-disrupt-us-australia-firefighting-cooperation


Greens policy would outlaw thermal coal as it is ‘no longer compatible’ with human life

Under Greens policy, it would no longer be legal to dig, burn or ship thermal coal by 2030

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/16/greens-policy-would-outlaw-thermal-coal-as-it-is-no-longer-compatible-with-human-life


Half of Australia’s emissions increase linked to WA’s Gorgon LNG plant

Carbon emissions from nation’s largest LNG development were meant to be captured. More than two years on, the storage still hasn’t started

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/14/half-of-australias-emissions-increase-linked-to-was-gorgon-lng-plant


Climate Council issues grim warning on looming water security crisis

The Climate Council releases a report linking climate change with worsening droughts, and extreme weather events such as bushfires and floods.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-11-13/climate-change-report-and-drought-policy/10493812


Woodside CEO urges climate fix

Woodside boss Peter Coleman has some advice for politicians including a call for clarity on tax reform and global co-operation on carbon pricing.

https://www.afr.com/business/energy/gas/woodside-boss-peter-coleman-says-dont-dither-on-prrt-reform-20181109-h17q31


Deluge and drought: Australia’s water security in a changing climate

Climate Council of Australia

This report argues that significant impacts on and risks to Australia’s water security are already evident, and these risks will continue to escalate unless deep and rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas pollution can be achieved.

http://apo.org.au/node/202981


‘Problem in waiting’: why natural gas will wipe out Australia’s emissions gains

LNG is often touted as a good alternative to coal but the increase in production means increased emissions that will cancel out any recent savings

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/13/problem-in-waiting-why-natural-gas-will-wipe-out-australias-emissions-gains


Next generation ‘may never see the glory of coral reefs’

Undersea forests, bleached and killed by rising ocean temperature, might disappear in a few decades, experts warn

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/11/next-generation-may-never-see-coral-reefs


Climate Newsletter 11 Nov 2018

Horrific fires have been burning once more in California, for the second time this year. The link to climate change seems inextricable, with the state suffering prolonged drought and higher temperatures.

On Tuesday, Americans went to the polls for the mid-term elections that had mixed results for climate. Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives but lost ground elsewhere. At least the House Science Committee, for the first time in eight years, will be controlled by people who accept climate change. And happily, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected in New York. She advocated “transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100 percent renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035.” Unhappily though, Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has mishandled a number of environmental issues, narrowly won his bid for the Senate, defeating incumbent Bill Nelson, who called Florida “ground zero” for climate change. There will be, however, a recount.

Democrats did win some key governorships – notably in Nevada, Maine and New Mexico – that could accelerate progress on clean energy.  In the last two years, these three states passed renewable energy bills that were vetoed by Republican governors, so hopefully the bills will get through now.

On the home front, Victoria goes to the polls on 24 November where there is a clear distinction on climate and energy policy between the major parties. Labor has promised to extend its renewable energy targets from 40 per cent by 2025 to 50 per cent by 2030, spurring a rush of private sector investment in new wind and solar projects. The Liberals, however, have promised to scrap the targets if they win the election.

Interestingly, Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes said on ABC-TV’s 7.30 that Australia should reinstate a carbon price. He referred to his new green energy campaign, or movement, as ‘Fair Dinkum Power’, reclaiming the phrase from the Prime Minister. Cannon-Brookes argued it was the PM’s code for coal power.  He (C-B) would like to see Australia move to “200 per cent renewable energy” and become a renewable energy super power.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull also appeared on ABC-TV, this time for a Q&A special where he did a “double back-flip” of sorts by strongly advocating for renewable energy. Whether it was purely on economic terms or for the sake of the climate is anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile, the new-ish Energy Minister Angus Taylor went off to see the energy retailers, trying to cajole them into reducing energy prices. He failed on that, but they did offer up a standardised rate, making it easier for consumers to compare energy prices when shopping around between retailers for the best deal. The retailers apparently supported a plan to underwrite new generation – which could be coal or gas – but whether it is actually needed is another matter. Despite latest government data showed greenhouse gas emissions have climbed 1.3 per cent to their highest quarterly levels in eight years, the Minister is still ruling out policies that will help us achieve our emission reduction targets (pathetic though they be).

While the PM has been bussing around Queensland promising to lower electricity prices, it turns out that the surge in renewables is doing that for him, with no help at all from government policy. The latest National Energy Emissions Audit prepared by The Australia Institute has found wholesale power prices have peaked in most states as a surge of new renewables have come online. The Audit also found that, while Australia’s emissions from electricity are coming down, those from other sectors are growing, not least from LNG exports.

Please let your friends know about Repower-Monaro’s public meeting at the Tigers Club (Karabar/Queanbeyan) at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 November with Profs John Hewson and Andrew Blakers on the transition to renewable energy. I am also a speaker on the climate emergency that underpins the need for renewable energy.

My thanks to Andrew Gunner who kindly puts these weekly bulletins onto a website, https://www.feedbackreigns.net/news/news-titles/, where (if you are into social media) you can extend the bulletin’s life using the buttons at the bottom.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro


Small scale solar surge continues to reshape Australia’s grid

AEMO report shows big surge in rooftop solar, eating away at demand, displacing coal and depressing prices.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/small-scale-solar-surge-continues-to-reshape-australias-grid-35290/


Why Australia needs to be a renewable energy superpower

Mike Cannon-Brookes

Australia has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine its place in the world through the production of renewable energy.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-economy/why-australia-needs-to-be-a-renewable-energy-superpower-20181109-p50f0h.html


Victoria’s first big battery charges up on state grid

Ballarat big battery, the first in Victoria, starts charging and discharging activity on the grid.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/victorias-first-big-battery-charges-up-on-state-grid-50636/


Heavyweights sound off as WA fracking inquiry enters doomsday

Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, John Butler, the band Midnight Oil, Missy Higgins, Tim Winton, Fiona Stanley, Janet Holmes a Court, Carmen Lawrence and Peter Newman have joined to call for the state government to ban gas fracking in Western Australia.

https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/heavyweights-sound-off-as-wa-fracking-inquiry-enters-doomsday-20181108-p50ewe.html


African islands send SOS as climate change worsens health

African island states say they need more help to cope with the health impacts of climate change.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/african-islands-send-sos-as-climate-change-worsens-health-20181109-p50ex5.html


Australia set to be a leader in $1.7 trillion battery industry

Australia is forecast to be a global leader in a battery storage technology boom which is growing more swiftly that previously predicted.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-economy/australia-set-to-be-a-leader-in-1-7-trillion-battery-industry-20181107-p50ehm.html


Greenland’s melting ice sheets: The beautiful but harrowing changes seen from above

Climate change is causing Greenland’s ice sheet to melt at a dramatic rate, and photographer Tom Hegen took to the sky to document these beautiful but devastating changes.

https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2018-11-06-greenland-melting-ice-sheet-photos-tom-hegen/


Farmers and environmentalists divided over Bylong Valley coal mine

Hundreds of people, including dozens of protestors, turn out to a meeting in Mudgee to have their say on the Kepco mine, which is expected to generate more than 6.5 million tonnes of coal per year.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-07/bylong-valley-coal-mine-divides-locals/10472766


Bigger incentives to “switch off” could drive down energy prices

Ben Oquist

South Australia is the perfect place to introduce changes to electricity market rules to give consumers a greater capacity to save on their energy bills by voluntarily “switching off.

https://indaily.com.au/opinion/2018/11/07/bigger-incentives-to-switch-off-could-drive-down-energy-prices/


UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

Renewable capacity has tripled in past five years, even faster growth than the ‘dash for gas’ of the 1990s

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-surpasses-fossil-fuels-for-first-time


Climate Newsletter 5 Nov 2018

We may safely assume the heatwave affecting Sydney and reaching down as far as us is a sign of things to come. Not just heatwaves but bushfires as well. The smoke blowing from the Pierce’s Creek fire across Canberra’s southern suburbs on Friday reminded us all too much of the 2003 fires which destroyed 500 homes. That was January, of course, in high summer. This was November – in spring – though the long drought made it all more likely.

We (CAM with Repower-Monaro) have managed to secure Profs John Hewson and Andrew Blakers for a public meeting in Karabar/Queanbeyan at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 November at the Tigers football club. The subject is ‘Making the transition from fossil fuels to renewables”. Come if you can and tell friends.

CAM’s committee met yesterday but we are without a treasurer so if you inclined to offer your services, please do so! We will receive a $2000 grant shortly from Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) for our campaign to have all candidates running for the state seat of Monaro adopt strong policies on renewable energy.

Perhaps it was to assuage its guilt at approving the Bylong coal mine within hours of the IPCC report on 1.5 degree warming, but the NSW Planning Dept has now approved a 55MW solar farm at Vales Point that will power 20,000 homes. It happens to be right next to the coal-fired power station but that has advantages, being right on the grid.

Meanwhile, Crookwell 2 wind farm has begun providing power for 42,000 ACT homes. ACT is planning to have 100 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020. When Victoria’s Hornsdale 2 and 3 wind farm come on line, starting next year, that will be achieved. ACT is showing how it can be done while the federal government languishes without a climate and energy policy.

While we need to make a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables for the sake of the climate, the transition can be painful socially. As coal-fired power stations close, workers are displaced. Thus it is great news that an electric vehicle factory will be built at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, the heart of brown coal country.

Meanwhile, Australia’s mining union, the CFMEU, has urged federal and state governments to prepare for the nation’s coal-fired power stations to be shut by 2050 with a comprehensive transition package for workers.

On a grimmer note, Adani is threatening to have work start on the Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin any day now. Fortunately, Korean banks are now refusing to fund the project. Whether Adani has enough money for the project despite this remains to be seen.

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro


‘Getting close’: El Nino event seen as not far off as Sydney sizzles

The hot start to November may be a taste of the summer to come with meteorologists watching a Pacific Ocean that is being primed for an El Nino event.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/weather/el-nino-event-sydney-sizzles-weather-20181103-p50drw.html


Snowy Hydro dumps coal for wind and solar to pump its water

Snowy Hydro will use wind and solar energy not coal to support its pumped hydro storage generators in a deal the company says will help cut households power bills from 2020.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-economy/snowy-hydro-dumps-coal-for-wind-and-solar-to-pump-its-water-20181101-p50dh0.html


Renewable energy investments not thwarted

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation put $2.3 billion towards projects over the past financial year, driven by state renewable targets and cheaper technology.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/renewable-energy-investments-not-thwarted


Coal power in terminal decline, NSW warned

An independent economic analysis has warned NSW that thermal coal exports are stagnating and will significantly decline in the next two decades.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/coal-power-in-terminal-decline-nsw-warned


State governments can transform Australia’s energy policy from major fail to reliable success

Tony Wood and Guy Dundas

There could be much clearer skies ahead for energy policy if states take the reins.

https://theconversation.com/state-governments-can-transform-australias-energy-policy-from-major-fail-to-reliable-success-105740


Prepare workers for coal closures: report

The CFMEU has proposed a new national authority to prepare for Australia to transition away from coal-fired power generation by 2050. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/prepare-workers-for-coal-closures-report


Conservationists to target ‘middle Australia’ in election climate push

ACF aims to pour resources into three marginal seats to inflict electoral pain on major parties for policy failures

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/conservationists-to-target-middle-australia-in-election-climate-push


Electric cars set to bring hundreds of jobs to Latrobe Valley

Hundreds of jobs are set to be created in the Latrobe Valley, with the Victorian Government announcing a deal to manufacture electric vehicles in a new factory in the region.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-30/electric-cars-set-to-bring-500-jobs-to-latrobe-valley/10448344


We can’t save the climate without also saving the trees

Scientists agree: Preserving forests is critical to combating climate change.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/we-can-t-save-climate-without-also-saving-trees


Former UN climate chief says world doesn’t need Australia’s ‘toxic’ coal

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has blasted BHP for its commitment to continue mining coal.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/former-un-climate-chief-says-world-doesn-t-need-australia-s-toxic-coal-20181103-p50dt5.html