Friday, November 16, 2007

Activists close Power station As Evidence mounts on Climate Change Accelerating

15 Greenpeace activists closed down Munmorah coal fired power station on Thursday in protest against the greenhouse gas emission policies of the Howard Government and Rudd opposition. The power station is located on the Central coast of NSW, 110 km north of Sydney, and has been identified as one of the most polluting coal stations in the world.

The protest ocurred as a new report (PDF) was published by the Climate Institute that said "the IPCC assessment is underestimating the risks of adverse impacts due to increased warming during this century and that impacts previously considered to be at the upper end of likelihood are now more probable. Greenhouse emissions are rising faster than the worst case IPCC scenarios."

Greenpeace Photos | videos 1, 2 | CARMA - Carbon Monitoring for Action | Carbon Equity | Video: Peter Costello on 2050 climate targets

Greenpeace is campaigning for greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 30% by 2020 by switching from polluting coal power to clean energy systems and energy conservation. The activists draped a banner over the coal feed conveyor belt housing reading 'Climate change starts here'. Another group climbed onto the roof of the main building and painted the message "Coal Kills", which is clearly visible from the air.

Steve Campbell, head of Greenpeace campaigns said "With just one week until the election, both major parties are backing climate policies that will see emissions increase. Neither Howard nor Rudd have committed to making the deep cuts needed in the next decade if we are to avoid dangerous climate change,"

"Coal is killing our planet and our future. This week the world's top scientists are warning that we must slash emissions by 2020. There is no way we can do this unless we push the emergency stop on coal, starting with the oldest and dirtiest plants, like Munmorah."

"We can expect to see more and more people taking part in civil disobedience actions against coal power," Campbell said. "To stop climate change we need to make the switch from coal to clean renewable energy. We are calling on John Howard and Kevin Rudd to put in place the clean energy policies needed to make this happen."

Munmorah Power Station is NSW’s oldest power station, built between 1967 and 1969, with a capacity of 600MW and is owned by the State Government through Delta Electricity. Delta has said that unless Mumorah is refurbished, it will close in about 2012.

According to Greenpeace, in 2006 Munmorah generated 1,416Gwh of electricity, the most since 1994. Given that Munmorah emits 1.065 tonnes of greenhouse pollution for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, it would have produced about 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 in 2006, about 1% of NSW’s total.

Greenpeace suggests programs such as switching all households to solar hot water and upgrading household insulation would save approximately four times the outout of Munmorah. Energy conservation programs could save up to 30 per cent of energy demand, with the projection of wind and solar under present policies of meeting 15-20% of electricity consumption by 2020.

International Study on Power Station emissions

Coincidentally, the protest ocurred on the same day that an international study by the Centre for Global Development of the world's 50,000 power stations was released, which ranked Australia as the world's worst greenhouse gas emitter on a per capita basis. According to the study Australian power plants produce more than 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person each year, ahead of the United States, rated second at more than nine tonnes per person, while China is down the list and only rates two tonnes per person.

The information has been collated in a huge database called CARMA—Carbon Monitoring for Action, that anyone can visit. “CARMA makes information about power-related CO2 emissions transparent to people throughout the world,” says Dr. Wheeler, an expert in the use of public information disclosure to reduce pollution. “Information leads to action. We know that this works for other forms of pollution and we believe it can work for greenhouse gas emissions, too.”

“We expect that institutional and private investors, insurers, lenders, environmental and consumer groups and individual activists will use the CARMA data to encourage power companies to burn less coal and oil and to shift to renewable power sources, such as wind and solar,” Dr. Wheeler said.

Report: Evidence of Accelerated Climate Change

The report prepared for the Climate Institute was peer reviewed by Graeme Pearman, former head of CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. The report briefly looks at temperature increases, Greenhouse Gas Concentration, melting sea ice, collapsing ice shelves, sea level rise, declining sinks and growing sources. It comes just before the release of the 4th report by the IPCC, which it criticises as aleady out of date. It strongly argues "the case for a policy of risk management and more urgent intervention is strengthened."

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor told the ABC "It means we're running out of time to help stop dangerous climate change and our politicians need to be much more urgent and decisive in the actions that they're taking in cutting greenhouse pollution, making the switch to green energy and showing real international leadership on this," he said.

The report summary says in full:

"Managing the risk of climate change requires consideration of those consequences that we understand and those where there is the potential (particularly if it is large) for impacts, even though at this stage the probability of the occurrence is unknown. This paper suggests that there exists evidence that the IPCC process may have led to an underestimation of the risk of greater warming and that the impacts of climate change are occurring more rapidly then previously projected. In part this may reflect the rapidly unfolding observations and theoretical understanding of climate change. This range of issues will require close monitoring and further research, and inclusion into the risk management process preceding policy development. To the extent that the impacts of climate change may be in the more severe range of those outlined in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the case for a policy of risk management and more urgent intervention is strengthened."