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Friday, December 26, 2014

Australian emissions set to soar: new report shows carbontax was working

Largest drop in Australia's emissions with carbon tax, new figures from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory reveal, as emissions from electricity generation start to trend up. Article originally published at Nofibs

Just two days before Christmas Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt released the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory June quarter update report which shows that Labor's Carbon pricing, abolished in July 2014, was being highly effective at reducing emissions, especially from the electricity generating sector.

The Abbott Government wants to bury this story, hence it's release right before Christmas. Carbon tax abolition was, after all, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's greatest achievement as Minister for Women, as we were told.

Despite the timing, there was mainstream coverage by the Sydney Morning Herald and in the Guardian, but the details are easily forgotten in the pre-christmas activity and celebrations by most people.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

For Cooking the Planet with Tony Abbott, just add mysogyny

Abbott labels Carbon Tax abolition as greatest achievement as Minister for Women

What a world we live in where we face major impacts on human civilisation from climate change and environmental degradation and Australia's Prime Minister and self appointed Minister for Women Tony Abbott identifies the abolition of the carbon tax as his greatest achievement in 2014 for women in Australia.

The comments were made in an interview on the Today show when speaking about the recent cabinet reshuffle. The cabinet reshuffle doubled the representation of women in cabinet to two.

Host of the program Lisa Wilkinson asked Tony Abbott to nominate his top achievement in his capacity as Minister for Women. To which Prime Minister Abbott replied:
"Well, you know, it is very important to do the right thing by families and households. As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550 a year benefit for the average family."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Climate, Environment Boards and Foreign Aid slashed by Joe Hockey in #MYEFO

The Abbott Government slashing of climate change infrastructure continues in the latest Midyear Economic Forecast by the Treasurer Joe Hockey, where it was announced the Commonwealth deficit blows out to more than $40 billion and forecast not to return to surplus until 2019-20 at the earliest.

He attributed this budget blowout to reduced revenue due to iron ore prices being low, low wage growth with larger than expected family payments and other government benefits expenditure.

Joe Hockey was quick to criticise Labor's budget deficits and promises to return to surplus, In 2012 he pledged after Labor's 2012 budget that, "based on the numbers presented last Tuesday night we will achieve a surplus in our first year in office and we will achieve a surplus for every year of our first term".

Being in Government it seems, is not as easy to meet such a promise.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Opinion: Tony Abbott's Direct Action climate policy not enough

The Latest IPSOS poll by Fairfax in December 2014 shows that most people think Tony Abbott's Direct Action Climate Change Policy is not nearly sufficient action for Australia to play it's fair part in addressing global warming.

This comes as Tony Abbott has sent Trade minister Andrew Robb, a major climate denialist in the Federal Liberal Party, to attend the Lima COP20 climate talks to keep Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in check from committing Australia from increasing our committment as other nations start increasing their commitments.

See story by Mark Kenny: Fairfax Ipsos poll shows climate change concerns heating up around Tony Abbott (Brisbane Times 8 December 2014)

More to follow...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Opinion Poll: more extreme weather expected, linked to climate change by Australian public

An opinion poll across Australia by Essential media has found that most people expect extreme weather events to get worse, and that this trend is linked to climate change.

Essential media conducted the survey from the 24th to 28th October 2013 based on 1,075 respondents as part of their regular opinion poll surveying releasing the opinion poll data on 4th November. This was part of their regular surveying but two questions in particular in this survey focussed on the frequency of extreme weather events and whether they are linked to climate change. (See Essential Report 4 November 2014 PDF)

Observational data and scientific modelling by both the BOM and CSIRO is pretty clear that the frequency, intensity and seasonal extent of bushfires will all increase due to climate change with this trend already being observed. (See Climate Council report: Climate Change & The Australian Bushfire Threat, December 2013)

Similarly for extreme heat events, we are seeing more frequent hot days with longer heatwaves, and the liklihood of starting earlier in Spring and ending later in Autumn. 2013 was Australia's hottest year on record with Fractional attribution of risk research showing conclusively that the hand of human caused climate change was involved. (See Climate Council report: Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, More Often, February 2014)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Locals protest Santos Pillaga CSG expansion

Something is happening in the Pillaga in western NSW. Coal Seam Gas exploration and drilling by Santos is under concerted attack. While the protests are not new, the profiles of those locking on or taking a stand are no longer the regular sterotype.

Yesterday a Coonabarabran mother of three young children, Nicole Hunter, locked on to a bulldozer for several hours. Mrs Hunter attached herself to a bulldozer to stop Santos clearing a patch of the forest for a new coal seam gas drill pad. She had a support crew from Coonabarabran. She was released after several hours without charge.

She is concerned about the industrialisation of the area and the impact on underground water, the mainstay of agriculture and important for recharging the Great Artesian basin. Read the story on CSG is risky business for aquifers.

Record sea surface temperatures in October says UK MetOffice data

Oceans continue to warm with the latest data from the UK Metoffice HADSST3 showing October 2014 had record warm sea surface temperatures. Over 90 per cent of the heat of global warming is being absorbed by the oceans.

This tweet by climate scientist Michael Mann shows the global SST trend:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Farmer puts climate #onmyagenda at Brisbane #G20

A farmer at Felton on the Darling Downs has found a novel way to communicate to the G20 leaders expected in Brisbane: a ploughed sign in his field that says 'GO 2 Solar',

Rob McCreath said in a statement, "Australia is one of the richest per capita countries in the world, with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world. We have huge reserves of sunshine, so making use of it is simply a matter of common sense. Our government’s reluctance to do so is an international embarrassment.

"Unlike coal, solar power really is good for humanity, because it can provide the clean energy needed to lift people out of poverty across the world, without stuffing up the climate even more."

He identified that 2013 was Australia's hottest year on record with 2014 shaping up to likely be the warmest year on record. "we’ve got a raging drought over a vast area. In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, our idiotic politicians are hooked on coal and gas, which is the cause of the problem." he said.

McCreath added "I hope Angela Merkel shirtfronts Tony Abbott and asks him, if Germany can go solar then why on earth can’t Australia?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coal emissions rise as Australia experiences hottest October on record

Emissions from the electricity sector are now showing a clear increasing trend. The latest Pitt and Sherry CEDEX report shows that emissions from burning black and brown coal has increased and this has at least partly been attributed to the abolition of the carbon Price. September's emissions were 1.3 per cent higher than the month to June 2014 when carbon pricing was in place.

What was a slight rise in July-August, which was the largest 2 month increase since 2006, has now been clearly confirmed in the September data.

September also marked a light downturn in hydropower with gas also flatlining as more is diverted for the more profitable export trade, so we see more black and brown coal generation as part of the National Electricity Market (NEM):

The report details that:
"This change in trend has coincided with, but is not entirely caused by, the removal of the carbon price.  Other factors include reduced gas generation in NSW, Victoria and SA, presumably related to higher wholesale gas prices, though it remained high in Queensland where cheap “ramp gas is likely to be available for a little longer.  There was also considerably less wind generation in both August and September this year, compared with the same months in 2013.  Black coal generation was 0.5% higher in the year to September 2014 than in the year to June, and brown coal generation was 2.2% higher."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hottest September on record

We are nine months into 2014 and the heat records continue to fall globally. January-September tied with 1998 as the warmest such period on record. For global average temperatures over land and sea, this September was the highest for the month since record keeping began according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It is the 38th consecutive September above the 20th Century average. You need to go back to 1976 for below average temperatures for September.

January March and April were among the four warmest of those months on record, and May, June, August and September all set new global average temperatures records. High ocean surface temperatures have assisted in this record warmth with El Nino still possible to develop if there is sufficient atmosphere - ocean coupling.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Moreland Council increases Heatwave response strategy while Victoria found to be critically deficient

A version of this article was originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

As well as taking the lead with fossil fuel divestment, the other important climate change related item at Moreland Council meeting on 8 October 2014 was a tabling of a report on heatwave strategies including the feasability of council heatwave refuges. The report was initiated as a result of a resolution moved by Cr Bolton at the Council meeting in February 2014 (See my report: Moreland Council calls for greater heatwave emergency planning for Victoria).

The report and decision came a week before the Victorian Auditor General tabled in parliament a damning report titled Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health which listed critical deficiencies in the emergency management of heatwaves and extreme heat events in Victoria. To a large degree these deficiencies derive from poor governance and oversight and the ultimate responsibility for this should be borne by the Baillieu and Napthine Liberal National Government. (See Victorian Auditor General Office: Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health tabled in Parliament 14 October 2014)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fair Food Forum at Coburg Farmers Market discusses agriculture and food security

Originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Climate Action Moreland members ventured to the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday to shop, to chat with other Moreland residents about climate change, collect signatures on the Monster climate petition, and listen to candidates for the State Election in November 2014 speak at the Fair Food Forum.

Food security and agriculture are important subjects which we should all be aware of and asking our political representatives about.

Fair Food Week – 10 to 19 October – is organised by Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). Michael Croft, AFSA President, described the occasion as “Fair Food Week encourages the general community to embrace local food production, purchase and consumption.”

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

City of Moreland an Australian climate leader in decision to divest

Original article on Climate Action Moreland website.

Tonight the City of Moreland has become the first council in Victoria to rule out direct investments in fossil fuels and the first council in Australia to start developing a strategy to move investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments.

Moreland joins around 30 cities internationally which have made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford.

It follows recent announcements from Industry superannuation funds HESTA and Local Government Super, statements from ANU and Sydney universities restricting coal investments, and decision by the Uniting Church in Australia and the Perth Anglican diocese to divest from high carbon fossil fuel and mining investments.

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.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Moreland Council plan to cut community emissions 22 per cent by 2020

Original article published at Climate Action Moreland.

At the Coburg Carnivale, the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy plan was launched by Moreland Council Mayor Cr Lambros Tapinos, Wills Federal MP Kelvin Thomson and Brunswick State MP Jane Garrett. The strategy aims for community greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 22 per cent by 2020.

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.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Transport Forum question on Climate change and heatwaves

Originally Published at Climate Action Moreland.

The Moreland Transport Forum was held on Monday, just a few hours after Premier Denis Napthine signed the East West Link contracts. A few of us from Climate Action Moreland attended handing out our leaflet on East West Link being Climate Madness, and a climate postcard.

Andrea Bunting from our group submitted the following question to be asked at the forum. It was the most highly rated question.

With climate change, we are facing a hotter, carbon-constrained world. Currently during heatwaves we can experience power failures for public transport, unbearable heat in trams and trains, and buckling of train tracks. Dark roads also amplify the urban heat island effect; hence temperatures in our urban areas are much hotter, leading to increased deaths and illness. What will you to do (a) reduce dependency on fossil fuel usage in transport; (b) ensure that all transport infrastructure can deal with heat waves; and (c) reduce urban heat island effect from dark roads?

The question was asked slightly differently in person at the forum to all three candidates - sitting member for Brunswick Jane Garrett MP, Greens candidate for Brunswick Tim Read, and Liberal Party no 2 on the ticket for Northern metro region (Upper house) Gladys Liu.

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

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 Graça 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.

Graça Machel: Are pledges enough to avoid the climate change precipice?

The widow of Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, addressed the UN Climate summit in the closing ceremony directly after UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon's closing statement and questioned whether the pledges made so far meet the challenge that we face.

Because our very survival may depend upon these decisions.

"We have reached a tipping point" she said, "So our commitments must be ambitious enough to stop us falling over the precipice. And personally I have mixed feelings. I acknowledge that there is the beginning of understanding of the gravity of the challenge that we face. But at the same time I have the impression that there is a huge mismatch between the magnitude and of the challenge and the response that we heard here today. The scale is much more than what we have achieved."

Machel highlighted the huge marches on Sunday in New York, Melbourne and around the world demanding action on climate justice, which brought applause from those in the chamber.

"So the obligation in my view is to step up the ambition, is to maximise fairness, to increase the momentum, and to make sure that from now to Paris, each one of us has made their homework of matching the magnitude of the problem with the response we are prepared to do. We, citizens of the world, will be watching." Machel told the 120 world leaders and other representatives gathered.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UN Climate summit advances pledges while Australia, Canada noticeably reticent

The UN climate summit has resulted in an extensive range of promises and commitments on climate action. But noticeably absent is any mention of commitments from Canada and Australia. These two countries both have high carbon fossil fuel mining industries with governments in denial on taking effective climate action on a national level to reign in emissions and the mining and export of fossil fuels.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Australian Government in denial on proposals for climate action at UN Climate summit

The reason the Peoples Climate protest occurred is that there is a UN summit on climate change on 23 September called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to motivate more ambitious targets to be brought to the negotiating table. About 120 heads of state are attending, but not Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott who claims he needs to stay in Canberra an extra day, even though he is scheduled to be in New York for the UN General Assembly debate on the threat of terrorism the following day. What a lame excuse! In his place Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is being sent.

Ms Bishop will be attending the climate summit as a "leaner" not a "lifter". Countries have been urged to bring along ambitious plans for emissions cuts to take the plans for an agreement in Paris forward, but Ms Bishop told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia would only confirm a 5 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2020 and that it was "too early" for plans for deeper emissions cuts beyond Australia's existing policies. At a meeting in New York of the top 17 economies hosted by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop called this an "ambituous target".

What world are they living in?

30,000 rally in Melbourne and more in regional Victoria for action on climate change

A beautiful spring day brought out the crowds to attend the Peoples Climate Melbourne rally. But the hum had been in the air that this was going to draw a large crowd. As it turns out, over 30,000 people turned up and marched from the State Library of Victoria to the Treasury Gardens through Melbourne's streets demanding greater action on climate change .

There were short speeches outside the State Library of Victoria by Labor's Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler MP (Watch video), Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens (Watch video), and Professor Tim Flannery of the Climate Council (Watch video).

Friday, September 19, 2014

PwC report: World still on track for dangerous warming this century

The latest Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI) shows that the world is still on track for 3.7 to 4.8°C of warming by the end of the century, rather than the 2 degrees limit committed to at Copenhagen in 2009 and at subsequent climate talks. But there are small glimers of climate hope from the continued growth in renewables and in the reduction in carbon intensity reported by some countries. Australia in particular was a surprise showing a 7.2 per cent reduction in carbon intensity in 2013, more than any other major nation.

However, even if all current policies on the table were fully implemented at their highest ambition range, the planet would still be on a trajectory of at least 3 degrees warming by the end of the century.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

HESTA Super Fund restricts thermal coal investments

The first major Australian industry superannuation fund advised on Friday they were restricting thermal coal investment due to the growing risk of 'unburnable carbon' with the growing global push to limit global warming.

HESTA, the super fund for employees in health and community services, announced a progressive implementation of a restriction on investments in thermal coal, across all it's funds, not just it's ethical fund. HESTA has $29 billion under funds management with 785,000 members and 155,000 employers.

Anne-Marie Corboy, HESTA Chief Executive Officer, said that this was an increasing restriction as part of the Fund’s ongoing response to the increasing impact of climate change on its long-term investments. In a media statement she commented:

“This ‘unburnable carbon’ is likely to become an increasing risk in the medium to long term, especially for companies heavily invested in thermal coal, or those seeking to develop new long-term assets.

“HESTA is of the view that, new or expanded thermal coal assets face the highest risk of becoming stranded before the end of their useful life.

“It is not prudent, nor in the long-term interest of members, to invest in the expansion of these assets.

“The push to limit the impact of global warming requires economies to move to a lower-carbon intensive future and investors have an important role to play in this transition.

“HESTA believes that further investment in developing new, or expanding existing, thermal coal reserves is inconsistent with this imperative to reduce carbon emissions.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Moreland increasing tree canopy to combat Urban Heat island Effect

Article originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Moreland Council at it's September 2014 Council meeting adopted a report on increasing vegetation tree canopy and resolved "to support and fund current initiatives aligned with the management of climate change and the Urban Heat Island Effect."

The Council report - DCI70/14 REVIEW OF TREE COVER IN MORELAND AND HEAT ISLAND EFFECT (D14/225415) (full text below) - was prepared for the Director of City Infrastructure as a result of a motion by Cr Davidson (full text below) at the July council meeting. It outlines that Council will plant 5,000 trees annually as part of the Moreland Street Landscape Strategy (see Street Trees on Council Website) with the biggest tree suited to an area to be planted to increase canopy coverage. The goal is to plant 30,000 trees across the municipality by 2020.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Superannuation is Destroying the Planet - John Hewson fights back on climate

Superannuation for most of us is compulsory saving that we really don't worry too much about until we start getting closer to retirement. We leave it to the investment managers and superannuation trustees to judge the benefits and risks in investment strategies they put forward.

But what if their assessments of risk and investment strategies are all short term market oriented or only consider past trends. This is the problem posed by climate risk and the carbon bubble. The carbon bubble represents a major shift in resource exploitation and energy production, and a social and technological transition required. Australia's headlong rush for coal expansion risks stranded assets. The economic risks of a carbon bubble and stranded assets have been warned by Carbon Tracker, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global pension funds control about $30 trillion in assets. It is estimated that over 55 per cent of pension contributions are invested in high-risk, high-carbon assets with less than 2 per cent being invested in low-carbon assets.

With climate change science indicating that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground to maintain a safe climate, there is an enormous carbon bubble of overvalued assets. This poses a huge problem: when this carbon bubble bursts it will substantially downgrade the value of these superannuation investments, that is, your and my future retirement income.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Labor votes with Government to dump key Energy Efficiency program

On Thursday Labor Party Senators lined up with the Government, Palmer United Party and crossbench independent senators to repeal the largescale Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program setup with bipartisan support in 2006 under the Howard Government. In a division in the Senate of 55 votes to 10, only the Greens Senators opposed the dumping of this program which had made substantial business energy savings of over $800 million dollars and 8.21 megatonnes reduction in carbon emissions.

The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program was recognised by the International Energy Agency as a world-class program helping businesses to save energy and a key element of energy efficiency policy framework and in addressing climate change.

The scheme has since been copied by the UK to drive transformation of energy consumption by large businesses. "Just as we are dumping it, they are picking it up because they realise it has been so successful in Australia and could be even more successful." observed Greens leader Christine Milne.

The Abbott Government proposed the legislative repeal of this program in the May budget papers as the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (Repeal) Bill 2014. The conditions in the repeal will apply retrospectively from 29 June 2014 for affected business.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Carbon emissions rise from electricity generation - largest 2 month increase since 2006

The latest CEDEX assessment by Pitt and Sherry shows an increase in Australian electricity demand in June and July with rising supply from coal and gas since the Abbott Government abolished the carbon tax and talked about abolishing or emasculating the Renewable Energy Target with the Warburton Review.

Emissions rose by about 1 million tonnes - about 0.8 per cent. It is the largest 2 month increase since 2006 according to Peter Hannam in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The monthly Pitt and Sherry CEDEX report tracks carbon emissions, electricity contribution from different generator types and electricity demand.

This story was originally posted to Climate Action Moreland.

Importance of Climate action motivates Greens Senator Janet Rice

The Original story was posted on Climate Action Moreland published 3 September, 2014.

New Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice, who took up office from 1st July, has emphasised the importance of climate change as one of the primary motivations for her as a Senator and legislator in Canberra.

In her first 'official' speech she outlined her first moment on her long journey to Canberra after coming out of a 1980 climatology lecture by Dr Barrie Pittock on the greenhouse effect at Melbourne University. The realisation dawned of the serious nature of climate change and its global impact.

"Learning about global warming politicised me." she said.

It set in place a career in environmental activism (See wikipedia bio) from the Tasmanian Franklin Blockade onwards including being active in East Gippsland forest campaigns, being pivotal in the formation of the Victorian Greens, as well as 6 years on Maribyrnong Council, including one year as Mayor.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wills MP Kelvin Thomson goes into bat for ARENA and renewable energy

This original article was first published at Climate Action Moreland.

Federal MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson spoke in the second reading debate for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014 on 28 August 2014 defending the need to maintain low carbon investment support and the Renewable Energy Target.

Thomson highlighted that ARENA has supported more than 190 renewable energy projects, with more than $1.5 billion in private sector investment. An equal number of renewable energy projects is in the pipeline which might draw up to $5 billion in private sector funding. Rural and regional areas of Australia have benefited through job creation with about 70 per cent of projects in rural and regional areas.

"Experience from renewable energy markets overseas has shown that stable, long-term policy support provides the renewable energy industry with the required incentives to expand the renewable energy market. A clear commitment from the federal government on the policy framework surrounding renewable energy in Australia, such as the renewable energy target, provides the long-term certainty needed to encourage the growth of Australia's renewable energy industry."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#MarchinAugust for a fairer Australia and climate action

This Original article from Climate Action Moreland.

The March in August carries on from the independently organised march in March protests which saw tens of thousands of people protesting the Abbott Government on many social, welfare, and environmental issues. The protests bring together a wide range of campaigns and individuals under one protest umbrella to demand Accountability, Transparency, Decency from the Abbott Federal Government including on climate policy and action.

The protest in Melbourne was held on Sunday 31st August 31 at 1:00pm starting from the State Library of Victoria, Swanston St, Melbourne. (See event Facebook Page).

Guardian columnist VanBadham brought a lot of intense enthusiasm and passion to her role as MC for the protest. Speakers included:
*Ursula Alquier - Lock the Gate Victorian Coordinator
*Julian Burnside - Advocacy on behalf of refugees
*David Ritter- Greenpeace re: "Protest laws" and GBR
*Jennie Hill Dir. Destroy the Joint. Women & Welfare.
*Annette Xiberras - Wurundjeri Elder and a former cultural heritage staff member with Aboriginal Affairs Victoria - Welcome to country and cuts to funding for Aboriginal services.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Warburton Review recommends slashing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

Original article posted on Climate Action Moreland website

No surprises in the Warburton Review recommendations published this week. The review panel was after all hand picked to return a result the conservative and ideologically driven Abbott Government would be happy with.

Chaired by self confessed climate denier and former chairman of Caltex Dick Warburton, the recommendations involve changing the target by either closing the scheme to new investors or by setting targets based on the growth of electricity demand. The review also called for the outright abolition of the small-scale RET scheme - the scheme that assists solar PV panels installation on domestic houses and small businesses. This change would push up the cost of panels by 50 per cent according to a Sydney Morning Herald Report.

The review was very narrow in focus and did not consider adequately the climate science imperative for rapid climate change action and need to rapidly transition to renewables in stationary energy, and the need to do this as part of the global uptake in renewables, and nor did it assess or model the substantial health benefits and reduced medical costs provided of reduced air pollution.

Link: Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anglesea community want Alcoa coal mine shut down

Originally posted to on August 23, 2014.

Anglesea residents want to see the Alcoa owned power station and coal mine they have suffered with for the last 50 years closed down. Since Alcoa has closed the Port Henry Aluminium Smelter the last justification for the mine and power station has ended. The coal mine and power station no longer has a social licence to operate according to the Surf Coast Air Action community group. Victoria currently has a surplus of generating capacity and we don't need the power from the highly polluting Anglesea power station.

I joined several hundred people in a protest at Anglesea on Sunday 10 August, located at the skatepark. It was a big turn up to the rally organised by Anglesea based community group Surf Coast Air Action (SCAA). There were a tonne of speeches - perhaps too many for a rally. But each speech brought a different dimension. See my photos from the event.

A highlights video of the event includes excerpts of a few speakers, associated events, and visiting the coal mine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Open Letter: Respect climate science expertise, Maurice Newman

Dear Mr Maurice Newman AC,

As the head of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Business Advisory Council and a person advising the Prime Minister on business related matters I expect you to give factual, informed and considered advice. It is particularly important that you take the time, effort and responsibility to respect expertise, particularly scientific expertise, and educate yourself on areas outside of your own business and management focus that impinge on government decisions that effect the management of Australia's economy and environment and international relationships.

I would expect that on matters of science and climate change you would seek the advice and collaborate with Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, and the premier scientific organisations active in this research including the CSIRO, BOM, and the Australian Academy of Science.

Of course you have a right to your personal opinions, but not to proffer them as factual advice to Government when they are clearly inaccurate or misleading according to the people of expertise working in these specialist areas.

Your recent opinions published in the The Australian newspaper ('We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh' 14 August 2014) are contrary to the findings of every major scientific and meteorological body on the planet, and ignore the reality that the long term trend is that the Earth is getting hotter, with a more active hydrological cycle causing more extreme weather events.

Why should the Australian public have confidence in your role if you display such little regard for scientific fact and the expertise offered by our scientists, including by Australia's chief scientist?

I understand that the Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery has offered an opportunity for the Business Advisory Council to be briefed by a group of our nation's top scientists on climate change and business risk. I urge you to take this opportunity.

To assist you, I suggest you watch Professor Michael Raupach in his speech he delivered during National Science Week at the Australian Academy of Science on Tuesday 19 August 2014. Dr Raupach is Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University and has led a highly respected and exemplary career in climate research with the CSIRO. He is regarded as one of Australia's leading experts on climate change.

The speech contains a brief overview of climate science and some of Australia's important contributions to this science. It is as good as any place to start for accurate scientific information on climate change. Grab a cuppa tea or coffee and sit down and watch it for an hour. Is that too much to ask?

If you cannot accommodate and incorporate the expert advice from specialists, such as from Australian climate scientists, in your business advice to government, then I expect you to step down from your position as there is a serious conflict of interest between scientific factual information and the national interest with your personally held views.


John Englart

Friday, August 22, 2014

Coral reef ecosystems acidifying 3 times faster than open ocean

New research shows that the rate of ocean acidification in coral reef ecosystems is more than three times faster than in the open ocean, much more than previously thought. This has big implications for reef ecosystems around the globe suffering under multiple stressers of increased sea surface temperatures, nutrient and other pollution and commercial fishing pressures.

Biogeochemist researchers from Southern Cross University Led by recent graduate Dr Tyler Cyronak detailed this new insight in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters titled Enhanced coral reef acidification driven by regional biogeochemical feedbacks.

Ocean acidification is well documented in open waters. Cold waters like in the southern ocean can more readily absorb carbon dioxide, so ocean acidification was thought to be proceeding more rapidly in marine ecosystems in cooler waters (see my 2007 article: Scientists say Ocean Acidity Increasing at Faster Rate)

This new research highlights that coral reef waters are also rapidly acidifying. This research examined studies done in coral reefs since the 1960s and found that the rate of acidification in coral reef ecosystems was more than three times faster than in the open ocean.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Climate Change moving the goal posts for Aussie Rules

Climate change is already impacting Australia's homegrown game of football - Aussie Rules. This video features climate researcher Alliance Rance, who works with the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR), interviewing her brother Alex Rance who plays with the Richmond Tigers.

Climate impacts are already being felt in more weather extremes affecting playing field surfaces and the need to change player training regimes, especially in the summer off season. Many of our sports and outdoor recreational activity are already being affected by changing weather extremes requiring behaviour adaptation.

Humour: Addressing false equivalence in the climate debate

John Oliver's show Last Week Tonight has provided at last an accurate balance on debating the issue of climate change on television. For too long media shows have presented it as a debate between two equal sides - but this is false equivalance.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring, impacts are happening now, and we need to rapidly reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate impacts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guest Post: Who's Killing the Krill?

The joys of a parent in assisting with a homework assignment. Tarryn Clancy is in year 8 Geography exploring Antarctic and Marine Science. As some of my blogging has concerned the southern ocean, whales and Antarctica, and I had recently completed the Open2Study Marine and Antarctic Science online course I was able to assist her with some source material and format of references at the end. But the writing and presentation is all hers. Written By Tarryn Clancy

Whales. Each day they eat tons of krill. And that is only one whale. But what would you say if I told you that 'Mr Bigs' is not the one who is responsible. It is in fact, something much closer to home. Climate Change. We overlook It because some people still do not believe it exists. But it does. And the declining number of krill is evidence of that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Politician statements on Australia abolishing the carbon price

On 17th July the Australian Carbon price was repealed on the third attempt through the Australian Senate with the amendments of the Palmer United Party adopted by the Government to ensure it's success.

Australia now has the dubious honour of being the only country in the world to abolish a price on carbon. Just as global action to price carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is ramping up, Australia goes backwards.

So lets have a review of what the party leaders said in this debate:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Opinion Surveys: Climate leadership demanded of Australian Government

Climate change action continues to be an issue of concern in national politics and debate with federal politicians being way more conservative than the general public according to several recent public opinion polls. The polls say that nearly 70 per cent of people want companies to pay for their carbon pollution through some sort of carbon pricing and that the Australian Government should take a leadership role in climate mitigation solutions.

It is perhaps one reason why conservative populist politician Clive Palmer had an inconvenient truth moment with Al Gore this week.

Even last year during the 2013 election campaign a substantial majority of people supported action on climate change with 49.2 per cent supporting to some degree the carbon pricing scheme presently in operation according to the ABC Votecompass survey. Read my analysis: Australian Public opinion on carbon pricing and climate change

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Al Gore persuades Clive Palmer in an Inconvenient truth moment on climate policy

At a press conference Clive Palmer, Leader of the Palmer United Party, along with climate campaigner former US Vice President Al Gore, announced his party's policies in response to the Government's changes to carbon pricing and clean energy laws. Walking onstage with former US Vice President Al Gore, you could feel this was a momentus occasion for Clive Palmer.

"I'd like to thank him for the productive discussions today. My discussions allowed me to reconsider important considerations for all Australians and the rest of the world." Palmer announced transforming himself into the contradictory personas of both coal baron and climate warrior.

The big announcement was that the block of Palmer United Party senators would vote to abolish the present carbon price and move an amendment for the establishment of a conditional Emissions Trading Scheme with a carbon price rated as zero at the start. The carbon tax repeal is conditional on all energy price savings being passed on to consumers. The Government's Direct Action Plan and Emmissions Reduction Fund was labelled as a waste of money and would not be supported.

Palmer outlined that the PUP voting block would vote against abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established to loan $10 billion over 5 years to companies and organisations to help transition to clean energy through renewable and energy efficiency projects. The Climate Change Authority would also be saved, as well as support for continuing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) until at least 2016, after the next election.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Double dissolution trigger: Greens and Labor challenge Abbott on climate, clean energy

The Labor Party and Greens have defeated for a second time in the Senate a bill by Tony Abbott's Government to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This gives a first trigger for the Government to call a double dissolution election.

"Prime Minister Abbott if you really believe that this is absolute crap and that the Clean Energy Act is going to wipe Whyalla off the map, how’s that working out?" he told the Senate.

"If you really believe that renewable energy can't deliver, then here is the double dissolution election trigger you’ve been waiting for."

"The world is starting to move, in fact parts of the world are well ahead of Australia, we’re lagging and the hour is late, so if its an election you want then bring it on." explained Senator Ludlum.

Watch Western Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlum challenge the Abbott Government to bring on a 'globalwarming' double dissolution election.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was established by the Gillard Labor party in consultation with the Greens and Independant MPs in 2011 to help fund renewable energy projects through assisting private funding. As an investment catalyst, it has actually proved a successful business generating about $200million annually to aid the budget, while also helping establish clean technologies in existing businesses.

Open letter to Origin Energy on the Renewable Energy Target

Dear @originenergy, as a customer I have just contributed to put this ad on air in support of the RET in opposition to the submissions your company and of AGL Energy and Energy Australia.

I have been a good customer of Origin energy for several years buying 100% greenpower, and the purchase of my solar PV system through your solar division. In the past you have been an innovative market leader with your green electricity plans.

However, I am particularly distressed with your submission to the current Federal Government Renewable Energy Target review.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target was the proper job for the Climate Change Authority as contained in its legislative authority. This Government has chosen to ignore this legislative detail with their intention to abolish this authority through repeal of the legislation. This has still not been done and there is some doubt whether this legislative change will be made in the Senate. The government has instead chosen to setup their own review with handpicked people, like Dick Warburton, with strong biases against climate change and the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as part of Australia's commitment to reducing carbon emissions to mitigate global climate change under the UNFCCC process.

I disagree with your submission (PDF) that the LRET and SRET should be rolled back into one scheme and remove deeming. I also disagree with resetting the target to a "true 20%". This would effectively mean cutting the target from 41,000GWh (plus uncapped rooftop solar), to 23,000GWh (including rooftop solar).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mitigating Climate Change: Kangaroos, conservation management and sustainable harvesting at NMIT?

Could NMIT provide a model of kangaroo conservation management and sustainable harvesting? Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) is in financial trouble and needs to innovate and focus on it's educational strengths. I outline one modest innovative proposal which utilises the expertise from several academic and vocational disciplines and could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for climate mitigation through conservation management, while utilising our unique Australian food resources for a more healthy lifestyle.
The issue of how we deal with our native fauna, particularly kangaroos, has been raised by the announcement on 19 March 2014 by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh that kangaroos culled under Wildlife control permits in certain areas of the state will now be supplied to the commercial pet food market. Formerly, kangaroos shot had to be buried by landowners.

Some animal welfare activists and conservationists have criticised the measure, and queried the ethical necessity for animal culls, even raising that this may impinge on the income of traditional beef and sheep farming.(Barber 2014) Over recent decades animal welfare and prevention of cruelty to animals have become important public debates. Standards for ethical treatment of animals - both wild and domesticated - have increased due to this debate, as exemplified in the public sentiment expressed over the live animal export trade.