Australian news, and some related international items

Climate action is an economic imperative #auspol 


By Natasha Geiling

A new report from the United Nations Development Program is sounding the alarm on the economic cost of climate inaction. Limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) could save the global economy as much as $12 trillion by 2050, compared with a business-as-usual scenario where the Earth warms 2.5° Celsius (4.5° Fahrenheit), according to the study, which was released Wednesday during the U.N. climate conference in Marrakesh.
The report shines a light on the business case for climate action at a time when world leaders and businesses anxiously await the beginning of climate denier Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House.

According to the report, if warming is not limited to 1.5° C and climbs as high as 2.5° C, the global gross domestic product could decline by as much as $33 trillion by 2050.

That’s because holding global warming to 1.5° C would have widespread…

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November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia Labelled A ‘Laggard’ On Cutting Climate Pollution #auspol


By Wendy Williams

Australia has come under fire for its “unambitious climate policies” and been ranked among the worst developed countries for climate change action.

The latest climate change performance index, released overnight at the UN climate talks in Marrakech, placed Australia in the group of “very poor performing” countries, ahead of only Kazakhstan, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
The index, which is put together by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, evaluates and rates the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are responsible for 90 per cent of global energy-related carbon pollution.
The countries are ranked according to their emissions level, the trend in emissions, the deployment of renewable energy, the energy intensity of the economy and climate policies.
According to the report Australia “slightly improved” in the categories of emission development and renewable energy but dropped in energy efficiency.
Of most concern the report highlighted a…

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November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mutiny within South Australian Labor Party if Weatherill sticks to his pro nuclear policy?

weatherill-martyrDaniel Wills: Serious questions being asked of Jay Weatherill’s future text politicsover nuke dump plan, Analysis — Daniel Wills, The Advertiser, November 15, 2016 FOR the first time in Premier Jay Weatherill’s five years as Labor leader, serious questions are now being asked within the party about his political judgment.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Weatherill’s nuclear plebiscite idea – a desperate ploy to get a different answer?

plebisciteThe only rational explanation for Weatherill’s decision to hold a public vote is that he is hoping for a different outcome. It’s a political tactic with a very notable recent precedent…….

Weatherill has invested a lot of political capital in his nuclear waste proposal. He funded the Royal Commission and the citizens’ jury process. But by pressing the plebiscite button as a way to end the ongoing impasse, he risks running foul of the same problems. 

SA doesn’t need a nuclear plebiscite – Weatherill just needs to make a decision, November 16, 2016 , The Conversation, Ian Lowe.Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith University

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill’s announcement of a non-binding public vote, no earlier than 2018, on his proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility looks like an act of political desperation……

The way ahead was not straightforward, however, with the community clearly divided. Public meetings convened by those opposed to the proposal saw packed halls, and thousands turned up to a rally outside Parliament House. Indigenous groups are particularly hostile to the prospect of overseas radioactive waste being brought onto their land.

Next, a citizens’ jury was appointed to offer a verdict on the issue. The randomly selected individuals interrogated experts with a range of views and probed the findings of the Royal Commission in great detail over several days. Their two-thirds majority view that the scheme should be dropped was seen by many as sounding its death knell.

The jury’s scepticism is understandable. After deep probing of the estimates, they concluded that the numbers are very rubbery. Moreover, recent examples like the Royal Adelaide Hospital redevelopment do not inspire public confidence in the state government’s ability to manage a complex project within a fixed budget. So the jury decided that the probability of a good financial outcome was not high enough to justify risking billions of dollars of public money developing the waste management system.

Pressing the plebiscite button

It’s difficult to know why we need a plebiscite on top of all this. If government members want to know what well-informed members of the public think, they can read the report of their own citizens’ jury. If they want to know what relatively uninformed members of the public think, they can consult opinion polls. And if they want to know what members of the public think after being systematically fed slanted information, they can check the polls conducted by The Advertiser. Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia near the bottom of the list in international climate policies

Map Turnbull climatePoor ranking for Australia in climate action index released at Morocco talks international ranking of government actions on climate change has put Australia fifth last out of 58 countries. 16 NOV 2016

 Australia’s climate change policies continue to be ranked as very poor in an international comparison of 58 countries.

