A backward move for Australia’s environment: Federal govt abandons regulation to South Australia’s control
As part of its broadly criticised ‘One Stop Shop’ agenda the Federal Government has announced that its Assessment Bilateral Agreement with South Australia has been finalised and signed by both parties. The Bilateral Agreement will come into force 30 days after execution, on or about 24 October.
The Agreement allows the Commonwealth to now rely on South Australian environmental impact assessment processes in assessing ‘matters of national environmental significance’ defined under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This change has been widely criticised. There is significant doubt as to whether existing State regulations can actually be brought up to meet the standards required under the EPBC Act. There is also concern about whether the cash-strapped states are likely to make effective champions of our environmental assets when at the same time they are under increasing pressure to jettison environmental safeguards in order to pump through development and replenish state coffers.
Australia Crushes Its Renewable Energy Industry SustainableBusiness.com News by Rona Fried, 7 Oct 14 Who would have predicted that Central America would become a renewable energy leader, while Australia lags way behind?
Starting from practically zero renewable energy, Central America will install over 2.3 gigawatts (GW) over the next five years, a huge advance from the mere 100 megawatts in 2013.
Mexico is by far the leader, with $1.3 billion invested in the first half of 2014, almost double that of 2013. But last year, the other Central American countries combined also saw $1 billion in solar and wind investments. While financing for renewables still isn’t easy, most of the countries are amending policies to encourage greater investment, says Michel Di Capua of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Australia’s Government Squashes Renewable Energy
In contrast, Australia is in the midst of killing its renewable energy industry because of its new Prime Minister’s archaic policies.
After repealing the country’s carbon tax, investments dived 70% this year as the government decides whether to also eliminate or scale back the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Year-to-date, just $238 million has been invested in seven projects, the lowest level since 2002, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Over the past year, Australia has dropped from #11 to #31 for investments in large-scale clean energy projects, even lagging Algeria and Myanmar, New Energy points out.
Last week, rallies across Australia called for the federal government to uphold the country’s commitment to 20% renewable energy by 2020. Meanwhile, South Australia is moving in the opposite direction. Already running on 32% clean energy – years ahead of its 2020 target – the local government says it will raise its Renewable Energy Target to 50% by 2025. …….
Companies On the Way Out
“We are talking about the destruction of an industry, with no apparent good reason,” Miles George, President of Infigen Energy, Australia’s largest public renewable energy company, toldRenewEconomy. His company could go under within months to be followed by many others, he says.
US-based Recurrent Energy has already closed its Australian office. It’s got 1.5 GW of large scale solar projects in the pipeline – worth around $3 billion – which won’t be developed without the Renewable Energy Target. With markets in other countries booming, many other companies including Acciona, First Solar, Yingli and Goldwind are also threatening leaving.
Solar Systems Pty tabled plans for a 100 MW concentrating PV plant and Suzlon is reconsidering its A$1.5 billion wind farm.
Abbott’s panel that’s reviewing the Renewable Energy Target consists of two climate sceptics and a fossil fuel lobbyist.
Immediately after Abbot axed carbon taxes, Australia’s emissions jumped 0.8% in just two months – the most in eight years, due to more use of coal, reports Sydney Morning Herald……….http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25941
AUDIO: Listen to Natalie Whiting’s report (PM) Renewable Energy Target campaigners fail to win Nick Xenophon’s commitment, ABC Radio PM By Natalie Whiting 9 Oct 14 Climate change campaigners in South Australia have kept up pressure on the independent Senator Nick Xenophon to commit himself to protecting the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Hundreds of people attended a forum this week to demand the Senator commit to blocking any potential changes to the RET. They said renewable energy employment could make up for some of South Australia’s job losses in other fields.
But Senator Xenophon refused to promise anything, saying only that he was open to RET negotiations……..
Mr Green was worried the potential changes to the target could produce more job losses.
“There are 13,000 people employed in the solar industry at the moment and conservative estimates suggest that between a third and a half of those jobs would be lost if these [federal] recommendations were adopted,” he said.
“There are also 21,000 people employed in the renewable energy sector as a whole, so including wind, and many of those wind workers would be out of a job by Christmas as well.”
Mr Green was among a number of pro-RET speakers at the Adelaide forum……..
Forum attendees demanded Senator Xenophon commit to blocking any potential changes to the RET, but he refused……… Continue reading
Victorian Labor pledges to fund renewable energy and to ensure a Renewable Energy Target for Victoria
Vic Labor to fund ‘new energy’ technologies http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/breaking-news/vic-labor-to-fund-new-energy-technologies/story-fnn9c0hb-1227082408352?nk=6c424c7410ec34b2f61e3ed41d392e3a JOHN CONROY
OCTOBER 07, 2014 The Victorian Labor opposition has identified renewable energy as a key growth sector in a new jobs plan.
Labor’s Back to Work policy released yesterday commits the party to “Establish a $200 million Future Industries Fund to drive the six high-growth sectors.” This fund will support “new energy technologies.”
The party also announced a $200 million Regional Jobs Fund that will support job-creating projects, including “companies investing in renewable energy.”
Friends of the Earth welcome the focus on renewable energy in the lead up to a state election on November 29.
“Renewable energy is a high-growth, job-creating sector globally. Victoria’s economy can benefit from the shift to renewables, but only with political leadership,” said Friends of the Earth renewable energy spokesperson, Leigh Ewbank.
The Back to Work policy announcement comes a week after Labor candidate for the hotly contested seat of Ripon, Daniel McGlone, supported a Victorian Renewable Energy Target. Mr McGlone told The Maryborough Advertiser:
“Daniel Andrews has made a commitment that should the RET be scrapped at a federal level Labor will revist the VRET and re-instate it,” he said. “I’m obviously going to be deeply in favour of that.”
Yes 2 Renewables say credible energy policy must include a state target for renewable energy, saying the renewable energy sector was languishing due to uncertainty around the federal government’s RET.
US solar company hopes RET compromise will allow projects to go ahead, SMH October 3, 2014 Angela Macdonald-Smith US solar power company First Solar is optimistic a compromise will be hammered out on the Renewable Energy Target that will allow it to press ahead with up to $150 million of proposed projects in Australia, although other projects would still be delayed.
Jack Curtis, regional manager for Asia Pacific, said that 2-3 months ago the outlook for the RET legislation that supports the sector looked “more dire”, likely forcing an exit from Australia for the Arizona-based company.
But now he was more confident the legislation that supports the renewable industry would largely survive after the Coalition government distanced itself from the recommendations of the Warburton review into the RET…….
Government and Opposition spokespeople on energy and the environment met in Canberra on Wednesday for talks on the RET.
Opposition resources spokesman Gary Gray, who took part in the talks, signalled a compromise could be on the cards.
“There is a long-standing tradition of the government of the day and the opposition of the day finding common ground on renewable energy,” Mr Gray said on Thursday……
Both the Nyngan and Broken Hill plants being developed by First Solar and AGL are under construction and should come into operation next year.
First Solar is also planning a solar plant at Rio Tinto’s remote Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland, and it has similar ventures with a mining company and with a utility planned but not yet made public.
Australia-India nuclear deal: The need for full parliamentary scrutiny, The Interpreter, John Carlson, 1 Oct 14 In a previous post, I pointed out how the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement departs from Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements. In particular, there is a risk that the follow-on ‘administrative arrangement’ could deprive Australia of the ability to track and account for Australian uranium supplied to India.
It is not too late to address this problem in a way that ensures the agreement is meaningful and can command bipartisan support in Australia. There will be a crucial role here for the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which will have the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement and to ask the necessary and difficult questions about the administrative arrangement.
Here there are two practical issues: the administrative arrangement has not yet, as far as we know, been negotiated, so it will not be available when JSCOT commences its review of the agreement; and in any case it is the usual practice to treat administrative arrangements as being confidential.
The Abbott Government should proceed no further with the agreement unless it can give an assurance that all of Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements will be met. Continue reading
Prime Minister Tony Abbott predicts $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion will go ahead POLITICAL EDITOR TORY SHEPHERD THE ADVERTISER SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 A $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion is likely to go ahead “in the months and years ahead”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.
BHP Billiton shelved the expansion plans in the face of low commodity prices and spiralling costs. However the expansion moved a step closer recently, after the Government waived stringent environmental tests to let them trial a cheaper way of processing minerals…….
BHP Billiton is expected to give more detail on their plans at their AGM in Adelaide in November. Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has said they have reduced costs and might be able to go ahead with a smaller or incremental expansion.
Before the election Mr Abbott pledged to create the economic conditions that would give the expansion the best chance of going ahead.
Federal ministers have met with BHP and have been talking up the prospects of the expansion …….http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/prime-minister-tony-abbott-predicts-30-billion-olympic-dam-expansion-will-go-ahead/story-fni6uo1m-1227075708200
What neither industry likes to talk about is the pricing of the network – did they invest too much money in network infrastructure, and shouldn’t they take a write down on those assets, rather than just charging customers more?.
Gas networks attack solar policies, fearing mass defections By Giles Parkinson on 26 September 2014 Gas industry calls for solar hot water rebates to remove to try to slow down mass defections from gas networks it fears will be caused by soaring gas prices.
The Energy Network Association has released a report that suggests the industry could lose one quarter of its customers as a result of soaring prices. It says 1.15 million households could drop gas and defect to solar hot water in coming years. Continue reading
Investors lobby PM on renewable energy http://www.investordaily.com.au/36340-investors-lobby-pm-on-renewable-energy 01 October 2014 | Staff Reporter A group of institutional investors representing $1 trillion has accused the prime minister of undermining the Renewable Energy Target.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott published in the Australian Financial Review, the Investor Group on Climate Change argued that the savings of more than 10 million Australians are invested in a “clean energy future”.
“The health of our economy is vitally dependent on investor confidence in government and the stability of its policies,” the letter said.
“For years we’re been investing the savings of Australians in projects on the basis of bipartisan support for boosting renewable energy,” it said.
“This is now at risk. Our investments, together with skilled industries and jobs that the Renewable Energy Target is creating, are at risk due to the uncertainty of your government’s commitment to the legislated 41,000 giga-watt-hour target.”
Australia ought to be growing renewable energy rather than “stepping back” from its international commitments, said the letter.
“Investors need predictable long-term policies to be confident to make investments in the energy sources of the future,” it said.
“This environment requires bipartisanship on the need for more renewable energy, not less. We encourage you not to change that now,” said the letter.
The Investor Group on Climate Change includes AustralianSuper, BT Financial Group, AMP Capital Investors, Colonial First State Global Asset Managers and Cbus among its members.
to Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry ,
from D Jim Green
The White Paper misrepresents Friends of the Earth in relation to nuclear power and I am seeking immediate clarification on a couple of points.
The WP states: “However, the relative safety of nuclear power is reflected in a 2013 study commissioned by Friends of the Earth, which concluded that, “overall the safety risks associated with nuclear power appear to be more in line with lifecycle impacts from renewable energy technologies, and significantly lower than for coal and natural gas per MWh of supplied energy.”
Question 2: Why does the WP fail to note that the commissioned paper raised multiple objections to nuclear power, and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process, e.g. from the article below ‘The non-nuclear energy pathway that Friends of the Earth advocates is credible …’
Please provide immediate answers to the above questions since the misrepresentation is a matter of great concern.
Please also advise if the Department or the Minister will immediately issue a media release correcting the mirepresentation. Alternatively, will the Department put a note on the relevant webpage noting that the WP fails to specify that the Friends of the Earth group in question is FoE UK and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process.
Jim Green B.Med.Sci.(Hons.), PhD
National nuclear campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Australia
Dear Dr Green
Thank you for your email to the Energy White Paper Taskforce regarding the citation of the Tyndall Centre report.
To clarify, the paper released is the interim Green Paper, which is the basis for consultation on policy issues. Submissions received until 4 November will help inform the development of the Energy White Paper. We expect to release the Energy White Paper later this year.
On the referencing of the report, we note that the quotation is accurate, and the footnote referencing provides enough detail to clarify that the report is based on a UK analysis, and allows for easy access to the online report in full, including the report origins and relevant disclaimers, as would be normal practice.
We acknowledge your preference that the report be linked to Friends of the Earth UK more explicitly in text, rather than through accessing the commissioning and disclaimer detail of the report itself. Given that concern, should the reference be used in the Energy White Paper, we will ensure that the body of our text includes the distinction. We would appreciate your guidance as to whether the preference is to use UK, or the full ‘England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ as per the report cover.
Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry
Attachment 3: Nuclear energy issues p. 71 ………– In 2013, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics found that, over the projection period to 2050, nuclear remains cost-competitive with both renewable and non-renewable technologies on a levelised cost of energy basis. …….
Groups fight for renewable energy target, Herald Sun AAP SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
CUTTING the renewable energy target (RET) will leave Australians reliant on natural gas and drive up electricity bills, a group of consumer and community advocates say.
THEY have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to reject the recommendations of a review that called on the government to cut the target.
The economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme were well-documented and overwhelmingly positive, states the letter from groups including the Australian Council of Social Service, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre and the Clean Energy Council.
“If the RET is cut, Australia’s greater reliance on gas-fired power will increase the cost of power for all energy users,” they say…….http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/groups-fight-for-renewable-energy-target/story-fni0xqi4-1227073457547
Greens want Barnett to make emergency nuclear plan for WA http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/greens-want-barnett-to-make-emergency-nuclear-plan-for-wa-20140919-10iutv.html September 18, 2014 Brendan Foster With Australia on the brink of new conflict with Iraq, Greens MP Lynn MacLaren says she can’t believe the Barnett government doesn’t have an emergency plan if a nuclear accident happened at Fremantle Port.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia would send 600 troops, including SAS soldiers and eight FA18 Super Hornets, to the Middle East in preparation for military action against the Islamic State terror group.
And on Thursday, more than 800 police officers raided homes in Sydney in an attempt to foil a plot to “commit violent acts”, including plans to behead a member of the public.
Ms MacLaren asked Attorney-General Michael Mischin on Wednesday night in State Parliament if the Liberals had an action plan for workers and residents living near the port in the event of the nuclear reactor incident from a nuclear-powered warship. Mr Mischin said a nuclear detonation was not a defined hazard prescribed within the Emergency Management Act 2005.
“The state emergency management arrangements allow for a controlling agency to be appointed for any hazard not prescribed in the act,” Mr Mischin said.
Ms MacLaren said as Australia prepared to send troops to Iraq, “we cannot afford to have a head-in-the-sand approach to an emergency response”.
“Since nuclear-powered vessels visit our shores, we need to be ready in the event of an accident or incident. The report tabled in response to my question was last updated in 2010,” she said.
“Nuclear weapons have been a major threat to world peace for decades, how can the state government not have an emergency response to the risk of a nuclear weapon detonation or accident?
“The consequence of even a small incident would be catastrophic. Yet, we should have a plan which factors in health care facilities and staff to provide triage care in the event of a nuclear detonation or other nuclear incident.” Ms MacLaren said with the Mayors of Peace Conference in Fremantle next week, the call to prohibit nuclear weapons was more important than ever.
Junko Morimito who will describe her experience as a 13-year-old in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb went off is one of the guest speakers at the conference.
“I will be attending the Fremantle Peace Walk which will take place on International Peace Day, Sunday 21 September – celebrating the opening of Fremantle Peace Grove. Tthis issue must be kept as a priority for leaders and the community,” Ms MacLaren said.
Bill Shorten says Renewable Energy Target vital to Tasmania’s north-west Yahoo News September 17, 2014 Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on the Federal Government to support the Renewable Energy Target (RET) during a trip to Tasmania’s west coast……Mr Shorten said the Government needs to retain the RET to ensure the proposed wind farm at Granville Harbour goes ahead.
“It beggars belief that you have got up to 200 jobs just waiting to roll: 33 wind turbines, one of the windiest areas in Australia,” he said.
“The community want them, they don’t share Joe Hockey’s view that somehow wind farms are sick-making.
“They want the jobs, they want the wind farms but what they need is a government in Canberra who understands that renewable energy is not some green plot but part of the sustainable mix going forward.”
Liberal Senator David Bushby gave assurances the Federal Government had not yet decided what to do about the RET……….
projects such as the Granville Harbour wind farms remain in doubt.
In her meeting with Mr Shorten this morning, West Coast Mayor Robyn Gerrity stressed the importance of the RET to the region.
She told 91.7 ABC Northern Tasmania that while there was not much Mr Shorten could do for the region she wanted him to support the retention of the RET to ensure the Granville wind farm went ahead.
“They could employ within weeks about 30-odd men to start doing the roadworks for it,” she said.
“The problem being, for them to source and get the final tick-off regarding financing, they’re relying on the Renewable Energy Target.”…….https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25005137/bill-shorten-says-renewable-energy-target-vital-to-tasmanias-north-west/
Labor rules out making changes to scale down Renewable Energy Target 7 News, BY ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE REPORTER JAKE STURMER September 18, 2014 Labor has ruled out negotiating with the Federal Government to scale back the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The Government is believed to be searching for a bipartisan compromise to scale back the green scheme, which was put in place by the Howard Government.
It was tweaked in 2010 to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s power would be generated by renewable resources by 2020.
It effectively gives industry support to renewables at the expense of established fossil fuel electricity generators.
A Government-commissioned review last month recommended closing the large scheme to new entrants and shutting it by 2030, or that it be ditched with the renewable sector limited to a 50 per cent share of new growth in electricity demand.
The Government is yet to reveal its position on the review but it is understood to be looking for a middle ground…………
The most recent meeting was held in the Liberal held seat of Barton in southern Sydney, which is held by just 489 votes.
Labor leader Bill Shorten used the opportunity to hose down talk that he would accept any negative change to the RET.
He was asked by one of the 200 audience members to promise that he would not negotiate down from what the current position is.
“We’re not about to abandon all the principles and the details of what you just said,” Mr Shorten said………Mr Shorten’s office later told the ABC that there would be no negotiation that would result in the scaling back of the RET.
The Palmer United Party also reiterated its position that it did not support any change to the scheme………https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25037753/labor-rules-out-making-changes-to-scale-down-renewable-energy-target/