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

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