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

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.

Climate Newsletter 26 Jan 2019

As Prof Mark Howden of the Climate Change Institute says, climate change is embedded in this prolonged and extreme heatwave. Temperature records have been broken right across southern Australia:

  • Globally, 2018 was the fourth warmest on record,
  • Nationally, it was the third warmest,
  • State-wise, NSW had its warmest year,
  • December 2018 was Australia’s the hottest December on record, and
  • January 2019 will probably follow suit.

One would have thought it might have concentrated the minds of those in government, particularly at the federal level, but no sign yet of our leaders making the slightest connection with climate change. While some Victorians experienced blackouts in extreme heat yesterday, a few politicians even advocated coal or gas-fired power stations not be closed when due, or that more be built, ignoring the fact that three of the ten existing power plants were not operational through the week. Fossil fuel power has hardly been a bastion of reliability.

Their calls failed to impress the Chief of the Australia Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Audrey Zibelman, who compared the nation’s coal-fired power plants to ageing cars that break down more frequently over time.

And the Australia Institute has found that new coal-fired plants are even less reliable than the old ones!

Some politicians are trying to do the right thing. Our federal, local Labor MP Mike Kelly AM has organised a climate change and renewables forum at the Roos Club in Queanbeyan on 14 February from 7 to 8.30pm. Guest speaker is Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler. This is an important meeting so come along! See

In the first week of March, Repower-Monaro will be holding a pre-state election candidates’ meeting in Queanbeyan with all candidates (four so far). We’re just waiting for sitting Member John Barilaro to get back to us about availability.

While we are just about expiring in the heat, other parts of the world are buried in snow, not least in Davos, Switzerland, where world leaders have gathered for the World Economic Forum. A new young heroine has emerged, namely Greta Thunberg 16, a Swedish school strike activist who has urged leaders to take action, as have NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Adern along with Sir David Attenborough.  

Also in support is IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, who says even the central banks have to take climate change into account.

As you know, if the Adani mega-coal mine in Queensland goes ahead, it will add massively to emissions and global warming. The federal government  has just failed to hold Adani accountable for illegal drilling into aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin despite the CSIRO saying Adani’s water management plan is flawed. So, it’s important to make the Queensland Labor Party do the right thing and you can help by signing this petition.

Meanwhile, the UN has asked that work on the Adani mine be suspended, concerned that the project might violate Indigenous rights under international conventions relating to racial discrimination.

The  Australian National University Climate Updates are always informative and worthwhile as they present an overview of how our climate is changing and how we are responding to these changes in Australia and around the world. This year it is on Feb 7 from 2.15 to 6.45pm at the Coombs Theatre ANU. It is already sold out.

Depressingly, there is evidence that Greenland ice is melting even faster than first thought, adding inexorably to sea-level rise. An item below contains the most extraordinary video of the largest calving of an ice berg ever filmed. Watch it if you have a spare five minutes.

On the good news front, in Britain renewables (mainly wind) will provide more power than fossil fuels as early as 2020, and back home, Aldi is planning solar panels for all its store roofs around the country.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie,
President Climate Action Monaro.

2018 was the fourth warmest year on record — and more evidence of a ‘new normal,’ scientist group reports.
The year was at least the fourth in a row a full degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than the late 19th century.

Adani coal mine should be suspended, UN says, until all traditional owners support the project.
The United Nations has asked the Australian Government to consider suspending the Adani project until it gains the support of a group of traditional owners who are fighting the miner in court.

Lagarde: even central banks need to take climate change into account.
Terming climate change as one of the most pressing issues for the global economy, IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Friday said even central banks would need to take it into account in their policy decisions.

‘Our house is on fire’: Greta Thunberg, 16, urges leaders to act on climate.
Greta Thunberg, Swedish school strike activist demands economists tackle runaway global warming. Read her Davos speech here

Jacinda Ardern tells world leaders they have nothing to fear from acting on climate change.
The New Zealand Prime Minister appears on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos with Sir David Attenborough and issues a strong message for world leaders.

Greenland’s ice is melting faster than we thought. Here’s why that’s scary.
“Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”

New study establishes link between climate change, conflict, and migration.
Research involving a University of East Anglia (UEA) academic has established a link between climate change, conflict, and migration for the first time.

‘Old car’ coal plants aren’t going to get any better warns AEMO.
The energy market operator has warned the nation’s coal-fired power plants will break down more often after it had to ask businesses to shut down to keep the lights on during a scorching day in Victoria.

The stubborn high-pressure system behind Australia’s record heatwaves. Steve Turton. Parts of Australia have broken multiple heat records over the past week.

Reliability of newer coal power questioned.
Newer coal-fired power stations break down more often per gigawatt than older power generators, the Australia Institute has found.

A letter published in Canberra Times on 15 January 2019

Climate elections

Bravo, bravo, Louise Freckleton. In her splendid article (“With heatwaves like this, what of our future?”, Comment, January 5, p11) she rightly notes that while those of us who care about the environment and climate change are reducing, reusing, recycling, changing farming practices and more, while our politicians are obfuscating.

Where she lives, in NSW, there are not one but two elections coming up within months — state and federal. As she says, we do need to interrogate all candidates on their respective stances on climate change and attitude to renewables. We have to make a rapid transition to renewable energy and rapidly phase out coal and other fossil fuels.

Those candidates unwilling to see the problem of climate change and unable to come up with solutions do not deserve to be elected.

Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW

Climate Newsletter 1 Dec 2018

It’s been quite a week:

  •  the Queensland fires,
  • the Children’s March for Climate Action,
  • Adani announcing it had the funds to proceed with its mega-coal mine,
  • the UN Environment Program’s Emissions Gap Report,
  • UNFCCC’s COP24 starting today in Poland,
  • first birthday of South Australia’s Tesla battery, and
  • the US National Climate Assessment.

Queensland fires: One man is dead and 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Central Queensland. To quote from the first story below: Ecologist Dr Philip Stewart says the Queensland fires were “absolutely” a result of climate change. “Climate is a driver of wildfire and of fire full stop,” he said. “So when we start to see an increase in temperature, we start see an increase in energy availability in that atmosphere, and that obviously will increase the potential for high-intensity fires and fast fires as well.” Have a look at the attached David Pope cartoon from yesterday’s Canberra Times. It’s a classic and ties in with the Adani story below.

Children’s March: Despite the Prime Minister telling children to stay in school, the march in Sydney was extraordinarily successful with thousands gathering in Martin Place. It was notable for some great placards and some, not least Jean Hinchcliffe (14), displaying admirable media skills.

Adani:  The Indian company declared it had enough money to proceed with its mega (scaled down) coal mine and would do so shortly, possibly before Christmas. Clearly, they want to get in ahead of a federal election next year that may well see a change of government. Two obstacles stand in its way: native title has still not been extinguished; and Aurizon (freight rail company) is yet to give approval for Adani to use some of its rail line to take the coal to the port at Abbot Point. Let’s hope Aurizon drags its feet and that the appeal by traditional owners, yet to be heard by the full bench of the federal court, is successful.

UNEP’s report: This was critical of Australia and said Australia would not be fulfilling its commitments on emissions reduction.  Prof Andrew Blakers who we had as speaker at the renewable forum on 21 November, has countered this by saying we will reach the targets because of the recent upsurge in building renewables (despite the obstacles put in the way by the federal government).

COP24: The Conference of Parties meets for the 24th time, starting today, in Katowice, Poland (a country still heavily dependent on coal). Countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Environment Minister Melissa Price is leading the Australian delegation which is a bit of a worry as she said through the week that Adani’s mine would have no direct effect on the Barrier Reef (she ignores the 10,000 coal ships that will ply the waters of the inner reef once the mine is built). Nevertheless, she might learn something at COP24. For those who can get to Canberra, you may be interested in the forum “Explaining the Katowice Climate Change Conference” on 19 December from 6.00 to 7.30pm at ANU. You can register here.

South Australia’s Tesla battery: Happy first birthday, battery! You have been a success. It has made money, lowered prices and boosted grid security. As the article says below, it has become a major signpost to the future of faster, cheaper, smarter and cleaner grid.

The US National Climate Assessment warned that climate change would cause 10% reduction in the US economy by 2100 to which President Trump responded: “I don’t believe it.”  It actually may be far worse that that because of various uncertainties, not least how climate change will affect food production.

Repower Monaro’s renewable energy forum from 21 November gained great coverage in the Queanbeyan Age on Wednesday with a full front page picture of the three speakers on page one and, on page 3, more photos of the meeting and John Hewson as well as of the audience. (You’ll have to buy a paper as I can’t get on-line!)

I attended the Energy Update at ANU on Thursday morning with very informative speeches by Sarah McNamara, Chief Executive of the Australian Energy Council (insisting in answer to a question of mine that they would support emissions reduction in any renewed NEG), and Ian Cronshaw, of the International Energy Agency (IEA), on the 2018 World Energy Outlook (WEO). I then raced off to Parliament House to a forum on “The human face of climate change” which included a memorable talk by Bega Councillor Jo Dodds who spoke of the Tathra bushfires in March.

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Why Queensland’s ‘mega-fires’ have been described as extraordinary

Scientists say bushfires are burning more intensely than they have before, the season is extending and heatwaves are getting worse. Their message? Climate change is changing fire in Australia, take notice.

‘I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea’: Striking students rally for climate

Students defy the Prime Minister’s calls to stay in school and instead gather in their thousands to protest against inaction on climate change. But the Federal Government says all they’re learning how to do is “join the dole queue”.

Climate change is the biggest threat to our futures.  Striking from school is not a threat.

Milou Albrecht, Harriet O’Shea Carre and Jean Hinchcliffe

We are walking out for a day to send the Australian government a message: you can no longer pretend we are not here.

Forget 50% – Australia on track to reach 78% renewables grid by 2030

New report says Australia is heading to a 78 per cent renewables share by 2030 on current trajectories, and any smaller targets would lead to a huge slump in…

Tesla big battery turns one, celebrates $50 million in grid savings

The Tesla big battery in South Australia on Friday celebrates its first anniversary since swinging into action on November 30 last year – a day before its official opening.

‘We are ready to start’: Adani to begin controversial mine operation

Indian energy giant Adani announces a scaled-down version of its Carmichael mine and rail project in central Queensland will go ahead, and will be 100 per cent self-financed.

Carmichael mine: federal election, rail access and native title stand in the way

Adani’s plans to get started quickly on a scaled-down version of its Queensland mega-mine still face numerous obstacles

Coal power on way out, sooner rather than later, says AEMO

Australia’s remaining coal-fired power plants are on borrowed time, and are as likely to be retired sooner rather than later, the chief of Australia’s Energy Market Operator has confirmed, in a keynote speech outlining the core assumptions used to shape AEMO’s Integrated System Plan.

Green is the new black: how renewables and storage will replace coal

Lachlan Blackhall

What the community really needs is for government and industry to get on with building Australia’s future energy system.

World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change, says UN

Rapid emissions turnaround needed to keep global warming at less than 2C, report suggests

Climate Newsletter 25 Nov 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

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

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

Qld community prepares for new mega-mine

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

Climate-heating greenhouse gases at record levels, says UN

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

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

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

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

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

Big business laments NEG in front of PM

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

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

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

Climate change: Report raises new optimism over industry

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

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

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

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

Richard Holden and Rosalind Dixon

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

Climate Newsletter 18 Nov 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to slow down climate change? Plant a tree

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

Longer fire seasons threaten to disrupt US-Australia firefighting cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Council issues grim warning on looming water security crisis

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

Woodside CEO urges climate fix

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

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

Climate Council of Australia

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Newsletter 11 Nov 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Small scale solar surge continues to reshape Australia’s grid

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

Why Australia needs to be a renewable energy superpower

Mike Cannon-Brookes

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

Victoria’s first big battery charges up on state grid

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

Heavyweights sound off as WA fracking inquiry enters doomsday

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

African islands send SOS as climate change worsens health

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

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

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

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

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

Farmers and environmentalists divided over Bylong Valley coal mine

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

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

Ben Oquist

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

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

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

Climate Newsletter 5 Nov 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

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

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

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

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

Renewable energy investments not thwarted

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

Coal power in terminal decline, NSW warned

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

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

Tony Wood and Guy Dundas

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

Prepare workers for coal closures: report

The CFMEU has proposed a new national authority to prepare for Australia to transition away from coal-fired power generation by 2050.

Conservationists to target ‘middle Australia’ in election climate push

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

Electric cars set to bring hundreds of jobs to Latrobe Valley

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

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

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

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

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