Australian news, and some related international items

Conflict of interest in Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

conflict-of-interestConservation SA sounds alarm on nuclear dump lobbyists exposé, Impress Media,  03 November 2016  Conservation SA is alarmed by revelations that “independent” advice for the Royal Commission that has recommended a nuclear waste dump for SA was provided by long-time advocates for the dump. ……

Conservation SA CEO Craig Wilkins said pro-nuclear advocates providing “independent” advice was a clear conflict of interest. “It’s like asking the crew of the Sea Shepherd to provide an independent review of whaling in the Antarctic,” he said.

“The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has described the Jacobs MCM report as an independent, technical analysis of the business case for a high level waste dump.

“However these revelations cast a dark shadow on the alleged independence of the advice provided to the Royal Commission upon which the entire business case for the nuclear waste dump rests.

“The Royal Commission report’s bullish predictions of decades of super-profits from a global nuclear waste dump in SA must now by viewed in the light that it was informed by pro-nuclear boosters.

“We, the people of SA, have been duped. These revelations raise serious doubts about the quality and integrity of the Royal Commission findings and reveal a gaping flaw in its business case.”

Conservation SA (Conservation Council of South Australia) is SA’s peak environment organisation which represents more than 90,000 people from 60 environment related community groups in SA.

Mr. Wilkins said two of the Jacobs MCM report co-authors, Charles McCombie and Neil Chapman, have advocated for a nuclear waste dump since the 1990s, when they were involved in a company called Pangea Resources Australia Pty Ltd. “After that went pear-shaped, the Pangea team re-formed as ARIUS, an advocacy group for underground storage of nuclear waste,” he said.

“Mr McCombie and Mr Chapman now run the Swiss-based consultancy MCM, which specialises in radioactive waste management. The revelation that the President and Vice President of ARIUS were two of the lead authors of the Jacobs MCM modelling for the Royal Commission brings into question the value of that modelling.

“Why did the Royal Commission claim their input was independent when it clearly wasn’t, and why was it considered appropriate to base the Royal Commission findings on this single business case developed by these industry advocates?”

Background information and source documents:………

November 3, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Geoengineering for climate action – “highly uncertain”

Geo-engineering unlikely to work, conservation group says November 1, 2016, by Alex Kirby Attempts to limit climate change by using the novel technologies known as geo-engineering are very unlikely to work, leading biologists say.

LONDON, 1 November, 2016 – The global watchdog responsible for protecting the worlds wealth of species, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has looked at the hopes for reining in climate change through geo-engineering. Its bleak conclusion, echoing that reached by many independent scientists, is that the chances are “highly uncertain”.


“Novel means”, in this context, describes trying to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by removing them from the atmosphere, and altering the amount of heat from the Sun that reaches the Earth.  

Some scientists and policymakers say geo-engineering, as these strategies are collectively known, is essential if the world is to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is because current attempts to reduce emissions cannot make big enough cuts fast enough to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2°C above their pre-industrial levels, the Agreement’s basic goal.

But the CBD says in a report that geo-engineering, while it could possibly help to prevent the world overheating, might endanger global biodiversity and have other unpredictable effects.

Many independent analysts have raised similar concerns.Attempts to increase the amount of carbon in the oceans, in order to remove GHGs, have so far shown disappointing results. One report doubted that geo-engineering could slow sea-level rise. Another said it could not arrest the melting of Arctic ice. A third study found that geo-engineering would make things little better and might even make global warming worse 

Transboundary impacts

Continue reading

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senate inquiry into bushfires hears of climate change impacts

climate-AustClimate warning at bushfire inquiry, Examiner, Doug Dingwall@dougdingwall

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tainted economic evidence was given to South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

“Such a dump could easily lose money instead of being a bonanza.”

scrutiny-on-wastes-sa-bankruptCritics argue Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission skewed by advocacy group’s evidence, ABC 3 Nov 16  by Stephen Long  “…….Claims that building a radioactive waste dump would give a massive boost to the South Australian economy rely on a report co-authored by members of an advocacy group for international nuclear storage “solutions”.

A royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle has urged South Australia to develop a facility for the disposal of international used nuclear fuel and waste, arguing it could provide “significant and enduring economic benefits to the South Australian community”.

It based its finding on a “viability analysis” conducted for the commission that found that a nuclear waste dump could “generate more than $100 billion income in excess of expenditure” over the life of the project, or a $51 billion benefit in today’s dollars.

That analysis was co-authored by Charles McCombie and Mr Neil Chapman, the president and vice president of ARIUS, the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage. The association’s role is to “promote concepts … for storage and disposal of long-lived radioactive wastes” and to “act as an advocate for international and regional storage and disposal options”.

Its motto is: “The world needs nuclear power — nuclear power needs multinational facilities”.

As well as co-authoring the viability analysis, Dr McCombie and Mr Chapman wrote the safety analysis that the royal commission relied upon.

Advocates’ advice tainted analysis: critics

Critics argue that using leading members of an advocacy group to assess the viability and economic benefits of building a nuclear waste dump gives rise to a clear conflict of interest and taints the analysis.

“I think it is really disappointing and I think Australians should be asking fundamental questions about the independence of the economic analysis on which this entire case, on which this entire royal commission, rests,” Barbara Pocock, an economist and research professor at the University of South Australia, told the ABC.

Professor Pocock, who is a member of Mothers for a Sustainable South Australia, said the royal commission appeared to rely entirely on the “viability analysis” for its recommendation of a nuclear waste facility.

“All the economists who have replied to the analysis in that report have been critical of the fact that it is a ‘one quote’ situation.

“We haven’t got a critical analysis, we haven’t got a peer review of the analysis, which appears to have come from an interested source,” she said……..

Its modelling assumes that South Australia will receive $1.75 million per tonne for taking spent nuclear fuel and intermediate radioactive waste and command half the available market, though it says it would still be viable with a lower price and market share.

Critics describe the price forecasts as heroic, and the assumption that the forecast price would not bring rival facilities into market as puzzling.

“The forecast profitability of the proposed nuclear dump rests on highly optimistic assumptions,” Richard Blandy, professor of economics at the University of Adelaide, told the citizens’ jury last week.

“Such a dump could easily lose money instead of being a bonanza.”………

November 3, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

The trouble with negative emissions

Science  14 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6309, pp. 182-183


In December 2015, member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, which aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. The Paris Agreement requires that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission sources and sinks are balanced by the second half of this century. Because some nonzero sources are unavoidable, this leads to the abstract concept of “negative emissions,” the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through technical means. The Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) informing policy-makers assume the large-scale use of negative-emission technologies. If we rely on these and they are not deployed or are unsuccessful at removing CO2 from the atmosphere at the levels assumed, society will be locked into a high-temperature pathway.

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mike Baird’s New South Wales government – more “creative accounting” on #climate change

Mike Baird is going rogue on climate change, The Age, Christine Milne , 3 Nov 16.In NSW the Baird government is set to give the green light to land clearing that will increase our greenhouse gas emissions just as the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees and pursue a more ambitious 1.5 degrees limit comes into effect on Thursday. Premier Baird is going rogue on climate.

As the world meets in Morocco for COP22, Australia will be under scrutiny as never before. Not only have we not ratified the Paris Agreement, we are increasingly being seen as cheating the process with rubbery figures. To meet the Paris Agreement objectives, negative emissions will be required. That is pulling CO2 from the atmosphere at the same time as reducing emissions from all sources. The Baird government is doing the opposite, increasing emissions from coal and coal seam gas at the same time as pushing up emissions from land clearing.

The rest of the world is sick of Australia’s creative accounting using land use, land use change and forestry, or LULUCF, as a “get out of jail free card” to “offset” its rising greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Australia has argued that while its emissions from coal-fired power stations, industries, cars and transport fleet vehicles and fugitive emissions from gas are rising, they are offset by our forests.

That is the basis of the Turnbull government’s Emission Reduction Fund. It has spent over $1 billion paying farmers not to clear or to regrow forests so polluters can keep on polluting. People think the fund must be invested in upgrading industry. Wrong, it has been overwhelmingly paid to farmers.

That is why the Baird government’s proposed changes are so bad. Not only will they destroy biodiversity and send species to extinction by destroying habitat, they will undermine efforts to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets by cancelling out any reductions that may have been made through the ERF……….

In its reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Australia said that from 2005- 2013 land use emissions dropped by 10 per cent but admitted that they will increase by 8 per cent from 2013 to 2020. As part of a peer review process, other countries can ask questions and they have leapt at the chance.

The US asked: “Can you explain what caused this reversal from downward trend to upward trend?” Australia has not yet answered but it is obvious that the Liberal governments of Newman, Baird and Malcolm Turnbull are to blame.

The European Union has noted:”Australia updates some details on ‘avoided clearing of native regrowth’, stating that projected increases in land clearing will be offset by low rates of native forest harvesting. Noting that tree-clearing controls were instrumental in Australia meeting its Kyoto commitment, have the emissions projections been adjusted to account for the updates?”…..

This cannot go on. The offsetting, lies and rubbery figures must stop. Carbon in the landscape must be increased, not decreased. The Baird government’s new land clearing laws must be stopped and if NSW won’t act the federal government should step in to make it happen.

Christine Milne is the former leader of the Australian Greens.

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission ignored world’s one and only existing deep underground nuclear waste dump

WASTES-1Bias of SA Nuclear Royal Commission finally exposed, REneweconomy, By  on 4 November 2016 “……….Given the make-up of the Royal Commission, it came as no surprise that numerous questionable claims by the nuclear industry were repeated in the Royal Commission’s report released in May 2016. Critical analyses of the Royal Commission’s findings are posted online. Suffice it here to mention one example here. The Commission’s main recommendation was to import 138,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste for disposal in a deep geological repository. Yet the Commission’s report only offered a few sentences on the world’s one and only deep geological repository ‒ the Waste Isolation Pilot Plan (WIPP) in the US, shut down since 2014 because of a chemical explosion in an underground nuclear waste barrel.
Kevin Scarce said that WIPP received little attention because it involved different waste forms (long-lived intermediate level waste). But the high level nuclear waste that he wants South Australia to import is vastly more hazardous than the waste managed at WIPP, so Scarce’s argument is disingenuous.
While completely ignoring the world’s one and only existing deep underground nuclear waste dump, the Royal Commission’s report went into detail about deep underground repositories under construction in Finland and Sweden. According to the Royal Commission’s report, those two countries “have successfully developed long-term domestic solutions” for nuclear waste. But in fact, neither country has completed construction of a repository let alone demonstrated safe operation over any length of time.
The Royal Commission also had little to say about failed repository projects. Incredibly, the Royal Commission ‒ and now the SA government ‒ want to import many thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste before construction of a repository even begins, and 50,000 tonnes of high level waste before a repository begins accepting waste. What if it proves impossible to build a repository for one reason or another ‒ as has the been the case in many countries around the world? There is no Plan B………

November 3, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Climate change is real and the world is in denial. #auspol


Nature does not care what we think about it.

Indeed, nature does not care about us at all. But we should care about nature. Above all, we should care about nature if our actions are affecting it adversely.

Probably the most important way in which we are affecting nature is via the climate. Yet our response is foolish denial and fond hope.

Nature will not be impressed.

What nature is doing at present is heating the planet.

Of this no serious doubt remains.

The global warming ” pause” of 1998-2013 is definitively over. Even before recent temperature rises to the highest on record, the notion of a pause was absurd. In 1998 there was a strong El Niño – a feature of which is high global temperatures. What was remarkable is that the years after 1998 remained so hot.
Both last year and this one, with another strong El Niño…

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November 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pivotal role for Australia in promoting the global nuclear lobby

So – the Australian public dreams on – preoccupied with the Melbourne Cup and other sporting events. And the global nuclear lobby continues its machinations. It would be such a strong selling point, to be able to tell South Asian countries that they can go ahead with nuclear power, as Australia will take out the radioactive trash

Australia nuclear toilet

The machinations of the global nuclear lobby, October 2016 

Australia has been pretty much of a forgotten player in the global nuclear “renaissance”.  Not any more.  The big nuclear players – USA, Russia, Canada, France, China , Japan South Korea are busily marketing nuclear technology to every other country that they can.  Strangely enough little ole non-nuclear Australia, (population 23 million) has a starring role to play in all this.

You see, the global nuclear lobby’s problem is – what to do with the radioactive wastes?   I know that the new geewhiz guys and gals are pushing hard for Generation IV reactors that will “eat the wastes”.  The trouble is – there is an awful lot of the stuff. World total of high level radioactive wastes was estimated at 250,000 tonnes in 2010 .  There must be quite a bit more by now.  The other trouble is that even the most geewhiz of the as yet non- existent Gen IV nuclear reactors still would leave a smaller but highly toxic volume of radioactive trash, which would still require disposal.

This leads to a serious marketing issue. If countries such as USA, Japan, Canada, South Korea, are still having trouble dealing with their own domestic accumulation of nuclear waste, how can they persuasively sell nuclear reactors to Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries? The waste problem must be solved!

The wizards of the global nuclear lobby have come up with what they see as the perfect answer. A far away land, with lots of space that’s owned by “unimportant” indigenous people, could import the wastes, and thus remove the problem.  It’s a sort of variant on the old “toilet way down the back”. Continue reading

November 3, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment