Climate Newsletter: 29 April 2019

The heroic Bob Brown continues to lead the Anti-Adani convoy which is now in Central Queensland, though not getting the warmest of welcomes from pro-coal mining demonstrators who wrongly believe there will be thousands of jobs awaiting them at the mine. Bob and the convoy gets to Canberra Sunday so come and join us!

Don’t forget!

WHAT: Vote Climate Rally
WHEN: 10:30am, Sunday 5 May
WHERE: Lawns of Parliament House, Canberra

And on the Friday before on May 3, students are striking outside MPs’ offices. 10 reasons to join their May 3 #ClimateElection National Day of Action next Friday

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has announced its climate election scorecard. Based on 50 questions such as position on renewable energy and attitude to coal, “the Coalition comes in at a lowly 4 per cent while the Greens top the table with 99 per cent. Labor then takes the middle ground with a 56 per cent ranking.” Labor obviously dropped points because of its pro-gas (fracking) policy for northern Australia.

In Eden-Monaro, there are eight candidates and the CAM Committee will be putting questions to them all shortly.

The Australia Institute has produced a report that finds more than two thirds of Australians support a rapid transition to renewable energy and other ambitious climate policies.

The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance this week commenced distribution to over a thousand scientists and academics across Australia requesting endorsement of a proposal which begins: “The industrial logging of native forests and woodlands and the use of forest biomass as a fossil fuel substitute is disastrous for climate and biodiversity and should end, immediately.” See attached.

The Extinction Rebellion in the UK and now elsewhere continues with over 1000 arrested in London alone. The UK Labour Party has (albeit belatedly) supported it.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

US Southeast Atlantic coast facing high threat of sea-level rise in the next 10 years

New research shows 75% of the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to central Florida will be highly vulnerable to erosion and inundation from rising tides by 2030, negatively impacting many coastal species’ nesting habitats.

Labor accused of refashioning NAIF into gas fuelled “carbon disaster”

Federal Labor’s pledge to spend up to $1.5 billion unlocking gas supply in Queensland and the Northern Territory has angered green groups, and blurred the lines between Bill Shorten’s apparently climate-forward policies and those of Scott Morrison’s climate-denying Coalition.

India’s solar power capacity addition to grow 15 per cent to 7,500 Mw this fiscal

By contrast, last financial year’s solar capacity addition is estimated to have remained subdued in a range between 6,000 Mw and 6,500 Mw because of weak trend in award of solar projects in calendar year 2017

When should you freak out about climate change? Right now.

Author Bill McKibben makes the case against calm.

‘No question it could be done’: Tesla chief Elon Musk says Labor’s EV plan is actually behind the times

Tesla’s founder Elon Musk decided to involve himself in the Twitter backlash about electric car policy in Australia.

Cheap political shots are working against the national interest

John Hewson

When it is your uncle, or Doomsday Daryl in the lunchroom, that touts conservative mistruths about technical developments, you might be willing to do an internal eye roll and just let it be. But when it is the Prime Minister, it is somewhat more concerning.

Renewables clearly the answer as Bob Brown marches on Adani mine

Giles Parkinson

Another major report has underlined the case for renewable energy to provide the lowest cost, most sustainable solution for Australia’s energy needs – noting that fossil fuels are still heavily subsidised while renewables need little more than policy certainty and guidance.

Business leaders call on Shorten to disclose Adani stance

Business leaders are urging Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to state his position on the Adani coal mine, amid conflicting statements by Labor candidates in marginal seats in Queensland and Melbourne.

Our leaders are ignoring global warming to the point of criminal negligence. It’s unforgivable

Tim Winton

Humanity survived the cold war because no one pushed the button. On climate change, the button has been pushed again and again

Briefing notes show Coalition approved Adani water plan despite knowing of risk

Company rejected scientific advice its groundwater modelling was ‘not fit for purpose’

Climate Newsletter 21 April 2019

The Stop Adani Convoy led by Bob Brown is a peaceful protest against the proposed coal mega-mine in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland. Having left Hobart on 17 April, the convoy is in Coffs Harbour and Mullumbimby today. It heads to Queensland tomorrow and will be in the Galilee area on 28 April. After that, it heads south to Canberra and it will all culminate in a rally on Parliament House lawns, two weeks today. Be there if you can!
WHAT: Vote Climate Rally
WHEN: 10:30 am, Sunday 5 May
WHERE: Lawns of Parliament House, Canberra

According to the ABC, contrary to the Environment Minister Melissa Price’s statements around the time she signed Adani’s groundwater plans, Adani had not accepted in full those changes sought by CSIRO and Geoscience scientists during the approvals process. Their concerns and advice around water impacts of the company’s Carmichael coal mine were apparently ignored.  

Meanwhile, in London, the Extinction Rebellion is getting the climate change message across. First, protesters demonstrated at critical road junctions then closed down the rail network in places.  Over 400 have been arrested. Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old schoolgirl behind the global School Strike for Climate movement, will join Extinction Rebellion protesters in London today. She will speak in a rally at Marble Arch then, during the week, meet with British environment secretary, Michael Gove, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas. All this after meeting the Pope recently and addressing the European parliament. What a hero.

Back in Australia, some are hoping that the federal election (less than 4 weeks ago now), will focus on climate, and indeed polls show that is what youth cares about most. The Greens have put the issue front and foremost and also the newly registered party, Independents for Climate Action Now (ICAN).  The local ICAN candidate will probably be stalwart climate activist and “knitting nanna”, Annette Schneider, from Burra.

Neither PM Morrison nor Labor leader Shorten, however, are giving climate change the attention it deserves. Shorten has possibly been too worn out from fending off ridiculous attacks by the Murdoch press about Labor’s electric vehicle policy. Labor has very good climate policies overall yet Shorten has not voiced his outright opposition to Adani. SBS News has summarised the differences between the three major parties on emissions reduction, electric vehicles and power prices.

Former coal executive Ian Dunlop has sent this message: “You may find the following short documentary on climate change and national security of interest.  Part 1 is being released now, on the challenge.  Part 2 will focus on solutions – we are seeking funding to complete it at present:”. I commend it to you, and please distribute.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Act on climate change like you did on Notre-Dame, activist Greta Thunberg begs EU

Sweden’s teenage activist Greta Thunberg choked backed tears as she warned of climate disaster and urged Europeans to vote in next month’s elections to press for decisive action on cutting greenhouse gases.

Renewable energy jobs surge on back of solar

Employment in Australia’s large scale, photovoltaic solar energy sector more than doubled (210 per cent) in 2017-18, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Extinction Rebellion: The activists risking prison to save the planet

In the face of runaway climate chaos, governments around the world are in denial, say the activists hoping to land themselves in jail in defence of our planet — and the survival of our species.

Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse

George Monbiot

No one is coming to save us. Mass civil disobedience is essential to force a political response.

Rio Tinto promises not to undermine renewables – and not to prop up coal

Fresh from its own exit from coal, mining giant Rio Tinto promises to support renewables’ key role in climate action, and exhorts industry lobby to do the same, or…

AEMO to model rapid transition to renewables, quicker exit from coal

The Australian Energy Market Operator is to include modelling for a rapid transition to renewables, a quicker exit from coal generation, and even a zero emissions grid as part of its next Integrated System Plan.

UP village becomes renewable energy model with 100% solar power use

The solar-powered village in Chakanwala Panchayat named ‘Mandironwala Bhuddi’ has no electricity poles but is completely lit up using solar power

Why electric vehicles will be the norm sooner than we think

Manufacturers—not limited to Tesla, but also major ones like Toyota and Volkswagen—will be launching several EVs, and by 2022 most carmakers’ line-ups will be 50% traditional vehicles and 50% EVs

Great Barrier Reef on verge of collapse: government officials

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says global warming must be kept to 1.5 degrees – a threshold that scientists say requires shutting down coal within three decades.

Adani coalmine: can Labor get away with choosing ambiguity over integrity?

Katharine Murphy

The Coalition showed unseemly haste to get an approval through before the election was called

Climate Newsletter: 13 April 2019

The three main events this week were: 1) the Environment Minister giving groundwater approval for the Adani Carmichael mine, 2) the calling of the federal election for 18 May, and 3) the EV controversy raging over Labor’s target of half of all new car sales be electric by 2030.

First, Adani. Whether or not Environment Minister Melissa Price bowed to pressure from her LNP colleagues, her approval of Adani’s groundwater plans was an outrage. Unfortunately, the election was called and Parliament rose so neither she, nor CSIRO, nor Geoscience Australia could be called by Senate Estimates for questioning. The only comfort is that the “mine faces significant additional hurdles, including seven further plan approvals, court challenges, royalties negotiations and securing access to the freight rail network”, according to the article below. Thumbs up to the anti-Adani protesters interrupting the PM’s speech through the week and to members of Farmers for Climate Action meeting with Queensland’s Environment Minister to stress the importance of groundwater to farmers.

Second, the federal election. No surprise about the date, once the PM missed calling it last week. Let’s hope it can be fought on Adani and climate but the difference between the two major parties is blurred in Queensland where both appear to be supporting the mine. Differences lie instead between voters in Central and North Queensland (pro-mine) and voters in NSW and Victoria (opposed). Bob Brown is leading a Stop Adani convoy that will reach Canberra on Sunday 5 May. A rally will be held at 10.30 am on Parliament House lawns. Speakers include the writer Richard Flanagan. Please attend this rally yourself if you can and encourage Canberra friends and colleagues to attend.

Third, the EV scare campaign. The controversy over Labor’s electric vehicle target was mostly ludicrous. About the only legitimate arguments raised against it was that the grid might not have enough power to support it (solution: build more renewable power) and that there would be a loss of $10 billion in fuel excise (solution: tax all vehicles by distance travelled).  Other claims, however, were eye-wateringly facile. The PM was bad enough with his claim that Bill Shorten wanted to end the weekend but Minister Michaelia Cash’s tweet that  “Labor need to explain to Australia’s tradies why they want to ban their favourite utes” really took the cake.

Meanwhile, Professor Ken Baldwin of the Energy Change Institute reports that ANU research has shown that opportunities abound the world over to support a 100 percent renewable electricity grid. Professor Andrew Blakers and his team have completed a global audit of 530,000 potential pumped hydro sites and  Professor Jamie Pittock has studied five planned pumped storage hydropower projects across Australia that could triple Australia’s electricity capacity. Meanwhile, the cost of the proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme has blown out to $5 billion.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Poll shows 50% of Australians support shifting all sales of new cars to electric vehicles by 2025

Transition to electric vehicles to cut carbon emissions has dominated the climate policy debate in the Australian election campaign.

Veteran environmentalist Bob Brown to lead anti-Adani convoy

Veteran conservationist Bob Brown will lead a convoy of hundreds of anti-Adani protesters to rally against its proposed coal mine in Queensland.

Labor candidates come out in favour of coal mines as union demands assurances

Central Queensland Labor candidates Cathy O’Toole, Zac Beers and Russell Robertson have backed new coal mines as the Coalition ramps up attacks over ALP division on Adani’s Carmichael project.

Adani’s Carmichael coalmine: what happens next?

Controversial coalmine still faces hurdles including seven plan approvals, court challenges and royalties negotiations.

Palaszczuk questions Adani over failure to submit rail plans

With the Queensland Government facing mounting pressure by mining giant Adani to give final approvals for the proposed Carmichael mine, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urges the company to fulfil its requirements and submit its outstanding rail plans.

Simultaneous heatwaves caused by anthropogenic climate change

Without the climate change caused by human activity, simultaneous heatwaves would not have hit such a large area as they did last summer.

Emergency experts issue climate warning

Emergency chiefs from across Australia are demanding the prime minister take action to deal with increased disaster risks fuelled by climate change.

Renewables are a better investment than carbon capture for tackling climate change

Solar panels and wind turbines coupled with energy storage offer a better hope for tackling climate change than trying to capture carbon from fossil fuel power stations, according to new research published by Nature Energy. New research shows that resources that would be spent on developing and installing carbon capture technologies would be better invested in creating more solar panels and wind turbines and focusing on developing energy storage options to support these instead.

New pathways for sustainable agriculture

Diversity beats monotony: a colourful patchwork of small, differently used plots can bring advantages to agriculture and nature.

Melting glaciers causing sea levels to rise at ever greater rates

Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic, as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world, are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimetres, an international research team under the lead of the University of Zurich have now found.

The temperature graph at the top of this page

The graph shows the soaring “average global air temperatures” from 1880 onwards. See more.

Climate Newsletter 6 April 2019

There were two major events this week: The release of Labor’s climate policy on Monday, and the following day, the federal Budget.

On the positive side, Labor, as well as promising to restore the Climate Change Authority which gives independent advice on climate change to government; says it will not carry over Kyoto credits to count towards the Paris target (doing so would essentially halve our reduction commitments); will ensure half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 are electric (which the Coalition attacked but the NRMA said didn’t go far enough); and new government vehicles will be 50 per cent electric by 2025. Labor will cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030 (compared to the government’s 26%), and ensure 50% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. It has a long term target of net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.

Unfortunately, if emission reduction targets are to be in line with the science, they should be at least 65%, not 45% (reduction on 2005 levels by 2030). While the focus on electric vehicles (EVs) is good, Labor needs to ensure that the energy to power them comes from renewables, not coal. It also needs to focus more on public transport, not just private. It is still clearly undecided on coal, particularly on the Adani Carmichael mine, and failed to criticise the Government’s potential future investment in fossil fuel power generation. And while the emphasis on mitigation is good, it is silent on the need for adaptation to climate change.

On balance, however, Labor is way ahead of the Coalition on climate policy. The Greens are possibly ahead of both, though it is to be hoped that, should Labor win office, they support Labor’s climate initiatives and don’t let the Perfect-be-the-Enemy-of-the-Good.

As for the Budget, for those hoping for funds for appropriate climate action, they were bitterly disappointed. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) noted that for every dollar spent on climate action, $4 would be spent on subsidising the use of fossil fuels.   When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $2 billion injection for the Climate Solutions Fund he described it as a 10-year plan, but budget papers showed it is actually a 15-year plan with only $189 million of the $2 billion allocated for the next four years. After the first four years, a mere $160 million will be available each year instead of $300 million, were it a ten-year plan.

In what has become a worrying trend, March in Australia was the warmest month (of March) on record. It would have been the driest as well, had we not had welcome rain at the end of the month.

The sad news for the week came from Joseph Scales of Solar Citizens, saying, “Solar Reserve, the company building the solar thermal plant in Pt Augusta, has not been able to secure necessary finance and won’t proceed with the project.” The many mirrors of a Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) plant concentrate the sun’s rays onto a heliostat which heats salt. The molten salt gradually releases the heat overnight, producing electricity, so is an effective form of storage. Pt Augusta lost its coal mine a couple of years ago and the CST plant was to be a crucial part of a ‘just transition’ for the town’s workers. It would also have supplied 5 per cent of South Australia’s electricity. Let’s hope other finance can be found.

As we approach the federal election in May, Greenpeace asks that you sign up to join the movement to make coal history.

There is another Climate Change Institute forum in Canberra from 9 am to 4.30 pm on Tuesday, April 30, this one called “Climate Change Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific:  Is Gender relevant? You can register here.

If you happen to be in Sydney on Monday 15 April and have a spare $180 for lunch with John Hewson, Kerryn Phelps, Mark Butler and Arthur Sinodinos talking on whether Australia is ready for an election on climate action, you might want to attend. The lunch is organised by BioEnergy Australia. Mark Butler will be releasing Labor’s Bioenergy Strategy Commitment.

Before this, also in Sydney, on Tuesday 9 April, Zali Steggall is hosting a Clean Energy Forum with a host of notable speakers, (but not Tony Abbott, against whom she is running in the May federal election).

Finally, I commend the article by former coal executive Ian Dunlop to you. He argues that delaying on climate action threatens our very survival.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Coalition are the Luddites on our next great transport revolution

Crispin Hull

Governments should be ensuring the people get the best from technological change, not resisting it.

‘State and planet’: new environment minister in NSW highlights plans for climate change action

In his first message to staff in his new ministry, Matt Kean said he was “determined to take decisive and responsible action on climate change”.

Tall ice cliffs are slumping and may trigger rapid sea-level rise, study finds

Scientists have found that ice cliffs on Greenland’s Helheim Glacier are slumping — a sensation that typically happens on land. This may trigger rapid sea-level rise, the study says.

Bank Australia signs up for 100 percent renewables, calls on business to lead transition

Bank Australia becomes second Australian company to sign up for 100 per cent renewable energy initiative, and calls on other business to lead transition.

To fight climate change, rail is the way to travel

The quickest way to decrease greenhouse gases from transportation is to travel by train and move goods by rail instead of on the road or by air.

Environment groups slam budget for climate inaction

Environment spending has been labelled pointless by conservation groups in this year’s federal budget, with calculations showing for every dollar spent on the environment, $4 will be spent on subsidising pollution. 

The hotter it gets, the more forests act as insulators

Using data from about a hundred sites worldwide, an international research team has demonstrated that forest cover acts as a global thermal insulator, by cooling the understory when the air temperature is high. This buffer effect is well known, but this study is the first that has evaluated this worldwide in temperate, boreal and tropical forests.

Labor wants a grid of car charging points

Labor is promising to build a network of electric car charging stations around the country if it wins the next election.

NRMA calls for ban on sale of gas guzzlers by 2030

Other countries have announced plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars and the NRMA says it is now time for Australia to catch up.

Shorten’s climate policy would hit more big polluters harder and set electric car target

Michelle Grattan

A Shorten government would add about 100 high polluters to those subject to an emissions cap, and drastically slash the present cap’s level, under the opposition’s climate policy released on Monday.

The temperature graph at the top of this page

The graph shows the soaring “average global air temperatures” from 1880 onwards. See more