Climate Newsletter 9 Sep 2018

So the NEG is dead, according to the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. We might have assumed as much a couple of weeks ago when the former PM took emissions reduction out of it, leaving only the other two planks of reliability and lower prices.

So how to meet our Paris targets? According to the report below, the Energy Security Board (ESB) said if the national energy guarantee (NEG) wasn’t implemented, the national electricity market would “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26 per cent below 2005 levels”. The PM, meanwhile, believes we can meet the targets ‘at a canter’. But Anna Skarbek of Climateworks (see below) argues we need do need new policies if we are to meet the targets.

The new Energy Minister Angus Taylor (without the accompanying portfolio of Environment) sees no need to worry about emissions reduction. The Monaro Post published my letter (see end of this bulletin) expressing CAM’s frustration – and this led to an interview on ABC’s SE regional radio.

Minister Taylor and the government are anxious to prolong the life of coal in the Australian economy.  However, an important new report coming out of ANU,  Coal Transitions report, looked at pathways for coal in light of Paris targets and found: (1) coal use could start to shrink by the early 2020s (‘peak coal’), and (2) major markets for Australian coal such as China and India were already seeking to curb its use.

In another report, the New Climate Economy report, Lord Nicholas Stern found ambitious climate action could generate 65 million new jobs as nations moved to cut emissions. Lord Stern said that the case for change was “overwhelming” and called for G20 nations including Australia to adopt a carbon price of between $US40-80 a tonne by 2020. He warned that, if they don’t, it will be impossible to keep warming to less than three degrees.

Australia is not winning any popularity contests in the South Pacific. It finally signed a declaration citing climate change as “the single greatest threat” to Pacific people, but the climate change representative for the Pacific nation of Palau, Xavier Matsutaro, says Australia’s relationship with the Pacific is “dysfunctional”. Through its aid program Australia helps Pacific nations, he says, but at the same time it undermines global action on climate change which will wipe out many of them.

Yesterday, the Liberals copped a 29 per cent swing against them in the Wagga by-election and it looks like Independent Dr Joe McGirr will win the seat. In the campaign, he made strong statements about the impact of climate change on health so Bravo! McGirr.

Coming events:

10 September at 9am. Rally on lawns outside Parliament House, Canberra. “Let’s break the drought on climate action!”

11 September at 6pm in China in the World auditorium. ANU. In a free ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author event, award-winning author, Quentin Beresford will be in conversation with Jack Waterford on Quentin’s new book, Adani and the War Over Coal, which examines the pivotal role of the Adani Carmichael mine and the conflict over coal and the environment in Australia. Bookings at or 6125 4144.

12 September, 12 for 12:30, Lecture by Dr John Hewson, “Climate Change: Too Important to Leave to Politicians?” Joint meeting with Canberra Georgians and Julian Cribb. Molony Room, ANU Emeritus Faculty, 24 Balmain Crescent, Acton ACT.

22 September, 2.30pm. Uniting Church Hall, Soho Street, Cooma. Postponed AGM of Climate Action Monaro following a talk by me on the SDGs and climate change.

NSW Government to lose Wagga Wagga in massive backlash

The NSW Liberal Party is set to spectacularly lose the seat of Wagga Wagga, with a massive backlash ushering in an independent Joe McGirr.

Scott Morrison says national energy guarantee ‘is dead’

Prime minister says NEG will not be going any further but Australia still committed to meeting emissions targets

Why baseload coal has no future in a modern grid

Marija Petkovic

The debate about the need for baseload coal-fired power stations has reignited with the Coalition saying it would welcome a new coal-fired power station.

Coal does not have an economic future in Australia

Frank Jotzo and Salim Mazouz

An international report has found there’s no future for Australia’s coal exports.

‘Overwhelming’ economics favour accelerating shift from coal, reports say

Massive opportunities will come with the transition to low-carbon economies but the costs will also be huge if we don’t, two new reports find.

Australia signs Pacific climate ‘threat’ declaration, islands call on US to back Paris deal

Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations sign a security declaration citing climate change as “the single greatest threat” to Pacific people, as island nations call on the United States to return to the Paris agreement.

Minister tight-lipped on claims Australia watered down climate change declaration

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne is tight-lipped on claims Australia watered down language on climate change in an official Pacific Islands Forum document.

Australia is not on track to reach 2030 Paris target (but the potential is there)

Anna Skarbek

Australia is falling behind on its Paris targets, but we have many options for improvement.

Taylor says there is too much wind and solar in electricity grid

Giles Parkinson

Crikey. If you thought that the political rhetoric around energy policy could not possibly get any lower, think again. It’s now about the Australian identity, it seems. Jingoism is now a power source, and if you want to have “fair dinkum” power, it’s got to be coal.

At ‘5 minutes to midnight’, rights group calls time on climate change

As disasters strengthen, it’s time to recognize climate change is now a major human rights risk, says Amnesty International’s new chief.

Letter published in Monaro Post on 5 September.

Climate Action Group sceptical of new minister

Climate Action Monaro is concerned that the new Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, thinks electricity prices can be brought down by greater use of coal and gas, rather than renewables. Perhaps he failed to read a new analysis from last week that found with the huge quantities of wind and solar being brought on stream over the next two years, wholesale prices will be cut by around half. This corroborates earlier research from the Climate Change Authority, Finkel Review and the Energy Security Board that all found new renewables will bring down prices.

Minister Taylor says he is not a climate sceptic yet anyone who understands the gravity of climate change should be urging radical action to mitigate it. The most effective means of mitigation is shifting the economy from fossil fuels to renewables. The easiest sector to do that in is electricity, compared to agriculture, manufacturing and transport. The ACT government has shown how relatively easy it is to source nearly all electricity from renewables, including wind energy, which Minister Taylor has taken against with a particular vengeance in the past.

The new Environment Minister, Melissa Price, will be the one expected to bring down greenhouse emissions and comply with our obligations under the Paris Agreement. Yet without the energy levers, now in the hands of Minister Taylor, she will find that difficult. Planting forests and promoting sustainable agriculture are worthy but not enough to meet our expressed target of 26 per cent or more reduction by 2030.

At a public meeting in Cooma on 25 August, Professor Janette Lindesay said there is unlikely to be any relief from this severe drought in the near future thanks to a combination of El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole. Under a high-emissions scenario – the path we are on at present – we can expect five degrees warming, accompanied by extreme heat, drought and occasional violent rainfall. Five degrees will mean goodbye to snow and most local agriculture.

As Minister Taylor comes from a local farming family, perhaps he should take note.

Jenny Goldie
President, Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 1 Sep 2018

After the tumultuous events of last week resulting in a new Prime Minister, things went from bad to worse, at least as far as energy and climate policy was concerned. Josh Frydenberg, in the previous Cabinet, held the twin portfolios of energy and environment. Thus the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), with its two major objectives of reliability and lower prices, also had the critical environmental plank of emissions reduction. Former PM Turnbull took emissions reduction out of the NEG and that was the death of NEG and, somewhat ironically, his Prime Ministership.

Turnbull does have one good thing going for him and that is his son Alex Turnbull. Alex said, following his father’s political demise, that coal miner’s were exerting too much influence on the Liberal Party and that it made no economic sense to build new coal-fired power stations.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison – disastrously – has split energy and environment and appointing well-known anti-wind campaigner from the Monaro, Angus Taylor, as Minister for Energy, and former coal company lawyer Melissa Price as Minister for Environment. Taylor has said he will not include emissions reduction in any energy policy. This makes it very hard to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement though, fortunately, PM Morrison says he will not take Australia out of it.

Minister Price now has the onerous task of honouring the Paris commitments but, without energy/electricity policy as a lever, has little hope of achieving anything given the difficulties of lowering emissions in the other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and transport.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Samoa,  Tuilaepa Sailele, has berated a number of international leaders, including ours in Australia, for not doing enough on climate change and declared that climate deniers should go to a mental hospital(!)

