Sunday, August 29, 2010

Award for groundbreaking research in capturing Carbon Dioxide

A University of Sydney researcher has received an award for ground breaking work into capturing carbon emissions - research important to mitigating climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon pollution. Dr Deanna D'Alessandro, a post-doctoral fellow based in the School of Chemistry at Sydney University, was awarded a L'Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship for her research on ways to capture and release carbon dioxide, hydrogen and other gases using molecular sponges.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently at 390 ppm (parts per million) and increasing. At our current business as usual rate of carbon pollution we should pass 400 ppm within 10 years. Research published in 2010 estimates that the CO2 level that will lead to collapse of the Greenland ice sheet is between 400 to 560 parts per million (ppm). (Skeptical Science - What CO2 level would cause the Greenland ice sheet to collapse?)

Friday, August 27, 2010

ACT Government takes the lead in climate action emission reduction targets

The ACT Government has announced cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels. The targets were announced by Minister for the Environment Climate Change and Water, Simon Corbell when tabling the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010 in the ACT legislative assembly.

"The ACT Government has consulted widely on potential targets for greenhouse gas reduction in the Territory, and has analysed evidence based arguments on human caused global warming." siad Simon Corbell, "Governments have a responsibility to act on this issue, and the ACT Labor Government is leading Australia on reducing our carbon footprint by increasing the uptake of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency in Canberra homes and businesses."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Negotiating climate action in a hung parliament

vote climateAustralians woke up on Sunday to find neither Labor or Opposition Liberal and National parties had achieved a majority of seats in the Federal House of Representatives. Indeed, the Greens were the main winners with over a 5 per cent national swing and 6 senators likely elected, achieving the balance of power position in the Senate; and an historic breakthrough win for Adam Bandt in Melbourne, the first Greens MHR elected in a Federal election.

This election was a referendum on climate action and both Labor and Liberal/Nationals received a thumbs down from the voting public. A minority Government now needs to negotiate an effective carbon price and action on climate change with the Greens and the Independents.

In a hung parliament the three independent MPs - Bob Katter from Kennedy (Queensland), Tony Windsor from New England (NSW) and Rob Oakeshott from Lyne (NSW), all formerly from the National Party, plus progressive greens independant Andrew Wilkie who is likely to be elected for Denison (Tas), and Greens member Adam Bandt for Melbourne (Vic), may determine who makes up the next minority Government.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Environmental Scorecards: Climate action missing in action from Major Party policy

The major parties have sidelined action on climate this election, delaying any policy on setting a carbon price and only taking small steps to encourage conversion to renewable energy or carbon emissions reduction. The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Wilderness Society have all heavily criticised both Government and Coalition parties while endorsing the supportive climate and environmental policies of the Greens.

While Prime Minister Julia Gillard 'believes' in anthropogenic climate change, her government's main climate policy is a proposed 150 person citizen assembly to build a community consensus on climate action and continuing renewable energy programs already started. The Government continues to reiterate that the introduction of an emissions trading scheme will not be reassessed until the end of 2012. Climate activists have criticised Julia Gillard over current ALP climate change policy.

Australian Academy of Science outlines Climate Change Facts


On Monday the Australian Academy of Sciences released a report on Climate Change summarising in seven questions and detailed answers the scientific facts of climate change and Australia in straightforward language with the aim "to contribute to the public understanding of the state of the science and to attempt to tread a path through the often contradictory public commentary on the science."

The report - The Science of Climate Change - Questions and Answers - has been released in the final week of the Australian Federal election in which both the Labor Government and Opposition Parties are offering minimal policy action on climate. Both Government and Opposition parties have not responded to the report which has only received limited media coverage.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Farmers and Conservationists protest coal and CSG expansion in Queensland

Farmers and conservations took to the streets of Brisbane protesting the increasing encroachment and damage to prime agricultural farm land and the environment by the rapacious coal mining and coal seam gas (CSG) industry. While the rally proceeded outside Parliament House, two activists managed to evade security and to unfurl a banner from high up on the Parliament House facade that said "Don't undermine our farms".

Hannah Elvery from Six Degrees told the rally "We want to hand our environment, our farmland intact to future generations." shortly after kids had peddled a toy tractor cavalcade with signs protesting coal mines on farming land.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Election Scorecards on Environment and Climate change policy

There has been a lot of policy hot air from the major parties, but on environmental and climate change policies the major parties really stink. Only the Greens rise above the murky effluent according to three election scorecard ratings by the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Climate Institute, and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. These scorecards will not surprise most readers of a climate for change, but they do provide an attempt to objectively assess the parties on environmental policy.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has rated Labor, Liberal and National, and Greens parties on four environmental criteria: Reduce Pollution, Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities, and Healthy Environment. The Greens have scored very well on all fours issues while the Labor party only achieves greater than 50% ranking on one, and the Liberals and Nationals scored dismally on all four.

"Australians want our leaders to make clean energy cheaper and help us save energy." said ACF Executive Director, Don Henry in a media statement.

"ACF welcomes the commitments by the Greens for increased investment in urban light rail systems and to investigate the feasibility of high speed rail to connect our largest cities. We urge the major parties to follow this lead by committing to re-balance the national transport budget - with two thirds being invested in cleaner, faster and affordable public transport systems - by the end of the next term of government.

According to the ACF's election scorecard the Greens achieved 81 points out of 100 while Labor and the Coalition were lagging behind on 33 and 15 respectively.

"Australians want our leaders to reduce pollution and protect our environment and at the moment, the Greens are leading on ACF's scorecard with Labor doing poorly, and the Coalition very poorly." said Don Henry.

Ranking the parties just on climate policy, then try the Climate Institute Pollute O Meter which rates the three major political groups. This ranking shows the Greens streets ahead on Climate Policy than both Labor and Liberal National Parties, although still not going far enough.

"By not committing to, or directly opposing, limits and price-tags on pollution both major parties lack credibility and locks Australia's economy onto a balloon ride to ever polluting skies." said John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute in a media statement.

"There's plenty of room for improvement from both major parties in the remaining weeks. We need a limit and a price tag on pollution and credible commitments for pollution reduction, but there are still opportunities in land use, energy saving and cleaner energy policies," concluded Mr Connor.

While Climate Change has largely been downgraded as a priority for the major parties, with lacklustre policies that don't reflect the action that scientists say is needed, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition are campaigning hard for greater action. In a series of weekend POWER SHIFT summits in Adelaide, Geelong and Canberra in the lead up to the federal election, the AYCC is motivating young voters to be heard on this issue. The AYCC have also produced a scorecard on climate change which strongly favours the Greens ahead of the Labor Party and the Coalition a poor third.

Listen to Anna Gillam from The Wire from Community radio speaking to Adelaide organisers Joel Dignam and Heather Bruer: Election 2010: Young People demand action on climate change (MP3).

The AYCC have powershift events coming up in Canberra 7-8 August and in Geelong 14-15 August.

Queensland Conservation organisations urge a vote for the Environment

A broad coalition of conservation organisations in Queensland have released a statement urging a vote for the environment and calling for urgent action to arrest the decline of biodiversity, to tackle dangerous climate change and build a safe and healthy future.

The Queensland conservation coalition set out priorities they want to see implemented by the next Federal Government:


  • A price on carbon to shift investment towards clean energy. The Sunshine State should become a renewable State of Australia

  • A Commonwealth/State Strategic Assessment on the impacts of increasing coal and gas exports on Queensland. The Shen Neng grounding on the reef and significant expansion of port facilities are major threats to the environment and these threats must be addressed

  • The inclusion of groundwater and farmland as matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.

  • A National Sustainable Population Plan based upon ecological constraints to halt over-development and support the transition to low-carbon urban communities


On climate change the statement calls for:


  • Introduce a price on carbon

  • Replace coal generated electricity with solar, wind and other renewable energies

  • Cut greenhouse gas pollution in the next term of Government

  • Phase out fossil fuel industry subsidies and re-direct to renewable energy investments

  • Support poor and vulnerable countries to tackle the impacts of climate change and invest in sustainable development


Their call for urgency reiterates statements from Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett who said in May 2010 "We are not acting with sufficient speed to reduce the large degree of risk that climate change poses to our health, our environment and our livelihoods."


The statement was prepared by Queensland Conservation Council, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, Mackay Conservation Group, Capricorn Conservation Council, Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council, Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Toowoomba and Region and Environment Council, Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council(GECKO), Logan and Albert Conservation Association, Householders Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE), North Queensland Conservation Council.

You can read the full statement: Queensland Environment Groups Election Platform