Climate Newsletter 9 Sep 2018

So the NEG is dead, according to the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. We might have assumed as much a couple of weeks ago when the former PM took emissions reduction out of it, leaving only the other two planks of reliability and lower prices.

So how to meet our Paris targets? According to the report below, the Energy Security Board (ESB) said if the national energy guarantee (NEG) wasn’t implemented, the national electricity market would “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26 per cent below 2005 levels”. The PM, meanwhile, believes we can meet the targets ‘at a canter’. But Anna Skarbek of Climateworks (see below) argues we need do need new policies if we are to meet the targets.

The new Energy Minister Angus Taylor (without the accompanying portfolio of Environment) sees no need to worry about emissions reduction. The Monaro Post published my letter (see end of this bulletin) expressing CAM’s frustration – and this led to an interview on ABC’s SE regional radio.

Minister Taylor and the government are anxious to prolong the life of coal in the Australian economy.  However, an important new report coming out of ANU,  Coal Transitions report, looked at pathways for coal in light of Paris targets and found: (1) coal use could start to shrink by the early 2020s (‘peak coal’), and (2) major markets for Australian coal such as China and India were already seeking to curb its use.

In another report, the New Climate Economy report, Lord Nicholas Stern found ambitious climate action could generate 65 million new jobs as nations moved to cut emissions. Lord Stern said that the case for change was “overwhelming” and called for G20 nations including Australia to adopt a carbon price of between $US40-80 a tonne by 2020. He warned that, if they don’t, it will be impossible to keep warming to less than three degrees.

Australia is not winning any popularity contests in the South Pacific. It finally signed a declaration citing climate change as “the single greatest threat” to Pacific people, but the climate change representative for the Pacific nation of Palau, Xavier Matsutaro, says Australia’s relationship with the Pacific is “dysfunctional”. Through its aid program Australia helps Pacific nations, he says, but at the same time it undermines global action on climate change which will wipe out many of them.

Yesterday, the Liberals copped a 29 per cent swing against them in the Wagga by-election and it looks like Independent Dr Joe McGirr will win the seat. In the campaign, he made strong statements about the impact of climate change on health so Bravo! McGirr.

Coming events:

10 September at 9am. Rally on lawns outside Parliament House, Canberra. “Let’s break the drought on climate action!”

11 September at 6pm in China in the World auditorium. ANU. In a free ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author event, award-winning author, Quentin Beresford will be in conversation with Jack Waterford on Quentin’s new book, Adani and the War Over Coal, which examines the pivotal role of the Adani Carmichael mine and the conflict over coal and the environment in Australia. Bookings at or 6125 4144.

12 September, 12 for 12:30, Lecture by Dr John Hewson, “Climate Change: Too Important to Leave to Politicians?” Joint meeting with Canberra Georgians and Julian Cribb. Molony Room, ANU Emeritus Faculty, 24 Balmain Crescent, Acton ACT.

22 September, 2.30pm. Uniting Church Hall, Soho Street, Cooma. Postponed AGM of Climate Action Monaro following a talk by me on the SDGs and climate change.

NSW Government to lose Wagga Wagga in massive backlash

The NSW Liberal Party is set to spectacularly lose the seat of Wagga Wagga, with a massive backlash ushering in an independent Joe McGirr.

Scott Morrison says national energy guarantee ‘is dead’

Prime minister says NEG will not be going any further but Australia still committed to meeting emissions targets

Why baseload coal has no future in a modern grid

Marija Petkovic

The debate about the need for baseload coal-fired power stations has reignited with the Coalition saying it would welcome a new coal-fired power station.

Coal does not have an economic future in Australia

Frank Jotzo and Salim Mazouz

An international report has found there’s no future for Australia’s coal exports.

‘Overwhelming’ economics favour accelerating shift from coal, reports say

Massive opportunities will come with the transition to low-carbon economies but the costs will also be huge if we don’t, two new reports find.

Australia signs Pacific climate ‘threat’ declaration, islands call on US to back Paris deal

Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations sign a security declaration citing climate change as “the single greatest threat” to Pacific people, as island nations call on the United States to return to the Paris agreement.

Minister tight-lipped on claims Australia watered down climate change declaration

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne is tight-lipped on claims Australia watered down language on climate change in an official Pacific Islands Forum document.

Australia is not on track to reach 2030 Paris target (but the potential is there)

Anna Skarbek

Australia is falling behind on its Paris targets, but we have many options for improvement.

Taylor says there is too much wind and solar in electricity grid

Giles Parkinson

Crikey. If you thought that the political rhetoric around energy policy could not possibly get any lower, think again. It’s now about the Australian identity, it seems. Jingoism is now a power source, and if you want to have “fair dinkum” power, it’s got to be coal.

At ‘5 minutes to midnight’, rights group calls time on climate change

As disasters strengthen, it’s time to recognize climate change is now a major human rights risk, says Amnesty International’s new chief.

Letter published in Monaro Post on 5 September.

Climate Action Group sceptical of new minister

Climate Action Monaro is concerned that the new Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, thinks electricity prices can be brought down by greater use of coal and gas, rather than renewables. Perhaps he failed to read a new analysis from last week that found with the huge quantities of wind and solar being brought on stream over the next two years, wholesale prices will be cut by around half. This corroborates earlier research from the Climate Change Authority, Finkel Review and the Energy Security Board that all found new renewables will bring down prices.

Minister Taylor says he is not a climate sceptic yet anyone who understands the gravity of climate change should be urging radical action to mitigate it. The most effective means of mitigation is shifting the economy from fossil fuels to renewables. The easiest sector to do that in is electricity, compared to agriculture, manufacturing and transport. The ACT government has shown how relatively easy it is to source nearly all electricity from renewables, including wind energy, which Minister Taylor has taken against with a particular vengeance in the past.

The new Environment Minister, Melissa Price, will be the one expected to bring down greenhouse emissions and comply with our obligations under the Paris Agreement. Yet without the energy levers, now in the hands of Minister Taylor, she will find that difficult. Planting forests and promoting sustainable agriculture are worthy but not enough to meet our expressed target of 26 per cent or more reduction by 2030.

At a public meeting in Cooma on 25 August, Professor Janette Lindesay said there is unlikely to be any relief from this severe drought in the near future thanks to a combination of El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole. Under a high-emissions scenario – the path we are on at present – we can expect five degrees warming, accompanied by extreme heat, drought and occasional violent rainfall. Five degrees will mean goodbye to snow and most local agriculture.

As Minister Taylor comes from a local farming family, perhaps he should take note.

Jenny Goldie
President, Climate Action Monaro

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