Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government is wrong to boycott UN conference on banning nuclear weapons

Australia should help ban the bomb, 25 Mar 17, The footage is mesmerising as much as it is terrifying. Enormous explosions, wild enough to blow the clouds away, a churning blast wave across the earth as a giant mushroom of dust and smoke slowly rises above. This display of the destructive power of nuclear weapons – seen in newly declassified film of early atomic tests from 1945 and 1962, and now released online – should be seen as a stark warning. Such weapons must never again be used in anger.

The only true guarantee to save humanity from its own destructive ability is to completely rid the world of nuclear weapons stockpiles. Much as we have become inured to the danger over the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the heightened tension of the Cold War, there is no managing this risk. Too many atomic bombs remain ready to fire at a moment’s notice; there are too many chances for human error that would see a catastrophic mistake.

At a time when the temperament of many leaders is rightly questioned, this should be the time to redouble efforts for nuclear disarmament, rather than trust the luck of the last 70 years will hold.

In that spirit, on Monday, negotiations will commence in New York for a new treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons – not regulate, but ban the bomb outright. More than 120 countries have pledged to participate. Regrettably, however, Australia is not among them.

The Turnbull government has decided to stand apart from the negotiations believing  that the proposed treaty is not “practical”.

The declared nuclear-armed powers, the US, Russia, France, Britain and China, have refused to participate,  nor will the rogue nuclear states, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea, who have developed atomic weapons in the face of international law.

But a proposed ban on nuclear weapons offers the chance for the rest of the world to declare, forthrightly, that it has tired of living under the ever-present threat of annihilation.

Australia’s boycott sends a poor signal about this nation’s commitment to disarmament, especially as a crucial player in the nuclear industry as a supplier of uranium. Such a treaty would carry moral force, to pressure the nuclear-armed powers to fulfil the obligations of what the government presumably does see as a practical agreement, the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The genius of that document was to strike a grand bargain between the nuclear-armed countries and the rest of the world; forgo the pursuit of the bomb, and in turn, the nuclear powers agreed to eliminate their own over time. For nations such as Australia, this swayed a decision not to pursue an independent nuclear weapon capacity.

The non-proliferation treaty has been extraordinarily successful, in that no signatory (other than North Korea, who withdrew as a party to the treaty) has developed a nuclear weapon. But the pledge by the nuclear powers to work towards disarmament has been fitful at best and at worst cynical, as the trend appears to be the opposite.

Under the guise of a modernisation program, the United States is actually increasing the destructive yield of its nuclear arsenal, while Donald Trump complains about past disarmament deals with Russia. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has belligerently pushed the flight path of Russia’s strategic bombers closer to European nations in blatant provocation.

The conundrum to solve has always been one of trust. How can anyone be sure that a country would truly surrender its nuclear weapons, and who will have the faith to move first? Australian defence planners may feel a need to rely on the nuclear arsenal of its US ally for deterrence, but that deterrence is only required as long as nuclear weapons exist.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Breitbart media calls Great Barrier Reef bleaching “fake news”

Breitbart’s James Delingpole says reef bleaching is ‘fake news’, hits peak denial.more Graham Readfearn  A claim like this takes lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at   24 March 2017 

It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef“fake news”.

You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.

So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

Delingpole wrote:

Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

Now before we go on, let’s deal with some language here.

When we talk about the reef dying, what we are talking about are the corals that form the reef’s structure – the things that when in a good state of health can be splendorous enough to support about 69,000 jobs in Queensland and add about $6bn to Australia’s economy every year.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass coral bleaching three times – in 1998, 2002 and 2016 – with a fourth episode now unfolding. The cause is increasing ocean temperatures.

“Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.

Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.

So here’s the rhetorical question – one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.

Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?

So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.

Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else…….

Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.

That’s some more hubris right there.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, media, Queensland | Leave a comment

Radioactive soil dumped at Mary Kathleen mine

Cabinet papers: Radioactive soil from UQ dumped at Mary Kathleen mine  January 1, 2017  A HUGE amount of radioactive soil – enough to top-dress a football oval – from the University of Queensland was dumped in the disused Mary Kathleen open-cut uranium mine north of Mount Isa in June 1986 with the approval of the Bjelke-Petersen government.

