Australian news, and some related international items

Australia a drag internationally, pitted against USA on carbon policy

Map-Abbott-climateCarbon policy pits Aus against US: Garnaut 19 June 14   AAP AUSTRALIA is setting itself against the US and will become a drag on global climate change efforts with the repeal of the carbon tax, prominent economist Ross Garnaut says. THE former government adviser says China, Europe and the US are gearing up for another big effort to address climate change and by scrapping its detailed and sophisticated carbon laws, Australia is going against this.

“With our existing policies, we’re not ahead of any game yet but we’re part of the game. We will be doing our fair share,” Professor Garnaut said on Wednesday. “With the repeal of the carbon laws, and in the absence of anything in their place, then we won’t be doing our fair share.”We will be a drag on the international system.” He said the move was particularly puzzling when the world’s two big emitters, China and the US, whose inaction had previously been a problem, were committing themselves to very strong action.

“We have set ourselves against our ally the United States on a major question of policy in a way that we haven’t done since the Ottawa conference in 1931,” Prof Garnaut said.

The comments came at the release of a report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) into the economic trouble Australia could face without an appropriate response to climate change.

The report says Australia faces the risk of growing repair bills from extreme weather and barriers to major project investment.

CEDA chief executive Stephen Martin said policy makers need to recognise climate change is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue.  “Statistics show that the number of catastrophic weather events is increasing and the economic losses associated with these events are also trending up,” Prof Martin said. He said Cyclone Yasi, Black Saturday, the Queensland floods and other weather events have had a direct impact on industry and on most Australians’ hip pocket.

Professor Martin said the federal government needs to introduce a national risk register that includes strategies to manage risks of extreme weather. “Australia is reliant on foreign capital to fund major projects and new developments in international climate change policy are likely to impact international capital flow and investment decision making,” Prof Martin said.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

The costs to Australia of climate inaction

Australian business and investors operate in a global business environment. While our current political and business leaders pursue an approach of not regulating the greenhouse emissions of Australian industry, the global economy is rapidly moving in the opposite direction.

Australia’s economy will suffer if we fall behind on climate action Martijn Wilder The Conversation, 18 June 2014, 
Australia’s economy faces grave threats from climate change, but the greatest threat is if we do not make a serious effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s not just the physical impacts of climate change that will hurt Australia’s economy. In a new report released today by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, I and others argue that falling behind on reducing greenhouse gas emissions leaves Australia’s economy vulnerable to global efforts to tackle climate change.

But so far Australian government and business has focused on the cost of reducing emissions, despite evidence that it will be far more costly to do nothing.


Counting the costs of climate action

In Australia it has long been the view that limiting emissions through carbon pricing will directly limit economic growth. This is despite industry being largely protected from the costs of efforts to reduce emissions through the Clean Energy Act through free emissions permits and compensation. Continue reading

June 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Pacific leaders condemn Tony Abbott’s climate policies

Abbott-in-hot-panPacific presidents speak out against Australia’s stand on climate change Australia Network News,  Fri 13 Jun 2014,  Pacific leaders have criticised Australia’s moves to form a conservative international climate change alliance, saying it will only isolate Australia further in the Pacific.

The comments from the presidents of Kiribati and Marshall Islands came as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott met US President Barrack Obama for formal talks in Washington………

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong says climate change is an issue of survival for Pacific Island states, not just economics.

“We’re not talking about the growth GDP, we’re not talking about what it means in terms of profit and losses of the large corporations, we’re talking about our survival,” he told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat

sea level rise_main

Australia further isolated in Pacific

Mr Tong also says the Abbott-Harper strategy throws previous regional agreements to which Australia was a signatory into doubt. He says Australia’s stand is also likely to get “some, if not a lot” of attention at next month’s Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting in Palau.

Mr Tong says as far as Kiribati is concerned, it now doesn’t matter what Australia or any other country does because it is already too late.

“What will happen in terms of greenhouse gas emissions levels agreed to internationally will not affect us, because our future is already here… we will be underwater,” he said………

June 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s carbon price has greatly reduced carbon emissions

carbon-tax-factsFall in greenhouse gas emissions biggest in 24 years,  SMH,  June 13, 2014 - Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Australia posted its biggest annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 24 years of records in 2013 as the carbon tax helped drive a large drop in pollution from the electricity sector.

The latest greenhouse gas inventory, released online without fanfare by the federal government, showed annual emissions excluding changes in land use were estimated at 538.4 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent in 2013, down 0.8 per cent on the previous year.

While the final figures may be revised, the annual drop is likely to exceed the only two other years of emissions falls – in 2009 and 2010 – since the tally began in 1990.

The electricity sector reported emissions fell 5 per cent last year, with all but one other sector showing an increase. The carbon tax has its most direct impact on power generators, which account for about one-third of Australia’s emissions outside changes to forest cover.

The carbon price, now at $24.15 a tonne, will rise to $25.40 a tonne from next month and will apply until its likely scrapping when the new Senate votes on the Abbott government’s repeal bills, expected soon after July 1.

The government’s climate policies have been in the spotlight as Prime Minister Tony Abbott headed to Washington this week, soon after President Barack Obama introduced the most ambitious emissions cuts in US history – forcing power plants to slash 2005-level emissions 30 per cent by 2030.

Mr Abbott, forced to defend the government’s alternative policy to a carbon tax based on paying polluters to curb emissions, said he would avoid climate action that would “clobber the economy”.

But Greens leader Christine Milne said: “The price on pollution is working and it is time Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt stopped lying to Australia and the world.

“The government is trying to hide the fact that the price on pollution is the cheapest and most effective way to do something about global warming, and mitigate the future extreme storms, droughts and floods that will ravage Australia over the coming decades.”……..

John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute, said the drop in 2013 emissions indicated existing policies were doing the intended job.

“We have a stable, set-and-forget default mechanism, that’s going to work,” Mr Connor said.

By contrast, the government was “ripping away” at other policies curbing emissions, with plans to scrap the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corp, and energy efficiency programs.

Any weakening of the Renewable Energy Target, now under review by a government-appointed panel led by climate change doubter Dick Warburton, would also undermine emissions reduction efforts, Mr Connor said. On current settings, the mandatory clean energy goal will cut emissions by another 70 million tonnes by 2020, he said………


June 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Never mind federal and state govts – Melbourne City is set for zero carbon emissiosn

City of Melbourne aims to become carbon neutral leader June 12, 2014 SMH, Tom Arup and Aisha Dow As the conversation turns to the death of Melbourne’s trees the city’s influential head planner, Professor Rob Adams, chokes up. He takes a moment, then continues. “The evidence is so obvious,” he declares, “You don’t have to go to the scientists, you just have to look at the trees in Melbourne.”

Adams is talking about climate change. And despite its wealth and culture Melbourne’s city heart is not immune to its impacts. Nor is its contribution to the problem insignificant.

In response Melbourne City Council has set perhaps the most ambitious climate change goal in Australia – to produce zero net emissions from the CBD and surrounding suburbs under its oversight by 2020.

Needless to say it is a level of ambition not matched by state and federal governments.

In fact Adams – credited with revitalising the CBD over recent decades – is upset about what he describes as the federal government’s retreat on the issue.

“Why don’t I get depressed, when I look at my little grand daughter who is eight months old?” he says.

“I think they are going to be shamed into action, I think it is going to be so embarrassing to be in the space they are in, with the assets and the ability they have got, they’ll have to move out of that space and back into the real world.”

“And I feel that strongly. We see it. The reason we have an urban forest strategy is I watched our trees dying. And, and …”

Without intervention 27 per cent of Melbourne city trees are expected to be lost in 10 years due to heat, disease and old age. But they are not the only element of city life threatened by a warming planet.

Council research on the impact of January’s record-breaking heatwave – which scientists project will occur more frequently as climate change worsens – found city retailers lost $37 million over four days as shoppers stayed out of the 40-plus degree heat. Last year flood modelling, based on end of century sea-level rise of 0.8 metres, found average annual inundation bills in Southbank could alone rise from $3 million in 2011 to $20 million by 2100 if prevention is not taken.

With high stakes and high ambition city council this year updated its plan for the zero emissions goal. It is a document of many concrete measures, plenty of promises and the occasional motherhood statement. An implementation plan is due later this year.

Chair of Melbourne’s environment portfolio, Cr Arron Wood, says one option to meet the target would see Melbourne switch to 50 per cent renewable energy. Most of that power would be fed into the city from large solar and wind farms located in regional Victoria, he says.

About 1500 megawatts of renewable energy would have to be generated, enough for 480,000 average homes. To do this it would take 15 massive solar plants of the type currently being built on 250 hectares of farming land near Nyngan in regional NSW.

It is Cr Wood’s goal to eventually have some of the city’s biggest energy users – hospitals, universities and sporting precincts – directly powered by renewable energy farms located far beyond the city edge. A much smaller amount of energy, enough to power 10,000 houses, could be generated from solar panels on warehouses and commercial buildings inside the municipality of Melbourne……….


June 14, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

Barack Obama and Tony Abbott at odds over climate change

Obama-and-windClimate change gulf looms between Barack Obama and Tony Abbott, Guardian, 11 June 14,   US president’s call for action in US TV interview stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the Australian prime minister Climate change may be the most significant long-term challenge facing the planet, Barack Obama has said in a newly aired TV interview, emphasising the growing differences with Tony Abbott who insists it is certainly not the most important issue facing the world.

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmAs Obama and Abbott prepare for their first formal meeting in Washington on Thursday, the differences between their positions on global warming are clearer than ever, and according to diplomatic sources the president will not seek to downplay them.

Obama’s remarks in an interview broadcast on US television on Tuesday night come as his administration increases its diplomatic push to achieve a successful new international agreement on greenhouse reduction efforts next year and unveils the detail of tough new rules to force reductions in emissions from US power stations……….

Abbott has downplayed the link between climate change and extreme weather events. For example during severe bushfires last year he said: “Climate change is real, as I’ve often said, and we should take strong action against it … but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change – they’re just a function of life in Australia.” When the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said the fires showed the world is “already paying the price of carbon”, Abbott said “the official in question is talking through her hat”……….

The Coalition’s Direct Action policy is designed to meet only the minimum target of a 5% reduction by 2020 – despite advice from the independent Climate Change Authority that preconditions for a higher target, which previously had bipartisan agreement, have been met. The Coalition has said it will participate in the Paris meeting but has not given any indication of what Australia’s post-2020 target will be, or how it will be determined.

Australia’s policy is entirely voluntary. Companies can choose to bid into a series of “reverse auctions” for government funding. The new US policy requires power generation to reduce emissions by 30%, with states determining the mechanism by which they achieve this. States such as California which have emissions trading schemes will use them to achieve the goal……..

June 11, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott says ‘no carbon pricing, in any global climate agreement’

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmAbbott says climate not right for tax Sky News 9 June 14, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says any future global agreement on climate change won’t include carbon pricing.

Mr Abbott is the first Australian prime minister to visit Canada since John Howard in 2006, who arrived just months after Mr Harper’s conservative government was elected. The two prime ministers will meet on Monday, local time, when Mr Abbott will receive an official welcome with military honours in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

But speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Abbott said the re-elected Mr Harper had succeeded in convincing Canadian voters at the last national poll of the perils of carbon pricing. Stephen Harper and I are like-minded on this,’ Mr Abbott told reporters in Ottawa on Sunday……….

US President Barack Obama, who Mr Abbott will meet later in the week, has announced a target of cutting emissions from power stations by 30 per cent by 2030 and wants a global deal on tackling climate change next year.
Mr Abbott said there were no signs that any future global agreement would involve carbon pricing………
The two leaders will also on Monday discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to create an Asia-Pacific free trade zone, which Australia believes can be finalised next year.

Mr Abbott will next head to New York where he is expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and media baron Rupert Murdoch and hold further business and investment talks.

June 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott shows Australia ‘out of touch’ as he excludes Climate Change from G20 summit in November

cartoon-climate-AustAustralia should come in from the cold  June 6, 2014  The Age As Tony Abbott heads towards the northern hemisphere summer on the next stage of his 12-day round-the-world trip, he might have cause to feel a distinct chilliness, particularly from his hosts in Europe and the United States. The reason is simple: the more the Australian government downplays the critical importance of acknowledging and controlling climate change, the more behind we will be with world opinion and action.

Just look at what has happened over the past week or so…….

as The Age has said, without carbon pricing, the nation lacks a credible policy outline to adapt to and match even modest accelerations in global emission cuts.

Sadly, the Prime Minister’s glib attitude to climate change is entirely predictable. But this does not excuse his consignment to the political freezer of anything that threatens to add to what should be a reasoned and far-reaching debate on what is a world problem.

The latest thing to be popped into the Australian government’s icebox is the potential inclusion of climate change on the agenda at the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November. ”The focus … will overwhelmingly be our economic security, our financial stabilisation, the importance of private-sector growth,” Mr Abbott said this week, adding that there are other international forums for climate change discussions. Yes, but not ones attended by those world leaders who regard the unchecked progress of global emissions as detrimental to our economic security and financial stability. To restrict, or possibly exclude, climate change from the G20 discussions is short-sighted and counter-productive. Again, it makes Australia look retrograde and out of touch with reality…….

June 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott informs the world that Climate Change will NOT be discussed at the G20

Abbott-in-hot-panClimate change ‘off G20 agenda’, The Age  June 5, 2014  Lisa Cox and Adam Morton Prime Minister Tony Abbott has downplayed the likelihood of climate change being discussed at a G20 leaders’ summit hosted by Australia, suggesting it does not fit the meeting’s economic focus.

Asked about pressure from the US and Europe for climate to be included on the agenda for the November meeting in Brisbane, Mr Abbott said there were other international meetings that were more appropriate for discussing the issue………

His comments followed US and Chinese leaders revealing new plans to tackle climate change.

A top Chinese climate adviser told a Beijing conference that the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas would put a cap on emissions for the first time in its next five-year plan, starting in 2016………

US President Barack Obama announced he would regulate to cut emissions from power plants to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 – considered the most significant step he has taken to tackle global warming.

Also this week, the European Union reported its emissions were 19 per cent lower than in 1990 and South Korea said it would tax coal imports and cut duty on alternative fuels from July.

Australia will become the first country to abolish a carbon pricing scheme if the Abbott government’s repeal legislation is passed by the incoming Senate. In its place it is proposing a ”direct action” scheme, which would involve the government paying some companies to cut emissions………

Greens leader Christine Milne said financing tackling climate change had to be on the G20 agenda. ”Our Prime Minister is so backward he doesn’t seem to understand the connection between climate change and economics.”

June 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Abbott unable to censor Climate Change from G20 and from talks with Obama?

Abbott-in-hot-panBarack Obama’s climate change moves put heat on Tony Abbott The Age, June 3, Chief political correspondent A dramatic acceleration of America’s response to climate change, including strong caps on coal-fired pollution threatens to expose Australia’s humble 5 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 as too low and out of step with the rest of the world.

The US move may overshadow the first bilateral talks between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Barack Obama to take place in Washington next week. Those talks will cover trade, economic and strategic issues but with climate change again dominating the US political cycle, the environmental challenge is likely to arise.

And that may see Mr Abbott under direct presidential pressure to re-include climate change as a key economic issue on the agenda of the G20 when Australia hosts the premier international economic forum later this year.…….

June 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Ian Dunlop on how Tony Abbott is gutting science in Australia


Grandees such as John Howard and Cardinal George Pell parade cynical climate denialism before international audiences, putting more peer pressure on the current incumbents to toe that line and providing rare insight into the widespread denialist groupthink within conservative ranks.

Literally and figuratively, we are witnessing a “burning of the science books”, the like of which has not been seen since medieval times.  It did not work for the Catholic Church in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, nor in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  It will not work today.

Tony Abbott is gutting science just when we need it most, SMH, Ian Dunlop, June 1, 2014 Australia has an enviable reputation for scientific research, extending long before the heyday of the CSIRO in the 1950s under the visionary leadership of Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Ian Clunies-Ross. On the hottest and driest continent on Earth, our prosperity would be non-existent had it not been for the enlightened application of science. So it has been of mounting concern over recent years to see governments of all persuasions adopt increasingly anti-science agendas.

The federal government is taking anti-science to new heights. Its scorched earth approach discards virtually everything not in line with narrow, free-market ideology, centred on sustaining Australia’s 20th century dig-it-up and ship-it-out economic growth model.   Continue reading

June 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Obama might mention climate change – how embarrassing for Tony Abbott!

Obama,BarackObama describes climate change as ‘creeping national security crisis’ LAURIE OAKES   THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
MAY 31, 2014 WHILE Australian politicians continue to debate the Budget, Barack Obama has been talking about national security.In a speech to cadets at the West Point military academy, the US President outlined a new foreign policy doctrine based on more soft power diplomacy and less recourse to military might.

One section of the speech in particular would have attracted the attention of those involved in planning Tony Abbott’s visit to Washington in a couple of weeks.  Obama described climate change as “a creeping national security crisis”.

Politics watchers in Washington were already predicting climate change would be “the elephant in the room” when the leaders meet in the Oval Office.

The Washington Post reported the President “routinely brings up climate change in closed door meetings with world leaders”.

Abbott-firemanBut with Abbott, there will be little common ground — and considerable potential for embarrassment.

Even if Abbott and Obama tiptoe around the issue, journalists might not co-operate at the customary joint media conference afterwards. One skilfully framed question could expose the deep differences between the Australian Prime Minister and his host on a matter that has become a key focus of the White House.

Now that Obama has made the problem of global warming part of America’s national security agenda, the subject will be even more difficult to avoid……..

The President and his advisers are all too aware that Abbott once described climate change science as “crap” — even though his public line these days is that “climate change is real”.

The White House is presumably well briefed on the way the Abbott government has been winding back action on climate change, including Budget cuts to research and renewable energy programs.

It would also know about the efforts of Australian diplomats to have climate change references removed from agendas and communiques at various international forums.

In the West Point speech Obama attacked political leaders who deny that global warming is taking place.

He was referring specifically to American politicians, but it is not hard to see why his view of Abbott is said to be unflattering.So even though it will be summer in Washington, the temperature could be a little cool when Abbott sits down in the Oval Office. “I don’t think we’d care,” a senior Liberal said yesterday — reflecting the fact that the Abbott government is not overly fond of Obama either……

Obama, as his West Point speech shows, is convinced that climate change is a factor in major fire, drought and flood events.In another speech on climate change a few weeks earlier he said: “It’s causing hardship now. It’s affecting every sector of our economy and our society — more severe floods, more violent wildfires.”

When a senior United Nations official suggested last year’s big NSW fires were linked to global warming, the PM accused her of “talking through her hat”.

If the subject comes up in Washington he’ll presumably be a little more diplomatic.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Delegates urge Australia to change climate change policy

Abbott-firemanPacific nations urge climate change action, ask Australia for help Australian Network political editor Catherine McGrath 27 May 2014   Songs of the Pacific have been heard at Parliament House as islanders from countries likely to be most at threat from rising sea levels braved the Canberra winter to highlight the issue of climate change.

In traditional dress, the group performed a cultural dance and spoke about their concerns.

When it comes to high tide you can see the tide everywhere it seeps through the whole island. It kills the crops – it kills our traditional root crops.

Maina Talia

 The delegates, from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea, are meeting federal politicians and officials representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

They are seeking a cut in carbon emissions and more assistance for their countries’ climate change mitigation.

Kiribati, which is only about two to three metres above sea level, and Tuvalu, at four metres above sea level, are already battling rising sea levels and crop losses.

The delegate from Wewak in PNG says her region in the East Sepik province is also in danger.

Apisaloma Tawati, 19, from Kiribati says the group is taking its campaign to the world.”I am here today to make everyone aware of our hardship and to convince you that we need your help and … you can help us,” he said. “As a youth I am afraid of climate change. I see our land is becoming thinner and thinner. “We live near the coast and we see a lot of things. We saw coastal erosion, the land has been eroded away, sea walls have broken.

“I come to Australia to tell the world of our hardship and our stories back in Kiribati.”Kiribati is enduring a lot of problems due to climate change.”

Delegates urge Australia to change climate change policy

Maina Talia, 29, from Tuvalu wants Australia to rethink its climate change policy. “We are the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable countries,” he said. “Since we don’t have any mountains or rivers, for us to adapt is very difficult. It is a burden to the people of Tuvalu as to how they can adapt. “Now when it comes to high tide you can see the tide everywhere it seeps through the whole island. “It kills the crops – it kills our traditional root crops. “It (the rising sea levels) are just there and we don’t know how that happens but we believe it is climate change.”

Mr Talia says it is important to keep campaigning because people from Tuvalu feel so vulnerable. “It is difficult to determine who is listening and who is not listening,” he said.”I believe they have heard our message so many times but we keep on pushing and advocating for Tuvalu and Kiribati and low lying atolls [so] that leaders of Australia and other industrialised countries will continue to hear our voice.”

May 28, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian climate activism goes local, and rural

climate-AustClimate activism research shows new move to localism ABC Rural News 23 May 14, The protesters at various mine sites around northern NSW, and the way local farmers are actually quite supportive of the protests, are all part of a relatively new phenomenon in terms of climate activism.

Joint research by the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney has found a new focus for climate change activism, localism.

Assoc Professor James Goodman University of Technology Sydney is one of the authors and researchers involved in a new book that looks at the issue.

“We have seen more and more evidence of farmers concerned about their rights when faced with mining companies demands to drill, about their right to farm and the impact of mining on water quality and aquifers. “We are seeing two types of protesters; those worried about local impacts on their environment, health and their community and others worried about the impacts on the wider environment and the longer term, the next 20 or 30 years.

“At some of those Maules Creek and Bentley protests, we are seeing the two groups come together.

“There has been a shift in focus away from the big picture to the local………..

May 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s climate denialist government meets the reality of climate change

Australia’s extreme budget meets extreme climateGuardian, Alex White 22 May 14, The Abbott government’s first budget was the least popular and most extreme in forty years, and was handed down during an almost unprecedented May heatwave.……On the climate and environment front, it is genuinely difficult to narrow down the most extreme elements of this deeply and widely disliked budget.


Firstly, the fact is that this is a deeply unpopular budget, and it has been presented to the Australian people by a government that is neither liked nor trusted……..

A particularly egregious cut is the abolition of ARENA, the renewable energy agency. This action is a loud declaration that the Abbott government is addicted to carbon-intensive energy.

Tied to  this, although not a budget initiative, is the review of the previously bi-partisan Renewable Energy Target, with climate denier Dick Warburton appointed as review head. Before the election, there were clear statements made that an Abbott government would continue to support the renewable energy target. Greg Hunt, the environment minister, said before the election that the Coalition “does agree on the renewable energy target” and “support the RET, the 20 per cent”.

The cut to ARENA and the review of Australia’s renewable energy target is a breathtaking assault on the $18 billion renewable energy sector, and introduces substantial elements of sovereign risk for companies and people considering investing in this area in Australia. Before last year’s election, the Coalition repeatedly promised to keep ARENA. In opposition, the Coalition supported ARENA.

The Clean Energy Council has also expressed major concerns, a rare event for a body that has to keep governments on side. In a statement, the CEC deputy CEO said: “A global race for renewable energy is on, and the removal of ARENA will see potential Australian and international investors now look to countries with much stronger support for renewable energy innovation, meaning we may well miss out on billions of dollars of investment and highly-skilled jobs.”

(The Coalition had previously promised to remove funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, an ideologically motivated decision based on Abbott’s view that it was “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.)

Other renewable and clean energy programs have also been scrapped, such as the One Million Solar Roofs program, research into carbon capture and storage technology, the Clean Technology Program, the Cleaner Fuels grant scheme, and more.

There is a real risk that the result of the RET review will see the end of the renewable energy target, once a bi-partisan policy. Removing or reducing the renewable energy target, currently 20 percent by 2020, would effectively lock Australia to a carbon-intensive, fossil fuel addicted future.

Climate change remains a serious and present threat to Australia’s society and economy. Major global economic forces are moving to clean energy and low carbon technologies. China for example is planning to triple its solar capacity by 2017, and other major economies including US states and nations in the EU are heading in that direction also.

To do nothing about climate change, as the Australian government now appears committed to, is immoral and amounts to abandoning both current and future generations……..


May 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment


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