Thursday, September 29, 2022

AGL Energy brings forward Loy Yang A coal power plant closure from 2045 to 2035

AGL Energy has announced the bringing forward of the closure date for the Loy Yang A coal power station in the LaTrobe Valley from 2045 to 2035. 

Such action was not unexpected given the Victorian Premier's announcement on Tuesday setting Victorian energy storage targets, and with continual growth in grid solar and wind farms and the planned construction of offshore wind. In March this year the Victorian Government set offshore wind targets of 2GW by 2032 and 4 GW by 2035.

But the 2035 closure date is still not ambituous and not in keeping with Paris climate target for phasing out coal. Bronya Lipski from Environment Victoria argues that a 2032 closure is in line with AEMO step change scenario. The Greens in the upcoming state election argue that all Victoria's coal plants should be phased out by 2030 with ramping up the speed of renewables and storage construction.  

Australia at COP27 Diary

UN climate conference, the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) is ocurring in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt from Monday November 6 to Friday November 18, 2022 (but may also go overtime into the weekend). This is my digital diary of Australia at COP27. I have attended four previous COPs, but I will be following whats going on at COP27 online. Follow with me. I'll be updating this blog post regularly over October-November 2022.

UNFCCC COP27 main website. Civil Society have organised the COP27 Coalition.

29 September - AGL Energy brings forward Loy Yang A coal plant closure from 2045 to 2035.

Still not enough, but coal closure coming faster. Loy Yang B scheduled for 2045, Yallourn scheduled for 2028. This is a result of ramping up onshore solar and wind, setting targets for offshore wind and new targets for energy storage in Victoria. Blog

Move Beyond Coal - there are currently 69 proposed coal projects in the pipeline in Australia, and 29 projects waiting for approvals on Environment Minister Plibersek’s desk says Move Beyond Coal:  Coal mine approval decisions on Minister Plibersek's desk could lead to over 17bn tonnes of carbon pollution

28 September: Queensland sets new renewables targets: 70% by 2032, 80% by 2035, coal phaseout by 2035.

Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan unveiled with at least 25 GW new and existing renewable energy; Gladstone grid reinforcement to support heavy industry to switch to renewable energy and decarbonise their operations; All publicly owned coal-fired power stations operating as clean energy hubs by 2035, supported by a legislated Job Security Guarantee for energy workers; Two new world-class pumped hydro projects that together could deliver up to 7 GW of long duration storage; Around 1500km of new high voltage backbone transmission to move more power around the state; Up to 3 GW of low to zero emissions gas generation for periods of peak demand and backup security; smarter grid to support over 11 GW of rooftop solar and around 6 GW of batteries in homes and businesses. Blog: Queensland sets new renewables targets: 70% by 2032, 80% by 2035, coal reliance phaseout by 2035

South Australia is at 65 per cent renewables this past year, and is likely to hit 100 per cent in the next five years reports Renew Economy

27 September: Victorian Premier announces new energy storage targets 

Victoria sets Energy Storage targets of 2.6 Gigawatts by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035 capacity, coal may end in early 2030s. Blog See also 29 Sep story on AGL Energy bringing forward Loy Yang A coal plant closure to 2035

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Queensland sets new renewables targets: 70% by 2032, 80% by 2035, coal reliance phaseout by 2035

“We are facing a climate emergency,” Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk said in her State of the State address at a CEDA function. She noted that Queensland is facing dramatic problems from rising sea levels in Torres Strait, record “rain bombs”, bushfires, and a total of 98 natural disasters in the last decade. “Climate change is real …. but we need to do more than talk about it. We need to act, and act in a revolutionary way,” she said.

The Premier launched a $60 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan which will transform Queensland from a coal dependant state for energy to one powered by solar and wind renewables with pumped hydro energy storage, as well as grid batteries, and an upgrade to the transmission grid.

The plan encompasses:

  • At least 25 GW new and existing renewable energy
  • Gladstone grid reinforcement to support heavy industry to switch to renewable energy and decarbonise their operations
  • All publicly owned coal-fired power stations operating as clean energy hubs by 2035, supported by a legislated Job Security Guarantee for energy workers
  • Two new world-class pumped hydro projects that together could deliver up to 7 GW of long duration storage
  • Around 1500km of new high voltage backbone transmission to move more power around the state
  • Up to 3 GW of low to zero emissions gas generation for periods of peak demand and backup security
  • A smarter grid to support over 11 GW of rooftop solar and around 6 GW of batteries in homes and businesses

It should be noted Queensland is a major exporter of both thermal and metallurgical coal and this plan does not cover this coal production for the export market.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Victoria sets Energy Storage targets of 2.6 Gigawatts by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035 capacity, coal may end in early 2030s

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio announced new energy storage targets alongside a $157 million package supporting renewable energy generation and storage projects across the state.

Victoria has set a 2.6 gigawatts (GW) target of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030, with an increased target of 6.3 GW of storage by 2035. This energy storage is essential to firm the growth in renewables generation from solar and wind farms.

The new storage targets include both short and long-duration energy storage systems – which can hold more than eight hours of energy to cover peak demand periods. 

The new energy storage targets, along with advancing renewables may spell the closure of Victoria's brown coal in the early 2030s. It also adds momentum to Victoria's achievements in emissions reduction in future climate targets.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Guest Post: Australia violated the rights of Torres Strait Islanders by failing to act on climate change, the UN says. Here’s what that means

Guest post by Kristen Lyons, The University of Queensland via the Conversation.

In a landmark decision, a United Nations committee on Friday found Australia’s former Coalition government violated the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders by failing to adequately respond to the climate crisis.

The Torres Strait Islanders ‘Group of Eight’ claimed Australia failed to take measures such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and upgrading seawalls on the islands. The UN upheld the complaint and said the claimants should be compensated.

This decision is a breakthrough in Indigenous rights and climate justice, including by opening up new pathways for Indigenous communities – who are often on the frontline of the climate crisis – to defend their rights.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Foreign Minister Penny Wong addresses UN General Assembly on climate action and reforming the United Nations

Australia's in person delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, 77th session, was lead by Foreign Minister Penny Wong and included Yawuru elder from Broome and Senator Patrick Dodson.

Although the media reporting concentrated on her remarks regarding the need to reform the United Nations, the Ukraine War and geopolitics, a substantial amount of her speech focussed on Australia's escalating action addressing climate action both for Australia and in the Pacific region.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Australia commits to Global Nature Pledge to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 during UN General Assembly

More than 93 countries have signed the Global Leaders Pledge for Nature for Sustainable Development to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese just committed Australia to this pladge. The previous government of Scott Morrison refused to act on this pledge.

The pledge was developed by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Belize, Bhutan, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Finland, Kenya, Seychelles, the UK and an alliance of organisations.

It is part of the UN convention on Biological Diversity which is considering a new global draft agreement (PDF) for adoption at Montreal, Canada, from 7 - 19 December 2022  Conference of the Parties meeting (COP15). This is a landmark agreement addressing the biodiversity crisis, an equivalent for what the Paris Agreement did for climate change.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Victoria cut emissions by 29.8% on 2005 levels by 2020. There is a pathway to decarbonisation by 2035 to meet 1.5C target.

The Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, announced on 20 September that Victoria Smashes Emissions Targets. Victoria achieved a 29.8 per cent emissions cut on 2005 levels up to and including 2020. Victoria had set an Emissions Reduction Target of 15 to 20 per cent reduction by 2020.

Last year i reported that Victoria reduced emissions by 24.8%, on track for 45-50% reduction by 2030

The Andrews Government rebuilt Victoria's Climate Act and set a number of interim targets. 

Energy was the top sector that needed to start the decarbonisation transition process, and the Andrews Government has tackled this with growing renewables and energy storage as a proportion of our electricity production.

Victoria’s energy sector is still the state’s largest source of emissions, but continues to see deep cuts made due to the rapid upscaling of renewable energy. The sector saw renewable electricity production increase from 21.7% of total electricity generation in 2019 to 24.8% in 2020.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Natural gas, Methane emissions reduction and the need to implement methane removal

Image: large scale methane removal possible via atmospheric solar photocatalysis wind chimney

What was I doing at 4am on a Friday morning? Watching a Methane Action (US NGO) organised webinar (1) on methane reduction and methane removal.

This webinar had Sir David King, a former chief scientist for the UK, doing a presentation. I first came across Sir David King's statements on the approaching climate crisis around 2004.(2)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Microplastics pollution threat fails to be included in Hockey Feasibility study for Moreland Council

On Wednesday night I made a statement to Moreland Council meeting on Agenda item 7.9 Hockey Feasibility Study for a second Field Hockey pitch in Moreland.

My concerns were that Council needs to consider all the information on health and environmental impacts of synthetic turf, as well as the well argued social benefits, as part of good governance for making an informed  decision. This includes assessing carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions climate impact, urban heat, microplastics pollution and reduction in biodiversity, and disposal at end-of-life.

The Feasibility Report had a number of errors which I tried to highlight in my statement, the major one being the complete absence of the microplastics pollution threat. 

A Swiss/German study published October 2021 found that between 50 kilograms to over 1 metric ton per year was the average fibre loss from a synthetic pitch. (Bertling et al 2021) This is separate from infill loss assessed at 2.98 tonnes average per year from the same study (which would mainly apply to soccer artificial turf rather than hockey). 

There are several more errors in the Feasibility study I did not go into.

The health and environmental impacts that were mentioned, were not adequately detailed or quantified which was in sharp comparison to data provided to justify the social benefits. 

My Literature Review: Synthetic Turf carbon footprint, environmental, health, microplastics and biodiversity impacts, published April 2016, highlighted numerous impacts including in the areas of urban heat, microplastics and carbon footprint. The Literature review also explored how use of synthetic turf is an aspect of the Plastics crisis, is concurrent with and related to the climate crisis.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

UN Secretary General highlights climate crisis at WMO United in Science Report 2022 launch

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) recently launched the United in Science report (13 September)  The United Nations Secretary General articulated the climate impacts being felt this year, the climate crisis we are facing and the imperative to reduce emissions more rapidly and stop ALL new fossil fuel projects.

The United in Science report highlighted that:

  • Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. 
  • Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns.
  • Ambition of new mitigation pledges for 2030 need to be four times higher to limit global warming to 2 °C and seven times higher to get on track to limit global warming to 1.5 °C..
  • 2018–2022 was the fourth warmest 5-year period on record and 2015-2021 were the seven warmest consecutive years on record.
  • Some regions saw greater glacial mass loss than others. For example, Western Canada experienced an exceptionally warm and dry northern hemisphere summer in 2021, which further exacerbated mass loss of glaciers across the region.
  • In 2018-2021 the Arctic sea-ice extent was below average and in the Antarctic, minimum sea-ice extent reached record lows.
  • There is a 48% chance the annual mean global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) for at least one of the next five years (2022–2026).
  • there is a 93% probability that at least one year in the next five will be warmer than the warmest year on record (2016).
  • As the climate changes, tipping points, or irreversible physical changes in the climate system, cannot be ruled out. Potential tipping points include the Amazon rainforest, melting of polar ice sheets and changes in major weather systems, such as the monsoon.
  • With 3.3 to 3.6 billion people living in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change, adaptation to climate impacts is more important than ever.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

PFAS, synthetic turf and a new planetary boundary proposed and being exceeded

Very concerning. Increasing production and use of Forever chemicals, that is, the thousands of chemicals in the PFAS class: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. These are not natural chemicals, and they do not break down in the environment. The chemicals are widely used. According to the Department of Health they are not manufactured in Australia, although plenty of products that use PFAS are imported.

PFAS is spread widely through water pollution and oceans and as aerosols in the atmosphere contaminating soils. PFAS chemicals are found very widely across the earth in rainfall. So, our water resources  are now contaminated.

My attention was drawn to this Euronews article. It sums up the recent scientific findings and outlines the issues: Rainwater everywhere on Earth unsafe to drink due to ‘forever chemicals’, study finds

Fluorine signatures and PFAS chemicals have been found in synthetic turf matting and fibers in the USA and in Sweden. With the study in Sweden the researchers say the presence of PFAS chemicals "we believe these results to be broadly translatable to Artificial turfs globally".

Friday, August 26, 2022

Synthetic turf and microplastics under investigation by NSW Chief Scientist

The Office of the Chief Scientist in New South Wales is currently investigating the use of synthetic turf and its environmental impacts, including the generation of microplastics. 

Professor HUGH DURRANT-WHYTE, Commissioner, Natural Resources Commission, and NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer answered questions at the NSW Budget estimates on Tuesday 23 August, 2022.

