Global Temperatures are Soaring: Please Act

Climate Action Monaro 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
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/26/energy-minister-would-welcome-new-coal-fired-power-plant


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.
https://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-pushes-mid-day-electricity-prices-below-zero-in-queensland-70680/


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
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-27/new-coal-doesnt-stack-up-just-look-at-queensland/9913882


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.
https://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2018/06/28/climate-change-could-kill-bees-northwestern-study-finds


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.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/28/climate/india-pakistan-warming-hotspots.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fclimate


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.
https://reneweconomy.com.au/major-200mw-battery-solar-farm-approved-outback-south-australia-31502/


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
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/28/rising-elizabeth-rush-extract-towns-flooding


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.
https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/elon-musk-turns-sydney-transport-depot-into-green-energy-hub-20180627-p4zo1t.html


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.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/pifc-cpi062118.php


Record emissions keep Australia on path to missing Paris target
Annual carbon emissions, excluding unreliable data, higher than ever, report says
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/25/record-emissions-keep-australia-on-path-to-missing-paris-target


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

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