Climate Newsletter: 30 March 2019

Two major international reports have come out this week: one report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) saying that the impacts of climate change are increasing and that emissions are rising to dangerous levels, and another report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirming that global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018, partly because of higher coal use.

As we recover from the NSW election, we now face a federal one on either May 11 or 18, a mere six or seven weeks away. In NSW, the Coalition government lost four seats overall though managed to retain majority government. In the upper house (Legislative Council), however, minor parties are prevailing over the major parties. What the final make-up will be won’t be known for a week or so.

At a national level, the government is clearly recalibrating its energy policy while trying not to offend its Nationals partners. It brought out its list of 12 project proposals for “delivering reliable and affordable power” to be considered for subsidy. According to Mark Diesendorf (see below), there are ‘six renewable electricity pumped hydro projects, five gas projects, and one coal upgrade project, supplemented by A$10 million for a two-year feasibility study for electricity generation in Queensland, possibly including a new coal-fired power station.’ The latter is a total waste of money because CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) have already declared that wind and solar are cheaper than new coal.

One of the issues we have to deal with as we move from fossil fuels to renewables is that coal workers are often left without jobs, particularly in places like Victoria’s Latrobe Valley that is the heartland of brown coal. So it is absolutely heartening that a huge wind-farm is planned for this very valley, overlooking the now-dismantled Hazelwood plant.

The Greens seem to be the whipping boy of the media these days but, give them credit, they have come up with an ambitious policy to end, not only coal burning, but coal exports by 2030. With extreme weather events wreaking havoc around the world thanks to climate change, let us hope other parties will follow suit.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Experts demand action after ‘staggering’ climate report

The World Meteorological Organisation report warns the impacts of Climate Change are accelerating and emissions are rising to dangerous levels.

Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018, International Energy Agency says

The International Energy Agency reveals that despite a rapid uptake of renewable energy, increased demand for heating and cooling drove coal-fired power generation and carbon emissions higher.

The government’s electricity short-list rightly features pumped hydro (and wrongly includes coal)

Mark Diesendorf

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has six pumped hydro projects on his list, and most are better taxpayer investments than the already announced Snowy 2.0 project

An iceberg twice the size of New York City is about to split from Antarctica

Scientists say the break could trigger further retreat of the Brunt ice shelf.

Huge wind farm planned for Victoria’s coal centre, overlooking closed Hazelwood plant

A 300 MW wind farm has been proposed for development on forestry plantation land in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, overlooking the site of the now-closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

New coal projects decline globally: report

A new report reveals the number of coal-fired power projects being developed globally decreased steeply in 2018 and shows investors are stepping away from coal.

Greens push to end coal burning, exports

The Greens have released a new climate change policy which aims to shut down coal burning and exports.

Oil giants spent $1 billion on climate lobbying and ads since Paris pact, says report

British think tank says world’s five largest listed oil and gas companies spent more than $1 billion lobbying to prevent climate change regulations since Paris agreement in 2015.

The human devastation of climate change

Tessa Knight

While many politicians, world leaders and big corporations speak about the future effects of climate change, poor and impoverished nations are already struggling to battle the consequences of rising global temperatures.

Study suggests trees are crucial to the future of our cities

The shade of a single tree can provide welcome relief from the hot summer sun. But when that single tree is part of a small forest, it creates a profound cooling effect. According to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, trees play a big role in keeping our towns and cities cool.

Letter in last Sunday’s Canberra Times by a CAM supporter:

Emission control

There is no doubt that our politicians are finally waking up to the reality of rapid climate change and the demand from the Australian community for action. Imminent elections are powerful motivators! Although Labor seems to be taking the issue more seriously than the Coalition, the indications are that both sides will be promoting fairly minimal “Clayton’s” policies. But can we afford a minimalist approach, especially in the light of Australia’s overall carbon budget?

When the scientists estimated the total quantity of greenhouse gases that could be emitted by the whole world for the temperature rise to be limited to 2 degrees (over the period 2013-2050) they calculated Australia’s share of that total to be 10.1 billion tonnes.

As we are still emitting around half a billion tonnes each year, that budget will be all used up by 2033 – only 14 years away. So, will either side of politics acknowledge the need to bite the bullet by introducing a suite of serious policies?

Or will they be content to look as though they are doing something, while employing dodgy strategies such as Kyoto credits, paying corporations and agribusinesses to do things they were going to do anyway and telling us that our targets will be met ‘in a canter’?

Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

Climate Newsletter 24 March 2019

From a climate perspective, it is hard to take comfort from the results of the NSW election yesterday. At this stage in the count, it looks like Gladys Berejiklian will form a majority government. While it is good that a woman Premier has finally been elected in her own right in NSW, nevertheless, it was Berejiklian who shelved plans to decarbonise the state’s economy, an initiative of her predecessor, Mike Baird. In the last week of the campaign, both major parties went silent on the issue so the election was not fought on climate as we thought it might be. Let’s hope the federal poll in May will be a “climate election”.

In the seat of Monaro, John Barilaro, helped enormously by a biased media and considerable resources, managed 51.82 percent of the primary vote and increased his two-party preferred margin another 8.1 percent. Nevertheless, the work that Repower-Monaro did in trying to get all candidates to adopt strong renewables had some effect. Barilaro did acknowledge the economic advantages of going down the renewables path and he may have helped his Coalition make the election promise of no-interest loans to households installing solar and batteries.

Unlike Barilaro, his party, the Nationals, did poorly though the slack was taken up by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) whose policies on climate are a little hazy. SFF could go either way on the issue so we need to inform them and keep up the pressure. strong>Labor’s result was disappointing though perhaps no surprise after the onslaught by the Murdoch press, and even the Sydney Morning Herald opted for the Coalition. Labor’s promise to support 7GW of renewables was worthy of more community and media support. The Greens will retain their three seats of Newtown, Ballina and Balmain. They, to their credit, had kept climate change in the forefront of their campaigning.

The federal Coalition is already mounting a scare campaign against climate action and renewables. Energy Minister Angus Taylor is standing by a report by BAEconomics  that claimed Labor’s 45 percent emissions reduction target would cause higher electricity prices, lower wages and a massive hit to economic growth. Written by the fossil fuel industry’s go-to consultant Brian Fisher, the report (according to the Climate Council) ‘fails to consider the economic benefits for Australia from investing in renewable energy and new technologies as well as failing to quantify the costs of not acting to prevent climate change.’ In addition, ‘his findings on electricity prices are contrary to a range of detailed Australian studies showing more renewable energy means lower wholesale electricity prices’. Laughably, it was peer-reviewed by Professor John Weyant of Stanford who was hired by the Trump administration as a defence expert in a case brought by a group of children against the US government over climate inaction.

If you are sufficiently enraged by all of the above, you may wish to attend Al Gore’s Climate Reality leadership training course in Brisbane on June 5-7.

Extreme weather events continue in Australia with two cyclones – Trevor in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Veronica off the WA coast – pummelling northern Australia. Over 1000 people have evacuated  the NT coast.

For those who worked for climate in some capacity during the state campaign, good on you. Do have a rest though, then come back renewed to fight in the lead-up to the May federal election. We need you.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President, Climate Action Monaro

The graph at the top of the newsletter shows how “carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere” and “air temperature” have moved together for the last 800,000 years. … More

Australia renewables share rises to 21.2%, but transport emissions soar.
Renewables share jumps to 21.2 percent as wind and solar displace coal and gas, but transport emissions soar as government dodges electric vehicle policies. Nicky Ison

It’s time Australia got serious about the shift to 100% renewables.
The transition to 100% renewables is still not taken seriously by many in the energy industry. It should be.

Heavyweights now speaking with one voice on climate change risks.
In an era defined by a cautious approach to climate in politics and business, influential independent voices have finally stepped up. Sam Hurley

Climate change: A threat to agriculture & UN’s goal to eradicate hunger

The United Nations has vowed to eradicate extreme hunger and malnutrition on a self-imposed deadline of 2030. But it is facing a harsh reality where human-induced climate change is increasingly threatening agriculture, which also provides livelihoods for over 40 percent of the global population.

England could run short of water within 25 years

A combination of climate change and population growth are pushing the country towards what the chief executive of the Environment Agency referred to as the “jaws of death.”

Tim Flannery: people are shocked about climate change but they should be angry

The author and scientist, who has returned to his roots at the Australian Museum, says the world is about to see a major shift towards climate action

Here’s why Australia needs to keep subsidising renewables

The idea that ‘the markets’ make all the big decisions about our society has eaten away our democracy. Richard Denniss

Expanding gas mining threatens our climate, water and health

Melissa Haswell and David Shearman,

Gas mining is expanding across Australia, and has been touted as part of the answer to cutting emissions. But there is evidence that this roll-out will pose significant health and environmental risks.

Senec to provide home batteries for W.A. solar + storage microgrid – Australia’s largest

German-based Senec chosen to supply home battery systems for Horizon Power’s solar and storage micro-grid in coastal Pilbara town of Onslow.

Researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawater

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen presents an alternative to fossil fuels, but purified water is a precious resource. A Stanford-led team has now developed a way to harness seawater — Earth’s most abundant source — for chemical energy.

Incoherent climate policy

The Australian Energy Market Commission’s call for energy policy to be considered together with emissions is most welcome (“Rule maker declares emissions and energy must be considered together“, March 18).

Scott Morrison’s decision to separate the portfolios of energy and environment was a retrograde step. Energy Minister Angus Taylor doesn’t give a fig about emissions and their role in climate change. Environment Minister Melissa Price appears not to recognise that energy policy is crucial in dealing with climate change. To its credit, Labor’s shadow portfolio keeps them together as Energy and Climate Change which gives us some hope of a coherent policy overall. – Jenny Goldie, Cooma

Letter published in SMH on 20 March 2019.

How Heat Pumps work

Heat pumps are common.

Electric heat pumps are part of common household equipment.  Heat pumps are used in:

  • Fridges: these heat pumps move heat from inside the fridge to your kitchen.
  • Reverse cycle air-conditioners: these heat pumps: (1) cool by moving heat from inside your home to outside, and (2) heat, when the cycle is reversed, by moving heat from outside your home to the inside.

Heat pumps for hot water

You can use heat pumps to get your hot water.  You can run the heat pump during the day, powering the heat pump with electricity from photovoltaic solar panels.  After installing the panels and heat pump, you heat your water for free, generating no emissions. 

How a heat pump works to heat water

A good diagram here

A heat pump that heats your hot-water will move heat from the air outside your house into your hot water tank.  They have:

  • A refrigerant:  The heat pump contains a refrigerant, a liquid that boils at a low temperature like minus 26 C.
  • An electric fan on the outside of your house: It blows air over a heat exchanger and so that the air warms the liquid refrigerant in the evaporator.
  • An Evaporator:  The external air heats the refrigerant to above its low boiling point of minus 26 C. It will work even on a cold day like 5 C outside. So air heats the refrigerant which evaporates producing a gas. On a cold day, the fan has to work for longer to warm the refrigerant.
  • A Compressor:  This gas is removed from the evaporator and compressed.  As the pressure builds, the gas gets hotter, just as your bicycle pump gets hot as you pump up your tyres.  The gas is heated to 95 C.
  • A Condenser:  The hot, pressurised gas passes its heat to where you want it, to the water in your hot water tank.  In doing this, the gas cools and condenses into a moderate temperature liquid.
  • An Expansion Valve:  The cooled gas moves from the high-pressure condenser, through an expansion valve,  returning to the where it started, in the low-pressure evaporator,  and the cycle repeats.