Durrant-Whyte explained: "It is about suitability for purpose in general, and the Office of the Chief Scientist, in general, doesn't make policy recommendations; it will make science recommendations. There is a lot to do with, as you say, not just microplastics but a whole range of other things, like local temperatures and things like that which impact significantly, but also there is a useability element which is important, so communities actually having access to playing fields and things like that. A lot of things have to be balanced out. Our role in this is to collect the evidence, collect the views, and to genuinely provide the scientific recommendation on which Government can make a policy decision."

The collection of information has been ocurring since the start of 2022 explained Durrant-Whyte. This has included involvement of a number of university groups plus collection of international data.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Australia votes for climate action in 2022 Federal election

Image: In the polling booth with How to vote cards and ballots

(This is from an email briefing to international climate colleagues)

We take heart that in Australia we have changed the government. Citizen concern with lack of action on climate change was a large part of this as surveys and polls showed. Many of us have been working hard in the background for weeks and months with community campaigning, holding forums, letterboxing, and some joining candidate campaigns to bring about this result.

We still don't know if it will be a Labor minority or small majority government as preferences are counted in several close electorate contests. The major conservative Party - the Liberal Party -  suffered a 20 odd seat defeat. But Labor only picked up some of these seats. A loose alliance of Community Independents - the Teal Independents - picked up at least 6 seats from the Liberal Party in their heartland electorates. The Greens also increased their numbers from 1 MP to 3 MPs, and possibly a couple more. 

Nationally, all major parties suffered swings against them and with increased support for Independents and the Greens.  

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Carbon Credits & Offsets | Honest Government Ad

All the lowdown and analysis on how the Australian Government is using carbon credits and offests to undermine climate action.

Detailed analysis in this Honest Government Ad video by The Juice Media.

There is also a detailed podcast interview with Polly Hemming from the Australia Institute on the subject to further fill you in on how the Scott Morrison Government and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor have corrupted an essential and needed action to maintain fossil fuel production and profits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Climate consideration case not to be appealed to High Court, but Students vow to keep pushing for climate action

Young people shouldn't have needed to take a case to the Federal court in the first place for consideration of their future in approval of new fossil fuel projects. Our Liberal National Party Government are climate criminals by approving such projects without regard to present and future generations.


"They will not forget our names": no appeal, but a vow to keep pushing for climate action

SYDNEY, APRIL 12, 2022:

We should never have needed to file this case in the first place. No new coal mines should be approved. The result is harm to children and the planet. Our case dealt with a duty of care that should exist between two parties when the actions of one will impact the other, and politicians, as per their job description, should owe a duty of care to wider society. This is why we elect them. They should be of sufficient competence to realise the seriousness of climate change and the future harm it will cause to children through worsening extreme weather, and to take action to reduce carbon emissions, without this being forced upon them through a court case.

This is not something that should be fought for by children in an institution like the Federal Court. Children should be able to be children without having such a deep concern about their futures. However, having tried every other avenue available to us, including asking, striking from school and protesting, we took on this legal sparring match nonetheless. And initially, we won.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

UN Secretary General calls out Australia: "the truly dangerous radicals increasing the production of fossil fuels" in launching IPCC WGIII report on climate solutions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published it's third report of the present cycle. This one is on Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change and contains possible solution pathways. 

This is the sixth IPCC Assessment cycle undertaking the collation of the science, impacts and solutions. Working Group I focussed on the Physical Science of climate Change. Working Group II focussed on climate impacts and vulnerability assessment. The Working Group III report is on how to mitigate climate change, the solutions and transition pathways for deep decarbonisation.

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, again stepped up to launch this report. He didn't mince any words. 

He called it a "damming" verdict that outlines a "litany of broken promises", highlighting that "we are on a fast track to climate disaster". He does not hesitate in saying "This is a climate emergency".

He doen't mention any nations by name, but Australia is clearly in his sights  when he calls out the truly dangerous radicals increasing the production of fossil fuels.

"Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Such investments will soon be stranded assets – a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios."

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Labor Climate Policy for 2022 Federal Election, and science based climate targets

The Australian Labor Party  announced on 3 December 2021 they would be taking to the next election (sometime in the next 6 months) an interim emissions target of 43 percent reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels. This is 2% lower than the target they had for the previous election in 2019.

The Coalition Government are taking their current interim emissions target of 26-28 percent reduction in emissions reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels to the next election. This target was set in 2015 before COP21. They have now committed to Net zero by 2050. But Resources policy shows the Coalition Government expanding coal and gas production. See the deconstruction of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's statement to COP26.

Here is the Labor primary climate policy, Powering Australia. It is a  pragmatic policy document trying to incorporate enough ambition while being a small target and avoid some of the expected attacks from the Coalition. It includes an economic costing of the policy. The Labor Interim emissions target for 2030 is 43%, which is below the 45% the ALP took to the election in 2019.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Call to Australian politicians to make climate highest priority, decarbonisation by 2030 | Australian Security Leaders Climate Group

When even retired members of our military establishment are calling for a decarbonisation target of 2030, you have to wonder at the games being played by the Liberal, National and Labor Parties on highly insufficient 2030 climate targets, and the lack of preparation in safeguarding Australians from climate change impacts.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group issued a call to all political parties in an open letter, signed by 17 senior former defence and intelligence officials, asking them to make climate their highest priority and to aim for decarbonisation by 2030. The statement appeared as a full page in The Australian newspaper.

The open letter follows the Missing in Action report from September 2021. This report proposed that "Focus should be on the root causes of climate warming, principally eliminating emissions much faster than proposed, rather than just the responding to the symptoms." The report recommended "to the government a set of initial actions in a climate and security plan to Protect, Prevent and Prepare, starting with a realistic assessment of the risks.

  • An urgent Climate and Security Risk Assessment
  • Establish a dedicated Office of Climate Threat Intelligence
  • Triennial National Climate Risk Assessments
  • Build an Australian National Prevention & Resilience Framework 
Read more at the Missing in Action Summary (PDF) or Full Report (PDF)

Leadership in Australia has been failing citizens by the lack of a national climate risk assessment and a National Climate Adaptation Plan, and an increasing climate change security threat.

The Open letter in full is below:

A Climate for Leadership: how Australia should respond to increasing disasters with retired Admiral Chris Barrie | Webinar

Australia Institute webinar with Richie Merzian and Chris Barrie

Climate change is increasingly a national security issue and in this Australia Institute webinar Former head of the Australian Defence Forces Chris Barrie and Head of climate and Energy at the Australia Institute Richie Merzian discuss the implications for responding to increasing climate related disasters involving the ADF and some of the National Security implications of failure of leadership to address climate change at the Federal Government level.

Richie Merzian outlines how Australia shaped an outline that countries could adopt for climate adaptation plans. Australia is helping to fund and implement plans with countries in our Pacific region, yet have failed to draw up a National Climate Adaptation Plan for our own country. 

So Australia has not worked out a risk assessment for estimates of the cost of climate change and climate driven weather disasters. "It has left us vulnerable and luching from one disaster to the next, when the majority of countries have undertaken developing these climate adaptation plans."

"It's extraordinary we are missing in action in Australia, when it is the security of our own people we should be concerned about. Worse than that, as Richie has pointed out, we have not learned anything from being involved in the processes, putting these adaptation plans together. It is almost like the leadership is absolutely vacant at the moment and I think this should concern all of us." said Chris Barrie.

UN Secretary General specifically calls out Australia on climate targets and coal "1.5-degree goal is on life support" | Full Speech

On Monday 21 March the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made remarks to the Economist Sustainability Summit in a speech labelled Keeping 1.5 Alive – Delivering on the Fate of our Planet. In the speech he specifically called out Australia for failure to take climate action in increasing 2030 climate targets and phasing out coal and gas.

The developed and emerging economies of the G20 account for 80 per cent of all global emissions. A growing number of G20 developed economies have announced meaningful emissions reductions by 2030 – with a handful of holdouts, such as Australia." said  Guterres.

He didn't mince his words on the global catstrophe we are facing, either.

"According to present national commitments, global emissions are set to increase by almost 14 per cent in the 2020s. Last year alone, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 6 per cent to their highest levels in history. Coal emissions have surged to record highs. We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe." 

On a global level he articulated what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophe: "Keeping 1.5 alive requires a 45 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century. That problem was not solved in Glasgow. "

He argues for progressively dismantling coal infrastructure, with full phase-out by 2030 for OECD countries (like Australia), and 2040 for all others. For financing adaptation and mitigation to be pursued with equal force and urgency.

He ends his speech on how do we keep 1.5 alive by calling for positive action and solutions:

  • By accelerating the phase-out of coal and all fossil fuels and implementing a rapid, just and sustainable energy transition -- the only true pathway to energy security. 
  • By honouring the Glasgow pledge to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5 degrees. 
  • By delivering concrete outcomes this year on climate coalitions to help emerging economies urgently phase out coal. 
  • By driving a swift and transformative increase in climate finance with multilateral development banks leading on unlocking the trillions that we know are needed. 
  • By speeding up the decarbonization of major sectors such as shipping, aviation, steel and cement. 
  • And by protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring an equal focus on adaptation. 

"That’s how we will move the 1.5 degree goal from life support to the recovery room. "

And Australia is presently not doing our fair share in ambituous 2030 climate targets, in planning for phase out of coal mining in a just transition engaging l;ocal communities in solutions.

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Floods 🌊 | Pre-election Australian Honest Government Ad for #Ausvotes

So much is packed in this Juice Media Honest Government Ad about the Flood Crisis in South East Queensland and North Coast of New South Wales, and the ineffective Federal Government political response.

Of Course it is part of a long history of first denying climate change, then delaying any response to acting on climate change. And doing minimal work in emergency response and recovery, and in developing a national climate risk assessment and developing a national climate adaptation plan.

Rather Australia keeps on approving new coal mines and new gas projects like the Narrabri gas field by Santos in NSW, Beetaloo Basin Gas in the Northern Territory by Origin Energy (70%, operator) and Falcon Oil and Gas (30%) , and the Scarborough Gas project by Woodside Petroleum off the Western Australian Coast.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Aviation exhaust pollution, air quality, and impacts on Human Health - Melbourne Airport 3rd runway expansion

Melbourne Airport with 3 runways 2026 Option 1, Night 11pm-6am Flight Paths

Melbourne Airport is planning a third runway.

So I'm doing a science literature dive into reading the air pollution health impacts of aviation emissions...

You know, that coating you find over your car or house if you live under a flight path...this is soot, black carbon (BC), particulate pollution emissions from aircraft landing and taking off. But it's the particles you don't see that are problematic: Ultra Fine Particles (UFP) sometimes referred to as particulate matter with a size designation often classified as PM2.5, but often even smaller which can reach the furthest alveoli of your lungs..

These pollution particulates are not good for your health. UFPs have a high surface area and a capacity to adsorb a substantial amount of toxic organic compounds.

Studies indicate that the "exposure to aircraft emissions induce pulmonary and systemic inflammation, which potentially contributes to cancer, asthma, respiratory and coronary heart disease." (Bendtsen 2021)

In fact it is calculated that aviation emissions on a global basis cause about 16,000 people to die prematurely every year, and of this number about 5,000 people who live within 20 km of airports are estimated to die prematurely each year.

As Steve H L Yim et al (2015) study says: " primary PM2.5 emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to health risk when airport vicinity exposure is captured."

The study also highlights that the health cost of aviation emissions is actually at a magnitude larger than global aviation fatal accident costs, and on par with aviation's climate costs.

I wonder if Melbourne Airport have done their sums on the extra costs to health of people in the 20km radius of the airport with the extra aviation emissions a third runway will induce?

The No Third Tulla Runway campaign has articulated reasons to oppose development of the third runway. These include:
These are all relevant reasons to oppose the airport. The missing piece in this analysis is the aviation pollution impacts on air quality and human health at all scales: local, regional and global.

This article seeks to draw attention to some of the science on aviation exhaust emissions, air quality and human health.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Victorian Government sets offshore wind targets to kickstart offshore wind industry to meet climate targets

On March 4, 2022 the Victorian Government set new offshore wind farm targets. Currently there are no offshore wind farms operating in the state.

The new offshore wind targets:

  • 2032 - target of 2 GW 
  • 2035 - target of 4 GW 
  • 2040 - target of 9 GW 
  • 2050 - potential capacity of 13 GW

Federal Minister for Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has been sitting on Federal legislation that has been needed to allow wind farm planning and construction to go ahead. This legislation was finally passed by the Federal Parliament in 2021.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Update on Synthetic turf: risk and impacts associated with floods and bushfires

Mitchelton Football club synthetic turf field damaged by flooding of Kedron Brook (Brisbane)

The Queensland and NSW Flood disasters in February and March 2022 highlighted other risks and impacts that were not included in my Literature Review on Synthetic Turf (2021).

The Guardian reported on a football club in north-west Brisbane seeing its $1.5m synthetic playing field damaged and equipment washed away as flood waters inundated the sports fields beside the creek. (Favazzo 2022)

“In one word, it’s devastating,” said Mitchelton football club technical director Joe Fenech, described the damages. 

I don't think Mr Fenech was thinking of the microplastic pollution the synthetic turf caused due to the floodwaters. Much of the field's rubber infill and any loose plastic fibres would be washed away becoming microplastics pollution, adding to this pollution in the world's oceans.

One of the Football Club shipping containers containing sports equipment was washed down Kedron Brook an estimated seven kilometres from Mitchelton to The Grange, according to a Facebook report by the Club.

My literature review focussed on all the environmental problems, but it also focussed in particular on one proposed natural grass sports field conversion to synthetic turf at Hosken Reserve in North Coburg. It looked only at siting issues within that context. But siting of synthetic turf is a general problem to consider especially with regards to flood and bushfire events.

In terms of extreme weather events, both flooding and bushfire risk should be important determinants for contributing to triple bottom line assessments for Synthetic Field siting.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Guest Post: ‘One of the most extreme disasters in colonial Australian history’: climate scientists on the floods and our future risk

The City of Lismore under floodwaters in Feb 2022
The City of Lismore under floodwaters, February 2022.
Andrew King, The University of Melbourne; Linden Ashcroft, The University of Melbourne, and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Sydney

The deluge dumped on southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales this week has been catastrophic. Floodwaters peaked at around 14.4 metres high in Lismore – two metres higher than the city’s previous record.

So how does this compare to Australia’s previous floods, such as in 2011? And can we expect more frequent floods at this scale under climate change? The answers to questions like these aren’t straightforward.

Climate change doesn’t tell the whole story, as extreme rainfall can occur for a variety of reasons. What’s more, it’s too soon to officially state whether this event is directly linked to climate change, as this would require a formal event attribution study. This can take months or years to produce.

In any case, we do know extreme events like this will occur more frequently in a warmer world. And the rising death toll, ongoing evacuations and destroyed homes make this one of the most extreme natural disasters in colonial Australian history.

Guest Post: Like rivers in the sky: the weather system bringing floods to Queensland will become more likely under climate change

Kimberley Reid, The University of Melbourne and Andrew King, The University of Melbourne

The severe floods in southeast Queensland this week have forced hundreds of residents to flee the town of Gympie and have cut off major roads, after intense rain battered the state for several days. The rain is expected to continue today, and travel south into New South Wales.

We research a weather system called “atmospheric rivers”, which is causing this inundation. Indeed, atmospheric rivers triggered many of the world’s floods in 2021, including the devastating floods across eastern Australia in March which killed two people and saw 24,000 evacuate.

Our recently published research was the first to quantify the impacts these weather systems have in Australia, and another study we published in November looked closely at the floods in March last year

We found while atmospheric rivers bring much-needed rainfall to the agriculturally significant Murray-Darling Basin, their potential to bring devastating floods will become more likely in a warmer world under climate change.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

UN Secretary General launches IPCC climate report: "abdication of leadership is criminal...World's biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home."

Very powerful speech by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General  at launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th assessment report Working Group II report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. He highlights the climate emergency we are in.

Australia as a member of the G20 and the OECD needs to phase out Australian coal use by 2030, and phase out coal export by 2040. Australia should be increasing our 2030 climate emissions reduction targets to 50% or more. I am well aware that every second of delay means death.. Australia needs to honour the Glasgow pledge at COP26 to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5C.

The last paragraph item in the Summary for policymakers of this report reads:

SPM.D.5.3 The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. (very high confidence) 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Sleepless in Melbourne - heat, humidity and rainfall set new January records for Victoria

BOM: Average Tmin deciles for January

Sleepless in Melbourne? January was a warm one for Melbourne despite presence of La Nina (ENSO) which usually cools global temperatures marginally. 

The trend was particularly noteable with record mean minimum temperatures for Melbourne and most of Victoria this year. Victoria's January mean minimum temperatures are rising faster than mean maximum temperatures. 

There was also record humidity for January for most of Victoria. Record rainfall was also recorded in north east Victoria.

It seems there will be lots more sleepless January nights in store for us all in Melbourne in future years.