Australian news, and some related international items

Trans Pacific Partnership is a dud

Trans-Pacific Partnership is a fizzer, The Age, November 29, 2015 Malcolm Bosworth The Trans-Pacific Partnership text confirms the federal government’s rampant over-selling of the economic benefits to Australia. While heralded by a few, mainly food exporters for opening foreign markets, any benefits from the TPP to our economic wellbeing will be small and short-lived.

The TPP is not about multilateralism but discriminatory regionalism personified. It is further proof that efficient globalism (or multilateralism) founded on the WTO’s non-discrimination principle is being replaced by inefficient regionalism built on discriminatory Preferential Trading Agreements (PTAs). Discrimination between trading partners distorts global trade. The TPP is another nail in the WTO’s coffin and globalisation on which Australian prosperity has relied.

Negotiated secretly like all PTAs, the TPP covers under 40 per cent of world trade; major traders e.g. EU and China are excluded. It not only discriminates against non-TPP members but as a bunch of PTAs the TPP also entrenches discrimination between its parties. It is riddled with side deals, different transition periods, unequal member-specific and member non-specific tariff quotas, and incomprehensible rules of origin, just to mention some discriminatory measures. It is more about managing trade discriminatorily among members than open competition.

The TPP is a bizarre mix of confusing negotiated outcomes bearing little resemblance to globalised trade. Its complexity guarantees it will be a nightmare to administer and understand, for traders, investors and consumers. The TPP simply super-imposes a layer of discriminatory regionalism on an already overlapping and tangled web of PTAs between TPP members and non-members. Trade in the Asia Pacific, as elsewhere, will now become even more of a ‘dog’s breakfast,’ compromising global efficiency. Rather than simplifying the global trading system, PTAs like the TPP are making it less transparent and more cumbersome……..

November 30, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate special news 28 November

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.

What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?

It is time to acknowledge that light- hearted superficiality has done us no good.

We need to be alert to one sad sign of the “globalization of indifference”: the fact that we are gradually growing accustomed to the suffering of others, as if it were something normal

We are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.   –  Pope Francis

a-cat-CANAs I write, the Paris Climate Change Summit COP21 gets underway. There is one important message about COP21 – IT’S A START – NOT A CONCLUSION. UNICEF reports that the greatest harm from climate change will be to children.  Impetus for action should come from COP21, but corporations are geared up to undermine climate agreements.

I am happy to report that it looks very much as if nuclear power is off the table as an energy source to be chosen at the Paris summit – too dangerous, and more significantly, too expensive.


Melbourne kicked off the global wave of rallies with a huge climate march. Rallies will follow in capital and other cities.   Firefighters will march for climate action: global warming increases their dangers. Strong contingent of young Australian activists attending Paris climate summit.  Rural Australia will be represented in Paris. The head of the UN climate talks confirmed that videos of our marches will play on a huge screen as Heads of State walk into the Paris climate conference on Monday!  Can’t say our political leaders will be much use there. Same pro corporate policies as old PM Abbott,  – just said more slimily.

NUCLEAR ISSUES: Lack of space here to detail the numerous protests going on against setting up a national waste dump, supposedly for medical wastes, but really for nuclear reactor wastes, returning from overseas.

New report rules out nuclear power for Australia, on economic grounds.


 Deadly bushfires (a dangerous place to locate a nuclear waste dump) .  South Australian govt has already ruled out nuclear power. South Australia to aim for zero emissions by 2050.

Nuclear Royal Commission:


Pope and Muslim leaders in call for climate action.

Declaration of the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima.

The unmentioned apocalyptic ISIS terror – attack on nuclear reactors. Nor do world leaders talk about the terrorism possibility regarding nuclear weapons. Increasing risk of sabotage by extremists working in the nuclear industry.

November 28, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

A message to Australians who care – from Australian Conservation Foundation

Dear folks – last night in Melbourne there was a great start to a weekend of mobilisation around the country demanding action to address dangerous climate change.
Safe to say fifty thousand people on the streets – big, bright, bouncy and with a strong nuke free presence.
Including this banner – lovingly refreshed by the stand out crew at FoE’s ACE collective – which again made its way along a route it has made many times over many years.

protest Melbourne solar 15
And over those years we are digging and selling less uranium, there are solar panels on one million Australian buildings, no one wants a waste dump and talk of domestic nuclear power remains just that.
So this weekend whether you are walking down a city street calling for cuts to carbon, strolling to the shops for a coffee or wandering through the bush – walk proud.
Our collective efforts have, are and will continue to make a real difference for a safer and saner future.
Best wishes for positive events in your patch this weekend- solidarity and much respect.

Dave Sweeney
Nuclear Free Campaigner
Australian Conservation Foundation

November 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Huge Melbourne rally kicks off Australia’s marches for climate action

climate Melbourne 15

Thousands gather at Melbourne CBD rally ahead of Paris climate summit, The Age, [excellent photos and video] November 27, 2015 -Chloe Booker, Timna Jacks, With Tom Cowie and AAP

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Melbourne’s CBD to demand world leaders take strong action to protect the planet at the Paris climate change conference.

The so-called People’s Climate March was one of hundreds of rallies being held around the world in the lead up to the crucial meeting. Members of The Cat Empire performed for the crowd, which included Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Senator Richard Di Natale.

 Organiser Victoria McKenzie-McHarg estimated the crowd was at least 60,000 strong. “This absolutely is the largest climate change rally we have ever seen in Australian history,” she said to cheers from the crowd.  Chanting “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now”, the demonstrators marched from the State Library to Parliament House.

A sea of placards stretched down Bourke Street from Spring Street to Swanston Street and along Swanston Street from Bourke Street to La Trobe Street. There was a stand-off between banked-up traffic and protesters at Exhibition Street as frustrated drivers honked their horns and the crowd erupted in cheers and shouts.

Stunned diners observed the march from outside Bourke Street cafes, and some heckled the demonstrators. Sections of the crowd were more like a party, with some dancing and clapping to a marching band dressed in green-glittered uniforms, while others swayed to the strumming of a guitar. ……..

Andy Parsons, an Environment Victoria volunteer who attended both rallies, said environmentalists supported the right of Aboriginal people to live independently.”The Aboriginal people lived sustainably for thousands of years. Us white people could learn a lot from them,” he said.

Aboriginal man Robbie Thorpe said he saw a parallel between the “genocide” of his people and what he called the  “ecocide” of Australia’s natural environment. “We are the custodians of the land and the language. Only we know how to talk to our land. Without the Aboriginal people the land can’t survive and without the land, we can’t survive.”

November 27, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

What’s going on at this Paris Climate Summit, exactly?

logo Paris climate1
So everything is peaches and cream? Not quite. [read the whole story] 
A Massive Climate Summit Is About to Happen in Paris. Here’s What You Need to Know.  on Friday, November 27, 2015  

Diplomats and scientists are descending on the French capital Monday. They’ll try to save the world. On Monday, roughly 40,000 heads of state, diplomats, scientists, activists, policy experts, and journalists will descend on an airport in the northern Paris suburbs for the biggest meeting on climate change since at least 2009—or maybe ever. The summit is organized by the United Nations and is primarily aimed at producing an agreement that will serve as the world’s blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of global warming. This is a major milestone in the climate change saga, and it has been in the works for years. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s going on at this summit, exactly? At the heart of the summit are the core negotiations, which are off-limits to the public and journalists. Like any high-stakes diplomatic summit, representatives of national governments will sit in a big room and parse through pages of text, word by word. The final document will actually be a jigsaw puzzle of two separate pieces. The most important part is the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These are commitments made individually by each country about how they plan to reduce their carbon footprints. The United States, for example, has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, mostly by going after carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Nearly every country on Earth has submitted an INDC, together covering about 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. (You can explore them in detail here.)

The INDCs will be plugged in to a core agreement, the final text of which will be hammered out during the negotiations. It will likely include language about how wealthy nations should help pay for poor nations’ efforts to adapt to climate change; how countries should revise and strengthen their commitments over time; and how countries can critically evaluate each other’s commitments. While the INDCs are unlikely to be legally binding (that is, a country could change its commitment without international repercussions), certain elements of the core agreement may be binding. There’s some disagreement between the United States and Europe over what the exact legal status of this document will be. A formal treaty would need the approval of the Republican-controlled US Senate, which is almost certainly impossible. It’s more likely that President Barack Obama will sign off on the document as an “executive agreement,” which doesn’t need to go through Congress.

Meanwhile, outside the negotiating room, thousands of business leaders, state and local officials, activists, scientists, and others will carry out a dizzying array of side events, press conferences, workshops, etc. It’s basically going to be a giant party for the world’s climate nerds. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australia’s bushfires (a dangerous place to put nuclear waste)

bushfire & rad gifSA bushfire: 35 homes destroyed, 42 ‘impacted’ in deadly blaze as roads reopen, ABC News 27 Nov 15  Insurance claims have reached $61 million as authorities confirm at least 35 homes have been destroyed and another 42 “impacted” during the deadly bushfires in South Australia’s Mid North. Fire claims the lives of two people, 19 injured  The blaze, known as the Pinery fire, has now been contained.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) clarified that 35 homes had been destroyed, up from 16 yesterday, and dozens of others impacted after a spokesman addressing a press conference this morning originally said 77 homes had been destroyed.

At least 166 sheds have also been lost in the fire, authorities said……

Insurance Council of Australia said as of 9:30am, insurers had received 415 claims from policy holders, with more expected. The council’s chief executive Rob Whelan said the region’s agricultural sector had been hardest hit. “These fires have had a devastating impact on the farming community with crop, stock and commercial assets making up the overwhelming bulk of the losses so far,” Mr Whelan said…….

Bushfire seasons starting earlier a worrying trend

Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre chief Richard Thornton said the fires reflected a worrying trend of Australian fire seasons starting earlier and ending later.

He said the early start further stretched volunteer firefighters. “The core message from this is that even as early as September in some parts of our country we’re starting to see fires,” he said.

“People need to be prepared for that — not just focus on January and February being the times of peak fires.”….

November 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Corporate power aims to undermine Paris climate agreement

fossil-fuel-fightback-1several platforms to ensure business-friendly proposals are at the heart of climate policy-making, rather than vice versa. New markets, experimental technologies, all endorsed so polluters don’t have to change their business models.

In the real world, “net-zero” gives polluters an excuse to continue with business as usual, claiming that future inventions will fix the problem.

Hundreds of thousands have already added their name to campaigns urging governments to recognise the damaging influence “big polluters” have over climate policy, and to kick them out of COP21 and all levels of government.

If enough people get behind it, Paris could mark a watershed moment: the beginning of the end for the cosy affair between politicians and polluters.

Paris climate talks: powerful business lobbies seek to undermine deal by Pascoe Sabido

Tackling climate change means drastically transforming our economies. Our political leaders, not business, are best placed to do that.

As the UN’s climate talks in Paris begin, the lobbying and public relations push from some of the biggest corporations responsible for climate change has gone into overdrive. What are the messages they’re so keen to spread, and what will they mean for the COP21 conference – and for the climate?

recent report from the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that what’s on offer at COP21 is nothing short of a climate catastrophe, a guaranteed recipe to cook the planet. But rather than sending the dish back, political leaders have asked for seconds, bringing the very companies responsible for the problem ever closer into the UN fold.

James Bacchus, a trade expert at the International Chamber of Commerce, says: “This issue is important for governments to address but it is far too important to leave to governments alone.”

Fortunately for Bacchus, the UN agrees. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Farmer Josh Gilbert goes to Paris, as rural Australia wakes up to climate change

logo Paris climate1Farmer attitudes to climate change across generations ABC Rural  By Lucy Barbour  28 Nov 15 The nation’s farmers could be considered the sentinels of climate change; they are more attuned than most to long-term changes in weather patterns.

But many of them are yet to be convinced that man-made climate change is real, arguing that floods and droughts are cyclical and extreme temperatures are nothing new.

It is a view some younger producers are now challenging and they are reshaping their farming practices to suit the changing climate.  Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

United Nations Children’s Fund reports on children and climate change

flag-UN.Children will bear the brunt of climate change – UNICEF report  24 November 2015 – More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released ahead of the 21st United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21.

According to the agency, of the 530 million children in the flood-prone zones, some 300 million live in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty – on less than $3.10 a day. Of those living in high drought severity areas, 50 million are in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty.

“The sheer numbers underline the urgency of acting now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, in a press release. “Today’s children are the least responsible for climate change, but they, and their children, are the ones who will live with its consequences. And, as is so often the case, disadvantaged communities face the gravest threat,” he continued.

Climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions. UNICEF is underlining that these events can cause death and devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea. This can reportedly create a vicious circle according to the agency – a child deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, less likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced with a subsequent crisis.

The report, Unless we act now: The impact of climate change on children, finds that the vast majority of the children living in areas at extremely high risk of floods are in Asia, and the majority of those in areas at risk of drought are in Africa.

Meanwhile, world leaders gathering in Paris for COP21 – held from November 30 to December 11 – will seek to reach agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which most experts say is critical to limiting potentially catastrophic rises in temperature.

“We know what has to be done to prevent the devastation climate change can inflict. Failing to act would be unconscionable,” said Mr. Lake. “We owe it to our children – and to the planet – to make the right decisions at COP21.”

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s sorry history of deception about action on climate change

Australia is not the only country to have tried to use international rules to its domestic advantage. But Australia’s history of special deals now raises some big domestic policy questions.

the accounting rules may not come to our rescue another time. It is not clear whether we will be able to “carry over” again, although Hunt has indicated we would like to. But the task is now also bigger than any “carry over” could massage.

After decades of fighting and fudging, Australia will have to really do something about its greenhouse emissions this time

Turnbull climate 2 facedWelcome to the wonderful world of climate talks, where less means more, Hunt-direct-actionGuardian 
Lenore Taylor, 27 Nov 
The maths doesn’t add up – Australia’s emissions are trending up and yet we are meeting pledges to cut them. But it all makes sense in the complicated and chaotic world of climate negotiations  T
he numbers look clear. In 1990, Australia emitted 564m tonnes of carbon dioxide. In 2005 that rose to 611m. By 2014-15 that had fallen a bit to 565m. But in 2029-30, the latest published projections say we will emit 724m tonnes.

They have gone up and down and they might not be rising by as much as if we’d never heard the words “climate change”, but in absolute terms our greenhouse emissions are trending up, not down.

And yet over those same decades we will have solemnly given three different national pledges to reduce our emissions and, as the environment minister, Greg Hunt, keeps enthusiastically reminding us, in every case we will “meet and beat” our pledges.

How can it be possible for national emissions to rise over 30 years while a country “meets and beats” successive promises to reduce them? The answer takes us first deep into the complicated and chaotic world of international climate negotiations and then to the dizzying heights of political spin. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

India tests another nuclear capable missile, (as Australia ready to send uranium)

India-uranium1India Completes Agni-I Nuclear-Capable Missile Test, Defense World, , November 27, 2015 India has test fired home-made nuclear capable Agni-I missile that can hit target from a distance of 700kms.

The missile was launched from off the Odisha coast as a part of Strategic Forces Command (SF) training centre, NDTV reported today.

The surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, was powered by solid propellants. It was test-fired from a mobile launcher at 1002 hours from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island)…….he missile, which has already been inducted into armed forces, weighs 12 tonnes. The 15-metre-long missile is designed to carry a payload of more than one tonne. Moreover, its strike range can be extended by reducing the payload…….

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conspiracy of silence on the terrorism threat to nuclear facilities

Don’t ask, don’t tell – terrorism and the nuclear threat By Robert Dodge, MD , 27 Nov 15 With recent tragic events in Paris the world is once again reminded that there is no safe haven from the threat of terrorism.


In a nuclear world one can only imagine what the outcome would be if the perpetrators had nuclear materials. In a world with over 15,000 nuclear weapons the potential for such a scenario is very real.

Yet with the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and materials, there has been no questioning of or statements by our presidential contenders on how to address and eliminate this threat to all of humanity.  As though there was a conspiracy of silence and a fear that one would somehow appear weak if advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Failing to address the existential threat posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons while failing to deal with the causation of terrorism is ultimately a recipe for disaster.

This is particularly true now after the Paris attacks, Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For Australia, Paris is a starting point for climate action, not the end game.

logo Paris climate1Paris offers a chance at a different story. Ambitions are more modest, and more realistic. No one is expecting the agreement to comprehensively achieve the 2-degree target. In fact, documents already released suggest it would allow temperatures to rise at least 2.7 degrees.

Success at Paris will be more subtle. It will be measured by whether incremental steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue to be seen as a priority for the world, long after the excitement of the conference has passed away.

It will be the intangible measure of how the world’s attitude on climate change has shifted.

Don’t rely on grand treaties from the Paris climate summit’t-rely-on-grand-treaties-from-paris/6979176

By Sara Phillips If we want to avoid the disappointment we felt after the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, we need to accept that the Paris meeting next week won’t be about signing some grand treaty, but about keeping up momentum for change, writes Sara Phillips.

Calm your farm, Greenies. Paris is an amazing city, but the United Nations conference on climate change to be held next week is not going to save the world. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment



SA NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION SPEAKERS: DR MARK NUTT Argonne National Laborator WEDNESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2015 DAY 27 – excerpts from transcript

“……COMMISSIONER: can you tell us where the current US plans are for a high-level waste facility?

DR NUTT: As of right now, I would say they’re a little bit uncertain……So right now it’s really doing groundwork activity, open storage and disposal, to essentially be ready for when a decision is made to proceed with national policy towards disposal and storage. [ed: USA doesn’t know what to do with the wastes]

….DR NUTT: In terms of low-level waste generation it is probably – it is the biggest contributor. We have 100 – roughly 100 operating reactors that – the maintenance of the reactors, the clean up of the cooling systems all generate low-level waste that has to be disposed of. There are smaller contributions 45 from medical, industrial applications of radioactive materials that then become .SA Nuclear 25.11.15 P-1460 Spark and Cannon low-level waste. So by far in terms of volume it’s the nuclear industry that dominates the low-level waste disposal….. [ed: mdical wastes are not the problem, as ANSTO pretends]

…….it’s this inter-generational equity that people of today are gathering the benefits from nuclear electricity or nuclear energy and should deal with the problems of today and not pass the problems down…..[nuclear industry pretend to care about future generations, but no thought of stopping producing radioactive trash]

…there is a general consensus that it’s indeed temporary, that the ultimate 35 solution should be disposition of it in a geologic repository. There may be – there is countries that are considering fuel cycles where you might reprocess and recycle materials back to the reactor but either way you are going to generate high-level waste that would need to be disposed of. [ed: so new reactors that supposedly ‘eat wastes’ still produce wastes]

….We’ve gone towards interim dry storage at the reactor sites because all of the spent fuel pools for the US fleet are essentially full….[ waste pools full BUT THEY STILL KEEP MAKING THE STUFF!]

COMMISSIONER: Can I just pick up on the dry storage Dr Nutt? What sort of studies have been conducted in the US to look at the longevity of these dry storage casks and is there a view about – conservative view about how long they will last? S

R NUTT: I don’t – no one has done a study to put a – what I’ll call a line in the sand for how long they can last. Our regulatory framework allows storage up to 60 years, dry storage. We have studies underway within the Department of Energy’s programme, the Electric Power Research Institute which is our utilities research arm. It’s also investigating various aspects associated with 15 extended storage. The Electric Power Research Institute runs a group called the Extend Storage Collaboration Project which is involved in – a number of countries are involved with it that are dealing with the same issues that we are. So there is a lot of work going on looking at extended storage and what it entails. There has been several gap analyses done to identify what the key 20 issues are and the R&D’s under way to try to resolve those, so that there is confidence in extended storage. (there seems no reason for this confidence: sound like blind faith]

Waste Confidence 1

… When you get in to disposals, where I believe things get a little bit different because you are 20 dealing with long timeframes, you’re dealing with geologic systems, you are a large – sometimes large areas or footprints for the disposal facility and it leads to a little different type of safety case that one needs to consider to help build confidence in the safety of – the long term safety of the facility……[means they’ve got to convince the public somehow?]

DR NUTT: I’ll say it’s not possible to validate the long-term disposal models in the traditional sense. In that you can’t do an experiment and then run the 30 model and validate the experiment for the repository itself. You can do a variety of techniques to again demonstrate your confidence in the models and their ability to reasonably predict or estimate exposures out in the future…[ that doesn’t make ME feel confident] 

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

New report rules out nuclear power for Australia, on economic grounds

nuclear-costs1Nuclear priced out of Australia’s future energy highly-recommendedequation in new report By  on 26 November 2015

Australia’s official economic forecaster has finally admitted that the cost of nuclear energy is more than double other clean energy alternatives, suggesting it would likely play no role in a decarbonised grid based around lowest costs.

The Australian Power Generation Technology Report – a 362-page collaborative effort from more than 40 organisations, including the CSIRO, ARENA, the federal government’s Department of Industry and Science and the Office of the Chief Economist – clearly shows that solar and wind will be the cheapest low carbon technologies in Australia.

It comes at a critical time, with the nuclear lobby, supported by existing coal generators, pushing nuclear generation heavily, on the basis of previous technology cost assessments that had unrealistically optimistic views of its costs.

But the APGT report has essentially ruled out nuclear power for the whole of Australia, revealing that the technology is becoming more and more prohibitively expensive, at around double the capital cost estimated three years ago – and double the cost of competing technologies. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment


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