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.

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