Climate Newsletter 5 Nov 2018

We may safely assume the heatwave affecting Sydney and reaching down as far as us is a sign of things to come. Not just heatwaves but bushfires as well. The smoke blowing from the Pierce’s Creek fire across Canberra’s southern suburbs on Friday reminded us all too much of the 2003 fires which destroyed 500 homes. That was January, of course, in high summer. This was November – in spring – though the long drought made it all more likely.

We (CAM with Repower-Monaro) have managed to secure Profs John Hewson and Andrew Blakers for a public meeting in Karabar/Queanbeyan at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 November at the Tigers football club. The subject is ‘Making the transition from fossil fuels to renewables”. Come if you can and tell friends.

CAM’s committee met yesterday but we are without a treasurer so if you inclined to offer your services, please do so! We will receive a $2000 grant shortly from Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) for our campaign to have all candidates running for the state seat of Monaro adopt strong policies on renewable energy.

Perhaps it was to assuage its guilt at approving the Bylong coal mine within hours of the IPCC report on 1.5 degree warming, but the NSW Planning Dept has now approved a 55MW solar farm at Vales Point that will power 20,000 homes. It happens to be right next to the coal-fired power station but that has advantages, being right on the grid.

Meanwhile, Crookwell 2 wind farm has begun providing power for 42,000 ACT homes. ACT is planning to have 100 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020. When Victoria’s Hornsdale 2 and 3 wind farm come on line, starting next year, that will be achieved. ACT is showing how it can be done while the federal government languishes without a climate and energy policy.

While we need to make a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables for the sake of the climate, the transition can be painful socially. As coal-fired power stations close, workers are displaced. Thus it is great news that an electric vehicle factory will be built at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, the heart of brown coal country.

Meanwhile, Australia’s mining union, the CFMEU, has urged federal and state governments to prepare for the nation’s coal-fired power stations to be shut by 2050 with a comprehensive transition package for workers.

On a grimmer note, Adani is threatening to have work start on the Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin any day now. Fortunately, Korean banks are now refusing to fund the project. Whether Adani has enough money for the project despite this remains to be seen.

All the best, Jenny

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

‘Getting close’: El Nino event seen as not far off as Sydney sizzles

The hot start to November may be a taste of the summer to come with meteorologists watching a Pacific Ocean that is being primed for an El Nino event.

Snowy Hydro dumps coal for wind and solar to pump its water

Snowy Hydro will use wind and solar energy not coal to support its pumped hydro storage generators in a deal the company says will help cut households power bills from 2020.

Renewable energy investments not thwarted

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation put $2.3 billion towards projects over the past financial year, driven by state renewable targets and cheaper technology.

Coal power in terminal decline, NSW warned

An independent economic analysis has warned NSW that thermal coal exports are stagnating and will significantly decline in the next two decades.

State governments can transform Australia’s energy policy from major fail to reliable success

Tony Wood and Guy Dundas

There could be much clearer skies ahead for energy policy if states take the reins.

Prepare workers for coal closures: report

The CFMEU has proposed a new national authority to prepare for Australia to transition away from coal-fired power generation by 2050.

Conservationists to target ‘middle Australia’ in election climate push

ACF aims to pour resources into three marginal seats to inflict electoral pain on major parties for policy failures

Electric cars set to bring hundreds of jobs to Latrobe Valley

Hundreds of jobs are set to be created in the Latrobe Valley, with the Victorian Government announcing a deal to manufacture electric vehicles in a new factory in the region.

We can’t save the climate without also saving the trees

Scientists agree: Preserving forests is critical to combating climate change.

Former UN climate chief says world doesn’t need Australia’s ‘toxic’ coal

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has blasted BHP for its commitment to continue mining coal.

Climate Newsletter 28 Oct 2018

The Wentworth by-election is still not finalised but on Thursday independent Dr Kerryn Phelps was 1783 votes ahead. We may safely assume she will win which, from a climate point of view, is excellent. She will aim “to reinstate the funding and the scientific credibility of the Climate Change Authority,” she has said. “It’s very important that we do have an independent authority looking at the evidence and providing advice to governments.”

Good to see the Alex Turnbull, son of former Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull, putting the boot into the government’s energy policy. The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has signalled the Australian government could indemnify new power (coal and gas) generation projects against the future risk of a carbon price, and support the retrofitting of existing coal plants. As Turnbull Jnr asks, what is a Liberal government doing interfering in the free market?

ANU’s Climate Change Institute is running another Climate Café at lunchtime on Monday 12 November and this one is called “How can music encourage people to engage on climate change?” You need to register and can do so here. And the ever-worthwhile ANU Energy Update and Solar Oration 2018 will be all day Thursday 29 November. I recommend you get in early if going – you can register here.

Last bulletin I said that the Queanbeyan Age had given an unfair impression of Monaro MP John Barilaro’s stance on renewables (which he favours despite past support for coal and nuclear). I wrote a letter on behalf of CAM (see attached) saying the problem lay more with his colleagues in the National Party and with his Coalition partners in the NSW government. It was published Wednesday, along with a letter from Minna Featherstone of Nature Conservation Council who is organising a door-knock in Queanbeyan today in support of renewables.

Meanwhile, Barilaro took a step backwards through the week by promising that NSW Nationals would back a private members bill to change the 41,000-hectare Murray Valley National Park back into state forest and thus allow logging. The recent IPCC Report on 1.5oC warming, however, made very clear that we had to stop deforestation. A number of studies have shown that forests must remain intact to maximise their capacity to store carbon.

Repower-Monaro (of which CAM is a part) met with Labor candidate Bryce Wilson on Thursday to discuss his stance on renewables. As a graduate in environmental science, he is very knowledgeable on the issue as well as supportive. We urged him to get his Labor colleagues to provide strong climate and energy policies at both the upcoming state (March 23) and federal elections (possibly May 2019). Since then I have written to him and federal MP Mike Kelly with the article by David Spratt (see below) which provides six pointers on what Labor must do.

Repower-Monaro will meet with other candidates for the seat of Monaro (Greens, Shooters and Fishers etc) as they are announced. And on 21 November we will hold a public meeting in Queanbeyan with excellent speakers on why and how we can make the transition away from fossil fuels to renewables. More information later.

It is becoming increasingly evident that what is needed is a carbon price. Australia had one, of course, and then got cold feet and dropped it without ever replacing it with anything of worth. Canada, however, has now taken the lead and will introduce a carbon price beginning next year.  It will start at $20 per ton in 2019, rising at $10 per ton per year until reaching $50 per ton in 2022. The carbon tax will stay at that level unless the legislation is revisited and revised.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

‘First thing’: Phelps set sights on reviving fortunes of climate body

Kerryn Phelps, the likely new member for Wentworth, will push for the revival of the near-defunct Climate Change Authority as part of her efforts to advance action on global warming at a federal level.

Government could support new coal power ‘where it stacks up’ – Morrison

Prime minister announces plan to boost investment in new ‘reliable’ power

Coalition embraces economic vandalism with worst possible energy policy

Alex Turnbull

We joked the ACCC’s good advice could be turned into a policy to subsidise companies that own coal. Turns out that’s what happened

Coalition could indemnify new coal projects against potential carbon price

Angus Taylor will look at overcoming financing problems new generation projects face

NSW Nats to back national park reversal

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro says his party will back a plan to change a national park to state forest – opening it up to the logging industry.

Fair bunkum

Saturday Paper editorial

The condescension in this video is not just to the Avrils and Colins who people Morrison’s Australia, whose bills and service records he uses as props. The condescension is to climate change and to energy policy. The price control is a fiddle: some bills will go down, others will go up. The cost to the environment is the cost of a country with no policy on climate change, willing to destroy the Earth for politics. “Renewables are great,” Morrison says, his expression unchanged, as if calibrating a polygraph. “But we’re also needing the reliable power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.”

World wakes up to scale of climate challenge, so what should a Labor government do?

David Spratt, Renew Economy

Quite suddenly, in the wake of the recent IPCC report, it’s become commonplace to talk about a global climate emergency.

Canada passed a carbon tax that will give most Canadians more money

By rebating the revenue to households, disposable income rises, which can be a boon for the Canadian economy

Meteorologist expects severe drought and heavy rain events to worsen globally

Meteorologists expect severe drought and long-lasting rainfall events to worsen in the future. Researchers have determined how frequent, intense and long lasting these types of events will be in the future.

We need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty – and we need it now

Andrew Simms and Peter Newell

Climate breakdown is an imminent threat. But an international treaty could avert calamity

Climate Newsletter 22 Oct 2018

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

Charlie Prell

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

Liam McLoughlin

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?

Paul Behrens

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.–spt.html

Climate Newsletter 14 Oct 2018

I went to a packed out seminar organised by the Climate Change Institute at ANU on Tuesday where Prof Mark Howden spoke to the IPCC report and the need for ‘urgent, transformational’ change to hold global warming to 1.5°C. You can find his article relating to this here.

The response of the federal government to the IPCC report on 1.5oC warming issued on Monday has been appalling. The report said keeping warming to 1.5oC or below will require deep and urgent cuts in emissions, and a rapid phase out of coal. The government basically said that coal was still very important, they weren’t going to throw money at the Green Climate Fund, and the Prime Minister said he had no intention of spending money on global climate conferences and “all that sort of nonsense.”

The report had called for a phase-out of coal over the next 30 years. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed this would cause widespread blackouts. The head of The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Audrey Zibelman, quickly responded, saying there would be no interruptions to supply if coal was phased out.

Former Prime Minister of (soon-to-go-under-the-waves) Kiribati, Anote Tong, reacted with rage while UN’s 47-member of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, pleaded with Australia to keep up funding for the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

Alan Finkel, Chief Scientist, whose recommendations from his report last year were accepted apart from the critical one on a Clean Energy Target, pushed the idea that we can meet our commitments by adopting hydrogen as a fuel.

Meanwhile, campaigning for the Wentworth by-election rolls on with former sitting Member and Opposition Leader John Hewson, as well as the son of resigned Member Malcolm Turnbull, Alex Turnbull, calling on voters to vote for the climate and thus not the Liberals.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) held an Energy Summit through the week with business concluding that they had to “go it alone” on climate.

Meanwhile, SE Queensland, particularly around Kingaroy, was battered with destructive hailstorms and another El Nino was confirmed for the summer and beyond. This means we should be prepared for a ‘seven month summer’. Overseas, the Florida panhandle has been hammered by Hurricane Michael with several dead.

Neither swayed by the above, nor by the IPCC report, the NSW government approved the proposed Bylong coal mine near Mudgee within hours of the IPCC report.

Good to see the Swedish Academy awarding William Nordhaus and Paul Romer the 2018 Nobel Economics Prize for work in integrating climate change and technological innovation into economic analysis.

Some more good news. Climate Action Monaro has been nominated for an award at the forthcoming Nature Conservation Council (NCC) conference in Sydney on Saturday. I’ll be attending on behalf of CAM and, before the awards ceremony, will be speaking to motions that we have put to the conference.

At a local level, we’re likely to see a change in species with climate change. To help the science along, come to the Frogwatch seminar at the Cooma Bowling Club on Thursday 18 October 6-8pm. See attached flyer.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

In a canter? Climate experts say Australia will not meet emissions targets

Australian politics

Guardian Australia spoke to 12 economists and scientists – almost all reject government’s claim to be on track

‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear

IPCC report ‘underestimates potential of these key dangers to send Earth into spiral of runaway climate change’

‘You can’t keep arguing this is just a cycle’: Farmers struggling to manage impacts of climate change

Peter Mailler is a third-generation farmer but if the effects of climate change continue on their current path, he doesn’t expect anyone will be farming his 6,000 acres property in the future.

Voters split on Scott Morrison, but a clear consensus on climate action

Peter Lewis

Australia is divided on the prime minister, the ABC and the detention of children on Nauru – but not on climate change

Political leaders have little to lose in ignoring climate change

Canberra Times editorial

The impact of climate change will be felt by the poor and the young; not the grey eminences trying to water down our response to the challenge of the century.

The economic case for climate action is strong

SMH editorial

The Nobel Prize awarded for economics shows again that the government is wrong on climate change.

Coal is on the way out, the only question is how quickly

Mark Howden and Frank Jotzo

The question that governments should ask is: how can we make the transition socially acceptable and economically attractive?

Coalition’s breathtakingly stupid response to IPCC climate report

Giles Parkinson

It wasn’t too hard to predict what the Coalition government’s responses to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report would be – you just needed to know where they would be making them.

The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency

Guardian editorial

The consequences of catastrophic warming will be political and even military, not just environmental

We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero or face more floods

Nicholas Stern

The world heating up by even 1.5C would have a brutal impact on future generations

Letter published in the Canberra Times, 11 October 2018.

Behind the eight ball

According to your report (“Coal-based power must be phased out”, October 8 , p5) Australian officials allegedly sought to remove references to phasing out coal from the final version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) report on 1.5°C warming. This is an outrage if true.

The Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, denies it but who can believe someone who sits on a report for weeks about Australia’s emissions rising before releasing it late on the eve of grand final day? I certainly don’t.

According to the IPCC report, it will take enormous effort to limit warming to 1.5°C. All countries have to phase out coal and other fossil fuels as fast as possible and they will have to pull carbon dioxide out of the air.

It means an immediate end to deforestation and massive reafforestation. We will have to get on a war footing to achieve the changes needed. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than the report suggests, and the report itself is pretty dire. Capping warming at 1.5°C is still going to wreck the Great Barrier Reef and inundate low-lying islands and deltas. It will see a reduction in food yields. Millions will have to retreat from coastlines.

Does the minister have a copy, I wonder?

Jenny Goldie, Cooma

Climate Newsletter 8 Oct 2018

This bulletin is a bit late, largely because I held off for the release of the IPCC report on 1.5oC warming today.

Basically, the report says that if we are not to exceed 1.5oC warming over pre-industrial levels, it ‘will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’. With global emissions needing to fall by 45% on 2010 levels by 2030, the clear message is that we have to move away from fossil fuels, particularly coal.

The IPCC report, while seemingly dire, isn’t quite dire enough according to some. For instance, it says we will reach 1.5oC warming by 2040. Melbourne climate scientists, however, say it is more likely in about a decade (2026-2031).

I gather from the Canberra Times today that Australian officials tried to remove this call to phase out coal when the summary was being prepared. The Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, denies this. This is the person who for weeks sat on the report about Australian emissions still rising, only to release it late in the day before Grand Final weekend, so her credibility leaves something to be desired.

Not that Minister Price is necessarily the worst in this government. Take the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, for instance who on Monday said he would not to spend money on climate conferences and “all that nonsense.” Or backbencher Craig Kelly who said: “The climate was always dangerous. We didn’t make it dangerous, [and] it’s fossil fuels that protect us from that climate.” Spare us.

No surprise then, that the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, the respected French diplomat and economist Ms Laurence Tubiana, came to town and said the government’s failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions was ‘anti-science’.

While 1.5oC will be a lot better – both environmentally and socially – than 2oC, nevertheless, it is apparent that even 1.5oC warming is unacceptable given its effect on all coral reefs, but particularly the Great Barrier Reef. It will still lead to inundation of coral atolls and major deltas, and cause a loss in food production. Have a look at the graph at the end of the media release. Without radical action, we are heading for 3 or 4 degrees warming.

The Wentworth by-election will be on 20 October and, should the Liberals lose, the government will lose its majority. A possible winner in Wentworth, former AMA president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, is fairly strong on climate action. She opposes Adani and would ban political donations from fossil-fuel companies. Meanwhile ALP candidate Tim Murray commendably favours a carbon price.

The same day, I shall be representing CAM at the Nature Conservation Council annual conference in Sydney and speaking to the three motions we have put forward. These relate to the separation of Energy and Environment portfolios, Energy Minister Angus Taylor refusing to accept emissions reduction in his brief, and calling on the ALP to make climate an election issue.

CAM participated in two demos in the last week or so: at Tathra making a human sign, and on Friday, bearing sunflowers, outside John Barilaro’s Queanbeyan office calling for a shift to renewable energy.

Finally, if you need a laugh, you may enjoy this First Dog on the Moon cartoon.

World Is Locked into About 1.5°C Warming & Risks Are Rising, New Climate Report Finds

 Earth’s climate monsters could be unleashed as temperatures rise

Graham Readfearn

As a UN panel prepares a report on 1.5C global warming, researchers warn of the risks of ignoring ‘feedback’ effects

Phase out coal to save reef, UN report to say

The Morrison government has denied a claim it sought to have reference to the coal phase-out removed from the final report.

Coal binge puts Paris climate targets further out of reach, study finds

The capacity of the world’s coal-fired power stations would increase by a third if all 1380 plants planned or under development are built, making it tougher to meet Paris climate goals, a leading German non-profit group says.

Against science: Morrison’s climate stance slammed

Architect of the Paris agreement unloads on the Coalition government, lambasting its inaction to tackle climate change.

Phelps would ban fossil fuel firms’ political donations, oppose Adani

The independent candidate for Wentworth released a six-point climate plan highlighting differences with her Liberal Party rival David Sharma.

Scientists say halting deforestation ‘just as urgent’ as reducing emissions

Protecting and restoring forests would reduce 18% of emissions by 2030 and help to avoid global temperature rise beyond 1.5C

How global warming is turbocharging monster storms like Hurricane Florence

The frequency of more potent storms is growing, but the storms are also slowing down in speed, inundating the ground below.


‘This drought is different’: it’s drier and hotter – and getting worse

On the land and in the towns they’re affected to varying degrees; some find it harder to cope. But they all agree something has changed


Tesla big battery claims its first major fossil fuel victim

Elon Musk’s crusade to rid the world of fossil fuels and lead the transition to clean energy took a small but significant step forward this week, when the Australian Energy Market Operator decided to put an end to a market that has been rorted outrageously by fossil fuel generators in recent years.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Climate Newsletter 30 Sep 2018

It was quite a demonstration down at Tathra today with several hundred people making the words KEEP TATHRA COOL, DECREASE CO2, CLIMATE ACTION NOW. Rural Fire Service trucks provided the downward arrow for ‘decrease’. It was great that they were there because of the recent bushfires, evidence of which was all around us. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull had denied there was any connection with climate change but local councillor Jo Dodds has been very vocal in claiming there was indeed a connection.

Climate Action Monaro is part of Repower Monaro which is encouraging every candidate in the state seat of Monaro to promote renewables and not fossil fuels in the lead up to the NSW state election on March 23 next year. As part of the action, we are holding a demonstration in Queanbeyan on Friday (5 October) starting 4.30pm which will start in Crawford Street outside sitting member John Barilaro’s office (not far in from the main street) then head to the Council offices. Join us if you can. Barilaro has been a promoter of coal and nuclear while in office but we are hoping to persuade him to take a different tack.

Seems but yesterday – in fact ten years – since Ross Garnaut issued his long-awaited Climate Change Review. Although it led to the short-lived carbon tax under the Gillard Government, nevertheless, the last decade has seen a climate and energy policy mess. If we had adopted all his recommendations back then, albeit not as radical as some us would like, we would be in a better place now.

In a case of cynical timing, the new federal Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, on Friday afternoon – a public holiday in Victoria and the day the interim report of the banking commission was issued – released a report that showed emissions climbed 1.3% in the year to March 2018. At this rate, we will not meet our Paris targets “at a canter” as the new Prime Minister insists, but “gallop past them” as Bill Hare of Climate Analytics rather wonderfully noted.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting this coming week in Incheon, South Korea, to consider the Special Report Global Warming of 1.5ºC. Subject to approval, the Summary for Policymakers will be released on Monday 8 October. There have been reports that the Summary has been watered down to appease such governments as the US and Australia, though the text has not. Some climate activists here argue vehemently that even 1.5 degrees warming over industrial levels will be too much and see not only the end of the Great Barrier Reef, but inundation of Pacific atolls and the major food-producing deltas of the world.

Don’t despair! There is some good news, for instance, a solar-powered abattoir for Central Queensland; the development of a solar-flow battery; the commercialisation of (new, efficient) perovskite solar cells; a new stable catalyst for splitting water to produce hydrogen (which can then be used as a clean fuel); and the splendid Australia Institute launching an advertising campaign to debunk the assertion of the Business Council that a 45% target for emissions reduction would wreck the economy.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

‘Policy muddle’, but Ross Garnaut holds high hopes 10 years after his Climate Change Review

The 2008 landmark report could not have predicted Australia’s climate policy mess, but some outcomes have turned out much better than forecast

Australia plays catch-up on climate policy

In their song Time, Pink Floyd sing: “Then one day you find that 10 years have got behind you / no one told you when to run / you missed the starting gun.” It might be said that the starting gun was fired by Ross Garnaut, who 10 years ago today delivered the Garnaut Climate Change Review for the Rudd government.

Solar-powered abattoir plan approved for central Queensland

The Queensland Government has given the nod to a plan to build an abattoir in Gladstone that will be powered by its own renewable energy facility.

2018 Arctic Summertime Sea Ice Minimum Extent Tied for Sixth Lowest on Record

Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, 2018.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions climb again amid climate policy vacuum

Climate Analytics says that on current trends, emissions will race way past the Paris agreement target

Device that integrates solar cell and battery could store electricity outside the grid

Scientists have harnessed the abilities of both a solar cell and a battery in one device — a ‘solar flow battery’ that soaks up sunlight and efficiently stores it as chemical energy for later on-demand use. Their research could make electricity more accessible in remote regions of the world.

New, highly stable catalyst may help turn water into fuel

Breaking the bonds between oxygen and hydrogen in water could be a key to the creation of hydrogen in a sustainable manner, but finding an economically viable technique for this has proved difficult. Researchers report a new hydrogen-generating catalyst that clears many of the obstacles — abundance, stability in acid conditions and efficiency.

Perovskite solar cells leap toward commercialization

OIST scientists’ research on perovskite solar cells indicates a promising future towards sustainability.

Business council faces negative ad blitz over criticism of 45% emissions target

Australia Institute will launch advertising campaign debunking assertion that 45% target would wreck economy

When we look at the crisis rationally, the only logical response is to declare a climate emergency

People engaged in the climate debate are often bewildered by society’s lack of response. How can we ignore such overwhelming evidence of an existential threat to social and economic stability?

Climate Newsletter 24 Sep 2018

Two recent reports conclude that Australia is failing to meet its Sustainable Development Goal 13: Urgent action on climate change. Now another report has  placed Australia 14th out of 27 wealthy countries on the Global Development Index; a low ranking largely because of our inaction on climate change.

And it is hardly likely to get better with the current federal Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor. Not only has he said that he will not replace the Renewable Energy Target in 2020, but has insisted that considering environmental factors in energy decisions is ‘corporate virtue signalling’. His attacks on wind and solar drew an enraged response from the admirable Giles Parkinson of ReNew Economy (see below).

About Angus Taylor:  His grandfather, William Hudson headed construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme from 1949 to 1967. Taylor’s family owns property near Nimmitabel (they declined wind turbines so Boco Rock went next door) and Taylor is now federal member for the seat of Hume which borders our local seat of Eden-Monaro. According to a ReachTel poll, 42.3 % of Hume voters want Australia to cut emissions more deeply.

Taylor needs to read a couple of things: 1) the report by S&P that says propping up the coal industry with government subsidies would be a ‘credit negative’ for the energy sector, and 2) the attached article (published in Global Research) by Andrew Glikson of ANU saying the world is living on borrowed time.

It is the attitude of countries like Australia and the US that is responsible for the watering down the summary of the much anticipated IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, due out next month, on 1.5oC warming. Nevertheless, the body of the report remains and paints a grim picture of, amongst other things, disruption to the Gulf Stream from cold waters flowing into the North Atlantic from melting ice and glaciers. Speaking of which, check out the last item below for amazing footage of a calving glacier in Greenland.

Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Taylor launches extraordinary and ill-informed attack against wind and solar

Giles Parkinson

New energy minister Angus Taylor has launched a new and extraordinary attack against wind and solar, saying they cause “de-industrialisation” and claiming that Labor’s 45 % emissions reduction target would send a “wrecking ball” through the Australian economy.

Energy minister’s electorate backs higher emissions reduction target, poll shows

ReachTel poll of Angus Taylor’s voters finds 42.3% want Australia to cut emissions more deeply

Building new coal, and propping up old, not the answer: S&P

Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings  says government intervention to prop up existing coal power, and underwrite the development of new, would be “credit negative” for the energy sector.

Climate change is making storms like Hurricane Florence worse

Florence isn’t a preview of what is to come from climate change; it is an example of what climate change is doing to storms right now

Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

‘True risks’ of warming played down to placate fossil-fuel nations

Closing eyes to climate change won’t stop warming

Ebony Bennett

Not even bushfires in winter were enough to budge the Coalition into meaningful action.

Coalition exposes its ignorance in anti-renewable stance

Mark Butler

Angus Taylor is a disaster for Australian households and business struggling under sky-rocketing power prices because of the Liberals’ energy and climate policy paralysis.

Climate activists say women are key to solving the climate crisis

When will everyone else get the memo?

Revolving doors, golden escalators and the demise of climate and energy policy

Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy

The revolving door between politicians, advisors and lobbyists.

Harsh climate: The struggle to track global sea level rise

The best predictions for sea-level rise this century are getting more dire, and yet less precise, in part because of a lack of understanding of these glaciers and how their behaviour fits into global climate modelling.

Climate Newsletter 17 Sep 2018

Super-Typhoon Mangkhut is now causing havoc in Hong Kong after causing death and destruction in the Philippines. In North Carolina, hundreds are trapped by flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. While climate change is not wholly responsible for these mega-storms, at least one group of researchers has estimated that climate change is responsible for half of the rain falling in the Hurricane Florence’s wettest areas.  

The Coalition federal government has abandoned the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) though the ALP looks like they pick it up and run with it as industry is still demanding certainty. Meanwhile, emissions are rising in Australia and there is no long-term plan to curb them. Indeed, the federal government has been explicit in saying they will focus on power prices rather than on emission reduction. The latest report suggests we will miss meeting our Paris targets.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) produced a great TV ad last week using a drought-stricken farmer who said emphatically: “We need to stick to the Paris agreement, we need to stop burning coal and we need to commit to more renewable energy…”

ALP leader Bill Shorten on the Insiders’ program yesterday seemed to come out against the proposed Adani mega-mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, in line with the Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler’s position but not with that of all his Cabinet. Meanwhile, Gautam Adani has reduced the size of the proposed mine and rail link to the coast, possibly because he sees short-term gain in coal but not long-term (see John Quiggin’s article below). Adani has been working on Wangan and Jagalingou Land without traditional owners consent, as well as drilling for water in the Great Artesian Basin, possibly beyond what was permitted under their permits.

Climate deniers are fond of blaming renewables for high prices of electricity but instead they should be blaming the big generation companies for their gaming of wholesale electricity prices. Last week the Australian Energy Regulator confirmed such gaming in South Australia in early July when the companies jacked up their prices at a time when the interconnector between SA and Victoria was restricted by maintenance work.

Our hero for the year has to be Bill Ryan, a 92-year-old war veteran, who chained himself to the railway in an attempt to stop coal trains from reaching Newcastle’s Kooragang Coal Port. On 8 September, a global day of action for climate change, 26 protesters scaled equipment, blocked railway tracks and obstructed machinery and were duly arrested. Bravo to all of them.

And bravo to the ACT government for becoming the first jurisdiction in Australia to join the UN’s Powering Past Coal Alliance aimed at rapidly phasing out the fossil fuel. The ACT has been exemplary in its emissions reduction policy in contrast to  federal policy which has now fully imploded.

Please, if you are close to Cooma on Saturday (22 Sept), come to our AGM preceded by a short talk by me on the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change. Afternoon tea will be served. Time: 2.30pm. Venue: Uniting Church hall, Soho Street, Cooma.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Scott Morrison needs a plan to cut emissions but all he has is a fairytale

Katharine Murphy

The deep feelings brigade is unlikely to permit any action on climate change, and that will cost the Coalition politically

Adani’s rail line cut shows project is on life support but still a threat to climate

John Quiggin

The catastrophic prospect of 300m tonnes of carbon a year appears to have been averted, but even 25m poses a danger to the climate

UN Secretary General: “We face a direct existential threat” on climate for “the emergency we face”

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat…

“If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

Sun shines on Labor’s solar scheme as Liberal energy war flares up

Victoria’s solar and wind rush has begun. On Friday, the Andrews government fired the starter’s gun on what it says will be an energy revolution for Victoria.

The case for renewables has never been stronger, says Deloitte study

Deloitte report says the case for renewables has never been stronger, and smashes a few myths along the way.

ACT becomes first in Australia to join UN’s Powering Past Coal Alliance

The ACT government has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to join the UN’s Powering Past Coal Alliance aimed at rapidly phasing out the fossil fuel.

Global fossil fuel demand to peak in 2023, as wind and solar surge

Carbon Tracker predicts rapid growth of wind and solar will cause fossil fuel demand to peak in 2023 and then plummet, risking trillions for unwary and ignorant investors.

Transport emissions continue to rise as Australia lags behind other nations

Exclusive: inaction on pollution standards leads to 63% rise in transport-related carbon emissions since 1990, report finds

At its current rate, Australia is on track for 50% renewable electricity in 2025

Ken Baldwin, Andrew Blakers and Matthew Stocks

Australia could be getting half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025, even without government subsidies for new wind and solar projects, according to a new analysis of energy industry trends.

Frydenberg: government will focus on power prices over emissions reduction

The new Morrison government will concentrate on lowering power prices ahead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions

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

Climate Newsletter 1 Sep 2018

After the tumultuous events of last week resulting in a new Prime Minister, things went from bad to worse, at least as far as energy and climate policy was concerned. Josh Frydenberg, in the previous Cabinet, held the twin portfolios of energy and environment. Thus the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), with its two major objectives of reliability and lower prices, also had the critical environmental plank of emissions reduction. Former PM Turnbull took emissions reduction out of the NEG and that was the death of NEG and, somewhat ironically, his Prime Ministership.

Turnbull does have one good thing going for him and that is his son Alex Turnbull. Alex said, following his father’s political demise, that coal miner’s were exerting too much influence on the Liberal Party and that it made no economic sense to build new coal-fired power stations.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison – disastrously – has split energy and environment and appointing well-known anti-wind campaigner from the Monaro, Angus Taylor, as Minister for Energy, and former coal company lawyer Melissa Price as Minister for Environment. Taylor has said he will not include emissions reduction in any energy policy. This makes it very hard to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement though, fortunately, PM Morrison says he will not take Australia out of it.

Minister Price now has the onerous task of honouring the Paris commitments but, without energy/electricity policy as a lever, has little hope of achieving anything given the difficulties of lowering emissions in the other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and transport.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Samoa,  Tuilaepa Sailele, has berated a number of international leaders, including ours in Australia, for not doing enough on climate change and declared that climate deniers should go to a mental hospital(!)

Also on the international front, a Canadian court has quashed the sale of the planned Trans-Mountain pipe-line that would have taken oil from the Alberta tar sands to Vancouver after pressure from the indigenous people along the route. A highly significant victory for the First Peoples and defeat for PM Justin Trudeau.

Climate change is World War III, and we are leaderless

David Shearman

The Western world is bereft of leaders and now the US and Australia have deserted the trenches by trading ideology for human lives and health

On first day as PM, Morrison learns difference between Big Battery and Big Banana

Scott Morrison gets lesson when major transmission fault causes outages in NSW. Tesla big battery helped keep lights on in SA, Big Banana didn’t lift a finger for NSW.

New wind and solar now competes with existing coal and gas

Dave Jones

Rising carbon, coal and gas prices mean new onshore wind and solar can compete with the short-term costs of existing coal and gas plants.

The death of Trans Mountain pipeline signals future of Indigenous rights: Chiefs

As a federal court quashes the controversial project, lawyers and Indigenous leaders agree it’s more clear than ever that Canada must modernize its view of Aboriginal rights.

Taylor confirms no interest in emissions, but says he’s no climate sceptic

New energy minister Angus Taylor has confirmed what was largely expected: that he has no interest in emission reductions under the remit handed him by prime minister Scott Morrison, and that his primary focus will be on reducing prices for consumers.

World leaders who deny climate change should go to mental hospital – Samoan PM

Tuilaepa Sailele berates leaders who fail to take issue seriously, singling out Australia, India, China and the US

Tropical forests are flipping from storing carbon to releasing it

Illegal logging and land seizures are driving this ominous yet overlooked scientific trend.

Turnbull’s hedge fund-manager son says miners exerting ‘undue influence’ over Liberal Party

Speaking out after his father lost the Liberal leadership, Alex Turnbull described Australia’s energy policy as 10 years of “panic and mania”, and said it made no economic sense to build new coal-fired power plants.

India’s devastating rains match climate change forecasts

Once-a-century rains that have pounded the Indian state of Kerala and displaced 1.3 million people are in line with the predictions of climate change.

Rain brings relief in NSW and Queensland, but drought far from over

Parts of drought-ravaged eastern Australia receive more rain in two days than in previous months combined

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro