Australian news, and some related international items

Today’s climate change and nuclear news – Australia

a-cat-CANCLIMATE CHANGE. Australia ranked way down the bottom for climate change action.   Julie Bishop won ‘fossil of the day’ award for her coal-praising  speech at Paris climate talks. Australia is at this stage refusing to join the  ‘high ambition coalition’  of 100 nations wanting to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, to save our Pacific neighbours.  Important contribution of Australia’s indigenous people at Paris Climate Summit.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA NUCLEAR FUEL CHAIN ROYAL COMMISSION quietly pressing on, with public hearings in Adelaide dominated by nuclear proponents. Commission blocks lessons learned from Maralinga.

Royal Commission chief Kevin Scarce has been making ?soothing comments about nuclear industry for Australia being a long term project, and understanding opposition to it “ “I think (the fear) is probably a mixture of seeing the impact of accidents and perhaps not understanding the technology,”  (the good old argument – don’t worry – the technical experts know best) . At the same time, Scarce is clearly moving on to the next phase –  that of getting Australia’s environmental legislation overturned.

While Scarce clearly has his sights on this  National issue, and is discussing this with Australia’s pro nuclear Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, the propaganda spin goes on very quietly at the rural State level only, with “community information” sessions at Port Pirie Yacht club (3/12), at Port Lincoln and Whyalla this week.

The South Australian government has just granted an addition $3 million to the Royal Commission. Additional to how much already, we wonder? A super expensive exercise – submissions, months of hearings, and junkets around S Australia, and to Japan, France, South Korea, Canada etc for the predominantly pro nuclear Commission members.

Meanwhile a poll,finds that 72% of Australians oppose this nation becoming the world’s radioactive trash dump.

NUCLEAR WASTE  Even Right wing Senators Madigan and Bill Heffernan angry about unsafety of nuclear waste ship bringing back reprocessed Lucas Heights spent nuclear fuel rods.   Elaborate secret operation transports deadly nuclear wastes through Sydney.  Search goes for national site for Lucas Heights nuclear reactor wastes though they pretend that it is for “medical” wastes. Local communities are not fooled, for example, as expressed at a meeting at Hill End (NSW).

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore in Paris: upbeat about city’s climate change action. Increasing popularity of community solar energy projects in Australia. Govt talks big on renewables ‘innovation’, but will close Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funds CSIRO’s solar energy initiative.

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

How much is the #NuclearCommissionSAust farce costing the taxpayer?

scrutiny-on-costsHow much has the South Australian tax-payer already spent on the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission?  The public should be informed –  how much are they paying Kevin Scarce and his overwhelmingly pro nuclear merry men for all their ‘hearings’ and ‘information sessions’ and junkets to rural Australa, and to Japan, France, Canada, South Korea etc?

Blind Freddy could tell that the purpose is now, and always has been , to set up an international nuclear waste importing business – aimed at enriching a very few South Australians – and bugger the costs to the State’s children their children their chilred and beyond.

A whole heap of blah has gone on about nuclear power stations – which, everybody knows, is not an option, due to their astronomic expense.  Then Kevin Scarce presumably will look good when he rules that one out, and just goes for the waste dump.

Anyway, it’s about time we all knew how much this whole sorry farce is costing.

ABC News reported thuis week that an extra $3 million will be pumped into the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Film “Containment” timely, as #NuclearCommissionSAust blocks environmental and Aboriginal voices

Madigan, Michele

It would certainly be beyond their comprehension that any community, any government, would actually volunteer to take other countries’ nuclear waste, which remains radioactive for thousands of years. Yet in Australia, this is what nuclear proponents, the SA premier, and now the prime minister are backing.

South Australia’s Royal Commission has refused Australian environmental movement experts ACF and Friends of the Earth permission to appear. On 8 December Rose Lester, a second-generation Yankunyjatjara nuclear survivor, found her own plea blocked by Commissioner Scarce.

Fears and fictions in SA’s nuclear waste tussle, Eureka Street,  Michele Madigan |  10 December 2015 The long anticipated arrival of reprocessed nuclear fuel rods in the first week of December has thrown the spotlight again on Australia’s nuclear industry. Greenpeace’s highlighting of the deficiencies of transport gives little hope that government plans will fit with the usual assurances of ‘world’s best practice’ in this, the world’s most dangerous industry…….

At a screening last month of his film Containment, Harvard Professor Robb Moss agreed with me regarding the ‘providence’ of its timely showing to Australian audiences. Five years in the making, Containment shows, among other sequences, how the US is attempting to tackle the massive problem of dealing with their own high level radioactive waste.

It includes interviews with government officials and regulator personnel amid their attempts to contain the radioactivity for the expected 10,000 years — a time frame that will embrace ‘people who will not share our language, our nation and even our civilisation’. It’s unsurprising that the oft repeated phrase from those from the nuclear industry was that ‘the hardest thing is to get the community onside’. Continue reading

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Audiovisual, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

#NuclearCommissionSA moves on to phase about overturning Australia’s federal law on waste dumping

Scarce,--Kevin-glowScarce to meet pro-nuke chief scientist as conclusions emerge. IN scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDaily, Tom Richardson 10 Dec 15  “…….Nuclear royal commissioner Kevin Scarce has indicated that some of his inquiry’s terms of reference may not be viable, as the commission prepares to wrap up its major phase of evidence-gathering.

Scarce will next week meet Australia’s new chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel, a nuclear power advocate.


“He’s got considerable experience in the industry, (so) we’re going across to talk with him about nuclear issues from a national perspective,” Scarce said.

“I think it’s important that we’re starting to see a national debate of the issue … because there’s federal legislation that needs to be changed as well as state legislation, were we to proceed.”

December 11, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission quietly spinning to rural SA

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionIt’s hard to keep up with developments in the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.

On the one hand, as Kevin Scarce has recently revealed, the first move for the nuclear lobby is to get rid of Australia’s national legislation against setting up a nuclear  waste dump. (There is special legislation allowing only the Lucas Height reprocessed nuclear wastes to be deposited)

On the other hand, the Royal Commission is keeping a very low profile, nationally.

Do they think that rural South Australia is stupid? Quietly quietly, the Royal Commission is doing its propaganda bit in rural centres – at Port Pirie Yacht club (3/12), at Port Lincoln and Whyalla this week.

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Former Santos CEO warns on the diseconomics of nuclear operations in Australia

nuclear-costs1x-Santos CEO says megaprojects tough in Aust and nuclear needs scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINupfront revenue December 10, 2015, SMH,  Simon Evans  An Australian nuclear industry would have to overcome very high construction costs and would only be built if there is certainty beforehand that it can generate secure revenue over a long period, former Santos chief executive David Knox said.

Mr Knox said that assuming the construction costs of overseas megaprojects can be directly translated to be similar in Australia is fraught with danger. That’s because the logistics, large distances, higher labour costs and finding the right skilled workers makes it more challenging.

“This can be a trap, of course,” Mr Knox told South Australia’s royal commission into the nuclear industry on Thursday.

“The whole logistics exercise of doing a megaproject in Australia does make it more challenging.”

He said the large geographic distances from specialist manufacturers of equipment offshore, the need to import certain levels of specialist expertise and skills, and the higher costs of labour are influencing factors. He gave the example of an Australian worker costing an overall $100 an hour, compared with $50 an hour for a Gulf of Mexico project in the northern hemisphere.

He emphasised that Santos had no wish to enter the nuclear industry, but he was giving evidence on the broad issue of building large infrastructure projects and the potential pitfalls……

A nuclear project would need to demonstrate at the start that it could generate revenue for a long time, similar to the LNG contracts that Santos had signed, which lasted for 20 years……..

The head of the nuclear royal commission, Kevin Scarce, is due to hand down preliminary findings in February, ahead of a final report in May 2016,  on whether South Australia should expand into nuclear waste storage, enrichment and power generation…….

December 11, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Money pours in for “new nuclear’ spin

Thorium-snake-oilNuclear pitched as the new green, Charlotte Observer , 9 Dec 15  BY EVAN HALPER“……..Investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have poured about $2 billion into a few dozen small outfits, many of which are concentrated in the West. The entrepreneurs behind them are racing to design nuclear power facilities engineered to seem no more imposing than a neighborhood arts center……

That may all be possible someday, say the nuclear experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, but that day is probably several decades and many tens of billions of dollars away. The sudden excitement around nuclear makes them nervous. They say they have seen this before.

“The people who deny or downplay the risks involved are doing a disservice to the future of nuclear power that leads to complacency, and complacency leads to Fukushima,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the organization. “This is very complex. It is hard. It costs a lot. It is slow, especially to develop advanced systems. … It seems nuclear will at most be a minor contribution over the next few decades to dealing with the climate crisis.”……

The Sierra Club says it has all the makings of a snake-oil sale.

“There is always such a rosy picture coming from the industry of what it can deliver with these technologies, yet it has such a terrible history with over-promising and under-delivering,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s director of international climate programs. The organization would prefer the Obama administration abandon the extremely costly pursuit of advanced nuclear power in favor of greater investment in renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

But that’s not the direction the White House is headed. It hosted a nuclear power summit last month during which John Holdren, the president’s senior adviser on science and technology, expressed hope of “making nuclear energy everything that it can be, and thus a major contributor in this country and worldwide to minimizing the risks from climate change.”…….

The administration announced its budget plan, including $900 million in new funding for development of advanced nuclear technologies, as well as plans to allow firms like UPower and Transatomic access to testing facilities in federally funded national research labs, which the firms had been lobbying for. This year, the House passed a resolution nudging regulators to nurture the industry.

Such moves have come at the urging of some muscular neoliberal think tanks in California and Washington, D.C.

The Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, where philanthropist Rachel Pritzker and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand sit on the board, has been a major proponent of the technologies as a solution to climate change, most famously in the 2013 documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Pritzker is also on the board of Third Way, an influential advocacy group best known for helping centrist Democrats find bipartisan approaches to policy disputes. The group, which receives some nuclear industry funding, is leading the push in Washington…….


December 11, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate news in brief

logo Paris climate1Australia ranked third-last in climate change performance of 58 countries
2016 Climate Change Performance Index released at Paris climate summit, day after Julie Bishop said Australia was meeting and beating its climate targets 15/dec/08/australia-ranked-third-last-in-climate-change-performance-of-58-countries

R** Hannah Aulby: Paris talks expose Australian climate hypocrisy
Australia’s inglorious position at the bottom of the developed world’s ranking on climate change policy comes in sharp contrast to the triumphant rhetoric of Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Paris. paris-talks-expose-australian-climate-hypocrisy

R** Coal critical to alleviate hunger: Bishop
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told a sidelines event at major climate talks in Paris that fossil fuels will be critical to reducing poverty and hunger for years to come. …

The message differed somewhat to fellow speaker and former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who said it was politicians who had the most work to do on climate change.

Kellie Tranter: Who is really setting the agenda for Australia’s position in relation to fossil fuels and CO2 reduction? Singing from the Concept Paper, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott led the charge with his insistence that ‘coal is good for humanity’.

Freedom of Information documents reveal that the mining sector, capitalising on its access to government officials, has been busy laying the groundwork for Australia’s position in relation to any emissions reduction commitments struck in Paris. …

In October participants at the New South Wales Liberal State Council scoffed at Malcolm Turnbull, with good reason it seems when he asserted, “Nor are we [the Liberal Party] run by big business or by deals in back rooms.” When it comes to action on climate change the Government has permitted ‘big business’ to take out public insurance against democracy.

10 facts that show why cities are the key to climate change and global health
To mark cities day at the UN Climate Conference in Paris, here’s why urbanisation should be at the heart of any conversation about the planet’s future


Feted by Hollywood, city mayors take starring role in Paris climate talksWhen Leonardo di Caprio and Robert Redford arrived at the UN Climate Conference, their first priority was to talk to city leaders. It’s one indication of where the power to reduce climate emissions now lies, writes John Vidal

ExxonMobil is OK with a carbon tax Even Big Oil is ahead of the Republican Party when it comes to climate change

December 8, 2015. Even ExxonMobil says climate change is real. So why won’t the GOP?

To understand how dangerously extreme the Republican Party has become on climate change, compare its stance to that of ExxonMobil.

December 11, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The money driving climate science denial

Follow the money to climate science denial,8472 Graham Readfearn 10 December 2015A Greenpeace investigation uncovers a complex climate science denial machine involving cash from big business in exchange for “peer review” studies.Graham Readfearn from DeSmogBlogreports.


AN UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION by environment group Greenpeace has found some of the world’s most vocal climate science denial groups were willing to accept cash from fossil fuel interests in return for writing articles and reports that reject the impacts of greenhouses gases. Continue reading

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘High ambition coalition” on climate change – but Australia won’t be joining

Map Turnbull climateAustralia unlikely to join climate coalition, Sky News, 11 December 2015 Canada has joined a new coalition of 100 countries calling for an ambitious agreement at major climate talks in Sky News alia is unlikely to add its name to the list.

Some predict the new ‘high ambition coalition’ could be a significant force in the negotiations, with a majority of nations – from the richest to the poorest – involved.

Australia, while supporting its intention, hasn’t joined.

The 100 countries, including the United States, are demanding a reference to limiting global warming to 1.5C, five-yearly reviews and a pathway to low carbon.

It also wants adequate financing for poor countries.

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum urged more countries to join while revealing the coalition on Wednesday night.

Canada’s environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna took up that offer the following day, despite not initially being on the list.

Australia is understood to agree with the group’s goals but wants to focus its energy elsewhere…….–in-climate-talks–hollande.html


December 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Moving away from coal: essential for any climate agreement

di Natale, RichardAny climate change agreement must include moving away from coal: Richard Di Natale, ABC Radio AM  Michael Brissenden reported this story on Thursday, December 10, 2015 MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Green’s leader Richard Di Natale is also in Paris and he joins me on the line now…..

RICHARD DI NATALE: I think the feeling here in Paris is that absolutely there will be an agreement.

The question really is, is the agreement going to put us on the footing to ensure that we continue to make progress – and on that front, one of the disappointing things is that Australia really hasn’t taken the sort of level of ambition that’s necessary to be able to drive the change that we need to see both in terms of tackling climate change but also just in terms of transitioning our economy to put it on a footing so that we can take advantage of the huge opportunities that exist in the renewable energy sector.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Okay, we’ll talk about Australia’s negotiating position in a minute but do you think that the deal, if it is struck, will it be enough to keep temperatures to two degrees?


I mean, what you’ll see is that the targets that people are taking, the various nations are taking, will lock us into a trajectory of three degrees unless they’re revised, and so that’s why the review mechanism is just so critical and there is, again, a sense that there will be a review mechanism built in.

It looks at this stage that it will be somewhere around 2023. And you have to remember that’s still eight years away so from the perspective of national governments, they need to be reviewing their targets inside that time frame.

Australia again needs to ensure that it does that because its target won’t get us anywhere near two degrees – and that’s why each nation needs to lock in within its own framework a review. And I think Australia must commit to a review in 2017 after the election.

But one of the more positive things is it looks like there may be a reference to a 1.5 degree target over the longer term – and if we are to do that, then clearly there are some major changes that need to happen both here in Australia and within other domestic economies.

Here in Australia, that’s really a prescription for ending the use of coal both in terms of coal exports and transitioning generation away from coal-fired power generation towards renewable energy. …..

I  think you’ll see Australia will shift a little. I think they’ll have to. Australia can’t risk being one of the parties that, you know, is responsible for sinking an agreement. And so there will be some movement, I’m sure of that, and I suspect you’ll also see a little bit of movement from developing nations as well.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: How has Australia’s negotiating position been received generally?

RICHARD DI NATALE: Well, to be frank, I think there was a significant relief that Tony Abbott is not here and he’s not playing a spoiler role – so I think Australia has been given some credit simply for not actively undermining the agreement.  There was widespread consternation yesterday when Julie Bishop again reiterated the nonsensical position that expanding our coal exports and coal more generally is a pathway to poverty alleviation. I think, in fact, Australia received the fossil of the day award, which is an award given to those nations that don’t play a constructive role in the negotiations. ….

December 11, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Julie Bishop’s coal speech at Paris wins international fossil fool award

Bishop,-Julie-AAustralia wins ‘fossil of the day’ for Julie Bishop’s coal speech at Paris climate talks, Guardian,

Foreign affairs minister earns mock award for claim that ‘coal will remain critical to promoting prosperity, growing economies and alleviating hunger for years’ Australia has finally won the “fossil of the day” award – bestowed each day by young climate activists at big international climate summits.

Australia traditionally wins the award early and often, but the Paris talks had reached their 10th day before Australia got the gong – accepted, in sorrow and to loud boos, by Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

The award, shared with Argentina, recognised a speech by foreign affairs ministerJulie Bishop to an Indonesian side event on Tuesday in which she said “coal will remain critical to promoting prosperity, growing economies and alleviating hunger for years to come.”

Bishop also said the world was undergoing a “profound upheaval” as it transitioned to a low carbon economy and that a strong Paris agreement was an important signal for “efficient long term investment”, but the award focused just on the coal remarks.

“In France you say ‘let them eat cake’, but in Australia we say ‘let them eat coal’,” said comedian Dan Ilic, who presented the award on behalf of the Climate Action Network.

He said Australia had backed a target to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees at the Paris summit, but “still supports the construction of the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere, right on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Jaden Harris of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said: “the Australian government is all talk, no action. Australia is dragging its feet here in Paris, desperately spruiking the fossil fuels of the past, whilst we miss out on the opportunities from clean energy.”

“It just no longer makes sense to construct new coal projects, this train won’t be turning around. Turnbull needs to match his innovation rhetoric with reality and embrace the clean energy jobs of the future,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, widely seen as playing a blocking role in the talks, has won the award most days so far.

December 11, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment