As I write, the Wentworth by-election is still not completely finalised but independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps seems to have won – she’s 1676 votes ahead of the Liberal Dave Sharma on a two party preferred basis. Assuming she does win, it is an enormous upset and a victory for climate since Wentworth voters had said in a poll it was their top issue. Despite the debacle, Deputy PM Josh Frydenberg says the government will not move on climate policy although it has created tensions in the government ranks at least two of whose members – Environment Minister Melissa Price and Barnaby Joyce – who seem blithely unaware of the gravity of climate change.
Speaking on ABC TV’s Q&A last week, economist and author Jeffrey Sachs, former head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, slammed the Australian federal government as “unbelievably irresponsible” for its inaction on climate change, and suggested that policy progress in the Coalition has been held hostage by major fossil fuel interests. Got it in one, Jeff.
I have just returned from Sydney where I represented Climate Action Monaro at the annual conference of the Nature Conservation Council (NCC). State Opposition leader Luke Foley was there and in the midst of his speech said he was committed to renewable energy. I asked a question: “In light of the Climate Council report that showed NSW was behind other states in climate action, and what you have said just now about being committed to renewable energy, will you follow Victoria’s example and commit to 40 per cent of electricity coming from wind and solar by 2025?” He replied that he wasn’t going to make an announcement on it on the day of the Wentworth by-election and the start of the Invictus Games. But we’ll hold him to his general commitment.
At the conference, two of the three motions that CAM had submitted were passed. One was criticising federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor for not including emissions reduction in his policies, and the second was to call on the Labor Party to provide a real alternative on climate at the next federal election. Because of strong opposition from a few people, I withdrew a third motion relating to the separation of Energy and Environment portfolios by the Prime Minister. A late motion came opposing Snowy 2.0, based on the argument that the integrity of the Kosciuszko national park would be compromised. I spoke against it, arguing that Snowy 2.0 was going to underpin the renewable energy revolution and that there was bipartisan support for it (both our federal and state MPs support it). Despite my spiel, the motion overwhelmingly passed.
Climate Action Monaro had been nominated for an environmental group award at the conference but the prize deservedly went to Climate Action Balmain-Rozelle who have done a bit more work than us!
CAM, of course, is an integral part of Repower-Monaro, an initiative of the NCC. Last Monday, a delegation went to see Monaro MP John Barilaro who greeted us in a hostile manner as he believed we had accused him of being anti-renewables. He calmed down when we explained that we had criticised him for being opposed to subsidies for renewables, and we managed to have a decent conversation for much of the time. Indeed, he stressed he was in favour of the transition away from fossil fuels (though the time-line was missing). He was very interested in a possible pumped hydro site at Araluen and maps showing where the best spots in the state were for solar and wind.
The Queanbeyan Age covered the previous week’s demonstration outside his office. Some quotes from Repower-Monaro convenor Frank Briggs were wrongly attributed and the article appeared unduly critical of Barilaro. I have written an explanatory letter which will appear on Wednesday in the Queanbeyan Age. Meanwhile, last week’s Monaro Post published my letter congratulating Snowy Monaro Councillor John Castellari on his efforts to get solar power to low income people (see attached).
One of the predictions of what will happen with climate change is that rainfall will come less often but with harder falls when it does rain. A perfect example was the 3.4mm of rain and hail falling on Canberra in seven minutes on Saturday.
Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro
Coalition backing “big coal” over climate, says Sachs: “Unbelievably irresponsible”
US economist argues Australia should be exporting solar, not coal, and says Coalition government is backing fossil fuel interests. “What is the matter with these people?”
Farmers facing drought are on the front line of climate change
We need to stop digging holes in the ground and start planting crops, pastures and trees.
Look after the soil, save the Earth: farming in Australia’s unrelenting climate
Former governor general Michael Jeffery says soil health and regenerative farming is essential for security and carbon emissions
Wentworth backlash reignites tensions inside government on climate policy
“We are going to have to go to the next election with a clear plan to meet our Paris targets.”
Dear Wentworth Voters: Here’s 123 Things Our Leaders Did To ‘Confront’ Climate Change
A recent ReachTel poll commissioned by Greenpeace Australia found that for the voters of Wentworth – former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat – tackling climate change was their number one priority. With the Wentworth by-election to be staged on Saturday, Liam McLoughlin thought it timely to help the good voters of the eastern suburbs focus their minds on the Liberal Party’s action on climate change over the last five years.
‘Bad news’: IEA chief says CO2 emissions to rise in 2018
Global CO2 emissions will increase once again, according to the head of the IEA.
Bioenergy carbon capture: climate snake oil or the 1.5-degree panacea?
Delays on climate action to reduce emissions means that we may have to consider technologies that strip carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But that will come at a cost.
Environment minister accused of misleading House and insulting former Kiribati president
Witnesses say Melissa Price made disparaging remarks and said ‘For the Pacific, it’s always about the cash’
States and territories lead way on renewables, climate
A snapshot of the renewables action happening across Australia shows states and territories blitzing the field, in spite of current federal inaction.
Joyce backs coal over Snowy 2.0
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is backing a coal-led energy policy over the Snowy Hydro 2.0 ahead of a federal government vote on the scheme.