The latest climate change performance index ranks Australia fifth last – the same rank as last year – in a list of nations responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

We’re ahead of Korea, Kazakhstan, Japan and Saudi Arabia but well behind France, Sweden and the UK which topped the index.

The report, released at United Nations climate change talks in Morocco, says Australia improved in the areas of renewable energy and cutting emissions but did worse in energy efficiency. Experts reviewing policies pointed to a wide gap between Australia’s national and state level plans for tackling climate change.

“While the former were rather unambitious and uninspired; the latter managed to some extent to take independent action,” the report states.

Australian Conservation Foundation says the report shows the world is watching as Australia’s carbon pollution rises.

“The government spruiks its climate credentials but Australia remains a laggard on cutting climate pollution,” chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said.

While the government’s ratification of the Paris agreement was welcome, Ms O’Shanassy said Australia couldn’t meet its commitments under that deal unless it systematically closed coal-fired power plants and replaced them with renewable power.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste disposal plans must not be used to legitimise new nuclear build

antnuke-relevantAbove all, deep disposal should not be upheld as the solution that legitimates new radioactive trashbuild. The existing nuclear legacy is already proving difficult to manage; the uncertainties of time-scale and inventory that new build would introduce would make the legacy unmanageable.

Why worry about nuclear waste? What has the future ever done for us? Ecologist, Andrew Blowers, 16th November 2016 

The long term problems of what to do with nuclear waste remain entirely unsolved, writes Andrew Blowers. Yet governments and the nuclear industry continue to peddle their untenable ‘bury and forget’ policy of deep geological disposal, which only unloads the toxic legacy of modern day nuclear power and weapons onto uncountable future generations.

In all the recent debate about the future of nuclear energy, one issue, perhaps the most important of all, has been largely ignored.

Yet the problem of dealing with waste and contamination that follows nuclear activity as night follows day afflicts not only those generations that get the dubious benefit of nuclear electricity, but also imposes burdens of effort, risk and cost on generations into the far and unforeseeable future.

That burden will be disproportionately borne by those communities already hosting nuclear facilities as they will be the most likely recipients of any new nuclear development.

There are two primary reasons for neglect of this issue. One is that, in today’s world, there is an emphasis on the short run, on security and jobs and investment for the present and foreseeable future of our children and grandchildren.

Beyond that the future, both environmentally and socially, becomes unimaginable and so a perverse and cavalier disregard of the interests of those bearing the nuclear legacy becomes permissable, even normal.

At worst the needs of the future are subordinated to those of the present (‘what has the future ever done for us?’) while, at best, there is implicitly an assumption that the future will take care of itself, with perhaps a little help…….

All will be well in the best of all possible worlds

Dr Pangloss

This idea that all will be well if only we can bury and forget is the second reason for neglecting the issue of waste in the debate over new build.

The UK Government glibly dismisses the problem of long term management with the casuist assertion that “effective arrangements will exist to manage and dispose of the waste that will be produced from new nuclear power stations.” (DECC, 2011, p.15). Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear dump plan dumped- but will be a South Australian election issue

text politicsDaniel Wills: Nuclear referendum won’t happen and Labor will continue to wear political fallout, State Political Editor Daniel Wills, The Advertiser, November 14, 2016 IN every serious way, the nuclear dump has just been thrown on the scrap heap.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australian nuclear event cancelled for the second time

The scheduled Uniting Church ‘Unclear or Nuclear’ event on the 25th Nov has been shelved for the second time.

Scarce poisoned chalicePerhaps the CJ outcome spooked Kev – who may only feel comfortable appearing b4 a subscribed amenable audience accompanied by security.

More from ENUFF at

November 18, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

An inside story from South Australia’s Nuclear Citizens Jury

Let’s move on.

Perhaps the Premier will now see that this is a non-starter. He could save face, claiming the government was prepared to tackle hard issues in the interest of the State. Unfortunately he seems determined to press ahead. But please, whatever the political outcome, can we stop undermining the honest hard work of the jurors by claiming they were ‘biased’. The jury reached a democratic decision despite attempts to manufacture consent for a cautious ‘go ahead. Was this was solely evidence-based or influenced by lack of trust in the government’s capacity to manage the project and the way the facilitation team managed the jury process? My sense it was a bit of both; but based on evidence and the experience, not just emotion and opinion. Let’s now move on and consider how we might invest the money that would have been needed for this nuclear waste project in creating sustainable jobs in South Australia – manufacturing and installing the technologies needed for low carbon energy future.

highly-recommendedOne small voice from inside the recent SA Nuclear Citizen’s Jury

By Tony Webb  , 18 November 2016 Two thirds of the recent South Australian Citizen’s Jury Citizens' Jury scrutinyopposed the idea that South Australia could import, store and dispose of around a third of the world’s highly radioactive Nuclear wastes. Nuclear advocates have responded by suggesting bias in the jury. I’d like to share some of what happened inside the jury based on first hand experience rather than ill-informed opinions from outsiders.

Bias in the jury selection process?

First the claim the jury was ‘biased’. Simply untrue. I was one of 25,000 people randomly selected via Austria Post listings who received an invitation to participate and was one of around 1200 who expressed interest. I was not chosen for the first 50 person jury in June but was one of the 350 selected to participate in the second jury in October.

Was I biased? I freely admit to being an active critic of the nuclear industry for over 40 years. I’ve worked on public and worker-education over risks from radiation exposures in the UK USA Canada and here. Not always popular with anti-nuclear advocates, I’ve also argued that the world needs to find a long term solution to the problem of nuclear wastes. I’d prefer this be done by international agreement as a global-citizen responsibility. I’m sceptical it can be done responsibly as a commercial venture or as a solution to South Australia’s economic woes.

Were others in the jury similarly inclined or approaching it from a predetermined position? Definitely not. The evidence from jurors’ early postings on the ‘Basecamp’ discussion board, and questions in the jury sessions indicated that most if not all approached the task of reviewing the evidence with an open mind; facing up to the challenge of producing reasoned advice to government on whether, and if so under what conditions, to pursue the opportunity outlined in the report of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. Further evidence of open minds was seen when, at the end of the second weekend, we formed an ‘opinion line’ on our thinking a that stage in the process. A continuous line across the room showed, while some had firmed up their opinion at both ends, most were still undecided.

Reviewing the evidence Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

US Secretary of State John Kerry vows to keep America in the Paris climate deal

logo Paris climate1John Kerry: We will fight to keep US in the Paris climate deal
Secretary of state says the outgoing Obama administration is determined to prevent Trump withdrawing the US from the landmark deal,
Guardian,   in Marrakech and , 17 Nov 16,  John Kerry has signalled that the outgoing Obama administration is preparing a fight to ensure that Donald Trump does not withdraw the US from the landmark Paris agreement, to prevent catastrophic climate change.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One year on, BHP Billiton held to account for the Samarco tailings dam disaster

BHPB-sad17 Nov 16,  BHP Billiton’s AGM | Thursday 17th November at 11 am | Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

 At th BHP Billiton Limited AGM in Brisbane this Thursday, dissident shareholders will challenge the company’s board over its response to the Samarco tailings dam disaster. The AGM is being held twelve months on from the disastrous collapse of the Fundão mining waste (‘tailings’) dam at the Samarco iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which is 50-50 owned by BHP Billiton and Brazilian mining giant Vale.

“The dam break led to the destruction of all forms of life in the region. Mud covered everything, resulting in 20 deaths and unmeasurable environmental destruction. We have seen whole communities destroyed by BHP Billiton and Vale’s operations. They have lost everything, without receiving any real compensation. Instead of reparations for the victims, what is becoming evident is the blatant corporate capture of our government by transnational companies”, said Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret, of the Churches and Mining Network in Latin America who attended the BHP Billiton London AGM.

The collapsed waste dam killed twenty people [1], left 700 people homeless and polluted hundreds of kilometres of the Rio Doce river valley. Following the 5 November, 2015 disaster, MAB (People Affected by Dams), a coalition of local communities impacted by Brazil’s thousands of dam projects, made four key demands of Samarco and parent companies BHP Billiton and Vale [2].

Natalie Lowrey, of Australia’s Mineral Policy Institute, said, “BHP Billiton and its associates at Samarco are ignoring those most affected – the people whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by last year’s tailings dam collapse. The demands being made by MAB, the social movement of people affected by dams, should be accepted. People want meaningful participation in decision-making about the clean-up and compensation, and for everyone who has been affected to be recognised – the companies shouldn’t be picking and choosing who gets help.”

Representatives of communities impacted by the broken dam disaster reiterated these demands at BHP Billiton’s London AGM on 20 October 2016 [3][4]. They were unsatisfied with the company’s responses.  A panel of inquiry was set up to assess the cause of the waste dam collapse without attributing blame, they released a report in August 2016 [5].

Richard Harkinson, of London Mining Network, said, “BHP Billiton appears to be leading on international lobbying for the industry’s ‘learning lessons’ without regulatory change. The panel’s report [6] questioned the efficacy of changes in waste dam design and the sequence of its modifications, and poor management particularly throughout 2011-12, whereby the bases for failure were established through failure and compounded through avoiding good practice.”

On the day of the company’s London AGM, the Brazilian prosecutor’s office charged 26 people for their alleged roles in the disaster, 21 for qualified homicide. This included BHP Billiton and Vale executives on the Samarco board, including a minority who have now left [7]. London Mining Network and the Mineral Policy Institute welcomed this development as a step towards justice [8].

Notes Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics international | Leave a comment

Why did Australian politicians and media ignore the historic UN anti nuclear weapons conference?

At last, great news. Yet, the newspapers scarcely mentioned it. TV stations said nothing. What happened?

Was this because our Government’s representatives at the UN voted against the resolution? Why the silence? Some Australians knew the resolution was being debated and were awaiting the result yet there was no mention of our Government’s decision or speeches, like those from Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh, in favour of the bid. Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

World’s economy will lose $12trillion unless greenhouse gases are tackled

graph-Climate-Action_vs_InaThe cost of climate change: World’s economy will lose $12tn unless greenhouse gases are tackled Damage caused by rising seas, increased storms and other climate-related problems pose ‘a very serious challenge to poverty eradication efforts in the developing world’ The Independent, Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent  Thursday 17 November 2016 Preventing global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius will mean the world’s economy is at least 10 per cent bigger by 2050 than it would be if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gases, according to a new report.

The planet’s average temperature has already risen about 1C in about 130 years, with scientists admitting that restricting this to just 0.5C more will be difficult.

 However the report – released by the United Nations Development Programme and a group of 43 developing countries which are highly vulnerable to climate change – argued doing so would be worth it.

As a result, the world’s gross domestic product would fall by $21 trillion by 2050, compared to $33 trillion under a ‘business-as-usual’ approach that allows global warming of 2.5 degrees. This saving of $12 trillion (about £9.6 trillion) represents about 10 per cent of global GDP.

It would also “substantially” reduce the risk of the flooding of large parts of the world’s lowest lying land, “with the Greenland ice sheet facing irreversible decline most likely around 1.6C of warming”.All the ice on Greenland would take some time to melt but would raise sea levels by seven metres once completely gone.

Keeping global warming to 1.5 per cent would mean at least 10 per cent of the coral reefs on the planet would survive; any higher and the “virtual disappearance” of this key marine ecosystem would begin.

The report, called Pursuing the 1.5C Limit, said such changes would dramatically affect the world’s economy…..


November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s action on climate change should promote Indigenous carbon farming on Aboriginal lands

book-biggest-EstateBurning country not only maintains its health but makes a statement that country is being cared for. The “biggest estate on earth” didn’t happen by chance, rather, through good fire management practises, the land was kept in good order, a bit like housekeeping.

It’s time to invest in Indigenous carbon farming on Aboriginal lands, Guardian, Rowan Foley. 16 Nov 16 

Australian businesses can take action on climate change by supporting Indigenous carbon farming while contributing to sustainable development goals.

Here’s a touch of irony in the fact the Australian government has invested $200m in the international Green Climate Fund, a United Nations fund to assist developing countries in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.

There is, however, no equivalent investment fund by the government, or corporate Australia, towards developing sustainable economies on Aboriginal lands through one of those mitigation practices, namely carbon farming.

Investment in a sustainable Aboriginal carbon industry would directly impact climate change, Indigenous poverty and the management of traditional lands and waters. These are all key parts of meeting Australia’s commitment to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), specifically SDG13 (climate action), as well as SDG8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG14 (life below water) and SDG15 (life on land). Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Hanford, Sellafield, Le Hague etc – the unsolved nuclear waste facilities

WASTES-1Why worry about nuclear waste? What has the future ever done for us? Ecologist, Andrew Blowers, 16th November 2016 Places on the periphery “…..Hanford, USA. Located in America’s North West, Hanford was the chosen location for the manufacture of the plutonium for the ‘Fat Man’ nuclear weapon that devastated Nagasaki on 9 August, 1945.

In the subsequent Cold War, Hanford’s nuclear activities expanded with nuclear reactors on the banks of the Columbia river, reprocessing ‘canyons’ in the middle of this vast site and a variety of production and experimental facilities scattered around its fringes.

Production at Hanford has ceased but a vast nuclear legacy remains: in the tank farms containing high-level liquid waste and sludge, some leaking towards the Columbia; in the abandoned reactors and decommissioned reprocessing works; and in waste management facilities and clean-up projects scattered around the site.

Cleaning up this legacy is a long-term, costly ($2bn. federal funding a year), intractable and complex task but it is an inescapable one.

Sellafield, UK. Like Hanford, Sellafield’s nuclear legacy stretches back to the beginning of the UK’s military nuclear programme.

On to its compact site is crammed around two-thirds of all the radioactivity from the UK’s nuclear legacy, all the country’s high-level wastes, most of the spent fuel, a stockpile of around 140 tonnes of plutonium and other complex streams of wastes.

These include often unrecorded mixtures of fuel, skips and other highly radioactive debris tipped into the notorious ponds and silos which, in the words of Margaret Hodge, a former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee pose “intolerable risks” to the public and the environment.

Cleaning up this legacy is a task that stretches decades ahead absorbing around £1.7 bn. from the government a year.

La Hague and Bure, France. In France, where three quarters of the country’s electricity is nuclear, much of the legacy is focused around the reprocessing facilities at La Hague at the tip of the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy.

At this remote location spent fuel is reprocessed for recycling in the form of mixed oxide fuel (MOX) or it is vitrified and stored pending disposal.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable and acceptable site for deep disposal, an underground laboratory at Bure, a nuclear no-man’s land in eastern France, is being stealthily and steadily developed as an underground laboratory though a fully-fledged disposal facility is still a long way off.

Gorleben, Germany. By contrast, there are other places, Gorleben in Germany being one, where resolute and continuing resistance on the part of local communities has prevailed to prevent, or at least restrain, the imposition of the nuclear industry and its unwanted and dangerous legacy.

But Gorleben’s legendary defence of its identity expresses just how difficult it will be for the nuclear industry to extend its reach and colonise greenfield sites.

Elsewhere there are sites such as the Mayak plutonium facilities at Ozersk in Russia, for long a closed city, scene of a major accident in 1957 (Medvedev,1979) and left with a legacy of high levels of environmental pollution in rivers and lakes from its military reprocessing and waste facilities (Brown, 2013).

And there are many other sites, across the world, where the nuclear legacy imposes risk, blight and environmental degradation on local communities.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment