Monday, October 25, 2021

Australia's 2030 climate targets for COP26

Source: Climate Council: from Paris to Glasgow report, 21 October, 2021

The Nationals have now given in principle support for Net zero by 2050. But 2050 is so far in the distance it is effectively irrelevant to what commitment and ambition Australia takes to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, COP26. 

Ratcheting up 2030 ambition and targets is what is really at issue. This was written into the Paris Agreement that countries increase ambition after 5 years. That time is now. Senate estimate questioning on 25 October reveals Australia's 2030 target not being updated (See update at end of post)

While we wait for the Liberal Party to reflect upon the Nationals Party confidential 3 page list of demands on committing Australia to Net Zero by 2050 target, lets reflect a bit more on the 2030 target for Australia. 

Actions by Australian state governments has already set a de facto emissions target of 37 - 42 percent by 2030 based on a 2005 baseline eclipsing the 26-28 per cent set in 2015 by Prime Minister Abbott that formed part of Australia's initial Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and updated NDC this year.

For Australia to be in the ball park for dealing and to be taken seriously at the UN climate talks it really needs to match the commitments of USA, Europe and UK. The lower end of that range is 46 to 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 on 2005 baseline. The Climate Council says a science based target is for Australia to aim to reduce emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.

At the moment Prime Minister Morrison is taking to the G20 and Glasgow COP26 a commitment for net zero by 2050, but no change in 2030 climate targets as submitted in our NDC, no plan to increase our climate finance to our fair share, and no indication we will sign on to the Global Methane Pledge.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Business, Unions, Environment Organisations outline Australian clean energy transition vital for jobs and new export revenues

There has been a range of reports just published on why Australia should accelerate transition and transformation to a clean economy and phase out Fossil Fuels. The Business Council of Australia On Sunday 10 October The Business Council Of Australia (BCA) released a report, reversing previous stance on a net zero target and upgraded 2030 interim emissions reduction targets.

Four days later a report by global services consultancy Accenture commissioned jointly by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF-Australia, ACTU and BCA was released - Sunshot: Australia’s opportunity to create 395,000 clean export jobs, charting a path for the country through the global transition to net-zero that delivers new jobs and replaces high carbon exports with clean export revenue.

These reports make it clear there are tremendous advantages in moving early with rapid ramp up of renewables, hydrogen, green steel, rare earth minerals, and services and training in the new energy economy. Thousands of jobs would be created, the great majority in regional areas allowing a transition of existing workforces with retraining in related or new skills. The benefits would flow to regional areas and the whole economy.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Australia's Technology not taxes Meet and Cheat Strategy for #COP26 while increasing fossil fuel production

Looks like Australia's technology not taxes Government slogan policy is part of its Meet and Cheat strategy.

Meet Australia's absurdly low 26-28% by 2030 climate targets for the UN climate talks in Glasgow - COP26 - ignoring that the Paris Agreement specifically requests that new NDCs with greater ambition be submitted, the ratchett mechanism.

While lobbying the IPCC to water down and delete need for phaseout of fossil fuel power, claiming carbon capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) (none of which is built) will keep these coal and gas stations running. Delete references to the power of the Fossil Fuel Lobby in influencing government decisions, despite this being fully referenced from multiple sources.

These comments were made on the 6th Assessment Working Group III report on mitigation (climate solutions) currently in preparation due for release in 2022.

Meanwhile Australia received a scathing profile in the 2021 Production Gap report highlighting Australia has no effective phaseout or transition plans for fossil fuel production, and in fact is planning to increase production.

There goes any semblance of credibility (if any was left) for the UN climate talks.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Exposing Australia's Smoke and Mirrors Climate Diplomacy | Good COP Bad Cop

The Australia Institute's  Richie Merzian and Alia Armistead discussion of the smoke and mirrors climate diplomacy by Australia over a long term, including The Australia clause. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Carmichael coal mine threatens irreversible damage to Doongmabulla Springs and local ecology says new study

Doongmabulla Springs threatened by Carmichael mine

New hydrology research from Flinders and Darwin Universities highlights the Bravus (formerly Adani) Carmichael Coal mine being develeped in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland may permanently damage the Doongmabulla Springs and the acquifer water it depends upon, and with it local ecosystems.

The natural springs are environmentally significant and are also of great spiritual and cultural significance to the Wangan and Jagalingou Indigenous nation.

Groundwater scientists warn more research is needed to measure and fully understand the aquifer sources that feed the springs.

“Even if the springs’ source aquifer is partially dewatered for mining operations, there is a serious threat of permanent damage,” says Flinders University PhD candidate Mr Robin Keegan-Treloar, the lead author of a new paper in the international Journal of Hydrology.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

This is Loss and Damage - Who Pays? It must feature at COP26 in Glasgow

In the powerful new film, "This is Loss and Damage - Who Pays?", climate activist, Vanessa Nakate, and Loss and Damage experts, Professor Saleem Huq and Harjeet Singh, offer a compelling way out of the Loss and Damage finance stalemate: an international mechanism funded by the fossil fuel polluters who caused the crisis.

The film is part of the launch of the Make Polluters Pay campaign, led by a coalition of  charities and organisations in the leadup to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, COP26. The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the urgent need for loss and damage funding, paid for by the biggest polluters. 

So what are some possible mechanisms to raise money for a Loss and Damage Fund? A Robin Hood style Financial Transactions Tax is possible. A Climate Damages Tax levied on existing fossil fuels extracted.

Panel discussion of Loss and Damage video.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Clean, healthy and sustainable environment now designated a human right by UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council at its 48th session recognised, for the first time, that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right. The Human Rights Council also established the position of Special Rapporteur on Climate Change.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in a statement called on Member States to take bold actions to give prompt and real effect to the right to a healthy environment.

“The Human Rights Council’s decisive action in recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is about protecting people and planet – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. It is also about protecting the natural systems which are basic preconditions to the lives and livelihoods of all people, wherever they live,” the High Commissioner said. “Having long called for such a step, I am gratified that the Council’s action today clearly recognises environmental degradation and climate change as interconnected human rights crises.”

Friday, October 8, 2021

Australian Aviation CO2 emissions equivalent to 5 coal power stations

A new website uncovers the aviation emissions associated with 1300 airports globally, covering 99 per cent of passenger flights. Twenty four of those airports are located in Australia producing carbon emissions equivalent to five coal fired power stations.

The aviation sector would have been the sixth-largest emitter of CO₂ in 2018 if it were a country, responsible for 2.5 per cent of global emissions. Up until the pandemic aviation was growing 5 per cent annually since 2013. Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, the sector remains off-track for limiting global heating to 1.5ÂșC.

Aviation emissions for the website is based on data from 1300 airports from 2013, 2018, 2019. The website was a joint project by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), International Think Tank ODI, and Transport and Environment (T&E).

This is the first global attempt to focus on the infrastructure that enables and induces air travel and leads to more CO₂ emissions in future decades.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Global Methane Pledge aims for 30 percent methane emissions cut from 2020 levels by 2030

A global Methane Pledge will be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference at Glasgow COP26 in November. The pledge will commit countries to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030 and moving towards using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources. The pledge is an initiative of the USA and European Union.

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas. Methane (CH4)  emissions need to be reigned in along with carbon dioxide to meet the Paris climate agreement temperature targets. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment report on climate change warns that "Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality."

Monday, September 27, 2021

Video: Life at 50C - The families forced to defend their homes from Australian bushfires (BBC)

This short BBC documentary investigates the climate change impacts of extreme heat and bushfires. It articulates climate change is here and now. It will get worse. But there are things we can do to change the direction of global warming.

Friday, September 24, 2021

IPCC climate science report: code red for humanity says UN Secretary General


"Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity.  The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible." said Antonio Guiterres, UN Secretary General upon the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th assessment report on the Physical science.

"The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close. We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path. We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive." said Guiterres in an official statement.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Australian climate action rated Highly Insufficient by Climate Action Tracker

The Climate Action Tracker, in a new report, has highlighted that Australia, in the leadup to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), is one of the climate action emission reduction and policy laggards. It categorised Australia in the Highly Insufficient category in the Overall rankings. It criticised Australia for effectively submitting the same Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) when the Paris Agreement calls for countries to increase ambition.

It called out Australia among a shortlist: "Of particular concern are governments - Australia, Brazil, Indonesia Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Viet Nam - that have failed to lift ambition at all – they have submitted the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than they had put forward in 2015. These countries need to rethink their choice." 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Australian climate finance falling far short of our fair share, getting worse

A new report highlights the shortfall in developed countries climate finance, including noting Australia as a particular laggard. It estimates the Australian Government is contributing about 8 per cent of what our global fair share commitment should be for the years 2020-2025.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has warned developed nations they must deliver on climate finance for a successful outcome from the UN Climate Conference in Glagow (COP26) in November. 

The UN Secretary General, speaking at High-Level Dialogue on Climate Action in the Americas, hosted by the Government of Argentina , said developed nations must deliver on the solidarity agenda. He told the Dialogue: 

“developed nations must deliver on the solidarity agenda. That means support to developing countries on vaccines, debt and liquidity, as well as climate finance. We need a credible plan for delivering on the $ 100 billion dollar commitment made over a decade ago. We need it well ahead of Glasgow, to restore trust.” he said.

In 2009 at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen Australia committed with other developed nations to raising US $100 billion climate finance per year from 2020 to developing countries to assist the transition and global decarbonistion.

Of the 23 developed countries responsible for providing international climate finance, only Germany, Norway and Sweden have been paying their fair share of the annual $100 billion goal. All other countries are falling short.

Australia, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal and the United States (US) all contributed less than 20% of their fair share of international climate finance. 

Australia has committed AU$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) for climate finance for 2021–2025, which means it will be funding only 8 per cent of its fair share over the next five years, according to the study.

The OECD and Oxfam International in recent media releases have also highlighted this shortfall in climate finance commitment, one of the pillars behind the Paris Agreement. (see updates below)

Update: Australian NGOs published the Fairer Futures: Financing Global Climate Solutions report 20 October 2021. This report called for the Scaling up Australia’s contributions to global climate finance in three stages to 2030: including Immediately double Australia’s current climate finance to $3 billion over 2020-2025; by 2023, shape regional and global climate responses by committing an additional $700 – $990 million to the Green Climate Fund; by 2030, scale up Australia’s climate finance to meet its fair share of $12 billion annually.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

IPCC report, Labor climate policy and targets: Email to Peter Khalil MP for Wills

The following email was sent to Labor MP for Wills, Peter Khalil on 16 August 2021. As of 12 September 2021 there has been no response or acknowledgement of this email. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Australia: Carbon Capture and Storage | Honest Government Ad

The Juice Media latest Honest Government Ad on Carbon Capture and storage.

Great dissection of one of the Australian Government Technology Investment Roadmap 'solutions' for climate change that actually results in little climate mitigation while it continues to enrich the Fossil Fuel mining companies.

Global framework on Biodiversity - Australian statement on the Convention on Biodiversity 2030 target

Australia's statement on the Convention on Biodiversity Plenary 24 Aug - Open-ended Working Group 3 on Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The Conference of the Parties (COP15) for the Convention on Biodiversity is coming up early next year. I haven't seen any local news on this...

I'd like to highlight this part of the statement in particular:
"Australia welcomes a global target for the protection of 30 per cent of land and 30 per cent of sea by 2030. We support the focus in this target on areas important for biodiversity and through a combination of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Australia also recognises that Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) must be full partners in the implementation of this target."

You can read the draft global framework on Biodiversity to be put for adoption.

The draft framework includes 21 targets for 2030 that call for, among other things:

• At least 30% of land and sea areas global (especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and its contributions to people) conserved through effective, equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas (and other effective area-based conservation measures) 
• A 50% of greater reduction in the rate of introduction of invasive alien species, and controls or eradication of such species to eliminate or reduce their impacts 
• Reducing nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, and pesticides by at least two thirds, and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste 
• Nature-based contributions to global climate change mitigation efforts of least 10 GtCO2e per year, and that all mitigation and adaptation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity 
• Redirecting, repurposing, reforming or eliminating incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least $US 500 billion per year 
• A $US 200 billion increase in international financial flows from all sources to developing countries.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Australia's deception about its LULUCF forestry

Australia makes use of Land Use, Land Use change and Forestry (LULUCF) credits as part of its national emissions profile while most countries do not include this area of emissions. We have done this since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol Agreement when we threatened to wreck the agreement if these emissions weren't included. Subsequently a clause to allow counting of these emissions was included, and it was colloquially known as the Australia clause.

Australia has long used this clause based on land use emissions in the past to allow a target for Australia  to actually grow our emissions, while nearly all other nations had targets to reduce their emissions.

So Australia has cruised along without doing much work in any other sector in decarbonisation, based upon historical reduction in Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry emissions.

Pretty shonky and hardly fair.

A recent remote sensing study has highlighted even further the shonky nature of carbon accounting in LULUCF emissions. The study is called 'Annual Maps of Forests in Australia from Analyses of Microwave and Optical Images with FAO Forest Definition', published 23 August.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Australia Under Increasing Pressure in Leadup to Glasgow UN Climate Conference | Richie Merzian

Via the Australia Institute:
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Where is Australia positioned? With a neglectful approach towards the short term (2030) target and a non-committal 'preference' for net-zero by 2050, Australia needs to do more and will be under pressure from its international allies over the next few months. Does COP actually achieve much? Richie explains it's not a perfect forum but it's the best we have and they can result in incremental changes that build up over time. [Originally aired on Ticker News 23 August 2021]

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Carbon Capture & Storage Failure | Spin Bin with Angus Taylor

Demystifying Carbon Capture and storage as advocated by Australia Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor. Decoding the spin with The Australia Institute Polly Hemming and Richie Merzian.

Despite billions in taxpayer funding over many years, carbon capture and storage has continued to fail every target set for it. However, that hasn't stopped the fossil fuel industry, and Minister Angus Taylor from continuing to spruik the technology as the solution to reducing emissions. Richie Merzian and Polly Hemming delve deep into what's gone wrong, and why the Government continues to support this fairytale solution on the latest episode of Spin Bin.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Federal Government called to investigate environmental impacts of artificial turf and more environmentally appropriate alternatives for sporting surfaces

Conversion of grass sporting fields to Synthetic Turf... The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National Conference was held in Canberra last weekend 20-23 June 2021, and passed a motion unanimously "to investigate the environmental impacts of artificial turf and more environmentally appropriate alternatives for sporting surfaces."

Issue 24 submitted by Mitcham Council, SA

That the National General Assembly calls on the Federal Government to investigate the environmental impacts of artificial turf and more environmentally appropriate alternatives for sporting surfaces.

The resolution was passed unanimously, including by the Moreland Councillors in attendance: Cr Adam Pulford, Cr Lambros Tapinos, Cr Oscar Yildiz, Cr Helen Pavlidis and Cr Angelica Pandopolous.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Climatestrike: students continue pressure for Australian climate action

Tens of thousands of students and supporters across Australia engaged in protest calling for an end to fossil fuel projects and to ramp up renewables and increase Australia's weak climate targets.

In over 50 locations across Australia, in all capital cities, and in many regionals centres too, students left school on Friday to demand that the Morrison Government says no to funding dangerous gas and coal projects with Australians’ money and, as an alternative, invests in clean renewable energy, secure jobs and First Nations solutions to protect Country.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Germany raises climate ambition at Petersburg Dialogue in leadup to COP26

German Finance minister Olaf Scholz and environment minister Svenja Schulze announced new proposed climate targets to press in Berlin on Tuesday 3 May 2021:
  • 65% emissions reduction by 2030,
  • 85-90% by 2040 and
  • net zero emissions by 2045, all compared to 1990 levels.
Previous German goals were 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

Friday, April 30, 2021

North Africa and Middle East Warning on heatwaves and extreme temperatures driven by global heating

A few years ago climate scientists announced that in coming decades Melbourne and Sydney will experience 50C days.

Those temperatures are also coming to the Mediterranean with Middle East and North Africa temperatures in heatwaves up to 56 degress Celsius according to the latest research.

This is a media release from the Italian based CMCC Foundation:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Biden Climate Summit: Australia Fails to Deliver, remains a global outsider and climate laggard

Here is a quick summary in graphic and point form where the main countries line up on climate commitments at the end of the Climate leaders summit organised by USA President Joe Biden in his first 100 days of leadership:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made:
  • no change in Australia's low targets.
  • no commitment to net zero by 2050 target.
  • produced meaningless statistics that don't stack up
  • slagged off the work of other countries
  • talked up hydrogen without explaining much of this will be blue hydrogen from coal and gas
  • thanked some of Australia's highest emitting companies, part of the problem
  • tried to carve out emissions from our fossil fuel exports (Australia is 3rd largest carbon exporter)
  • talked up the hired help: Allan Finkel and his contribution (including to the gas led recovery)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sustainable sports fields are natural turf not synthetic in a time of climate emergency

Moreland Council intends rolling out synthetic turf when evidence points to it being a highly problematic environmental and climate issue and at a substantially greater lifecycle cost even when factoring in a higher usage ratio.

So it seems the ratepayers of Moreland are going to be hit with expensive replacement costs of synthetic fields every 7-10 years, an increase in urban heat island which will result in health impacts to residents especially during extreme heat events which are becoming more common, an increase in microplastics pollution to local waterways and Port Philip Bay, 274 tonnes of landfill every 7-10 years, reduced abundance of birdlife, and extra greenhouse gas emissions (lifecycle emissions range from 500-1505 tonnes CO2e for synthetic turf) that will need mitigation. (See the Literature Review: Synthetic Turf carbon footprint, environmental, health, microplastics and biodiversity impacts)

So what is the alternative to Plastic Grass?

Well constructed natural turf field with a carefully chosen grass cultivar to suit the usage and climate.

I have just read a study that was presented at Australian Water Assocation conference last June - Ozwater20 - by Dr Mick Battam (a soil scientist) and Dr Paul Lambie (an irrigation specialist). The study was on building natural turf fields using industrial grade compost. This improves player carrying capacity to about 35-37 hours per week with minimal wear. Their study is titled: Creating Sustainable Open Spaces - Using Compost to Deliver Liveability, Sustainability, Recreation and Economic Outcomes, and is available from Australian Water Assocation website. The study paper concludes:
"Using compost to amend the soils on sports fields has been shown to improve soil fertility. The amendment of soils also reduces irrigation demand, with benefits to the water industry from water savings and increased resilience to drought. A natural turf field built with a wear tolerant turf cultivar and compost amended soil provides for more liveable cities and gives a superior economic outcome to synthetic turf alternatives."

Use of compost for sporting fields to increase their fertility, usage capacity and drought resilience is part of the circular economy. It could provide an outlet for Moreland's green bin food and organic waste collection after it has been through the industrial scale composting process. This is a no-brainer. Moreland Council should embrace this possible reuse of green waste for improving municipal sporting fields.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Statement by John Englart on Synthetic Turf to Moreland Council


John Englart addressing Moreland Council on Synthetic Turf 14 April 2021
(Image courtesy Moreland Council)

I made the following statement to Moreland Council on 14 April 2021 on Synthetic turf and its climate and environmental impact, although a few sections had to be skimmed over for brevity and meeting the 2 minute time limit. I also note problems with the audio feed during my speech on the video recording.

The vote to defeat this motion indicates that some Councillors may have already made their mind up prior to the public engagement being reported back to them and in listening to scientific advice on the subject. I identified clear flaws in the previous consultants report (February 2018) content and its presentation to Council in April 2018 that should indicate the need for a more transparent and in-depth independant assessment of current science on synthetic turf and artificial surfaces for proper triple bottom line decision making and governance.

Literature Review: Synthetic Turf carbon footprint, environmental, health, microplastics and biodiversity impacts


Hosken Reserve: grass oval used for soccer training, informal recreation, off-lead dog exercise
Hosken Reserve: grass oval used for soccer training, informal reacreation, off-lead dog exercise
(Photo by John Englart)


The conversion of a grass oval to synthetic turf at Hosken Reserve, Coburg North, is about a failure in transparency and consultation with the local community, and poorly framed triple bottom line decision making by Moreland Council. There are questions about the integrity of the triple bottom line decision making embracing the social, environmental and economic impacts, costs and benefits, that was used in the process in the past decade for this site. And there are questions how triple bottom line decision making and weighting of factors will be applied for the current process. 

This literature review provides numerous reasons why conversion of a natural grass oval and open space to a fenced synthetic soccer pitch should not take place. It finds that there are two primary reasons against synthetic turf at Hosken Reserve, and that either reason is significant in itself for the primary project not to go ahead. These two essential reasons are - synthetic turf carbon footprint (up to 1500 CO2e tonnes) in total life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and synthetic turf increasing waste to landfill contributing to toxic leachates pollution and microplastics pollution. On both these grounds conversion of a shared use natural grass oval to synthetic turf would appear to conflict with existing Council policy and frameworks related to climate change and the climate emergency, and Council’s zero waste to landfill by 2030 target. 

On the triple bottom line factors we found the social factors weighed up with some positive and some negative, the environmental factors were mostly against, and the economics didn’t stack up, even after factoring in 2 to 1 equivalence usage factor for synthetic turf. This review investigated peer reviewed science, grey literature and relevant policy documents to ascertain the following issues with synthetic turf::

  1. Derived from fossil fuel petrochemical industry
  2. Produces greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing and as it degrades
  3. Increases landfill at end of life
  4. Produces microplastics pollution
  5. Increases urban heat island effect on local residents.
  6. Replaces natural grass which allows soil organic carbon sequestration, provides oxygen
  7. Reduces soil biota, grass seeds and insects with a trophic impact on local biodiversity primarily birdlife.
  8. Compacts the soil increasing stormwater runoff
  9. Toxic Chemical leachates from rubber infill pollute waterways
  10. Results in increased lower extremity injuries in elite players
  11. Long term human health impacts uncertain, but vertebrate model confirms toxicity to human health of rubber infill leachates
  12. Enhances infection transmission risk. Encourages a microbial community structure primarily defined by anthropic contamination. 
  13. Appears to improve water conservation, but the situation is far more complex when life-cycle assessment and irrigation to reduce heat for playability is taken into account
  14. Other issues: increased fire risk, increase in traffic, parking on quiet residential streets
  15. Alternative Solutions
  • Economic Costs
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions

The Climate Action Moreland full submission to Moreland Councillors and Hosken Refresh Consultation can be downloaded in PDF format (27 March 2021). This contained extra information regarding Hosken Reserve and Moreland Couuncil.  The version below has extra references and minor updates but focuses on the science.

This document was researched and prepared by John Englart, Convenor of Climate Action Moreland and was subject to peer review by group members and other active members in the Moreland climate community.

Publication Date: 15 April 2021 

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28126.56646

Supplementary: Annotated Bibliography on Synthetic Turf and Climate, health, biodiversity and microplastics pollution issues, 

Suggested Citation: Englart, J (2021), Literature Review on environmental and health impacts of synthetic turf., Climate Action Moreland, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28126.56646

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Annotated Bibliography: Synthetic Turf and Climate, health, biodiversity and microplastics pollution issues

Increasing use of synthetic surfaces and synthetic turf is problematic for Several reasons. 

Synthetic turf is:

  1. Derived from fossil fuel petrochemical industry

  2. Produces greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing and as it degrades

  3. Increases landfill at end of life

  4. Produces micro-plastic pollution as synthetic turf breaks down

  5. increases urban heat island effect on local residents.

  6. replaces natural grass which allows soil organic carbon sequestration, provides oxygen

  7. reduces soil biota, grass seeds and insects with a trophic impact on local biodiversity primarily birdlife.

  8. compacts the soil increasing stormwater runoff

  9. Toxic Chemical leachates from rubber infill pollute waterways

  10. results in increased lower extremity injuries in elite players 

  11. long term human health impacts uncertain, but vertebrate model confirms toxicity to human health of rubber infill leachates

  12. encourages a microbial community structure primarily defined by anthropic contamination

  13. appears to improve water conservation, but the situation is far more complex when life-cycle assessment and irrigation to reduce heat for playability is taken into account

  14. Other issues: increased fire risk, alternative infills, traffic, parking and cycling

This annotated bibliography was developed for the issue of conversion of an existing grass sports fields to synthetic turf in Moreland Municipality, and includes specific policy documents relating to the issue in Moreland. Most of the articles are peer reviewed science studies plus some relevant grey literature on climate. Most articles I have personally read, although for a small number I only had access to the scientific abstract to review. Google Scholar was used for researching this subject, as well as following reference trails from some science papers.

Moreland Council needs to reassess current recommended plans to rollout synthetic surfaces in the municipality with regard to Council policies developed in recent years. These policies include, but are not limited to, the Climate Emergency Framework including the Zero Carbon Moreland 2040 Framework, Waste and Litter Policy (aiming for zero waste to landfill by 2030 and a circular economy), and the Urban Heat Island Action Plan.

I have cast my scientific reading wide to encompass: total life-cycle assessment analysis related to synthetic fields and natural turf; water use and conservation; energy; soil carbon sequestration; greenhouse gas emissions; heat retention and urban heat island effect; microplastics and pollution; impact on biodiversity and plant health; health impacts and sports injuries. 

This annotated bibliography was prepared for Climate Action Moreland and is current as at 15 April 2021. Climate Action Moreland has published a submission and reference list as: Synthetic Turf and the Tragedy of the Commons in Moreland. Two other related articles were also published recently on carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, and synthetic turf increasing urban heat island impact:

John Englart Convenor Climate Action Moreland.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Community Panel recommends 21 actions for EV transition for Victoria to reduce Transport Emissions

Community Panel for Infrastructure Victoria on Transport Emissions. I was on this panel which had 211 Victorians (most age groups, Metro and Regional) and met online during late January to mid February 2021.

The 'Tackling Transport Emissions' Community Panel successfully worked together in a virtual environment to deliver 21 recommendations to Infrastructure Victoria using principles of a Just Transition, Equitable Access, and Shared Knowledge.

These recommendations have now been taken forward by Infrastructure Victoria to undertake a detailed technical review. This may include seeking out additional evidence or undertaking further analysis where required.

The reviewed recommendations will inform Infrastructure Victoria’s advice - to support the broader community to take up zero or low emissions vehicles sooner - to government in Victoria’s 30-year infrastructure strategy. This Strategy is planned to be released in mid-2021.

The community panel was titled 'Tackling transport emissions'. Some members felt the need to broaden the remit question's scope to include public and active transport. I was one of those people. Clearly the panel was misnamed and should have been titled 'Tackling the transition to net zero emissions by 2050 through zero emission vehicles' Of course transition to EVs is needed, but we also need to look at mode share change in behaviour for more public and active transport journeys, and urban and transport planning to change transport behaviours. Sadly this wasn't part of the remit.