Sunday, November 5, 2017

March for climate justice in Bonn at COP23 calls for end to coal



Latest report from Nofibs reporter John Englart in Bonn Germany for the UN Climate Change Conference:

In the immediate vicinity of the latest UN climate change conference COP23 and the largest lignite mining area of Europe, twenty five thousand people demonstrated for the immediate implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement in the city of Bonn, Germany, calling for climate justice and an end to coal.

Just ahead of the 23rd World UN Climate Conference (COP23) a broad alliance of civil society groups made clear that the Paris climate agreement needs to be followed by further action to phase out fossil fuels such as coal.

More than 100 climate, environmental and development organisations, citizen initiatives and churches from all over world supported the march and the call to action.

The regulars were at the march: including young communists from Belgium who were a very vocal and colourful group calling for system change. Die Grunen, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth were also there in abundance. I saw a banner for Germanwatch NGO (they do some powerful climate policy research and writing much in English) But there were also thousands of ordinary folk from Bonn and further afield who came to say it's long past time for action on climate change.

Somewhere between 800 and 1000 people participated in a cycling critical mass to attend the protest. I spoke to a person, originally from Manchester but currently living in Belgium, who had cycled to the event.

Though predominantly German and European, it had a fair share of internationals like myself attending, and speeches from the stage were in Deutsch and English. There were some powerful speakers in both languages.

It took quite some time for the march to leave MunsterPlatz and wind it's way through the streets Bonn to an end rally

Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner recited one of her famous poems from the stage at the end rally. There were also activists with a soup kitchen feeding people hot food.

The Climate March sends a strong signal to the world’s leaders to take rapid action on fossil fuels and to step out of coal.

  • For Australia, the Adani Carmichael coal mine needs to be stopped. It would be the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere, and if this mine goes ahead, several more coal mines in the Galilee basin are likely. Australia needs to start a just transition phaseout of coal mining for local production and consumption and the global export market. Read previous report: Australia and Coal at Bonn
  • Without further action, the world is on track for dangerous global warming. The lives and livelihoods of millions of people are under threat, entire island states are in danger of disappearing from rising sea-levels. Only decisive and rapid action in all countries can deliver a safe climate for all. Tackling climate change means a rapid phase out of fossil fuels, including the burning of coal and sufficient support for poor countries suffering from the impacts of climate change.
  • Globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain under the ground in order to stay below 2°C, according to Ekins and McGlade (2015) See my 2015 article: 95 percent of Australian coal, 88 percent of Global Fossil Fuel reserves need to remain unburned - Implications for Queensland.
  • Coal has no future and is already in structural decline. All over the world, renewables are rapidly expanding, being cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels. To date, six countries, states, provinces or cities have completely phased out coal power since 2014, and an additional 17 have announced a coal power phase-out date of 2030 or sooner, advises Greenpeace.
  • Our governments need to stop financing coal and fossil fuels and take concrete actions to foster the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. This is the only way we'll keep global warming below 1.5c.
  • We need clean energy systems in the hands of people and a just transition which ensures no one is left behind. Coal workers and their communities are already in steep decline. They need strong support, now, to build new lives with clean renewable jobs and other economic opportunities.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Australia and coal at Bonn Climate conference #COP23




First published at nofibs.com.au

On an international level, the politics around climate action have moved substantially since 2015 and the signing of the Paris Agreement. I was at the UN climate change conference in Paris – COP21 – and it was a significant moment.

But the politics in Australia is still heavily mired in the past, and the vested interests that make up our energy and mining sector. The Federal climate and energy policy of the Abbott/Turnbull government, including the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is all built around prolonging coal use, impeding the growth of renewables and the energy transition, and doing as little as possible to meet Australia’s already ‘insufficient’ climate targets, let alone more ambituous targets needed for our fair share of global action.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Guest Post: Liz Hanna on the reality of living with 50℃ temperatures in our major cities

I have been very concerned about rising temperatures and the urban heat island effect on the people in our cities, particularly Melbourne and the City of Moreland where I live. See Climate change and heatwaves in Melbourne - a Review. Moreland Council have been one of the more pro-active local governments in reducing emissions, ameliorating the urban heat island effect through an urban forest strategy, and in working towards adaptive changes by the population of Moreland in dealing with impacts of extreme heat. Liz Hanna puts this together in the dilemmas we will face in future years as temperatures continue to rise.

The reality of living with 50℃ temperatures in our major cities


File 20171006 9753 1kew8yg

Sydney is facing 50℃ summer days by 2040, new research says.
Andy/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA


Liz Hanna, Australian National University

Australia is hot. But future extreme hot weather will be worse still, with new research predicting that Sydney and Melbourne are on course for 50℃ summer days by the 2040s if high greenhouse emissions continue. That means that places such as Perth, Adelaide and various regional towns could conceivably hit that mark even sooner.

This trend is worrying, but not particularly surprising given the fact that Australia is setting hot weather records at 12 times the pace of cold ones. But it does call for an urgent response.

Most of us are used to hot weather, but temperatures of 50℃ present unprecedented challenges to our health, work, transport habits, leisure and exercise.


Read more: Health Check: how to exercise safely in the heat


Humans have an upper limit to heat tolerance, beyond which we suffer heat stress and even death. Death rates do climb on extremely cold days, but increase much more steeply on extremely hot ones. While cold weather can be tackled with warm clothes, avoiding heat stress requires access to fans or air conditioning, which is not always available.




The death rate in heat ramps up more rapidly than in cold.
Data from Li et al., Sci. Rep. (2016); Baccini et al., Epidemiol. (2008); McMichael et al., Int. J. Epidemiol. (2008), Author provided


Even with air conditioning, simply staying indoors is not necessarily an option. People must venture outside to commute and shop. Many essential services have to be done in the open air, such as essential services and maintaining public infrastructure.

Roughly 80% of the energy produced during muscular activity is heat, which must be dissipated to the environment, largely through perspiration. This process is far less effective in hot and humid conditions, and as a result the body’s core temperature begins to climb.

We can cope with increased temperatures for short periods – up to about half an hour – particularly those people who are fit, well hydrated and used to hot conditions. But if body temperature breaches 40-42℃ for an extended time, heat stress and death are likely. In hot enough weather, even going for a walk can be deadly.

Air conditioning may not save lives

We expect air conditioning to take the strain, but may not realise just how much strain is involved. Shade temperatures of 50℃ mean that direct sunlight can raise the temperature to 60℃ or 70℃. Bringing that back to a comfortable 22℃ or even a warm 27℃ is not always possible and requires a lot of energy – putting serious strain on the electricity grid.

Electricity transmission systems are inherently vulnerable to extreme heat. This means they can potentially fail simply due to the weather, let alone the increased demand on the grid from power consumers.

Power cuts can cause chaos, including the disruption to traffic signals on roads that may already be made less safe as their surfaces soften in the heat. Interruptions to essential services such as power and transport hamper access to lifesaving health care.

Myopic planning

It’s a dangerous game to use past extremes as a benchmark when planning for the future. The new research shows that our climate future will be very different from the past.

Melbourne’s 2014 heatwave triggered a surge in demand for ambulances that greatly exceeded the number available. Many of those in distress waited hours for help, and the death toll was estimated at 203.

Just last month, parts of New South Wales and Victoria experienced temperatures 16 degrees warmer than the September average, and 2017 is tracking as the world’s second-warmest year on record.

Preparing ourselves

Last year, the Australian Summit on Extreme Heat and Health warned that the health sector is underprepared to face existing heat extremes.

The health sector is concerned about Australia’s slow progress and is responding with the launch of a national strategy for climate, health and well-being. Reinstating climate and health research, health workforce training and health promotion are key recommendations.

There is much more to be done, and the prospect of major cities sweltering through 50℃ days escalates the urgency.


Read more: Climate policy needs a new lens: health and well-being


Two key messages arise from this. The first is that Australia urgently needs to adapt to the extra warming. Heat-wise communities (or “heat-safe communities” in some states) – where people understand the risks, protect themselves and look after each other – are vital to limit harm from heat exposure. The health sector must have the resources to respond to those who succumb. Research, training and health promotion are central.

The second message is that nations across the world need to improve their efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, so as to meet the Paris climate goal of holding global warming to 1.5℃.

If we can do that, we can stave off some of the worst impacts. We have been warned.

Liz Hanna, Honorary Senior Fellow, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Large and vocal protest to Stop Adani outside Queensland Labor conference in Townsville


Photo by StopAdani

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten talk about addressing inequality inside the Queensland State Conference of the Labor Party in Townsville. Yet one of the greatest drivers of inequality is climate change driven by fossil fuels and coal mining.

Outside the state convention about 200 people turned up on Saturday morning to press the point that developing more fossil fuels, especially the Adani Carmichael coal mine, will further drive climate change. Climate change is a driver of political destabilisation, food insecurity, and inequality at a global level.

Queensland's commitment to 50 percent renewables by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050 mean little if coal and gas is continued to be exploited and exported overseas. Politicians often say that if we don't export it , then some other country will. But this is an immoral defence, with this justification known as the Drug Pusher's defence. That's what Premier Palaszczuk is arguing: an immoral case that if Queensland doesn't drive climate change by exporting coal, then some other nation will do so.

But even the Drug Pusher's defence for developing the Adani mine falls flat when you take into account there is a global energy transition occurring, and the global coal market is in structural decline. Developing any new coal mine risks becoming a stranded asset, failing at plain economics.

Stop sitting on the fence Bill Shorten on Adani coal


Photo by Julian Meehan Copyright: Creative Commons CC-by-SA

Bill Shorten has been sitting on the fence regarding the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Well, it doesn't stack up according to any social justice morality, or on it's economics or according to environmental and climate criteria.

In April Bill Shorten, interviewed for the ABC 7.30 Report, opposed the NAIF loan while hedging his bets on support for the mine. He said "I support the Adani coal mine so long as it stacks up. I hope it stacks up, by the way. But it's got to stack up commercially. It's got to stack up environmentally."

I attended Bill Shorten's Moonee Ponds office to give him a message to stop sitting on the fence over Adani's Carmichael coal mine. I met with Bill Shorten with other members of civil society during COP21 in Paris, so he knows how serious climate change is, and how important it is to reduce emissions.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Coalition parties have heads in the sand on Victorian climate and energy policy



The Victorian opposition released a statement on energy security on Tuesday. It was tweeted out by Shadow Minister for Innovation, Energy and Resources, and Renewables David Southwick MP.

The first thing to note is that it doesn't mention climate change, not even once. Even though climate change contributes to extreme heat events and severe storm events that imperils the safety of Victorians, with the threat increasing over time as temperatures rise.

The second thing to note is it doesn't include energy security in the context of an energy transition already taking place. Energy security, reliability and affordability are all important considerations, but need to be discussed in the context of broad energy transition to a zero carbon economy driven by the imperative of addressing climate change. The statement patently fails Victorians in this regard.

With the threat of protected industrial action against AGL Energy at Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B Power Stations and a counter threat by AGL Energy to lock out workers, the Victorian energy minister Lily D'Ambrosio made the right call with an application to the Fair Work Commission to seek a termination of the industrial action at AGL Loy Yang.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reports Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal exceeded pollution limits 8 fold



Remember that story on Adani's Abbot Point export coal terminal contaminating the Caley Valley wetlands next door? And the ruckus of denial from Adani, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian MacFarlane?


The latest update is a news report on the ABC that reveals that at one monitoring point the contaminated liquids and sediment from Abbot Point were at 8 times the legal limit.

Adani had applied and was issued an authority to release contaminated water, but with a limit of total suspended solids up to 100 milligrams per litre. The report provided by Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal on the water release advised that the water discharged on 30 March from a licensed point on the northern side of the terminal contained 806mg/L of sediment.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mark Butler endorses Westpac's policy assessment that excludes Adani Project while ALP policy remains mute on export coal



Shadow minister for Energy and Climate Mark Butler was on ABC Insiders program on Sunday and was critical of the Government criticising Westpac over a business policy decision, when the Government has refused to implement a Banking Royal Commission to look at financial practices that hurt lots of ordinary Australians and small businesses.

It was a very competent interview and attack on the Government, while adroitly not answering the question of opposing the mine if Adani does manage to get the financial investment required sorted. (19 international banks have now ruled out financing the mine)

All Butler's points were valid and important facts: that the demand for thermal coal imports from Australia is in decline, that the Adani project would hurt coal jobs in both Queensland and New South Wales, and that the economics of the mine simply don't stack up.

Then there is the climate risk which Butler did not emphasise but is at the heart of Westpac Bank's business climate policy and future investments in coal.

I don't fully agree with Westpac's policy, but it is a nuanced approach to supporting only new investment in metallurgical coal or high quality Newcastle benchmark thermal coal from existing basins. The Adani coal from the Carmichael mine fails the energy benchmark, and has a high ash content. It is a low to medium quality thermal coal.

I read the ALP's climate policy it took to the last election in 2016. It was a positive policy overall, but one of it's huge failings was the silence on coal and fossil fuel export, particularly the low grade Adani coal in the Galilee Basin, unconventional gas, and offshore oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

The ALP are happy to play both sides of the coal equation and leave the outcome as a commercial decision as they think this resolves them from responsibility of good policy.

It may be good politics, but it is bad policy when the science says we need to keep 95 percent of Australia's coal unexploited.

The fact is Westpac's climate business policy (PDF) on export coal is now more aligned to the Paris Agreement climate targets, and superior to both the Government and opposition parties policies on export coal.

That is a sad state of affairs. Here are the interview snippets from Insiders between Barry Cassidy and Mark Butler.









Saturday, April 29, 2017

Resources minister Matt Canavan's Jobs, jobs, jobs Adani coal mantra is bullshit



Jobs, jobs, and more jobs, that's the mantra by both the Liberal National Coalition Federal Government and the Queensland State Labor Government, and bugger the reef and the rising temperatures of climate change.

On Friday Westpac Bank released their climate change Position statement and 2020 action Plan. This effectively rules out any funding of Adani for the Carmichael coal project.

Matt Canavan, and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce on Lateline, continue this mantra, to peddle the myth that 10,000 or more jobs will be generated, when in court Adani admitted only 1464 jobs would be created. In fact, Adani hope to fully automate much of the mining and transport, so jobs could be even less than stated in court.

If the Adani Carmichael coal mine proceeds, it is also likely to hurt existing coal jobs in Queensland and New South Wales.

Friday, April 28, 2017

New Westpac climate policy rules out financing Adani Carmichael coal mine



Westpac have released their climate change Position statement and 2020 action Plan. This effectively rules out any funding of Adani for the Carmichael coal project.

Westpac becomes the 4th and last of the big 4 Australian banks to rule out financing the Adani project, and makes it the 19th bank globally to have either ruled out funding Galilee Basin coal export projects directly, or through the introduction of a new policy.

Westpac came under intense pressure from community organisations to rule out funding for Adani, with numerous protests outside bank branches, questions at AGMs, and a campaign urging customers to divest. Without this community social pressure Westpac's climate change position may have been much less rigorous.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stop Adani climate protest occupies Downer EDI office: Don't get into bed with Adani



About 20 Activists this morning occupied the Melbourne offices of Downer, an infrastructure company, to protest participation in developing the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland, widely seen as a climate carbon bomb with no social license.

The Adani Carmichael coal mine is a climate carbon bomb that would push temperatures well past the 2 degrees C limit that countries set in Paris UN climate Conference in 2015 at COP21. Research shows that Australia needs to leave 95 percent of it's coal in the ground unexploited and unburnt to stand a reasonable chance of not exceeding the 2C target.

In January 2015 it was announced that Downer EDI had won a $2 billion contract for works at Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, according to Australian Mining.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Great White shark, climate change and ocean carbon cycles


The latest media 'hysteria' about shark attack arises from a tragic fatal bite incident when WA teenager Laeticia Brouwer was mauled by a shark at the popular surf break - Kelp Beds - near Esperance (south coast of Western Australia) just before 4pm on Easter Monday (2017).

The paramedic who was first on the scene said the teenager suffered tremendous blood loss and couldn’t be saved despite quickly receiving first aid.

While sharks are relatively common in coastal waters, attacks are exceptional given the overwhelming presence and numbers of people in the surf zone. You are more likely to be killed in a road accident, riding a horse or a vending machine, than by a shark.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg says WA isn’t doing enough to protect people from sharks urging shark culls and drum lines, according to the West Australian. "In light of the recent shark attack, the Commonwealth would welcome any proposal to protect human life first and foremost,” he said. “This could include the newest drum-line technology, shark exclusion nets, culling or other measures which WA sees fit.”

WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has ruled out the idea of a shark cull in response, according to the ABC. "We're not going down the path of a cull because there's no evidence that it actually makes our beaches safer," he said, "...no evidence that that actually reduces the likelihood of future attacks," Kelly said.

Like on climate change, we are seeing the issue of shark conservation or culling being politicised rather than public education and options for shark incident mitigation. Our Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister should know better. The oceans are the domain of sharks and they have an important role to play as apex predators as part of the ocean carbon cycle. When we swim in the oceans we need to be mindful of the risks involved, including utilising the latest in public shark warning and repellent devices.

Mindless culling of sharks will not actually reduce the risk of shark attack without doing great harm to the ocean ecosystem trophic structure. It is as apex ocean predators that sharks do us the greatest service in maintaining the ocean carbon cycle and help keep carbon sequestered in coastal sea areas (Blue Carbon) to help us mitigate climate change.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Adani's Abbot Point coal contamination of Caley Valley wetlands and marine environment


Article First published at nofibs.com.au

Adani's coal export terminal at Abbot Point was in the direct path of Category 4 Cyclone Debbie. There was reason to expect a large storm surge, but this did not occurr, but the destructive winds and torrential rain caused Adani to release a large amount of contaminated water into the adjacent wetlands and ocean.

On Sunday April 9 the Mackay Conservation Group published on their facebook page a before and after photo of the Abbot Point export coal terminal owned by Adani, and part of the Caley Valley wetlands adjacent to it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ambitious plan to bend global emissions curve by 2020, while Australia continues Adani coal push



At Google HQ in London an ambitious plan was launched by former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres to accelerate climate action and bend the global emissions curve down by 2020.

Figueres outlined six areas where action was needed to make 2020 a real turning point in the global emissions trend. For the last 3 years global emissions have been flat despite rising global GDP, a sign that economies are increasingly becoming disengaged from processes of carbon pollution.

While in Australia the Liberal National Party Federal Government lead by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is keenly supporting the Adani Carmichael coal mine development, supported by the Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Greens dare criticize coal and climate policies during #CycloneDebbie


Original article published at nofibs.com.au

Those uppity Greens are daring to speak about climate change while severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie beat the shit out of the Whitsunday Islands (Read this report of Hamilton Island), Proserpine and Bowen, and now threatens extensive flooding from torrential rainfall for central and SE coastal Queensland.

The accusatory tone from Malcolm Turnbull and other Liberal government ministers is 'How dare you try to politicise an extreme weather event, when we should all be pulling together.', while they conveniently forget the South Australian storms in September 2016 which resulted in a system black which they conveniently and erroneously immediately blamed on the fault of the wind turbines in South Australia.

They have continued to prosecute an attack on wind energy and South Australia, despite a BOM report blaming the primary cause as the cyclonic storm with 260km per hour wind gusts. AEMO also put the primary cause as the destructive winds destroying transmission towers, but also identified in the final report that automatic wind generator protection settings (since updated) contributed to the System Black event.

No pulling together for South Australia, Queensland, or in fact all of Australia, in it's time of need to resolve the lack of coherence in energy and climate policies.

Is there the taint of hypocrisy here? You bet.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Coral, climate change, storm surges and #CycloneDebbie


Article originally published at nofibs.com.au

Tropical Cyclone Debbie is forecast to cross Central Queensland coast on Tuesday morning as a Category 4 Severe tropical cyclone. It will bring destructive winds greater than 200km per hour plus a storm surge with a king tide innundating low lying coastal properties, and torrential rain causing flooding. It is also cooling sections of the Great Barrier Reef reducing coral bleaching from an extensive and long lasting marine heatwave.

Update: 25,000 people in Mackay ordered to evacuate due to storm surge threat.
Update: Coal mines and coal ports affected.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie draws heat from the unusually warm waters of the Coral Sea. This will help it increase in intensity to achieve possibly Category 4, and an outside chance as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone before it strikes land.

It is the first tropical cyclone to strike the north Queensland coast since Cyclone Nathan in March 2015. Although it may not be as strong, it is being compared in size and extent to the Category 5 cyclone Yasi from 2011.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Keppel Prince expands wind tower production with 50 new jobs at Portland



The focus on boosting renewables in Victoria through the VRET by the Andrews Labor Government is already boosting regional jobs in Portland at the Keppel Prince Engineering wind tower fabrication plant.

The Andrews Labor Government is assisting Portland engineering and manufacturing firm Keppel Prince Engineering with a $1.97 million expansion of the company's wind tower fabrication facility. This will create 50 new jobs to add to the 80 local wind tower manufacturing jobs.

Keppel Prince is Australia’s largest, and Victoria’s only, wind tower manufacturer. The wind tower division currently manufactures 110 wind towers per year, supplying them for wind farm projects across the country.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Victoria pioneering climate just transition package for Hazelwood coal workers



A special $20 million worker transfer package was announced today for workers affected by the closure of Engie's Hazelwood Power Station. This will allow early retirement for workers at other LaTrobe Power stations creating places for Hazelwood workers that want to continue their careers in power generation.

This transfer package is an important component of a suite of support mechanisms being put into place for the community, a part of a just transition being pioneered by the Victorian government driven by the necessity to move to zero carbon emissions by climate change.

“We will always stand up for the Latrobe Valley and with the worker transfer scheme for Hazelwood workers, we are doing just that. This is great news for jobs and for Hazelwood workers and their families.” said the Premier Daniel Andrews.

This particular scheme will cost $20 million to assist around 150 retrenched Hazelwood workers to remain in the power industry. In the first instance, employment transfer to AGL Energy’s Loy Yang A will be facilitated, but later transfers to Engie's Loy Yang B may be available.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community campaign wins permanent #fracking ban in Victoria


Article first published at nofibs.com.au

To ensure it's clean green reputation of it's agricultural sector, and to guarantee the health of rural farming communities Victoria became the first Australian state officially banning fracking. It was motivated by a strong community lead campaign for a ban on gas exploration from 2011.

Legislation was passed in the Victorian Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian parliament, for a permanent legislative ban on fracking. Victoria’s agriculture sector employs more than 190,000 people and relies on it's clean and green reputation.

The legislation was passed without amendment. The Coalition parties and Shooters and Farmers Party sought to amend the legislation regarding the onshore conventional gas exploration moratorium, but were defeated 20 votes to 18. Sex Party MLC Fiona Pattern and Western Region independent MLC James Purcell gave crucial support, along with the Greens, for passage of the bill.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Solar Feed-in minimum tariff to double for Victorian Solar citizens



The minimum Feed-in tariff for solar PV owners in Victoria will more than double due to changes the Dan Andrews Labor Government has made to the regulation of pricing for solar PV owners.

Current minimum feed-in rate is 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Victoria’s independent regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC), has determined the new feed-in rate will be 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour and will apply from 1st July.

About 130,000 solar citizens will reap the benefit of this increased Feed-in tarriff.

“With this new feed-in tariff, the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring that households with solar panels are more fairly compensated for the power they send back into the grid.” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Community Energy Congress 2017 in Melbourne



Great energy and vibrancy at the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne.

Community Energy Congress is in Melbourne talking about the community role in transition to renewable energy. Check out the program.


Keep up with the twitter gossip and commentary from the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne Day 1, Monday 27 February 2017 below:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Great Barrier Reef facing back to back coral bleaching from elevated sea surface temperatures



Record sea surface temperatures in the coral sea are again threatening massive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row. If sea surface temperatures don't cool in the next few weeks, this will be the first time there has been back to back bleaching on this scale.

“In the last week, divers and scientists have reported bleached corals on popular tourist reefs around Cairns and on reefs near Townsville.” said Imogen Zethoven Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director.

Vast swathes of the Great Barrier Reef have also been placed on red alert (Alert Level 1) for the next four weeks, as an indicator that coral bleaching is likely. Parts of the Far Northern, Northern and Central Reef are on the even higher Alert Level 2, indicating mortality is likely.

Corals south of Cairns, in the Whitsundays and in parts of the Far Northern Reef, that were badly hit last year, are at mortal risk.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Public Opinion Polls: Australians want climate action, renewables expansion



Two sets of opinion surveys highlighted how far ahead the Australian population is on climate and energy policy than the Federal Government and Liberal and National party policy.

The opinion polling by Essential Vision provides a national snapshot in areas such as belief in climate change, Labor's 50 per cent by 2030 renewables target, cause of the recent electricity blackouts in South Australia, whether renewables are a solution for our future energy needs, whether the Federal Government is doing enough on clean energy, and attitude to building more coal fired power stations.

The Victorian survey was larger and more nuanced by a private survey consultancy done for Sustainability Victoria. It showed much greater degree of support for climate action, renewables, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET), and the Victorian zero emissions by 2050 target. There was a high self-efficacy that everyone: individuals, businesses, environment groups, and the 3 levels of government, need to be taking considerable climate action, and that this should preferably be lead by the Federal Government.

It is notable that just last week the Coalition parties in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia all decided to abolish any state imposed renewable energy targets. This action would seems to be at odds with national opinion, but especially so in Victoria where there is much greater awareness and sense of urgency in tackling climate change. Opposition to the VRET appears to be a major backflip for Shadow minister for Renewables David Southwick.

The results should bolster the Federal Labor leadership under Bill Shorten to stick with their 50 per cent renewable energy target and ambitious climate policy that includes introduction of an Energy Intensity Scheme for the electricity generation industry.

For Turnbull, the results show his governments attacks on renewables and talking up 'clean coal' are not cutting through. In fact arguing against public opinion is probably making things worse in lowering public esteem for the Liberal Party.

The Victorian survey was released on the same day the Victorian Climate Change Act passed the Legislative Council (Upper house) and augers well for introduction of a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) through legislation later in the year.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Open Letter to David Southwick, Victorian Shadow Minister for Renewables



Dear David Southwick
State MP for Caulfield, Parliament of Victoria.
Shadow Minister for Innovation, Energy and Resources, and Renewables.

In February 2016 you said that Liberals really do care and that you will work to get the best outcome on energy and renewables. "Renewables are absolutely crucial to the future of Victoria and Australia." you said. Fast forward by a year and you are playing vicious partisan politics with Victorian climate and energy policy.

On Friday Victoria's Minister for Energy Lily D'Ambrosio announced a public tender for building a 20MW battery as part of the Victorian electricity grid. The grid-scale battery will be constructed either in north-west or south-west Victoria, at a location where the energy market operator has identified it could improve grid reliability.

This is something to be applauded.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thermal, wind and demand forecasting failed in South Australian Heatwave: AEMO

AEMO have released their preliminary report into the loadshedding and blackout of 90,000 south Australian residents and businesses during the extreme heatwave on 8 February.

In their summary of the event AEMO outline three main causes for the failure to match generation to demand. They specify that supply was rapidly changing in the period prior to the peak at 18:00, but the problem came down to:

  • Demand was higher than forecast
  • Wind generation was lower than forecast, and
  • Thermal generation capacity was reduced due to forced outages

When you analyse the report it becomes clear there was available capacity (Pelican Point 2) that could have been brought on line to meet the demand, but the market based processes of AEMO failed.

It is important to emphasise here that Adelaide and most of South Australia on Wednesday 8 February was experiencing extreme temperatures in the middle of an exceptional heatwave. Climate scientists have been predicting that heatwaves would get more intense. This sort of extreme heat event is in line with their predictions.

Adding to the extent of the issue, AEMO ordered at the evening peak at 18:03 100MW of load shedding to balance supply versus demand, but it appears SA Power Network shed 300MW, much more than was required.

I reported initially on this event the day after, on February 9: AEMO orders South Australian #heatwave blackout while Gas turbine remains idle.

Victorian Liberals declare war on renewable targets, jobs, investment



The Liberal party in three states - Victoria, South Australia and Queensland - vowed to drop state based renewable energy targets if elected. This follows Federal Liberal Party war on renewables and climate policy conducted since Abbott took power in 2013, continued under Prime Minister Turnbull.

While climate action at the Federal level has followed a rollercoast ride in the past two decades, states are increasingly taking more action to protect their citizens.

In the latest round of attacks at the Federal level, Manchester University climate change PhD student Marc Hudson argues that what we are seeing is not actually a policy battle, but a politics battle, and one that has been going on since at least 2000.

With reduction of the federal Renewable Energy Target and no plan as yet to extend it, the Labor states of South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, and the ACT, have all set in motion state renewable energy targets.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heatwave makes Australia hottest place on planet with catastrophic bushfire conditions


Australia is currently the hottest place on the planet with the heatwave in SE Australia according to the Climate Reanalyzer site for Saturday 11 February. And last year (2016) was the hottest year on the planet in recorded history, following two previous years which also set the record.

As heat temperature records tumbled in south east Australia in the heatwave, catastrophic fireweather conditions were being experienced on Sunday over a wide region from Port Stephens in the Hunter Region, Tablelands and the Central West region of New South Wales. These conditions are categorized as a greater danger than the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 which killed 173 people directly in the bushfires and 374 excess deaths due to the heatwave.

Update: Climate scientists calculate that Climate change doubled the likelihood of the New South Wales heatwave (Feb 16, 2017 The Conversation)

We have an energy crisis with load shedding ocurring in South Australia on Wednesday (that needn't have occurred), and load shedding in NSW on Friday and Saturday with the Tomago Aluminium plant being ordered to curtail production and energy use.

But what you will find largely absent in the media and comments by politicians on the heatwave is any reference to climate change which is an essential driving factor of more intense heatwave conditions and catastrophic fireweather.

The mining and burning of coal is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and needs to be phased out in an orderly way to meet our international commitments on climate change. The only but would be if carbon capture and storage (CCS) was developed at scale and at reasonable cost, and I don't see enough research and investment to make this happen in a realistic timeframe.

So the Liberal Party are causing a clean coal controversy and blaming renewables, when AEMO and the energy market needs a thorough overhaul to re-prioritise production to meet consumer demand and social requirements rather than business profits. Just look at AEMO's governance bias for a start.

The Transition road may be rough at times, but we really do need to move to 100 per cent renewables. Prior changes such as the transition from horse and buggy transport to automobiles - about 13 years - at the start of the twentieth century, shows that transition happens relatively quickly. State renewables targets are realistic and already driving the energy transition we need.

Is it so hard to come up with a bipartisan national energy plan?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Colour scale confusion in Australian heatwave maps


Forecast Map produced by Bureau of Meteorology for 5pm 11 February, 2017. Source


I am reflecting on how easy it is for misleading information to be circulated, even with the best of intentions. A UNFCCC tweet on the Australian extreme heatwave published on 10 February was factually misleading.

Let me explain the details.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Heatwave is nothing short of horrifying" says climate scientist


First published at nofibs.com.au

"This developing heatwave is nothing short of horrifying" said climate scientist Sarah Perkin-Kirkpatrick.

"Much of eastern Australia has seen heatwave after heatwave this summer, with some seasonal records already broken by the start of February. Night-time temperatures have been too hot for adequate sleep and daytime temperatures have been searing."

Sarah Perkin-Kirkpatrick is a climate scientist who has specialised in studying the causes and dynamics of heatwaves. She is an Australian Research Council DECRA fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW. At the annual Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Organisation conference meeting in Canberra this week she was awarded the Early Career Researcher (ECR) award.

"What is particularly concerning about the developing event is the intensity, where many regions will see a string of extremely hot days with little relief. Much of NSW, QLD and northern VIC will suffer the most, where temperatures will be the hottest, and follow little reprieve from the previous heatwaves." she said.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

AEMO orders South Australian loadshedding blackout while Gas turbine remains idle #SAheat



Over 40,000 South Australian households endured a blackout yesterday evening for about half an hour during an extreme heatwave. AEMO ordered the loadshedding, but questions remain why the Pelican Point 2nd gas turbine wasn't fired up.


Quick Summary Wednesday 8 February SA Heatwave Blackouts


10:31am BOM SA advise an extreme heat warning issued by the SES based on BOM heatwave forecasting

1:30pm Briefing for media on heatwave conditions

2:17pm NEM watch reported the lack of online reserve in South Australia.

5:17pm Actual lack of Reserve (Level 1) , Actual Lack of Reserve (Level 2) at 6:17pm.

6:03pm AEMO ordered 100MW of load shedding to last to 7:30pm.

8:32pm SA Power networks tweeted that it was an "upstream generation issue managed by AEMO the Australian Energy Market Operator, not SA Power Networks".

9:16pm SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says that "Power shedding tonight was avoidable. There was sufficient local generation to meet our demand tonight, but AEMO didn't instruct it on! Why?"

10:23pm Tom Koutsantonis says to a question "Yes gas, South Australian Gas fired generation that should have been told to be on & wasnt!"

11:27pm SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says that "AEMO have informed the SA Government they got their demand forecast for SA wrong."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Great Forest National Park and Port Philip Bay: communicating conservation research at #vicbiocon17



Sarah Rees and Sheree Maris gave two inspiring presentations on science communication in conservation and biodiversity in an afternoon plenary at the Victorian Biodiversity Conference in Melbourne.

Its always nice to discover new natural wonders in our local area. It enhances our sense of place and pride in nature, and is an important motivation for conservation.

Sarah Rees and Sheree Maris bring us the wonders of the ancient Central Highland forests and the extraordinary ecosystems hiding just under the surface of Port Philip. Both of these environments are just on the edge of Melbourne, yet are largely unknown and unexplored by most Melburnians.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Worst Great Barrier Reef bleaching event to ‘become commonplace’



Last year during the 2016 Federal election I felt great despair about the Great Barrier Reef. It was clear that Politicians were offering token funding to the Great Barrier Reef already facing extinction. It is already a climate emergency.

The Great Barrier Reef is not going to survive our experiment with global warming. Even if we could magically keep average global temperatures to below two degrees Celsius, it will be very much diminished, such is the great inertias involved in the climate system which we have irrevocably changed.

Climate and Health: It doesn't take an extreme weather event to have an extreme health impact



Professor Kristie L. Ebi, from University of Washington, presented a plenary talk at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) conference in Canberra on Climate and health. An interesting talk even via twitter and speaks to the need for a national climate and health policy in Australia.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Chief Australian scientist compares Trump to Stalin on science censorship


Alan Finkel, Australia's chief scientist, has compared Donald Trump to Josef Stalin, in the moves to censor environmental data and climate science at the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and other US Government agencies.

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin exerted an iron control of science in the USSR.

Finkel's statement was made as part of a speech to the Chief Scientists' roundtable discussion at the Australian National University. Also of note in attendance was New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, and UK’s former Chief Scientist Professor Sir John Beddington.

In his speech Finkel announced he was "going off topic" as "science is literally under attack".

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pacific civil society in Fiji calls out Australian climate ambassador on climate action


Ambassador Suckling at COP22 in Marrakech - Photo John Englart

Originally published at nofibs.com.au

Australian Ambassador for Climate Change Patrick Suckling is currently visiting Fiji this week to hold bilateral meetings with the Fiji Presidency in regard to the COP23 United Nations climate negotiations (which will be held in Bonn, Germany in November 2017).

Fiji and other Pacific island governments are demanding that polluting nations step up action to reduce emissions.

In conjunction with Suckling's presence for bilateral talks, the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) released an open letter calling for Australia to take further action on emissions reduction and to stop new coal mines and coal mine expansions.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Brisbane and Sydney turn on record heat in January 2017 with record warm nights



Averaged across the state, Queensland had its 6th warmest January on record. Mean minimum temperatures were the second-warmest on record for January. (see above deciles average map for January)

But the City of Brisbane in the south east just experienced it's warmist January on record. Back to back heatwaves have brought persistent heat to south east Australia, and especially to southern Queensland and New South Wales. The town of Moree has had 36 consecutive days of temperatures over 35C, doubling the previous record of 17 days in 1982.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

US Congress considers bill to abolish funding to IPCC, UNFCCC, Green Climate Fund



Abolition of Funding for IPCC, UNFCCC, Green Climate Fund is the target of Bill HR 673 introduced into U.S. Congress on January 24, 2017. Currently the bill is referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Transition advisor Myron Ebell, at a talk of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, was adamant that Trump wants to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying it would be advantageous to have a place at the negotiating table.

Strangley, Ebell has never spoken to President Trump, and now seems to be out of the loop altogether.

He outlined three major ways Trump might withdraw US participation from the Paris climate agreement.

Ebell argued that in the first instance, the president can simply stop any US financial contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and that all US funding to the UNFCCC, including to the Green Climate Fund, represents a violation of US law ever since Palestine was accepted as a UNFCCC member. Secondly, Trump might request the US Congress to reject the Paris agreement on the basis that legally it is a treaty and does not qualify as an executive presidential order. Thirdly, Trump could withdraw the US from the UNFCCC altogether.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Resistance in face of a Trump climate denial agenda


Photo by Charlie Furman/twitter @DigitalCharlie


Despite the climate denialism in a Trump administration, it will be difficult to stop the zero carbon transition already underway and driven by economic forces, with action by citizens, businesses and states.

As the minutes ticked past midday with Trump's inauguration on January 20, the whitehouse.gov website was swept clean of anything climate related. Obama's record in this area has been officially archived and Trump's pages announce an America First Energy Plan.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

100 climate impacts on oceans and marine ecosystems


Over my last decade of reading on climate change, I have picked up a fact or two on oceans and the marine environment, and written the odd article.

Oceans and the marine biodiversity they encompass are important. Just take a deep breathe and reflect upon the fact that the oxygen we rely upon, every second breathe we take, comes from ocean marine algae. And that's just the start.

Most of us just dabble at the edge of the marine environment with perhaps a visit to the beach. But the oceans are deeply important for providing much of our food, and as a carbon sink and regulator of weather and climate on our planet. From the mangroves and reef ecosystems that border coasts providing many social benefits to us, to the open ocean, and deep seabed with incredible life forms we are still just discovering.

Who could resist an opportunity to detail the many climate change impacts on the oceans and marine ecosystems from marine ecologist, Dr John Bruno, a Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His list, tweeted out using the #100impacts hashtag, comes at a time of the inauguration of the new administration of President Trump. One of the first acts of this new administration was to eliminate all mention of climate change from the Whitehouse website.

The list will build over coming days. Revisit to see the latest posts.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Solar to power Melbourne's trams as Australia's GHG emissions continue to rise


Article first published at nofibs.com.au

Lily D'Ambrosio, the Victorian Energy and Environment Minister, stepped forward today to announce that Melbourne's tram network will be powered by 100 per cent Solar. Not directly of course. But the government will issue a tender for a new 75MW capacity large scale solar farm to supply the equivalent power needed for the tram network to the electricity grid.

The Government will voluntarily surrender renewable energy certificates matching the amount of electricity used by all of Melbourne’s trams.

About 35MW from the solar farm will be allocated for powering the tram network. “We’ve got the biggest tram network in the world and we’re powering it with renewables and creating local jobs.” said Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Santos Tour Down Under stage shortened due to extreme heat, after riders raise heat health concern


First published at nofibs.com.au

Cyclists in the Santos Tour Down Under UCI Professional cycling race in South Australia today faced the challenge of riding in temperatures over 40 degrees. Local temperatures on the road are likely to be even higher for the cyclists riding on hot road surfaces. Indeed, Jérémy Maison with the FDJ team measured a local temperature of 50C with their Garmin cycling computer, according to a tweet.

The stage was from the Adelaide suburb of Unley, through the Adelaide Hills to Lyndoch, in the Barossa Valley.

The race length was revised down from 145km to 118km, a reduction of 26.5km, with the finishing circuit reduced from two laps to just one, after cyclists in the peloton complained about the searing conditions.

The real irony though, is the fact that the major race sponsor is the South Australian based Gas and fracking company Santos, whose whole business revolves around fossil fuel extraction which causes climate change and more extreme temperatures.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Guest Post: Arguments for abandoning Commercial Flight in Australia



Life in a post-flying Australia, and why it might actually be ok


Martin Young, Southern Cross University; Francis Markham, Australian National University; James Higham, University of Otago, and John Jenkins, Southern Cross University

In Australia, the amount of aviation fuel consumed per head of population has more than doubled since the 1980s. We now use, on average, 2.2 barrels (or 347 litres) of jet fuel per person per year.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 hottest year on record globally, 4th warmest for Australia



This article by John Englart was first published at Climate Action Moreland.

The official reports are in. 2016 was the hottest year on record according to the European Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). In Australia the Bureau of Meteorology declared 2016 the 4th warmest on record, but with record sea surface temperatures around the continent.