Also on the international front, a Canadian court has quashed the sale of the planned Trans-Mountain pipe-line that would have taken oil from the Alberta tar sands to Vancouver after pressure from the indigenous people along the route. A highly significant victory for the First Peoples and defeat for PM Justin Trudeau.

Climate change is World War III, and we are leaderless

David Shearman

The Western world is bereft of leaders and now the US and Australia have deserted the trenches by trading ideology for human lives and health

On first day as PM, Morrison learns difference between Big Battery and Big Banana

Scott Morrison gets lesson when major transmission fault causes outages in NSW. Tesla big battery helped keep lights on in SA, Big Banana didn’t lift a finger for NSW.

New wind and solar now competes with existing coal and gas

Dave Jones

Rising carbon, coal and gas prices mean new onshore wind and solar can compete with the short-term costs of existing coal and gas plants.

The death of Trans Mountain pipeline signals future of Indigenous rights: Chiefs

As a federal court quashes the controversial project, lawyers and Indigenous leaders agree it’s more clear than ever that Canada must modernize its view of Aboriginal rights.

Taylor confirms no interest in emissions, but says he’s no climate sceptic

New energy minister Angus Taylor has confirmed what was largely expected: that he has no interest in emission reductions under the remit handed him by prime minister Scott Morrison, and that his primary focus will be on reducing prices for consumers.

World leaders who deny climate change should go to mental hospital – Samoan PM

Tuilaepa Sailele berates leaders who fail to take issue seriously, singling out Australia, India, China and the US

Tropical forests are flipping from storing carbon to releasing it

Illegal logging and land seizures are driving this ominous yet overlooked scientific trend.

Turnbull’s hedge fund-manager son says miners exerting ‘undue influence’ over Liberal Party

Speaking out after his father lost the Liberal leadership, Alex Turnbull described Australia’s energy policy as 10 years of “panic and mania”, and said it made no economic sense to build new coal-fired power plants.

India’s devastating rains match climate change forecasts

Once-a-century rains that have pounded the Indian state of Kerala and displaced 1.3 million people are in line with the predictions of climate change.

Rain brings relief in NSW and Queensland, but drought far from over

Parts of drought-ravaged eastern Australia receive more rain in two days than in previous months combined

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 30 June 2018

I spent last Sunday in Canberra at the regional conference of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). Guests speakers included former Liberal leader John Hewson and  ANU Engineering Professor Andrew Blakers. Hewson described the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as “the fourth best option” while Blakers wanted it voted down by the states at the COAG Energy Ministers’ conference on 3 August. This is in accord with the splendid lead letter in the Canberra Times from CAM supporter Catherine Rossiter through the week (see below).

Nevertheless, we CCL attendees trooped off to Parliament House the next day to try and persuade members of Parliament to support the NEG, primarily to provide bipartisanship on the energy issue and end the uncertainty of the past decade. As part of the delegation to see our local MP, Mike Kelly, however, I asked that it be conditional on NEG not impeding greater ambition by either the states or a future federal government on emission reduction. (Mike will be our guest speaker at the AGM in August – details later).

Interestingly, according to a report below, Labor Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler “has been warning consistently that the ALP won’t sign up if it can’t scale up the target for emissions reduction in the scheme in the event it wins government at the next election”.

Meanwhile, while Pauline Hanson sought approval in the Senate for a coal-fired power station in North Queensland, Bob Katter asked “how could any government conceive of the stupidity like another baseload coal-fired power station in North Queensland?”

The money is on Katter, because through the week, wholesale prices of solar in Queensland went negative as more and more solar projects are connected to the grid and householders put solar panels on their roofs.

And our Energy (and Environment, but generally forgotten) Minister Josh Frydenberg says he would welcome a new coal-fired power plant (see story below).

