Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales goes for big solar energy

sunBaird and Nyngan bask in big solar energy switch by  on April 17, 2015 The Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) may still be in political limbo, but states are voting with their sustainable dollars after New South Wales’ Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts and Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman cut the ribbon on what has been hailed as the installation of the final solar panel at Australia’s largest solar project. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Go 100% Renewable

renewable-energy-world-SmThe adoption of targets for 100% renewables by 2050 could deliver combined energy savings of more than $500 billion a year to the major economies of the EU, the US and China, and create millions of new jobs, a new study has found. The study, released this week by New Climate Institute and commissioned by Climate Action Network, also found that if all countries took action on renewables at this scale, global warming would not cross the 2°C threshold beyond which scientists predict would result in dangerous and irreversible changes to the earth’s climate.
when City staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. By January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power.
NuClear News, April 15  A report written by the French Environment and Energy Agency (Ademe) has concluded that supplying the nation’s electricity demand with renewables by 2050 would cost about the same as the plan currently favoured by the President and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, which is to meet France’s power needs with 50% nuclear, 40% renewables, and 10% fossil fuel by 2050. (1)
Vancouver has become the latest city to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Green bonds promise steady returns

piggy-ban-renewablesEmerging frameworks for green bonds could boost finance for renewable energy, REneweconmy By Elena Basic, Mark Robinson and David Fullbrook on 16 April 2015 Green bonds are an emerging class of debt promising investors steady returns without costing the Earth. Since the label appeared a few years ago enthusiasm from nuanced investors worldwide has ensured a warm reception. Next, frameworks and standards now being drafted should deliver credibility for the mainstream and globally connect many more investors to sustainable activities, including renewable energy.

Globally, in 2014 investors snapped up US$36 billion of labelled green bonds, against US$11 billion in 2013, with the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), estimating the market could reach US$100 billion in 2015. Inclusion of unlabelled environmental bonds puts the current market at over $500 million estimates CBI. Indeed, if recent trends hold for labelled green bonds then the market could come 2017 top US$1 trillion.

US and Europe have dominated issuance, though momentum is gathering in Australia too. The first green bond in Australian dollars, raising A$300 million, was issued by the World Bank in 2014 to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation. National Australian Bank (NAB) followed initially seeking to raise A$150 million through the bond issue, which subsequently doubled due to A$300 million, for a portfolio of 17 renewable-energy projects in late 2014. NAB went on to help arrange refinancing of the Hallett Hill 2 wind farm in March 2015 with a A$205 million green bond in the US private-placement market.

While the sums pale compared to the $100 trillion global bond market, the trends are promising. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australian Commission chief Kevin Scarce already aligns himself with the nuclear industry

Scarce,--Kevin-glowDennis Matthews 17 April 15 Commissioner Kevin Scarce has made an unconvincing start to his inquiry into the nuclear industry, now officially “The Nuclear Fuel Cycle” Royal Commissioner.

By accepting the nuclear industry spin that it is a nuclear fuel cycle he has immediately identified himself with the nuclear industry. Do we talk about the coal fuel cycle or the gas fuel cycle? No, like nuclear fuel these are one way processes – fuel in, heat and waste out.

It is typical of the nuclear industry that they would like to give the impression that it is otherwise – fuel in, more fuel out – a mirage fostered by its so-called fast breeder programme, itself another example of nuclear spin. The only thing fast about fast breeders is that they use fast neutrons to attempt to slowly produce nuclear fuel in a nuclear reactor. This technology has not only failed to produce significant amounts of nuclear fuel but has rapidly consumed huge amounts of tax payers money.

If Kevin Scarce and the SA Government want to retain any skerrick of credibility then they will take immediate steps to change the name to the “Nuclear Industry” commission.


April 17, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

S.A. Nuclear Royal Commission to Mt Gambier: note the issues that will NOT be on the agenda

They don’t mention the health and environmental aspects of the nuclear fuel chain. They don’t mention the national laws that will have to be overturned. They don’t mention the existing problems from Australia’s history of uranium mining.

And then there’s the continuing nuclear radiation crisis at Fukushima – you can bet that will not be on the agenda. Nor will they be talking about the global nuclear decline in the nuclear industry, and the fact that the new geewhiz nuclear reprocessing reactors (a) don’t exist yet and (b) nobody wants to invest in them

scrutiny-Royal-Commission17 APRIL 2015 – NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION VISITS MOUNT GAMBIER The first public forum of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission will be held in Mount Gambier on Monday 20 April – the formal start of a three month state-wide community engagement program.

The public meeting to be held at City Hall at midday is an opportunity for community, industry and other interested stakeholders to hear more about the Royal Commission and how they might take part in the process. It will also be the first time the Commission’s Issues Papers will be presented to the public for comment.

While in Mount Gambier, Royal Commissioner Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR (Rtd) will also meet with city representatives and community leaders.

Key areas of discussion will include those activities relating to the potential for the expansion of exploration and extraction of minerals; the undertaking of further processing of minerals and manufacture of materials containing radioactive substances; the use of nuclear fuels for electricity generation; and the storage and disposal of radioactive and nuclear waste……


April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission appoints prominent pro nuclear advisors

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionSouth Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission:  3 out of 5 of those named for the Expert Advisory Committee are well known pro nuclear industry advocates.

1. Professor Barry Brook purports to be a leader in climate action, but in fact is internationally known as a strident advocate for the nuclear industry

2. Dr Timothy Stone  comes from the Office for Nuclear Development (OND): it  “focuses on removing potential barriers to investment, and signals clearly to the industry the serious intent of the Government to push forward nuclear new build”

3. John Carlson – advocate for An Asia Pacific Nuclear Energy Community Royal Commissioner the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR (Rtd) detailed two key milestones today with announcement of the Expert Advisory Committee and the first of the Commission’s Issues Papers.

The Expert Advisory Committee comprises eminent leaders from academia, law, industry and the community and includes:

  • Visiting professor at University College London Dr Timothy Stone CBE
  • Professor of Environmental Sustainability Professor Barry Brook from Tasmania
  • Past president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University Ian Lowe
  • South Australian’s chief scientist Dr Leanna Read, who has a medical science background, and Mr John Carlson, former director of the Australian Safeguards and Non Proliferation Office (ASNO).

However, the committee does include Ian Lowe  who has a long and honourable record of pointing out the risks and the diseconomics of the nuclear industry

Commissioner Scarce said the Expert Advisory Committee had been engaged to provide high-level expert advice to him and the Commission’s staff for the duration of the Royal Commission.

“The members of this Committee have been chosen to ensure that the Commission receives a broad range of advice and reflects the diversity of views that the community holds,” he said.

“The membership of the Committee comprises both proponents and opponents of the nuclear fuel cycle, and I believe this type of diverse contribution will ultimately allow the Royal Commission to develop a comprehensive final report.”

Commissioner Scarce said that the release of the first of four Issues Papers today was a key milestone for the Royal Commission and marked the start of the formal engagement process.

“Today is also an important step in the consultation process with the release of the first Issues Paper, which will help guide the community and industry in their understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle and assist them in making their submissions,” he said.

“I want this Royal Commission to be a far reaching enquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle, investigating the associated risks and opportunities.

“I am seeking to engage in a conversation with the South Australian community, speak to people, hear their lived experience and obtain the views of those who wish to have a say on this important matter.”

The Commission also announced its first public forum will be held at Mount Gambier City Hall at noon on Monday, April 20, with future metropolitan and regional meeting dates to be confirmed.

Written submissions can be made through  and must be lodged by July 24, 2015.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 1 Comment

Abbott govt calls for rural landowners to host nuclear trash dump

Lucas-wastesHands up if you want to host a toxic waste dump ROB HARRIS THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 16, 2015 LANDHOLDERS  are being asked to volunteer to host Australia’s next radioactive waste dump.

The Federal Government has advertised for landholders in all states and territories to nominate 100ha of land to “safely store and dispose of toxic waste”.The waste is mainly byproducts from medical, research and industrial processes.

The landholder of the select site will be offered “a generous payment”, while the local community will be given a “package of benefits”.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said an Independent Advisory Panel had been established to help assess nominations. The Government said it will undertake “extensive” public consultation during every stage of the project.

Environment groups have urged that radioactive waste storage is not imposed on unwilling communities.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Abbott govt funds W.A. centre to stall action on climate change

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, questioned what kind of message the appointment sent to Pacific countries who are deeply concerned about the impact of climate change……

Last year Lomborg spoke at an event on “energy poverty” in the leadup to the G20 in Brisbane, sponsored by Peabody Coal……in a speech to the Grattan Institute in 2013, the then shadow environment minister, Greg Hunt, used Copenhagen Consensus Center findings to support his policy to abolish the carbon tax…..Lomborg will be the co-chair of the Australia Consensus Centre Advisory Board with Prof Johnson, the university’s vice-chancellor.

cartoon-climate-AustAbbott government gives $4m to help climate contrarian set up Australian centre, Guardian,  17 Apr 15  Bjørn Lomborg has been given money from the hard-pressed federal budget to set up a ‘consensus centre’ at the University of Western Australia

A spokesman for the education minister, Christopher Pyne, said the government was contributing $4m over four years to “bring the Copenhagen Consensus Center methodology to Australia” at a new centre in the University of Western Australia’s business school.

The spokesman said the “Australia Consensus Centre” was a proposal put forward by the “university and Dr Lomborg’s organisation”.

Sources have told Guardian Australia the establishment of the centre had come as a surprise even to senior staff in the business school, who were unaware that the centre was being established until shortly before it was announced this month……..

As Lomborg explained in a Freakonomics podcast last year, his consensus centre was defunded by the centre-left Danish government in 2012 and he was searching for a long-term funding solution. Continue reading

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

Radiation has brought about a dramatic decline in Fukushima’s birds

No birdsong in Fukishima: ‘Dramatic’ decline of birds linked to radiation from 2011 disaster

  • Researchers find that bird species are continuing to drop in Fukushima
  • The barn swallow, for example, dropped from hundreds to dozens
  • This is despite radiation levels in the region starting to fall
  • And comparing it to Chernobyl could reveal what the future holds


bird barn swallowBird numbers have dramatically declined in Fukushima, research has revealed Scientists analysed 57 species in the region and found that the majority of populations had diminished as a result of the nuclear accident. They found that one breed in particular had plummeted from several hundred before the 2011 disaster to just a few dozen today.

The research, published in the Journal of Ornithology, was carried out by scientists at the University of South Carolina including biologist Dr Tim Mousseau.

They showed that the situation has steadily worsened since the disaster on 11 March 2011………

And while background radiation has declined in the region in recent years, the negative effects of the accident on birds are actually increasing.

‘The relationship between radiation and numbers started off negative the first summer, but the strength of the relationship has actually increased each year,’ Dr Mousseau said.‘So now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds.

‘So both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.’…….


April 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Professor Penny Sackett points to Australian Capital Territory’s leadership on Climate Change

climate-changeSustainability Symposium: World to learn from Canberra’s climate change policy April 16, 2015   Reporter at The Canberra Times Canberra is a world leader when it comes to climate-change policy, but Australia is still not doing enough to tackle the problem, former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett says.

Professor Sackett, now deputy chair of the ACT Climate Change Council and an adjunct professor for the ANU’s Climate Change Institute, will join Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, and ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell at a climate change symposium bringing together about 12 Nobel Prize winners in Hong Kong from April 23.

She said Australia wasn’t the only country that had to catch up with its cities leading the way on climate change.

The invitation extended to Mr Corbell to address the international symposium’s policy challenge session was evidence of Canberra’s reputation as a world leader tackling climate change, Professor Sackett said.

“People are recognising how Canberra is not only stepping up with ambitious targets … but actually already on its way to meeting them,” she said. “I would really love to see the country I live in … do all it can for climate change and I don’t think we are there yet.”……

Professor Schmidt said Canberra’s status as an affluent city with people who had a greater understanding of climate change allowed it to be “more adventurous on a small scale”.

Neither the federal government nor opposition’s policies would solve climate change in the short-term, Professor Schmidt said, instead scientific solutions would take 20 years to develop but work should begin now.

“We don’t actually have that much more carbon to throw up in the atmosphere before we start exceeding two degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century,” he said.

Professor Schmidt said he expects a declaration from the symposium to be taken to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December to help reach a “sensible outcome”.

Professor Sackett said the “very important” summit would be where nations decide whether they will stand with their citizens to do all they can to combat climate change……..

April 17, 2015 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s Previous Chief Scientist spells it out on global warming

Repeating this item. What a pity that the excellent full article has been removed from the Australian government website!

Why we must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Australian Government 8 Dec 09 Despite world attention, humans emit more greenhouse gases every year than they did the year before. It’s a situation that Australia needs to help turn around if we don’t want to bear the brunt of climate change, says Chief Scientist Professor Penny Sackett……

..The Greenhouse Effect
The sun continuously bathes the Earth with energy in the form of sunlight. Much of this energy is absorbed by the Earth, and then emitted as infrared radiation, or heat. Greenhouse gases prevent the Earth from discarding as much of this heat as it otherwise would back into space.

Without naturally occurring greenhouse gases, the Earth would be a much colder place, inhospitable to modern human existence. But by the same token, the additional greenhouse gases added to this store by humans is slowly increasing the average temperature of the Earth system.

Due to the quantity in which it is emitted by humans, its longevity in the atmosphere, and its effects in trapping heat, carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases currently causing changes in the Earth’s climate……

In Australia, extreme fire danger days are already becoming more numerous in many parts of the country, and floods and cyclones more intense.

Research by the CSIRO indicates that the frequency of days with very high and extreme Forest Fire Danger Index ratings is likely to increase by 15 to 70 per cent by 2050 in southeast Australia…..

Why we must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions | Chief Scientist of Australia

April 17, 2015 Posted by | 1, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | , , | 1 Comment

Dolphins dead near Fukushima – strange effects linked to radiation exposure

text ionisingJapan Scientist: “I’ve never seen this before” — White lungs found in dolphins that died during mass stranding near Fukushima — Interruption of blood supply leading to death of tissue — Disease has been linked to radiation exposure
Asahi Shimbun, Apr 11, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • Google Translate: Ibaraki Prefecture… for a large amount of dolphin which was launched on the shore… the National Science Museum… investigated… researchers rushed from national museums and university laboratory, about 30 people were the anatomy of the 17 animals in the field. [According to Yuko Tajima] who led the investigation… “the lungs of most of the 17… was pure white ischemic state, visceral signs of overall clean and disease and infections were observed”… Lungs white state, that has never seen before.
  • Systran: The National Science Museum… investigated circumstance and cause etc concerning the mass dolphin which is launched to the seashore of Ibaraki prefecture… the researchers ran from the museum and the university laboratory… approximately 30 people dissected 17… [Yuko Tajima] of the National Science Museum which directed investigation research worker [said] “the most lung 17 was state with true white, but as for the internal organs being clean”… The lung true white as for state, says… have not seen.

Fukushima Diary, Apr 12, 2015: According to National Science Museum, most of the inspected 17 dolphins had their lungs in ischaemia state… The chief of the researching team stated “Most of the lungs looked entirely white”… internal organs were generally clean without any symptoms of disease or infection, but most of the lungs were in ischaemia state. She said “I have never seen such a state”.

Wikipedia: Ischemia is a vascular disease involving an interruption in the arterial blood supply to a tissue, organ, or extremity that, if untreated, can lead to tissue death.

Many reports have been published on the links between ischemia and radiation exposure: Continue reading

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian government aims to shut down critics of its environmental policies

given the urgency of the environmental crisis, an increasing number of Australians recognise that we need environmental groups who do more than plant trees.

In the run to this year’s Paris climate talks and next year’s federal election, we need laws that encourage full-blooded political participation.

civil-liberty-2smhighly-recommendedGovernment inquiry takes aim at green charities that ‘get political The Conversation, Peter BurdonSenior lecturer at University of Adelaide 16 Apr 15  The almost 600 environmental groups that hold tax-deductibility status in Australia are being scrutinised by a federal government inquiry, with reports that more than 100 of them face being struck off the list.

Some, like the state and territory Conservation Councils and Environmental Defenders Offices, are still reeling from cuts to their programs and core funding. Others, such as Greenpeace, The Wilderness Society, and Friends of the Earth, could lose access to the tax-deductible donations that help sustain their work.

Encouraging donations Deductible gift-recipient status allows eligible organisations, such as those on the environmental register, to receive tax-deductible gifts and contributions. Consistent with similar schemes in the United States and Europe, the environmental register was established as an incentive for citizens and corporations to fund organisations that are active in the public sphere, while also feeding into the logic of small government and shifting the burden of catering for social needs back onto the community.

In Australia, an environmental organisation is defined as a body or society whose primary purpose is to protect the environment or conduct education and research.

Importantly, however, in 2010 the High Court ruled that groups with tax-deductible status also have the right to engage in political debate and advocacy. The judgement described the freedom to speak out on political issues as “indispensable” for “representative and responsible government”.

Moreover, the court pointed out that there is no general rule that excludes “political objects” from charitable purposes. Instead, the key consideration is whether the organisation “contributes to the public welfare”. The ruling has been used as a precedent both in Australia and overseas, such as when Greenpeace won a favourable decision from the New Zealand Supreme Court last year.

Why is Australia holding the inquiry? Continue reading

April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, reference | Leave a comment

India’s government tries to shut down Greenpeace

civil-liberty-2smIndia government trying to shut us down: Greenpeace ABC 16 Apr 15 Greenpeace believes the Indian government has blocked donations from being deposited in its bank accounts, both locally and internationally.

GREENPEACE INDIA accused the government Tuesday of preventing local donors from funding its greenpeace Indiaactivities, saying the move was aimed at shutting down its operations in the country.

The latest allegation comes less than a week after the right-wing government suspended the environmental watchdog’s foreign funding licence and blocked several of its bank accounts, citing violations of rules governing international financial transactions.

Following the ban, Greenpeace said, many donors even in India were unable to deposit money into the group’s local accounts. It said it suspected the accounts had been blocked by the government.

The group described the fresh step as an all-out attack by the government to “suppress democracy and silence those with an alternative vision of development”. The government has also blocked our domestic accounts and is now preventing ordinary Indians from supporting our work for clean air, healthy forests, pesticide-free food and a liveable environment,” Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India, said in a statement………

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China admits to concern about safety of AREVA’s nuclear reactors

China says no fuel loading at Areva-designed reactor until safety issues cleared

SHANGHAI, APRIL 16 (Reuters) – China will not load fuel at two EPR nuclear reactors designed by France’s Areva until recent safety issues have been fully resolved, the environment ministry said, its first response to faults detected at a similar reactor in France.

Parts of the Taishan 1 and 2 nuclear reactors under construction in the southern province of Guangdong were made by the same manufacturer that supplied the reactor vessel for EDF’s EPR in Normandy, the site of anomalies found by France’s nuclear watchdog ASN last week………

rapid capacity expansion plan has been subject to delays, with the country’s approval process suspended after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. No new projects were given the go-ahead until earlier this year.

The construction of the world’s first AP1000 reactor, designed by the U.S.-based Westinghouse, has also been delayed as a result of design problems, and is now set to be completed next year. (Reporting By Shanghai Newsroom and David Stanway; Editing by Vincent Baby)

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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