Friday, May 6, 2016

Wales: #breakfree occupation of Ffos-y-fran opencut coal mine

Welsh climate activists invoked the mythical red dragon to say 'Break Free from fossil fuels' and 'No New Coal'. A red puppet dragon was used in the civil disobedient occupation of the Ffos-y-fran open cut mine in South Wales on May 3. This is the largest open cast coal mine in the United Kingdom.

About 300 people walked on to the minesite at 5.30am and shut down all operations for the day. With the peaceful occupation, no arrests were reported. The activists were part of the global #BreakFree protests targeting coal and fossil fuel infrastructure around the world.

Miller Argent is the corporation responsible for Ffos-y-fran. They are planning a new huge coal pit just next door at Nant Llesg. They have been met with resistance from the local community to stop their mine expansion which would destroy common land that offers grazing and wildlife biodiversity.

Philippines: 10,000 march to #BreakFree from #coal in Batangas city

Twenty seven coal power stations are planned for construction in the Philippines. As part of the global #BreakFree protests, around 10,000 Filipinos marched in Batangas City on May 4 demanding an end to coal and transition to renewable energy. The protest comes just five days before national elections.

People and civil society groups are demanding that the next Philippines administration cancel all proposed coal plants nationwide and hasten a transition to renewable energy, according to a Greenpeace statement.

Bill Shorten on climate change in reply to Morrison's budget

Original article published at

In Bill Shorten's budget reply speech he mentioned climate change 5 times. This was five times more than Treasurer Scott Morrisson used the term in his budget speech.

It was a positive and inspiring speech covering the traditional Labor concerns: Jobs, Education, Medicare, Climate Change, Affordable housing, fair taxation, Equality for women, and belief in young Australians. But, like the Treasurer's speech two days ago, reference to refugee detention on Manus Island and Nauru was absent.

The speech comes as Essential Vision polling published 3 May shows Labor ahead on two party preferred figures of 52 per cent versus 48 per cent for the Coalition parties. Roy Morgan polling also shows ALP in front but Election too close to call: ALP 51% - L-NP 49%.

The Paris Agreement requires that we transition to a zero carbon economy by at least the middle of the century. Transition should be an important economic consideration. The comparison between the Coalition parties and Labor (and the Greens) could not be more stark as contained in the Treasurer's budget speech, and the budget reply speeches of Bill Shorten and Senator Richard Di Natale.

Here is the section on climate change excerpted from Bill Shorten's full speech (SMH). You can watch Bill Shorten's full budget reply at Malcolm Farnsworth's channel on YouTube.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

ERF auction spends big for just 7 per cent #climate emissions reduction for 2030

This article was originally published at

Results from the third Direct Action Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction for emissions reduction was announced with 50.5 million worth of offsets at $10.23 each. So 67 per cent of the $2.55 billion budget has been spent to achieve less than 7 per cent of the emissions reduction goal by 2030.

This effort amounts to less than 3 per cent of what is required for Australia's fair share in global emissions reduction for staying under the 2 degrees C limit as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Environment Minister Greg Hunt signed the Paris agreement in New York on 22nd April 2016. Australia also agreed with aspiring to meet the 1.5 degrees target, so even more effort is required from Australian climate policy.

But the Liberal National Party Government main policy instrument for reducing emissions is the Emissions Reduction Fund, which is clearly inadequate. Even our 2030 climate target of 26-28 per cent reduction by 2030 is ranked as inadequate.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dirty secret revealed at EngieGroup AGM: #Hazelwood

A live question was asked at the Engie Group General Assembly (AGM) in France about the Hazelwood Power station in the LaTrobe Valley of Australia, Engie's dirty secret. Engie say they will only generate low or no carbon electricity, but Hazelwood and plans to upgrade the turbines at Loy Yang B power station proves that this talk is just greenwashing.

Engie needs to show corporate responsibility in settling the claim for costs for putting out the 45 day 2014 mine fire. They should be building renewables and planning the phased closure of Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations and rehabilitation of the coal mines. They need to consult and negotiate with the LaTrobe Valley and Morwell community about employment, energy and mine rehabilitation for a just transition.

Engie, more widely kknown as GDF Suez, is a majority owner along with Japanese company Mitsui of two coal mines and power stations in Victoria. The subsidiary company, International Power, runs the Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations. Yet Engie has just announced that it hopes to spend ‘tens of millions’ of dollars to upgrade the turbines in the Loy Yang B power station.

Budget2016 fails on climate change: environment & climate NGOs respond

Article originally published at

The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered the Federal budget without once mentioning in his speech (Full text at Sydney Morning Herald) climate change, renewables, phase out of coal or transitioning to clean energy economy. This Government, though it recently signed the Paris Agreement, is in effect in climate denial going into the July 2nd Federal election.

The Treasurer's only related reference was to the abolition of the carbon tax. The Abbott/Turnbull government kept the tax scales that Labor introduced as compensation for introduction of carbon pricing. So although high income earners and companies get a tax cut in this budget, everyone on low income has already had our tax reward back in 2012, and hence get nothing.

"This change also builds on the tax cuts provided to those on incomes of less than $80,000 to compensate for the carbon tax. By abolishing the carbon tax and keeping the tax relief in our first budget we delivered a genuine tax cut for those earning up to $80,000 a year."- Scott Morrison

I'll leave others more qualified to comment on the economic and political ramifications of this budget. But the absence of any mention of the environment, of transitioning the economy away from coal to renewables and a clean energy future, and the tens of thousands of new jobs this would create, makes it clear this government is firmly stuck in the past. They use the word innovation a lot (5 times in the Treasurers speech), but it is more marketing than actual substance in supporting and funding the science and education in transforming to a low carbon economy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Opinion Poll: Support for 45 per cent climate targets and emissions trading

Polling done by Essential vision shows that most people approve the higher climate targets and the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme in Labor's climate plan. The polling was published on May 3 and supports previous polling in March that a majority of Australians want greater action on climate change.

The survey found that 57 per cent of voting age people approved of the Labor Party’s higher climate targets that more closely match the science and carbon emissions policy. Just 21 per cent disapproved of these targets and implementation of an ETS.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Guest Post: Great Barrier Reef bleaching would be almost impossible without climate change

I have followed climate change and marine science for about 10 years. This latest climate attribution research by Australian climate scientists shows clearly that the massive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef would not have occurred without human caused climate change. It is attribution climate science done in near real time. Cutting edge stuff.

The researchers also dispel arguments that this coral bleaching event was due to the strong El Nino this year, but primarily long term temperature warming of oceans. It underlines that coral reef ecosystems face a bleak future with coral bleaching events from warm waters being a regular occurrence in as little as 20 years time.

Read and weep, and then focus your anger on the intransigence of many politicians, first in denial then, like Environment Minister Greg Hunt who pay lip service and make nominal commitments, while supporting the agents of greenhouse gas emissions in approving the massive Adani Carmichael Coal mine.

Great Barrier Reef bleaching would be almost impossible without climate change

Andrew King, University of Melbourne; David Karoly, University of Melbourne; Mitchell Black, University of Melbourne; Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, The University of Queensland, and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Australia

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can Labor wedge the Coalition on #climatechange in #ausvotes2016?

Original article published at

Action on climate change is a live issue at the 2016 election, but it is still divisive. The Australian Labor Party unveiled it's climate action plan to take to the Federal Election, likely to be on July 2. A lot of deliberative thought and nuanced politics have gone into this plan with targeted changes in different sectors.

Environment and community groups, along with the Business Council of Australia, broadly said the plan was positive, although there were criticisms raised about the need for climate policy to become bipartisan to ensure stability in the economic transitions needed. Environment groups stressed that it was a useful starting point and much better than the Coalition government targets and policy, but didn't go nearly far enough to meet the obligations now enshrined in the Paris Agreement of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees and aspire to 1.5 degrees limit on warming.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Guest Post: John Hewson - Shorten can wedge Turnbull on climate

I recently wrote how I still feel ashamed of Australia during and after the Paris COP21. Australia signed the Paris Agreement in New York on April 22, but is still not showing signs of walking the talk on climate action. I am far from the only one who are critical of current Government political inaction in addressing climate change from across the political spectrum. Here is John Hewson, an Economics Professor and a former opposition leader of the Liberal National Party in 1993, who accused the Government, and Environment Minister Greg Hunt, of 'blatant hypocrisy'...

John Hewson, Australian National University

It was all a bit much for me to see Environment Minister Greg Hunt wallowing in the signing of the Paris Agreement on emissions reduction in New York this week. His commitment to its ratification by year end, after opposing the pricing of carbon and attempting to close down the renewables industry, is nothing short of blatant hypocrisy.

Further, it was galling to hear him boast that, “We’re now on track to meet and beat our..targets and our Paris 2030 targets are strong and ambitious and they have been welcomed and hailed”, and then to attempt to create the impression that “our domestic climate change policies” have and will continue to deliver “real outcomes”.