Australian news, and some related international items

Al Gore’s visit and Victoria’s Climate Charter proposal

a-cat-CANAl Gore is visiting Australia to promote action on climate change. Still, we have to watch out that he is not on the “nuclear for climate” bandwagon.

A good sign is that Gore has recently been criticised by the pro nuclear front group Breakthrough Institute for being “sceptical” about nuclear power’s future.


On Monday, Environmental Justice Australia will release a proposal for a Victorian Climate Charter, which it says is modelled on the state’s existing Human Rights Charter.

Gore,-Al-climateAl Gore flies into Australia to push momentum towards Paris climate summit July 27, 2015   Environment editor, The Age   Former United States vice-president Al Gore has flown into Australia for a whistlestop tour that includes meetings with state government ministers and senior business figures as part of efforts to build global momentum towards the Paris climate change summit later this year.

Mr Gore arrived in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, heading to a speaking engagement and then dinner with Victorian ministers and senior executives from major companies, including BHP, National Australia Bank and Qantas, to discuss climate change and the importance of the Paris meeting, at which it is hoped a new international agreement to curb global warming will be signed……..

Ministers from Labor-led Victoria, Queensland and South Australia will attend Monday’s meeting with Mr Gore. Conservative-led NSW will send a senior public servant, as will Labor-led ACT. Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia will not be represented. Continue reading

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

Climate change harming wine industry (nuclear power would, too)

a-cat-CANI think that it is criminal of Australia’s government to deny action on climate change. And for a “pro business” government, what can they be thinking? Abbott’s “go slow” policy on climate action is harming so many businesses, and so many jobs.  Now it’s the wine industry! Sacré bleu !

When Abbott finally decides that climate change matters, (i.e when he openly touts nuclear power), let’s not forget that nuclear power endangers the wine industry, too!

wine threat

Climate change hitting where it hurts: your wine, The Age, 27 July   BusinessDay contributing editor Spend a day at a wine grape growers’ summit and, among many other things, you’re left with no doubt about the reality of climate change.

Spend another day with a savvy grape grower touring the Barossa and you’re left with no doubt about the cost of it and the uncertainty about where it’s heading.

That’s not news for those who follow the wine industry closely at the production level, but for those of us who concentrate on consumption, the matter-of-factness of the change is rather startling.

Grapes ripening a month earlier, the compression of what were the usual different ripening times of different varieties, the search for varieties capable of handling hotter weather, the hunt for new terroir as climate bands move, the threat to traditional varieties in regions whose reputations depend on them.

 Would you believe French champagne houses are buying fields in Britain?

Sweden, an important customer for Australian wine makers, now has a fledgling wine industry as a result of longer, warmer summers.

But you don’t have to go to the other end of the earth to see the story. Turns out climate change is a force in developing the Tasmanian industry as warmer weather leads mainland producers to invest in the island’s cooler climate. There’s no end of science on the issue, if that counts any more……….

And this is climate change, not just global warming. The heat is there, but the Scholz fields copped a frost that they hadn’t seen before, wiping out the crop. OK, it was a 1-in-100-year event – except that it happened again the next year. Now giant $55,000 electric fans increasingly dot vineyards, automatically triggered into action by a thermometer to suck in higher, warmer air and blow it across the vines to fight the killing drop of cold air.

July 27, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Labor leader Bill Shorten foresees a climate change election

Shorten, BillBring on a climate change election, says Bill Shorten, SMH,  July 24, 2015  Political editor, The Age

Bill Shorten has challenged Tony Abbott to fight the next election on the issue of climate change, declaring: “I’ve got a three-word slogan for him: Bring it on.”

Describing climate change as “an economic and environmental cancer”, the Labor leader has vowed to build an emissions trading scheme and not be intimidated by “ridiculous scare campaigns”.

In a speech to be delivered at the party’s national conference in Melbourne, Mr Shorten says only Labor can save Australia’s renewable energy industry. While Tony Abbott has been a scathing critics of wind farms, Mr Shorten will tell the conference: “I want more Aussie farmers earning more money by putting wind turbines on their land.” Continue reading

July 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s Climate Consensus Centre for Flinders University?

Flinders University in talks on Lomborg plan for Consensus Centre 


The Abbott government has held talks with Flinders University about hosting a major policy centre­ in Adelaide based on the methodology of controversial Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg.

Lomborg, Bjorn

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has been searching for an institution willing to host the so-called Australia Consensus Centre, with $4 million in federal funds, since the University of Western Australia pulled out of its contract in May………


Dr Lomborg has attracted controversy for suggesting that the dangers of climate change have been overstated and that the world faces more pressing challenges, such as poverty.

A spokesman for Mr Pyne confirmed last night that talks with Flinders were at an early stage.

He said that the Adelaide-based university had recently approached­ the government about the establishment of the Copen­hagen Consensus methodology in Australia.

A Flinders spokeswoman confirmed the approach and said the university was yet to make a decis­ion……..

Flinders is led by vice-chancellor Colin Stirling, who took up the position in January. Professor Stirling was formerly the senior deputy vice-chancellor at Curtin University in Perth and a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

The university’s chancellor — or chairman of the board — is leading Adelaide businessman Stephen Gerlach, a former chairman of oil company Santos……..


The federal opposition has questioned the political motiva­tion of the $4 million government grant to set up the centre. It questioned how the centre was given the grant at a time when other universities were facing significant funding cuts.

In May, Professor Johnson said that many UWA academics had complained about Dr Lomborg’s integrity in the area of climate change research and were concerned­ that these alleged shortcomings might extend into other policy fields to be examined.

July 24, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s sly way of stopping action on climate change

Abbott-shhhhTony Abbott and his mates’ new path of climate change obstruction, Independent Australia,  Patrick Keane 22 July 2015 Tony Abbott and opponents of action on climate change have determined a new path of obstruction, writes Patrick Keane: instead of doubting the science they will thwart the solution.

2015 is a momentous year in the story of climate change; never has the world been hotter and never has the Government of Australia done more to thwart action on Climate Change.

The Abbott Government has engaged in an unprecedented attack on renewable energy. …….

The answer is because the fossil fuel industry has married themselves to political interests and only death will them part. The Abbott Government, amongst others, provides a clear example of who – and what – stands in the road of action on climate change with their attacks on renewable energy……..,7969

July 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party needs a credible plan for climate change action

Shorten-unknownLabor must back up renewables target with a credible plan   Environment editor, The Age Amid the brutal political fight over the carbon tax it has been occasionally forgotten that Australians really like renewable energy.

Only on Tuesday a poll by Essential Media found 50 per cent of people thought the government should prioritise support for renewables over the coal industry. Just 6 per cent thought the opposite.

It appears Labor has been taking note. Hence the splashy commitment to have half of Australia’s large-scale power production coming from renewables by 2030.

It is an attempt to quell one of the Coalition’s strongest political attacks – that Labor will bring back a “carbon tax” in power. And it targets the Prime Minister’s apparent distaste for clean power (well wind farms at least) and public backing of coal.

Also on Labor’s side is science, which is demanding a rapid transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner technologies if the planet is to have any chance of keeping global warming to relatively safe levels.

We have a long way to go to meet this goal. Just 13.5 per cent of our power came from renewables last year, and our current target will see a 23.5 per cent share by 2020 if it is met.

The ALP remains pledged to introducing an emissions trading scheme, a move the Coalition will attempt to tar with the carbon tax brush. But the hint is that Labor will use its renewable energy splash to adopt a softly softly approach on carbon pricing, at least until 2020. It could amend the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme to this end.

In the meantime it would have to send other signals to energy investors. The likely policy lever is to extend the existing renewable energy target scheme, which financially supports new projects.

Labor could also set limits on excess emissions coming from coal power plants, or simply ban old power stations, as countries like the United States and Canada are doing. And it could also beef-up efforts to cut energy use.

All these measures have costs and benefits. Meanwhile, many economists say the most economically efficient way to make the long-term transition to a cleaner energy mix is with a strong carbon price.

As ever, the devil will be in the detail.

The target is a push in the right direction. But Labor will have to back it up with a credible climate plan or risk it being seen as a vote grab.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s shame. Cardinal Pell criticising Pope Francis over Climate Change policy



Dunno about you, but I am just as ashamed of this Australian Catholic Cardinal as I am of Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott

Cardinal George Pell criticises Pope Francis over climate change stance , SMH, July 19, 2015  Kerrie Armstrong Cardinal George Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis’ decision to place climate change at the top of the Catholic Church’s agenda.

Cardinal Pell, a well-known climate change skeptic, told the Financial Times the church had “no particular expertise in science”.

“The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters,” he said,

“We believe in the autonomy of science.”

 His comments come a month after Pope Francis released an historic encyclical calling on humanity to fight global warming……….Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell to reform the Vatican’s finances nearly 18 months ago.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Challenge to Bill Shorten – the Climate Issue at the Labor National Conference

Shorten-unknownLabor conference is Shorten’s next test on climate policy The Conversation,   Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra,  July 15, 2015  The leak to the Daily Telegraph of an options paper on Labor’s carbon pricing policy has been a kick in the guts for Bill Shorten, who was portrayed in the newspaper’s pages not once but twice as a large zombie. It is, however, just an early stage of Shorten’s tough road on this issue………

Whatever the motive, the leak won’t stop Labor having a plan for an emissions trading scheme come the next election. Shorten committed the opposition to that a long time ago.

Labor’s leader has three formidable challenges once the immediate problem of the leak has passed.

Shorten has to see the climate issue managed through Labor’s national conference, held July 24-26 in Melbourne. Then the details of the opposition policy must be brought together. And finally, there will the job of selling it – to an electorate with bad memories of the former ALP government and in the face of a ferocious scare campaign by Tony Abbott.

The draft new ALP platform, to be considered by the national conference, sets out broadly the proposed approach on climate policy. Labor will “introduce an emissions trading scheme which imposes a legal limit on carbon pollution that lets business work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate within that cap”, it says.

It will “develop a comprehensive plan to progressively decarbonise Australia’s energy sector, particularly in electricity generation”.

A Labor government would support high-emitting industries to become more energy efficient; grow renewables; introduce national vehicle emissions standards modelled on successful overseas efforts; and consider the appropriateness of a climate change trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act and a trigger to cover the national parks system.

A group within the party, the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN), will try to toughen this platform.

Co-convenor Felicity Wade says an amendment will be moved to write in the post-2020 targets proposed by the Climate Change Authority (30% reduction in emissions by 2025 on 2000 levels; 40-60% by 2030). There will also be an amendment put up to commit Labor to having 50% of energy coming from renewables by 2030………

As one Labor man said bluntly on Wednesday: “If we can’t win the climate change debate we don’t deserve to be in government.”

July 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Radio shock jock Alan Jones caught out in climate falsehood

Alan Jones gets slapped down for climate lies MYRIAM ROBIN | JUL 10, 2015 The Daily Mail got its maths wrong in a climate story, and even The Australian admitted it. But undeterred, Alan Jones repeated the falsehood after the Oz apologised. The fallout from an erroneous Daily Mail story that mucked up its maths on global warming continues, with shock jock Alan Jones the latest to be slapped down by the appropriate watchdog for relying on the dodgy figures.

On September 16, 2013, The Australian published a story based on reporting in the British tabloid, which claimed a leaked… [subscription only]

July 11, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

BHP’s hypocrisy about climate change.

a-cat-CANAs a proud non-subscriber to THE AUSTRALIAN, I haven’t been able to read this article. But on past performance of BHP, I reckon that I can have a pretty good guess on what BHP’s enthusiasm for climate action really means.

Last month, all the nuclear big-wigs met somewhere in Europe to plan a campaign about the Paris Climate Summit in December . The idea is to have nuclear power established as a solution to climate change.

BHP would love that – otherwise they couldn’t give a damn about climate change.


BHP embraces climate debate, THE AUSTRALIAN, ? 8 July 15  
The private sector needs to play a part in this year’s Paris climate talks, says BHP Billiton’s Dean Dalla Valle…. (subscribers only) 

July 10, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

The writing is on the wall for coal-fired power in Australia

fossil-fuel-industrySay goodbye to coal power in Australia, The Age  July 5, 2015 Mark Diesendorf The writing is on the wall for coal-fired power in Australia. Despite federal government attempts to stop the growth of renewable energy, all they can do is delay the inevitable transition.

Tasmania already has almost 100 per cent renewable electricity, based on hydro supplemented by wind. The ACT is on track to reach its target of 90 per cent net renewable electricity by 2020, based on solar and wind.

text-relevantSouth Australia, with no freshwater hydro-electric potential, is the leading mainland state in the transition to renewable energy. Last year 33 per cent of its annual electricity consumption was generated by the wind and 6 per cent from rooftop solar. Furthermore, its electricity system has already operated reliably and stably for hours when the contribution of variable renewable energy reached two-thirds of demand. Recently wind power and gas coped admirably when the coal-fired Northern power station went unexpectedly offline.

Coal power will soon disappear from SA and eventually from the whole country. Because wind has no fuel cost, it can bid the lowest price into the electricity market and so is ranked higher in operating order than coal. The result: coal is displaced from operating as base-load (24/7) power, coal’s economics become worse and incidentally the wholesale price of electricity decreases.

This is the real reason our Prime Minister is trying to stop the growth in wind power. It has nothing to do with aesthetics or the sham ‘wind turbine syndrome’, but everything to do with Mr Abbott’s misguided commitment to coal.  Continue reading

July 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s New Climate Roundtable

Communicationclimate-changeAustralian Climate Roundtable: Business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups form unusual coalition on climate policy ABC News AM  By AM business editor Peter Ryan 28 June 15 An unprecedented alliance of business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups has been formed to forge what it sees as urgent common ground on climate policy.

The highly unusual coalition — to be branded the Australian Climate Roundtable — comes as developed nations gear up for the Paris Climate Conference in December, where leaders will be under pressure to update their strategies for dealing with climate change.

While Australia’s main political parties support the international goal of limiting climate change to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the alliance warns the objective will require “deep global reductions”.

The high-profile members cover some influential employer and industry lobby groups, such as the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), the Australian Aluminium Council, the Energy Supply Association and the Investor Group on Climate Change.

They will be joined by groups at the opposite end of the political and economic spectrum — the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Climate Institute.

In a statement, the Roundtable warned emissions reductions on the necessary scale would require “substantial change “and present “significant challenges” in Australia and other developed nations……..

Outlining its goals, the group said the “ideal” climate policy taken to the Paris conference should:

  • be capable of achieving deep reductions in Australia’s net emissions;
  • provide confidence that targeted emissions reductions actually occur;
  • be based on the full range of climate risks;
  • be well designed, stable and internationally linked;
  • operate at least cost to the domestic economy; and
  • remain efficient as circumstances change and Australia’s emissions reduction goals evolve.

Highlighting the social risks of climate policy and climate change, the Roundtable said climate policy must also:……

June 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

World is watching Australia’s pathetic performance on Climate Change

frog boilingParis 2015: Australia in the climate change spotlight, SMH, June 26, 2015  Tom Arup and Adam Morton

It seems Australia is not doing enough to address climate change – and the world is watching closely to see what its next step will be. The Chinese bureaucrat pushed the point. Was, he wondered, Australia expecting the world to do more to address climate change than it was prepared to do itself?

Back home, the Abbott government was furiously arguing that there was nothing unusual about this – that the probe was a standard part of the laborious theatre of international climate negotiations.

But the Chinese representative pointed out Australia was on the end of more questions than any other country. They came not just from China, but also the US, Brazil and South Africa.

“I think he’s right. We got some 36 questions on notice, so there is substantial interest in Australia’s climate change policies,” Peter Woolcott, Australia’s environment ambassador, later told the meeting.

“Particularly since the change of government, and the change in our approach to the Direct Action scheme to address climate change challenges in Australia.”

While some in Australia make the case that the country is largely irrelevant as a tiny contributor to global emissions – about 1 per cent of the total – the meeting in Bonn, Germany earlier this month suggested the international community thinks otherwise.

To many observers it was clear that other countries are closely watching Australia’s climate change debate as work continues on a global treaty due to be signed in Paris late this year. Continue reading

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

Australian Liberal Party is urged, by farmers, to defeat climate denialism

climate-AustFarmers call on Liberals to snuff out internal push by climate sceptic conservatives, SMH, June 25, 2015  Political reporter Farmers are circulating an open letter calling on the Liberal Party to kill off an internal push to derail Australia making meaningful commitments at the upcoming Paris climate talks.

The letter, which describes farmers as being “on the front line of rising temperatures and more extreme weather”, urges the Liberals to resoundingly defeat a climate sceptic motion to be debated at its federal council meeting on Saturday……

June 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

ANZ leads big four bank exposure to fossil fuel industry

fossil-fuel-industryA new report finds that Australia’s big four banks have almost $37 billion in loan exposures to the fossil fuel sector.

June 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment


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