Monday, June 30, 2008

Greenpeace steps up pressure on NSW and Federal Governments on Climate Change

Greenpeace has announced the Esperanza will be visiting the East Coast of Australia over the next six weeks highlighting the need for a transition away from coal to clean renewable energy as contained in a new report called Blueprint for an energy [r]evolution

In related news: The Minister for Climate Change has announced new Greenhouse Gas Emission reporting requirements; and scientists have proclaimed that ocean warming has proceeded faster than expected and that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is in danger of collapse over a period of 20 years possibly raising sea levels 4 to 6 metres, unless measures are taken to limit fossil fuel use and its contribution to global warming. Upcoming event: Camp for Climate Action, Newcastle July 10-15

The voyage will highlight the Greenpeace report - Blueprint for an energy [r]evolution, released on June 16, 2008. The report details how coal-fired electricity can be completely phased out in Australia by 2030 by harnessing the country’s renewable energy resources - just a matter of political will by Federal and State Governments.

The report states that the Federal Government must:

* Legislate a target to reduce emissions by more than 40% by 2020
* Establish a moratorium on new coal-fired power stations and commit to a phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030
* Legislate a national target for renewable energy (electricity) of 40% by 2020
* Set a national energy efficiency target of a 2% reduction per year in Australia’s primary energy use
* Fund environmentally sustainable transport planning that reduces Australia’s emissions
* Support workers and communities affected by the move away from coal and develop a highly trained “green” workforce through investment in training programs and apprenticeships.


The Federal Government's Climate change adviser Ross Garnaut is due to release his full report to the Government this Friday that will detail a broad emissions trading scheme covering all sectors of the economy, including transport, for the Government to consider implementing.


Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, in a doorstop interview last week said that "We will release a Green Paper after Professor Garnaut’s draft report and that will outline government thinking on this issue [inclusion of fuel] and other issues. Can I make it very clear, unlike the opposition we understand that these are difficult decisions which have consequences, and what the opposition is not telling people, is if you exclude one or another sector of the economy, the rest of the economy has to do more work to reduce emissions."

Federal Government Introduces Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting

From the 1st July 2008 businesses emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases will be required to monitor and measure the emissions ahead of reporting them to the Government by October next year.

"The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System will be an important part of our efforts to tackle climate change as we move to establish an emissions trading scheme,” Senator Wong said. “This new system will play an important role by more precisely quantifying the greenhouse gases Australia produces. It will also, for the first time, provide robust and comparable information to the public on the greenhouse and energy profiles of Australia’s large corporations.”

Corporations that emit 125 kilotonnes or more of greenhouse gases each year, or produce or consume 500 terajoules or more of energy, will be required to collect data to meet annual reporting requirements. Corporations controlling facilities that emit more than 25 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases, or use or produce 100 terajoules or more of energy, will also need to collect data.

Businesses will have until 31 August 2009 to apply to register under the scheme, and until 31 October 2009 to submit their first annual greenhouse and energy report.

Rising Seas Warming Faster threatening Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse

New research published in the prestigous scientific journal Nature, shows ocean warming and thermal expansion trends for the past five decades are 50% larger than earlier previously estimated.

The Greenland Ice sheet is in danger of collapse with the Arctic sea ice rapidly diminishing. In Antarctica there is a danger that rising sea levels are destabilising the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which could collapse within 20 years according to Dr Bradley Opdyke, a paleoceanographer from the Australia National University (ANU).

The views of Opdyke were endorsed by Professor Malcolm McCulloch, also from the ANU, who said that the ice sheet collapse is a key threat. "Satellite images have revealed there's already melt-water beneath some of the ice sheets" he says. "If the WAIS collapses, sea levels will rise between four and six metres."

McCulloch was reported by the ABC that the collapse of the WAIS can be averted if the world community becomes "open minded" in its search for alternatives to fossil fuels.

Sources:

* Greenpeace June 28, 2008 - Greenpeace Esperanza begins Energy [R]evolution tour
* Minister for Climate Change and Water 2008 Media Releases
* ABC, June 19, 2008 - Ocean review finds warming on the rise
* ABC, June 25, 2008 - Rising seas threaten west Antarctic
* Greenpeace Report and summary: Blueprint for an energy [r]evolution