The Climate Emergency Declaration team has just launched the Tassie No More Bad Investments (NMBI) petition. This calls for adoption of legislation to ban all new climate-damaging projects in Tasmania in cases where alternatives are readily available, and to set timelines to introduce bans for other climate-damaging supply chains.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Energy minister would welcome new coal-fired power plant
Josh Frydenberg sends the positive signal about coal before Tuesday’s internal government deliberations

Solar pushes mid-day electricity prices below zero in Queensland
Wholesale electricity prices in Queensland go negative in middle of the day, underlining the case for storage as more large-scale solar projects connect to the grid, and rooftop solar continues to grow.

Does new coal stack up financially? Consider Queensland’s renewables numbers
Matthew Stocks and Andrew Blakers
There are calls from the backbench and elsewhere for the Federal Government to safeguard the future of coal. But do those calls make economic sense? A look at Queensland’s energy landscape suggests not

Climate change could kill off bees, Northwestern study finds
Slight increases in temperature could lead to the extinction of bees in southwestern states in the near future, according to a new study from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Global warming in South Asia: 800 million at risk
Some of the poorest and hungriest people in the world will see their living standards decline sharply if emissions continue to grow at their current pace, a study by the World Bank found.

Major 200MW + battery solar farm approved in outback South Australia
Work set to begin on Solar River Project after “Australia’s biggest” PV farm approved for 220MW solar, 120MWh lithium-ion battery.

Meet America’s new climate normal: towns that flood when it isn’t raining
Elizabeth Rush
In this extract from Rising, Elizabeth Rush explains ‘sunny day flooding’ – when a high tide can cause streets to fill with water

Elon Musk turns Sydney transport depot into green energy hub
Lord mayor Clover Moore’s plan to make half of Sydney’s power come from renewable energy has been supercharged by the launch of the city’s first industrial-sized battery and solar installation.

Clean power is not enough
Coal power versus wind and solar energy — debates about the Paris climate targets often center around electricity supply. Yet, even in a world of stringent climate policies and a clean power generation, the remaining use of fossil fuels in industry, transport and heating in buildings could still cause enough CO2 emissions to endanger the climate targets agreed on by the international community, an international team of researchers finds.

Record emissions keep Australia on path to missing Paris target
Annual carbon emissions, excluding unreliable data, higher than ever, report says

Letter published in Canberra Times 27 June.

NEG reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burns

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg are keenly pushing the states and territories to sign up to their National Energy Guarantee scheme, despite plenty of evidence on one side that it will actually not achieve any significant cuts to our greenhouse emissions and, on the other side, from Tony Abbott and his minions, that it goes too far. Figure that one out.

The tragedy is that the whole scenario is reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Australia is a wealthy country, with one of the highest per capita emission rates in the entire world, yet our politicians seem incapable of coming to grips with this mighty problem.

We have already seen one degree of warming, with its consequent 7 per cent increase in the energy in the atmosphere, and unmissable impacts around the world of heatwaves, droughts, bushfires, cyclones, and floods. Three, or four, or even five degrees of warming by the end of this century (only 82 years away) will deliver unimaginable problems of food and water insecurity, many parts of the world becoming uninhabitable or unsuitable for agriculture, increasing conflicts, and, inevitably, millions and millions of people on the move. It will make today’s refugee problems seem very small.

If we continue to dig coal out of the ground and keep burning it to produce power, whether in this country or elsewhere, we will just contribute more to this developing disaster. Tony Abbott may not care about what his grandchildren will have to deal with, but I would prefer my grandchildren to have some chance of living on a planet with a future.

Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 23 June 2018

First the bad news. The Berejiklian NSW government handed down its Budget through the week and the papers barely mentioned climate change, let alone provide extra money for it. Treasurer Perrottet did not deem it important enough to mention in his Budget speech. And the government hasn’t even spent two thirds of its $208m Climate Change Fund.

Thirty years ago today, on 23 June 1988, NSA scientist James Hansen appeared before the US Congress, warning:  “The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now”. This week he said the world was failing miserably to deal with the worsening dangers, blaming those who appear to be doing something but in fact not nearly enough, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel and California Governor Jerry Brown.

Despite the shift away from fossil fuels towards renewables, BP Review reported this week that global energy demand grew above its 10-year average in 2017 and carbon emissions increased after three years of little-to-no growth. (It would help the demand problem if world population wasn’t growing by 83 million a year.)

But there’s lots of good news – see stories below.

  • Renewables will account for 92 per cent of Australian power by 2050;
  • a poll finds the majority of Australians want to the government to concentrate on renewables;
  • The fossil fuel sector is actually weaker than ever (at least according to Bill McKibben);
  • The main reason given for poor polling, by Alexander Downer’s daughter Georgina,  in the SA seat of Mayo prior to the by-election, is her anti-climate change stance;
  • A rapid rebound of a portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may stabilise the whole ice sheet against catastrophic collapse;
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) sees rooftop solar trebling in the next ten years and batteries even more so (10x); and
  • Researchers have found a way to add a compound to perovskite cells – the potential low-cost alternatives to silicon-based solar cells.

Keep the following date in mind: September 8 for’s loud and vocal call for global climate action and an end fossil fuels. New Zealand and Australia will be two of the first nations to kick off the #RiseForClimate day of action.

Renewables to account for 90pc of Australian power by 2050
A new report forecasts renewable generation will account for more than 90 per cent of Australian power by 2050 as nearly all of the nation’s coal-fired power stations close in the next 30 years, and costs for new build renewables fall compared to coal.

Huge majority supports renewables over coal even at greater cost
A new poll finds a huge majority of Australians want the government to focus on renewable energy infrastructure even if it costs them more.

Some rare good climate news: The fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever.
Bill McKibben
From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope.

Downer on the rocks in Mayo Peter Fitzsimon
More interesting though is the notion that the rejection is due to Downer’s refusal to accept the science of climate change.

A quick rebound of Antarctic crust promotes ice-sheet stability
The unexpectedly rapid rebound of the Amundsen Sea Embayment  may help stabilize the West Antarctic Ice Sheet against catastrophic collapse, says a new study offering a rare silver-lining in glacier research.

AEMO sees rooftop solar trebling in 10 years, batteries rising 10-fold.
AEMO sees rooftop solar and battery storage uptake surging in WA, but grid to remain stable even as fossil fuel plants retire. EV forecasts vary

Researchers solve major challenge in mass production of low-cost solar cells.
A team led by led by André D. Taylor of NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Yifan Zheng of Peking University solved a major fabrication challenge for perovskite cells — the intriguing potential challengers to silicon-based solar cells.

Meeting Paris Climate Targets Will Require a Substantial Reallocation of Global Investment
A new analysis by an international team of scientists shows that low carbon investments will need to markedly increase if the world is to achieve the …

Clean energy investment must be 50% higher to limit warming to 1.5C
An extra $460bn per year needs to be invested on the low-carbon economy globally over the next 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5C, a new paper says.

Warming Pacific ‘primed’ for possible El Nino forming by this spring
Farmers beware: a build-up of warm water in the eastern Pacific has lifted the odds for an El Nino forming late this spring, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie,
President Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 16 June 2018

US President Trump may deserve praise this week for negotiating with Kim Jong Un over denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Before the talks, however, he behaved badly at the G7 talks in Canada in which he even failed to even attend the formal climate discussions. Nor did he sign the communique which reaffirmed commitment to the Paris Agreement.

While Trump cosies up to his long-term enemies, he is doing his best to alienate his traditional friends, not least Canada, over tariffs. Many renewable energy developments in the US were threatened by the tariff-led increase in the cost of Chinese imports of solar panels. Fortunately, because the costs of solar panels are falling by a third, this balances out the tariffs and the US developments can proceed.

Indeed, Renew Economy (see below) describes how this energy transition we are in is gathering pace, with large-scale solar falling to the low $A40s/MWh, and battery storage proving to be cheaper and more valuable than previously thought.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the scientific body set up by the UN to provide the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts. Its next report is due in October, but the draft was leaked this week and reveals that the world will have reached 1.5C degree warming by 2040 unless countries rapidly implement “far-reaching” actions to reduce carbon emissions.

When the Climate Institute lost its funding and closed last year, the Australia Institute (TAI) based in Canberra took over its climate work. In a new paper released this week, the TAI finds the Turnbull government’s target of a 26-28% reduction on it 2005 levels is “inadequate according to any recognised principle-based approach” and the Labor target of a 45% reduction is “the bare minimum necessary …” The report’s author, Richie Merzian, says Australia’s reduction target is “unambitious, unfair and irresponsible”.

A study by Australian researchers published in Nature this week, reveals that Antarctica lost 3 trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, caused by warming of the ocean and atmosphere. Unless we limit greenhouse gas emissions, it says, irreversible changes will take place and rates of sea level rise will be similar to those at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

We are already seeing some sea-level rise, of course, but even now coral reefs are not keeping pace. Nor are the rules which govern international fisheries, for the fish are moving habitat faster than the systems that allocate fish stocks.

What with the plummeting cost of renewables and coal being increasingly uncompetitive, you would have thought Adani would have given up by now to build the Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland.  But, no, he wants to pump 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River 61 km away (not a way to win the hearts and minds of drought-stricken farmers) and contracted the company Wagners to build a $30m airstrip for the mine. Protests have already begun against Wagners by members of the Galilee Blockade, wonderfully dressed as super-heroes.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Six of the G7 commit to climate action. Trump wouldn’t even join conversation
Trump skipped the formal climate discussions, had the U.S. negotiators promote fossil fuels instead, and then renounced the group’s official communiqué.

China’s dramatic solar shift could take sting out of Trump’s panel tariffs
Analysts expect solar panel costs to drop by a third. That could be a lifeline for U.S. developers, who sidelined billions of dollars in projects over the tariffs.

Solar2.0: PV and storage deals show signs of rapid energy transition

Giles Parkinson & Sophie Vorrath

China, Gupta, storage. This past week has seen landmark developments that signal the pace of the energy transition is gathering speed, with huge implications for consumers (mostly good) and incumbent utilities (mostly not so good).

Leaked UN draft report warns of urgent need to cut global warming
IPCC says ‘rapid and far-reaching’ measures required to combat climate change

Australia’s emissions reduction target ‘unambitious, irresponsible’
New Australia Institute paper finds neither Coalition nor Labor’s pollution reduction targets would see us doing our fair share

Antarctica has lost 3 trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years. Time is running out for the frozen continent
Steve Rintoul, CSIRO and Steven Chown, Monash University
What will Antarctica look like in 2070? Will the icy wilderness we know today survive, or will it succumb to climate change and human pressure? Our choices over the coming decade will seal its fate.

Coral reefs losing ability to keep pace with sea-level rise
Many coral reefs will be unable to keep growing fast enough to keep up with rising sea levels, leaving tropical coastlines and low-lying islands exposed to increased erosion and flooding risk, new research suggests.

Climate change means fish are moving faster than fishing rules, Rutgers-led study says
Climate change is forcing fish species to shift their habitats faster than the world’s system for allocating fish stocks, exacerbating international fisheries conflicts, according to a study led by a Rutgers University-New Brunswick researcher.

Anti-Adani protesters target construction firm Wagners over $30m contract
Queensland company contracted to build airstrip for troubled Carmichael coalmine

‘Australia doesn’t realise’: worsening drought pushes farmers to the brink
Liverpool plains farmer Megan Kuhn says cows are being slaughtered because there is no way of feeding them after years of extreme weather.

Letter published in Canberra Times 15 June 2018

Unviable project

According to your report (‘‘Adani shuns water trigger’’, June 13, p9) Indian mining giant Adani wants to pump up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River in a 61km pipeline to its proposed mega coal mine. As if the direct and indirect effects of the proposed mine on the climate and the Great Barrier Reef aren’t bad enough, now the company wants to rob Queensland farmers of much needed water in a time of drought.

The website Renew Economy, tells us that in the last two months India has seen 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of wind tenders completed at record low US$36-37/MWh tariffs. Adani’s Mundra facility, the largest coal import plant in India, is idle, unable to compete. Why on earth would Adani want to dig up coal in Australia when it cannot compete economically with renewable energy? Please, would the ALP just tell us it will not allow Adani’s Carmichael mine to go ahead, should it be elected at the next federal election?
Jenny Goldie

Climate Newsletter 9 June 2018

In South Australia, steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has unveiled a stunning plan to provide cheap solar power to five major South Australian companies, promising to slash their electricity costs by up to 50 percent.

Just as we’re beginning to think there’s little hope in the federal government, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledges the climate is getting warmer. And Agriculture Minister David Littleproud also comes out of the side of rationality. He says the climate is changing and the “disruption that’s happening with the technology, moving towards renewable energy… is exciting. I think it is a good thing.” He also says we must use ‘the best science available’. Hurray.

Poor old Western Australia is having a hard time this week, being battered by storms. And then prescribed burning fires got out of control because of strong winds, particularly near Albany.

It’s good news from Queensland with a massive wind-farm being approved north west of Rockhampton. In addition, a massive solar farm on 154 hectares will be built near Warwick on the Darling Downs to provide all of the University of Queensland’s electricity needs, though there have been protests because the Darling Downs is, of course, prime agricultural land.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) finds that there was mass coral bleaching in successive years in the northern Great Barrier Reef which is unprecedented in the historical record. This will, of course, have dire effects on the tourist industry.

There were assertions through the week at the Energy Networks Australia conference that too much solar in the system was going to cause blackouts because of frequency problems. As Giles Parkinson of ReNew Economy, however, points out, the new inverters will deal with all the problems of frequency and thus blackouts will be rare.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change this week warns that the transition to renewables is so rapid that fossil fuel companies could be left with trillions of dollars in stranded assets and spark a global financial crisis.

The Renewables 2018 Global Status Report released this week finds that the transformation to renewables is picking up speed in the electricity sector, but urgent action is required in heating, cooling and transport.

Tesla owners roll out Australia-wide charging network – for all EVs
Tesla owners club installs Round Australia Electric Highway, providing all EV drivers with usable charging route – while governments and industry catch up.

Why you may only need to charge your EV once a week, or less
Range anxiety? Most EVs would need to be charged less than once a week to meet the average daily commute of Australian drivers.

A bird’s eye view of New Zealand’s changing glaciers
Andrew Lorrey, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research; Andrew Mackintosh, Victoria University of Wellington, and, Victoria University of Wellington
Forty years of continuous end-of-summer snowline monitoring of New Zealand’s glaciers brings the issue of human-induced climate change into tight focus.

National party comments on drought and climate ‘a disservice’ to farmers
The majority of farmers and National party voters say they are ‘increasingly frustrated’ at the lack of action on climate change at a federal level

Record year for solar and renewables, but still not fast enough
REN21 report says record 98GW of solar capacity added globally in 2018, 52GW of wind, and 178GW total of all renewables. But other sectors – including transport, heating, and cooling – coasting along “as if we had all the time in the world.”

If we all became vegan tomorrow
Chris Saltmarsh and Harpreet Kaur Paul
The Guardian repeats the myth that becoming vegan is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.

What is the carbon bubble and what will happen if it bursts?
As the world moves towards a low-carbon economy, fossil fuel investments worth trillions of dollars, from oil wells to cars, will lose their value

Geoengineering: ‘The Voldemort of climate change’
Geoengineering solutions to climate change sound like magic, but a leading proponent says most people working on climate change dare not speak its name.

Limiting global warming to 2 degrees now ‘aspirational’: scientists
The chances of limiting dangerous climate change to less than 2 degrees are rapidly disappearing as carbon emissions again ramp up in China, scientists say.

(on the other hand…)

Global warming can be limited to 1.5°C by changing how we travel, heat homes, use devices
Global warming can be limited to 1.5°C by unprecedented improvements in the energy efficiency of everyday activities, according to new research from an international team of scientists at IIASA.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 3 June 2018

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

The renewables revolution was outlined in detail by Australian National University Professor Andrew Blakers in his appearance before the “NSW Select Committee on Electricity Supply, Demand and Prices”.  He argues that 100 per cent renewable energy is possible with back-up storage (pumped hydro or batteries) and demand management.  His evidence, in the above transcript  of proceedings, starts on page 53.  It’s worthwhile reading, believe me.

The Fairfax media, in contrast to Murdoch media, has been very good on climate change. Even so, it was touching to read the Sydney Morning Herald’s economic editor, Ross Gittins, berating himself for not doing much more, given, he says, climate change is the most pressing economic problem we face.

In the same vein, Kane Thornton of the Clean Energy Council railed against the lack of a clear climate and energy policy, and called for an end to the ‘energy wars’.

If you’re worried about dry paddocks now, winter is not going help much. For this part of the country, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicts winter will be warm and dry. Meanwhile, Mountainwatch says it will be wetter in the Alps but whether that translates as snow is another matter.

There’s no doubt we’re in the midst of a renewable energy revolution with North Queensland being ahead of the game in approving large-scale wind and solar projects. The Clean Energy Council’s report  for this year shows Queensland as a whole way ahead of the other states in new projects.

The Australia Institute corroborates all this with a National Energy Emissions Audit by its energy expert Hugh Saddler. The Audit shows that the capacity of large-scale solar generation tripled between March and early May, and that South Australia became a net energy exporter for the first time in March, selling the state’s abundant wind-generated power into Victoria.

And for the best laugh you will get all year, watch this video about the federal government’s energy policy.

The rapidly changing dynamics of Australia’s grid
South Australia becomes net electricity exporter for first time, 12 new wind and solar farms were added, the amount of large-scale solar tripled, and rooftop PV kept a lid on demand.

Wind and solar slashing corporate energy costs by 40%
Company behind new “Renewable Energy Hub” says wind, solar clearly delivering electricity at 40% discount from the grid.

Turn up the heat, turn down the productivity
Global climate models predict a decline in ocean net primary production. This is the difference between the amount of carbon dioxide that phytoplankton take in to photosynthesize and the amount that is released by the phytoplankton during metabolism.

Renewables smash records in 2017, but 2018/19 will be bigger
CEC report details record-breaking year for solar, wind, batteries in Australia – and “just a glimpse” of unprecedented level activity expected in next two.

NEG target in cross-hairs as CEC, SEC call for more ambition
Clean Energy Council and Smart Energy Council call for high emissions reduction targets, as Frydenberg promises no change to the party room.

Subsidies helped wind and solar mature in Europe. Now they’re thriving on their own
New renewable energy projects are counting on turning a profit without governments subsidising their output.

ACT government to install 50 EV charging stations
ACT to install 50 EV charging stations on government sites across Canberra as part of nation-leading effort to decarbonise city’s transport sector.

Land-clearing wipes out $1bn taxpayer-funded emissions gains
Official data shows forest-clearing released 160m tonnes of carbon dioxide since 2015

Why there will be no new petrol cars sold in Australia by 2027
Robert Dean
Within 10 years, the only ICE vehicles of any value will be rare classics from the days when Australian’s loved their cars. Here’s why.

The coming wave of climate displacement
Not since 1951 has the international community produced a treaty to protect the legal status of the world’s refugees. Now, two agreements are currently under discussion at the United Nations, and each offers a rare opportunity to protect global migrants from the biggest source of displacement today.


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