Climate Newsletter: 30 March 2019

Two major international reports have come out this week: one report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) saying that the impacts of climate change are increasing and that emissions are rising to dangerous levels, and another report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirming that global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018, partly because of higher coal use.

As we recover from the NSW election, we now face a federal one on either May 11 or 18, a mere six or seven weeks away. In NSW, the Coalition government lost four seats overall though managed to retain majority government. In the upper house (Legislative Council), however, minor parties are prevailing over the major parties. What the final make-up will be won’t be known for a week or so.

At a national level, the government is clearly recalibrating its energy policy while trying not to offend its Nationals partners. It brought out its list of 12 project proposals for “delivering reliable and affordable power” to be considered for subsidy. According to Mark Diesendorf (see below), there are ‘six renewable electricity pumped hydro projects, five gas projects, and one coal upgrade project, supplemented by A$10 million for a two-year feasibility study for electricity generation in Queensland, possibly including a new coal-fired power station.’ The latter is a total waste of money because CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) have already declared that wind and solar are cheaper than new coal.

One of the issues we have to deal with as we move from fossil fuels to renewables is that coal workers are often left without jobs, particularly in places like Victoria’s Latrobe Valley that is the heartland of brown coal. So it is absolutely heartening that a huge wind-farm is planned for this very valley, overlooking the now-dismantled Hazelwood plant.

The Greens seem to be the whipping boy of the media these days but, give them credit, they have come up with an ambitious policy to end, not only coal burning, but coal exports by 2030. With extreme weather events wreaking havoc around the world thanks to climate change, let us hope other parties will follow suit.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Experts demand action after ‘staggering’ climate report

The World Meteorological Organisation report warns the impacts of Climate Change are accelerating and emissions are rising to dangerous levels.

Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018, International Energy Agency says

The International Energy Agency reveals that despite a rapid uptake of renewable energy, increased demand for heating and cooling drove coal-fired power generation and carbon emissions higher.

The government’s electricity short-list rightly features pumped hydro (and wrongly includes coal)

Mark Diesendorf

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has six pumped hydro projects on his list, and most are better taxpayer investments than the already announced Snowy 2.0 project

An iceberg twice the size of New York City is about to split from Antarctica

Scientists say the break could trigger further retreat of the Brunt ice shelf.

Huge wind farm planned for Victoria’s coal centre, overlooking closed Hazelwood plant

A 300 MW wind farm has been proposed for development on forestry plantation land in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, overlooking the site of the now-closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

New coal projects decline globally: report

A new report reveals the number of coal-fired power projects being developed globally decreased steeply in 2018 and shows investors are stepping away from coal.

Greens push to end coal burning, exports

The Greens have released a new climate change policy which aims to shut down coal burning and exports.

Oil giants spent $1 billion on climate lobbying and ads since Paris pact, says report

British think tank says world’s five largest listed oil and gas companies spent more than $1 billion lobbying to prevent climate change regulations since Paris agreement in 2015.

The human devastation of climate change

Tessa Knight

While many politicians, world leaders and big corporations speak about the future effects of climate change, poor and impoverished nations are already struggling to battle the consequences of rising global temperatures.

Study suggests trees are crucial to the future of our cities

The shade of a single tree can provide welcome relief from the hot summer sun. But when that single tree is part of a small forest, it creates a profound cooling effect. According to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, trees play a big role in keeping our towns and cities cool.

Letter in last Sunday’s Canberra Times by a CAM supporter:

Emission control

There is no doubt that our politicians are finally waking up to the reality of rapid climate change and the demand from the Australian community for action. Imminent elections are powerful motivators! Although Labor seems to be taking the issue more seriously than the Coalition, the indications are that both sides will be promoting fairly minimal “Clayton’s” policies. But can we afford a minimalist approach, especially in the light of Australia’s overall carbon budget?

When the scientists estimated the total quantity of greenhouse gases that could be emitted by the whole world for the temperature rise to be limited to 2 degrees (over the period 2013-2050) they calculated Australia’s share of that total to be 10.1 billion tonnes.

As we are still emitting around half a billion tonnes each year, that budget will be all used up by 2033 – only 14 years away. So, will either side of politics acknowledge the need to bite the bullet by introducing a suite of serious policies?

Or will they be content to look as though they are doing something, while employing dodgy strategies such as Kyoto credits, paying corporations and agribusinesses to do things they were going to do anyway and telling us that our targets will be met ‘in a canter’?

Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

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