Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tony Abbott praises coal for prosperity ignoring huge health and climate costs

Our Prime Minister Tony Abbott is out of touch with the realities of coal with regard to it's ongoing impact on population health and mortality and indirect impact on health and environment through climate change.

At a press conference for opening a new joint venture coal mine by BHP and Mitsubishi he told the world: "Coal is essential for the prosperity of Australia. Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world. Energy is what sustains prosperity and coal is the world’s principle energy source and it will be for many decades to come."

Did you cringe too? Abbott is an international laughing stock for championing coal and ignoring it's health and climate change impacts. His only friend on the international stage is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who has his hands dirty developing the carbon intensive Albertan tar sands.

New coal fired power can't even compete now on cost with renewables already a cheaper source of energy.

His endorsement of coal and coal companies flies in the face of overwhelming support by the Australian public for the rollout of renewable energy generation in Australia.

Here is what Tony Abbott said at his doorstop interview opening the Caval Ridge coal mine on Monday 13 October 2013, according to the Prime Ministers website:

Pacific Climate Warriors join the #Leardblockade to protest coal and climate change

Original story published at Nofibs.

Thirty Pacific warriors are currently touring Australia to share their climate message and ask for our support and solidarity. On Monday they brought their message to Narrabri and the Leard Blockade and saw first hand the destruction wrought by Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek Project and Idemitsu’s Boggabri Coal.

“We are sending a powerful message: we will not stand idly by as the coal industry sinks the future of the Pacific Islands – we are fighting for our god given right to live”, says Mikaele Maiava, for the Climate Change warriors for Tokelau in a brief statement.

Four of the thirty climate warriors come from Tokelau, which transitioned to 100 per cent renewables in 2012. They are only too well aware of the negative impacts of climate change. Read the Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau statement from 3 October and understand the motivation of not just the four warriors from Tokelau - Avelio Tumua, Dedles Suega Isaia, Aleki Manuele and Mikaele Maiava - but all the warriors from all the countries of the South Pacific.

Countries that are part of the campaign include: Papua New Guinea, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands, Federated Sates of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati and Fiji.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

AGL Energy occupied over carbon pollution, Gloucester CSG, policy on RET

Over 60 people attended and occupied the AGL Energy head office in Melbourne this morning siting down on the 23rd floor offices of this energy producer and retailer. Several people locked themselves together on the 23rd floor. A number of climate guardian angels locked on to the front doors at street level. Why were they there?

AGL Energy, once regarded as a relatively green and environmentally friendly electricity producer, has in recent years bought and accumulated assets in black and brown coal generation and coal seam gas exploration and exploitation. It is now a major source and polluter of carbon emissions. Along with it's transformation into a major carbon polluting company, it has also argued strongly for changes to the RET scheme for the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) to be abolished and existing arrangements grandfathered, and also the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Target (SRET) to be abolished.

Paul McArdle in a blog post at WattClarity® on 10 October argues that AGL is almost twice as large as the second biggest generator in terms of capacity gemeration for the National Electricity Market (NEM).

  • AGL Energy is developing CSG at Gloucester against the wishes of the local community (Newcastle Herald Story
  • AGL wants the RET scheme to be slashed (Business Spectator Story)
  • AGL Energy has recently bought dirty and polluting brown and black coal generating stations like the Loy Yang A Power station in the La Trobe Valley(Herald Sun story) in 2013, and the Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley (RenewEconomy story) in 2014.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tokelau and Pacific warriors fighting climate change and western intransigence

Island nations are very aware of the threat to their culture and heritage and very lives from the perils of climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Tokelau has chosen to lead by example converting their electricity to 100 per cent renewables in 2012 and now sending climate warriors to Australia to close down the largest coal port in the world for a day.

While we sit and ponder the hand of climate change setting new temperature records in Australia or the most severe drought on record in California, the people of the Carribean, the Indian Ocean and Pacific small Island states suffer the effects of rising sea levels, rising ocean ocidification and increasing intensity of storms.

Although Pacific Island countries only contribute 0.03% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions they will be the first to go under if the business as usual scenarios of the IPCC come to pass.

The leader of tiny Tokelau in the South Pacific knows this too well. The Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau, made this statement at the 25th South Pacific Regional Environment Programm (SPREP) Meeting in Majuro in the Marshall Islands on 3 October 2014. The meeting called for less talk and more action on climate change financing such as the Green Climate Fund. Other important themes discussed included the importance of building island resilience, developing the blue-green economy and the growing the co-operation for meaningful and durable partnerships to achieve common goals.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Divestment: Local Government Super add negative filter for coal

Local Government Super, an industry superannuation fund covering local government workers in NSW, has announced increased negative screening for high carbon assets such as coal mining and coal power generators, specifically citing the impact of climate change for this decision.

The additional negative screening will exclude companies from its portfolio with a material exposure to ‘high carbon sensitive’ activities such as coal and tar sands mining, as well as coal-fired electricity generators. The threshold for this screening has been set at a minimum of one third of company revenue.

The Super fund has used negative screening since 2000 regularly reviewing this policy and it's application. The policy has limited investment with companies involved with tobacco, gambling, armaments and old growth forests, as well as excluding companies with poor management of environment, social and governance (ESG) risks.

Local Government Super has about $8 billion in investments. The policy will mean about $25 million will be divested from various mining and energy companies, including $15 million in shares of AGL Energy and Whitehaven Coal.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Australian National University divests from 7 fossil fuel and mining companies

The Australian National University has announced divestment of $16 million in shares in seven Australian fossil fuel and mining companies.

The Council of the University has agreed to a proposal by Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO to divest following an independent review of equity investments under its Socially Responsible Investment Policy conducted by the Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER).

The companies the university will be divesting from are Iluka Resources, Independence Group, Newcrest Mining, Sandfire Resources, Oil Search, Santos and Sirius Resources. The investments amount to around 5.1 per cent of the University’s Australian equity holdings and approximately one per cent of its total investment holdings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Post: Human hands are all over Australia's hottest ever year in 2013

New research by multiple separate research groups shows that extreme heat events are increasing and can be clearly attributable to global warming. The research draws upon modelling and Fractional Attribution of Risk (FAR) of extreme weather events including from Australian scientists who have shown that extreme heatwaves and hot spells are caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It confirms earlier published research by Karoly and Lewis that the Record Australian 2013 temperatures caused by climate change.

Australia is already feeling the heat of global warming and Spending wisely now will make heatwaves less costly later. Our cities in particular are becoming hothouses in summer as global warming amplifies the urban heat island effect which along with increasing urbanisation like in Sydney, provides major climate impacts. There are already major challenges for adaptation for cities like Melbourne with Municipal Councils often on the front line.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Australia's Foreign minister Julie Bishop shunned at UN climate summit

The original article was published at nofibs.com.au.

Australia's Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop took the podium at the United Nations Climate Summit to an almost empty plenary to announce that Australia was balancing economic growth with climate action, with a 5 per cent cut based on 2000 levels by 2020 using $2.55 billion to fund emission reductions under the Government's Direct Action Plan. (Read speech) Two photos tell the story of her address to this climate summit, of the vast gap between the government's rhetoric and actual action.

The first is the more flattering image the Abbott Government would prefer you to see tweeted by Australia's ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations Gary Quinlan:

The second photo is a wide angle shot encompassing much of the plenary room and shows that most delegates and ministers were not present when Ms Bishop delivered her statement. While this does not in itself mean much, it is symptomatic of Australia being diplomatically shunned for it's retrograde steps on climate policy, including being the first country to abolish a carbon pricing scheme, and the snubbing of the summit by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who attended UN sessions discussing on terrorism the following day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

South Australia sets 50 per cent renewables target for 2025

Congratulations to South Australian Premier Jay Wetherall who announced this past week that the state was about to reach it's 2020 target of 33 per cent renewables in the electricity sector and had chosen to increase this target to 50 per cent by 2020.

“This new target of half of the States power to be generated by renewable sources will create jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries." he said in a statement. (statement PDF)

The Federal Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been a significant factor in attracting $5.5 billion in investment and was likely to support a further $4.4 billion by 2025, creating much needed jobs in solar installation and advanced manufacturing.

“This new target of half of the States power to be generated by renewable sources will create
jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries." Wetherall said, “But we will only be successful with both of these targets if the Federal Government maintains the current Renewable Energy Target Scheme arrangements."

The Abbott Government Warburton review of the RET has recommended either closing the scheme to new investors or by setting targets based on the growth of electricity demand. Both of these options would throw a spanner in the works of investment in renewable energy in Australia.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oxfam: Green Climate Fund pledges still far below target for funding adaptation by developing countries

The UN Climate Change Summit in New York brought many new pledges and commitments on emissions reduction targets, reduced deforestation, and in financing the Green Climate Fund, and many more.

It was hailed by by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a successful start for negotiating a global climate agreement in Paris in December 2015 at COP21.

But Gra├ža Machel, the widow of Nelsen Mandela, who followed Ban Ki-moon in the closing speeches of the summit, identified that there is still "a huge mismatch between the magnitude and of the challenge and the response that we heard here today". Machel is a member of the elders, an independent group of global leaders foundered by Nelson Mandela.

Take the Green Climate Fund as an example.