Climate Newsletter 18 Nov 2018

The death toll from the California fires rises inexorably with 76 dead and over 1200 still missing. President Trump still denies any connection with climate change, unlike outgoing Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles fire chief who do say there is a strong connection.

A number of school children walked out of school this week to protest inaction on climate change. Meanwhile the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned they may be the last generation to see coral reefs.

Some good news came from the NSW government this week. It unveiled its Transmission Infrastructure Strategy to enable a more rapid development of the state’s renewable energy potential. The Strategy aims to bring forward $2.5 billion worth of high voltage transmission projects, shore up the power grid, and accommodate a $23 billion wave of renewable energy investment.

Meanwhile, the Climate Council has issued yet another report, this time on climate change and water scarcity. It warns of worsening drought and more extreme weather events, and says the impact will be felt severely on the NSW northern tablelands.

It was startling to see Woodside CEO Peter Coleman advocate a carbon price but it may have been a case of vested interest as Woodside deals largely in gas, not coal, and a carbon price would favour lower-emitting gas. Nevertheless, gas is the guilty party when it comes to Australia’s emissions, since half of Australia’s emissions are linked to WA Gorgon’s gas plant.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the top global energy watchdog but often slow to come to terms with reality, has finally acknowledged that the world cannot build any more fossil fuel plants. This is important, as our federal government flags new coal-fired power stations, ignoring the pressing need to reduce emissions.

Meanwhile, the insurance giant IAG has warned a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could result in a world that is “pretty much uninsurable”, with poorer communities likely to bear the brunt of the effects.

Don’t forget the Victorian election on Saturday 24 November with Labor strengthening its renewable energy targets while the Liberals promise to get rid of them. Labor is also wanting to extend rooftop solar rebate to renters.

All the best, Jenny
Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants, warns IEA

The world has so many existing fossil fuel projects that it cannot afford to build any more polluting infrastructure without busting international climate change goals, the global energy watchdog has warned.

Want to slow down climate change? Plant a tree

A new comprehensive study shows planting more trees and preserving fields and wetlands can help to combat climate change.

Longer fire seasons threaten to disrupt US-Australia firefighting cooperation

Longer bushfire seasons in Australia and the US threaten to disrupt the sharing of vital personnel and equipment between the two countries, fire experts and coordinators have revealed.

Greens policy would outlaw thermal coal as it is ‘no longer compatible’ with human life

Under Greens policy, it would no longer be legal to dig, burn or ship thermal coal by 2030

Half of Australia’s emissions increase linked to WA’s Gorgon LNG plant

Carbon emissions from nation’s largest LNG development were meant to be captured. More than two years on, the storage still hasn’t started

Climate Council issues grim warning on looming water security crisis

The Climate Council releases a report linking climate change with worsening droughts, and extreme weather events such as bushfires and floods.

Woodside CEO urges climate fix

Woodside boss Peter Coleman has some advice for politicians including a call for clarity on tax reform and global co-operation on carbon pricing.

Deluge and drought: Australia’s water security in a changing climate

Climate Council of Australia

This report argues that significant impacts on and risks to Australia’s water security are already evident, and these risks will continue to escalate unless deep and rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas pollution can be achieved.

‘Problem in waiting’: why natural gas will wipe out Australia’s emissions gains

LNG is often touted as a good alternative to coal but the increase in production means increased emissions that will cancel out any recent savings

Next generation ‘may never see the glory of coral reefs’

Undersea forests, bleached and killed by rising ocean temperature, might disappear in a few decades, experts warn

Climate Newsletter 11 Nov 2018

Horrific fires have been burning once more in California, for the second time this year. The link to climate change seems inextricable, with the state suffering prolonged drought and higher temperatures.

On Tuesday, Americans went to the polls for the mid-term elections that had mixed results for climate. Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives but lost ground elsewhere. At least the House Science Committee, for the first time in eight years, will be controlled by people who accept climate change. And happily, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected in New York. She advocated “transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100 percent renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035.” Unhappily though, Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has mishandled a number of environmental issues, narrowly won his bid for the Senate, defeating incumbent Bill Nelson, who called Florida “ground zero” for climate change. There will be, however, a recount.

Democrats did win some key governorships – notably in Nevada, Maine and New Mexico – that could accelerate progress on clean energy.  In the last two years, these three states passed renewable energy bills that were vetoed by Republican governors, so hopefully the bills will get through now.

On the home front, Victoria goes to the polls on 24 November where there is a clear distinction on climate and energy policy between the major parties. Labor has promised to extend its renewable energy targets from 40 per cent by 2025 to 50 per cent by 2030, spurring a rush of private sector investment in new wind and solar projects. The Liberals, however, have promised to scrap the targets if they win the election.

Interestingly, Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes said on ABC-TV’s 7.30 that Australia should reinstate a carbon price. He referred to his new green energy campaign, or movement, as ‘Fair Dinkum Power’, reclaiming the phrase from the Prime Minister. Cannon-Brookes argued it was the PM’s code for coal power.  He (C-B) would like to see Australia move to “200 per cent renewable energy” and become a renewable energy super power.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull also appeared on ABC-TV, this time for a Q&A special where he did a “double back-flip” of sorts by strongly advocating for renewable energy. Whether it was purely on economic terms or for the sake of the climate is anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile, the new-ish Energy Minister Angus Taylor went off to see the energy retailers, trying to cajole them into reducing energy prices. He failed on that, but they did offer up a standardised rate, making it easier for consumers to compare energy prices when shopping around between retailers for the best deal. The retailers apparently supported a plan to underwrite new generation – which could be coal or gas – but whether it is actually needed is another matter. Despite latest government data showed greenhouse gas emissions have climbed 1.3 per cent to their highest quarterly levels in eight years, the Minister is still ruling out policies that will help us achieve our emission reduction targets (pathetic though they be).

While the PM has been bussing around Queensland promising to lower electricity prices, it turns out that the surge in renewables is doing that for him, with no help at all from government policy. The latest National Energy Emissions Audit prepared by The Australia Institute has found wholesale power prices have peaked in most states as a surge of new renewables have come online. The Audit also found that, while Australia’s emissions from electricity are coming down, those from other sectors are growing, not least from LNG exports.

Please let your friends know about Repower-Monaro’s public meeting at the Tigers Club (Karabar/Queanbeyan) at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 November with Profs John Hewson and Andrew Blakers on the transition to renewable energy. I am also a speaker on the climate emergency that underpins the need for renewable energy.

My thanks to Andrew Gunner who kindly puts these weekly bulletins onto a website,, where (if you are into social media) you can extend the bulletin’s life using the buttons at the bottom.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Small scale solar surge continues to reshape Australia’s grid

AEMO report shows big surge in rooftop solar, eating away at demand, displacing coal and depressing prices.

Why Australia needs to be a renewable energy superpower

Mike Cannon-Brookes

Australia has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine its place in the world through the production of renewable energy.

Victoria’s first big battery charges up on state grid

Ballarat big battery, the first in Victoria, starts charging and discharging activity on the grid.

Heavyweights sound off as WA fracking inquiry enters doomsday

Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, John Butler, the band Midnight Oil, Missy Higgins, Tim Winton, Fiona Stanley, Janet Holmes a Court, Carmen Lawrence and Peter Newman have joined to call for the state government to ban gas fracking in Western Australia.

African islands send SOS as climate change worsens health

African island states say they need more help to cope with the health impacts of climate change.

Australia set to be a leader in $1.7 trillion battery industry

Australia is forecast to be a global leader in a battery storage technology boom which is growing more swiftly that previously predicted.

Greenland’s melting ice sheets: The beautiful but harrowing changes seen from above

Climate change is causing Greenland’s ice sheet to melt at a dramatic rate, and photographer Tom Hegen took to the sky to document these beautiful but devastating changes.

Farmers and environmentalists divided over Bylong Valley coal mine

Hundreds of people, including dozens of protestors, turn out to a meeting in Mudgee to have their say on the Kepco mine, which is expected to generate more than 6.5 million tonnes of coal per year.

Bigger incentives to “switch off” could drive down energy prices

Ben Oquist

South Australia is the perfect place to introduce changes to electricity market rules to give consumers a greater capacity to save on their energy bills by voluntarily “switching off.

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

Renewable capacity has tripled in past five years, even faster growth than the ‘dash for gas’ of the 1990s

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