Cabinet papers released today after 30 years reveal a submission in August 1986 from then mines minister Ivan Gibbs, outlining how 330 cubic metres of contaminated soil was trucked to the mine site and unloaded into the water.

The submission said that in 1984, the UQ Experimental Mine at Indooroopilly was found to have radioactive material from uranium ore samples taken at the Anderson Lode (14km west of Mount Isa).

“Officers of the Health Department carried out a detailed survey of the site and concluded that the pilot plant tailings had caused contamination of the soil under and around the stockpile area, the total mass of contaminated material required to be moved amounting to about 330 cubic metres,” Gibbs’ submission said.

“Discussions were held with officers of my department to identify a suitable site for disposal of the material and I approved for it to be dumped into the abandoned open cut.

“Expert advice has been received that seepage will not take place from the open cut to the surrounding rocks, and studies have shown that the water level in the open cut will stabilise at least 40m below the overflow level.’’

Gibbs said the soil was classed “low specific activity material’’ under the code of practice for the safe transport of radioactive substances. A convoy of trucks transported the soil to the open-cut mine and dumped it below water level. “The access ramp was sealed with large rocks,’’ Gibbs said. “Each truck was washed down and checked for zero radioactive contamination.”

The submission stated that the government was satisfied that material in the abandoned mine would not have any effect on surface or groundwater in the area.

Gibbs said local National Party MP Bob Katter and Mount Isa mayor Tony McGrady objected to the disposal and sought assurances that no more soil would be dumped there.

Gibbs said: “Although it is highly unlikely that the cost of transporting any radioactive material to Mary Kathleen would be justified in future, the possibility of using the abandoned open cut for special cases should not be totally excluded.’’

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan wants $1b for Adani coal, and cut environmental groups’ charity status

Canavan wants $1b for Adani, limits to green tax lurks, AFR, 26 Mar 17,  Resources Minister Matt Canavan says it is time for the government to consider restricting the tax-deductible status of politically active green groups………

Stop Bob Brown

The Turnbull government is still considering whether the tax-deductibility of environmental groups should be administered by the Australian Taxation Office instead of the Register of Environmental Organisations and no less than 25 per cent of green group donations should be spent on environmental remediation rather than protests, after a House of Representatives inquiry reporting last May.

The Stop Adani Alliance, a collection of 13 green groups headed by former Greens leader Bob Brown, came to Parliament House last week calling for more scrutiny of a proposed $1 billion taxpayer-funded loan to build a railway line for the Adani Carmichael coal mine in North Queensland.

Senator Canavan told The Australian Financial Review the main opposition to the Adani mine came from “fly-in, fly-out” protesters who did not live in the region……..

$1b for Adani

 There is growing scrutiny of the government agency, the North Australia Infrastructure Facility, responsible for assessing the proposed $1 billion taxpayer loan to Adani and championed by Senator Canavan and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

The agency was established in mid-2016 to disburse a mammoth $5 billion in taxpayer loans but the details of the 47 proposals being considered, and five close to being finalised have been kept secret, raising questions about the agency’s transparency…….

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Greens call for an independent energy authority – Renew Australia

Greens push for electricity crisis to be taken out of politicians’ hands, The Age Adam Morton , 25 Mar 17, 

The Greens are pushing for a new public authority to take responsibility for Australia’s beleaguered electricity system out of politicians’ hands.

It follows several organisations, including energy company Origin, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and ClimateWorks, calling for an independent body, similar to the Reserve Bank, to manage what has been described as an energy crisis.

Focus on the future of the electricity system has heightened in the lead-up to the closure this week of Hazelwood, Australia’s oldest and most emissions-intensive power plant, which when fully operational had the capacity to deliver about a quarter of Victoria’s electricity.

The Greens will introduce legislation in the Senate to create what it calls Renew Australia, which it says can short-circuit a stand-off between the federal and state governments by taking responsibility for the transition to a clean electricity supply……

Energy companies, business groups, unions, charities, scientists and environmentalists have called for a bipartisan national plan, including an emissions intensity scheme, to drive a smooth change as greenhouse gas emissions are cut.

The Snowy Hydro Scheme, owned by the NSW, Victorian and federal governments, is the latest to back this sort of scheme. The federal government has rejected this sort of scheme.

Not all the above groups would endorse the Greens’ model, which requires that at least 90 per cent of energy is renewable by 2030, expands the national renewable energy target and introduces a emissions intensity standard that sets out a timetable for the closure of coal-fired power plants.

The authority would cost $500 million and would be expected to leverage $5 billion of energy construction in four years. The Greens also want to create a $250 million clean energy transition fund to help coal communities as plants close and change electricity market rules to make it encourage large-scale battery storage…….

In a submission to an energy security review by chief scientist Alan Finkel, ClimateWorks – a research body affiliated with Monash University – called for an independent statutory body to take over regulatory responsibilities from the COAG Energy Council, which is made up of federal and state energy ministers.

Origin backed the creation of a body similar to the Reserve Bank to manage the shift to lower emissions.

The ACTU called for the introduction of an Energy Transition Authority. Its responsibilities would include managing a planned closure of coal plants and an industry-wide scheme that allowed retrenched coal workers to get jobs at other power stations.

This model has been used at Hazelwood, where some workers will transfer to other Latrobe Valley generators.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | 2 Comments

International nuclear industry – stagnation at best

Countries with crisis-ridden nuclear programs or phase-out policies (e.g. Germany, Belgium, and Taiwan) account for about half of the world’s operable reactors and more than half of worldwide nuclear power generation

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion

By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017, Nuclear lobbyists are abandoning the tiresome rhetoric about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’. Indeed they’ve turned full-circle and are now warning about a crisis. Michael Shellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute, a US-based pro-nuclear lobby group, has recently written articles about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and the “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.A recent articlefrom the Breakthrough Institute and the like-minded Third Way lobby group discusses “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries” and states that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies”.

‘Environmental Progress’, another US pro-nuclear lobby group connected to Shellenberger, also acknowledges a nuclear power crisis. The lobby group notes that 151 gigawatts (GW) of worldwide nuclear power capacity (38% of the total) could be lost by 2030 (compared to 33 GW of retirements over the past decade).

As a worldwide generalisation, nuclear power can’t be said to be in crisis. To take the extreme example, China’s nuclear power program isn’t in crisis ‒ it is moving ahead at pace. Nuclear power is moving ahead at snail’s pace in some other countries (e.g. Russia, South Korea), while in others the industry faces problems but is not in crisis (e.g. UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Ukraine).

Nonetheless, the global picture is one of stagnation and malaise. The July 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report provides an overview of the troubled status of nuclear power: Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Success of Australia’s Clean Energy Program

Clean energy grant companies see profits climb, says Department of Industry chief economist, The Age,  Eryk Bagshaw, 26 Mar 17,  “……..a new report from the Department of Industry’s Office of the Chief Economist has found the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program saw not only gains for Coca Cola, but 547 other projects across Australia, with a 10 per cent reduction in manufacturing emissions.

“Both employment and turnover among these firms grew about 25 per cent faster than similar firms without Clean Tech grants,” the report’s author economist Sasan Bakhtiari found. “Exports grew about 50 per cent faster, but only for those Clean Tech firms already exporting.”

In Gunnedah the local leather processing site replaced lighting, compressed air and water heating systems to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of the facility by 13 per cent and save $95,000 in energy costs per year, while new trout smoking equipment at the Snowy Mountain Trout Farm in Blowering Dam reduced carbon emissions by 84 per cent and banked yearly savings of $3000 in energy costs.

“The majority of grants went to fully Australian-owned firms,” said Dr Bakhtiari. “The program seems to have offered a lifeline to firms that [were performing badly] that eventually enabled them to turn around and start growing jobs. ……

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

New “Generation IV” reactors, large or small, not likely to save the failing nuclear industry

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017  Lobbyists debate solutions to the crisis  “……… The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactorpipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write-off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors argue that nuclear power must become substantially cheaper and this will not be possible “so long as nuclear reactors must be constructed on site one gigawatt at a time. … At 10 MW or 100 MW, by contrast, there is ample opportunity for learning by doing and economies of multiples for several reactor classes and designs, even in the absence of rapid demand growth or geopolitical imperatives.”

Other than their promotion of small reactors and their rejection of large ones, the four authors are non-specific about their preferred reactor types. Any number of small-reactor concepts have been proposed.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been the subject of much discussion and even more hype. There’s quite a bit of R&D ‒ in the US, the UK, South Korea, China and elsewhere. But only a few SMRs are under construction: one in Argentina, a twin-reactor floating nuclear power plant in Russia, and three SMRs in China (including two high-temperature gas-cooled reactors). The broad picture for SMRs is much the same as that for fast neutron reactors: lots of hot air, some R&D, but few concrete plans and even fewer concrete pours.

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “substantially cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market ‒ and even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and highly unlikely that it would be substantially cheaper. After all, economies-of-scale have driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. The construction cost of Argentina’s 25 MWe CAREM reactor is estimated at US$446 million, which equates to a whopping US$17.8 billion / GW. Estimated construction costs for the Russian floating plant have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW.

Small or large reactors, consolidation or innovation, conventional reactors or Generation IV pipe-dreams … it’s not clear that the nuclear industry will be able to recover however it responds to its current crisis.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World reaching turning point on carbon emissions as coal fades

 Nikkei Asian Review   Even US is heading in greener direction despite Trump policies YASUO TAKEUCHI, Nikkei staff writer, 26 Mar 17,  PARIS — Humanity seems to be reaching a turning point in its emissions of greenhouse gases. Last year marked the third in a row that global emissions of carbon dioxide trended sideways, ending what had been a long, unbroken climb interrupted only by the 2008 financial crisis.

The change is thanks in large part to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy resources. Even the United States, led by a new administration whose leaders are skeptical at best about climate change, is not expected to significantly increase its carbon emissions. And policies put in place by emerging economies are beginning to take effect.

 The International Energy Agency reported that CO2 emissions resulting from fuel combustion totaled 32.1 billion tons in 2016. That was in year when the global economy grew by 3.1%, belying the adage that emissions rise in lockstep with economic growth. The global increase in the use of lower- and no-carbon energy resources and the spread of cars with better fuel performance are clearly part of the reason.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol cautions that it is too soon to say that the volume of global carbon emissions has peaked, but he will offer that the trend has changed: Even if emissions rise, it will be at a slower pace.

The two largest emitters are the U.S. and China, and both released less carbon in 2016, the U.S. in particular.

By introducing shale gas and renewables and cutting down on coal, the U.S. reduced its CO2 emissions by 3% over 2015 to a level not seen since 1992. During those same 24 years, the U.S. economy grew by 80%.

The Trump administration is skeptical about global warming and plans to rescind the restrictions on coal-burning power plants enacted by the Obama administration. But U.S. coal production is still declining, mainly because of the increasing output of inexpensive shale gas…..

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Liberals seeking Asian investment for new coal-fired power stations


Resources Minister Matt Canavan is fast-tracking the plan amid a growing fight with Labor and the Greens over support for coal power, as cabinet ministers prepare to decide how to encourage big investors into the market.

Senator Canavan told The Australian there was a “high ­degree of interest” from Asia helping to develop the new power station in northern Queensland, arguing that finance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund would be needed to give the project long-term certainty…….

As the imminent close of the ageing Hazelwood power station reignites debate about electricity shortages and price spikes, Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler has declared there is no support from industry to build new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

The Australian Energy ­Council, which represents companies supplying electricity to 10 million homes, warns it has become “very difficult” to finance coal-fired power stations when investors are ramping up wind and solar projects as well as gas generators that provide baseload power with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

But the government is determined to keep the coal proposal on the agenda by raising the prospect of funding from the northern Australia fund, which is also a potential source of support for the controversial coalmine planned for central Queensland by Indian company Adani.

Senator Canavan said there was “no doubt” of the rudimentary economic and commercial case for a coal-fired power station in northern Queensland but that the government’s challenge was to set the energy market rules to offer certainty…..

A Senate inquiry led by a Labor and Greens majority last year argued for an “orderly retirement” of the nation’s coal-fired power stations but the government believes there is strong support in northern Queensland for a new coal project at a time of rising electricity price

Senator Canavan is examining options for a new power station near the Adani coalmine in the Galilee Basin, in Collinsville, to add to an existing power station or in Gladstone near an existing power station and taking advantage of transmission lines that are already in place.

The Resources Minister, who is also the Minister for Northern Australia and oversees the infrastructure fund, rejected suggestions that the help for a coal-fired power station would be a “subsidy” that meddled with the market….

Mr Butler is warning against the use of taxpayer funds for the rail line to the Adani mine or a new power station, claiming the long-term future for coal is one of decline.

“This is something the coal industry needs to deal with. We’ve said as a federal Labor Party we will not support taxpayers’ money going in to support infrastructure or pay for infrastructure around this (Adani) mine,” he said last week.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Indigenous people being forced from home, because of climate change

“You’re talking about communities that have been in place for generations, and live off the land and the waters, and they are seeing and experiencing the changes first and foremost,”

Climate Change Forces Northwest Natives From Their Ancestral Homes,Truth Out  March 24, 2017By Zoe Loftus-FarrenEarth Island Journal Fawn Sharp grew up in Taholah village, a small community on the Quinault Reservation nestled between the mouth of the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean. She spent her childhood summers surrounded by water, splashing in Lake Quinault on the eastern edge of the reservation, and hiking along the local beaches near the village, scouring the rocks for starfish and other treasures. In the mornings, she was often up before the sun, out fishing with her grandparents on the river.

Decades after she left home for college, Sharp is back on the reservation, this time living near the lake, some 35 miles from her childhood home in Taholah. Now she goes by President Sharp, and leads both the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Since returning, Sharp has faced the kinds of tough issues that might have seemed outlandish, or even inconceivable, during her childhood. She’s seen the tribe’s salmon runs in sharp decline. She’s observed the rapid retreat of nearby glaciers. And she’s watched her childhood home, Taholah, endure dangerous flooding during increasingly harsh storm surges. Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Earth Hour: When lights were turned off around the world.

Millions of people from some 170 countries and territories took part in the annual bid to highlight global warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas to drive cars and power plants.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Banks won’t back coal plants

This energy may be clean but banks won’t back coal-fired plants, THE AUSTRALIAN, 26 Mar 17 “…..It is no wonder that the government is looking at ways to allow the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in “clean coal”-fired power stations because the banks and the local financial ­sector are unlikely to do so.

The simple reason for this is that investments in such technologies are too risky for any self-interested bank credit officer to give any proposed clean-coal ­project the thumbs up…..

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Geoff Summerhayes effectively put banks and other financial institutions on notice that he now ­expects them to take into account “transition” climate risks……

offshore banks would face the same risk hurdles as local banks…

What other forms of funding might be available for a clean coal plant? Offshore banks are a possibility and they have backed syndicates investing in local infra­structure, particularly Chinese and Indian banks. The State Bank of India was slated as a potential provider of a $1bn loan for the Adani coalmine in Queensland, but prospects of that loan being approved dimmed when Reuters reported a bank source as saying “the credit guys are not comfortable with the project”.

This is a salient reminder that offshore banks would face the same risk hurdles as local banks.

Another possibility is that ­private sector superannuation funds or the federal government’s ­Future Fund could provide backing. But they need to confront the big stick from APRA or the Australian Securities & Investments Commission about the need to take into account climate change and associated sovereign risk.

That seems to leave only the government to finance any such projects and, hence, the idea of changing the Clean Energy ­Finance Corporation legislation to allow it to invest in clean coal.

But let’s take stock here: haven’t we just imposed a whole swag of new regulations on banks to stop them from getting involved in lending that is too risky? If the risks around clean coal are too daunting for those irritating banks to take on, why on earth would the taxpayer do so?

Taking into account all of these risks, coupled with the difficulty in offsetting them via the market or through portfolio diversification, and the multitude of uncertainties surrounding any proposals for a clean-coal generator, we should assume that no bank funding will be forthcoming for clean coal- fired power stations.

Rob Henderson is a policy and markets economist and formerly chief economist (markets) with National Australia Bank.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment