Australian news, and some related international items

The electric-car revolution is here, but is that a good thing for the environment?  By environment reporter Nick Kilvert for Life Matters

The electric-car revolution is well and truly upon us.

Key points

  • Car batteries could be used to power homes and the grid
  • The mining of rare earth metals for batteries often has an environmental cost
  • Expert advice is that the best transport of the future doesn’t even involve cars

There were more than a million bought worldwide last year.

In Australia, 2017 sales were up more than 4,000 per cent compared to 2011.

By 2035, it’s estimated that there’ll be over 11 million electric cars bought every year worldwide, and more than half of those will be bought in China.

But they take more energy to produce than petrol and diesel cars and often they’re charged from a dirty electricity grid.

And producing enough batteries and magnets to power them is going to place a huge demand on rare-earth metals — the mining of which has a bad environmental track record.

So is the electric-car revolution actually going to do us more harm than good?

What if I charge my electric car with coal?

Transport is Australia’s third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 19 per cent of our total emissions last year.

That includes planes, shipping, and trucks, but around half of that comes from our petrol and diesel-powered cars.

The beauty of an electric car is that once it’s charged, there are no emissions being pumped out of the exhaust pipe and into the atmosphere.

And if you can charge your car from a renewable source, like solar during the day, you’re effectively driving an emissions-free car.

Most Australians though, if they want to charge their car overnight, will be plugging into the grid.

The average running emissions budget of a petrol-powered car sold in 2016 was 182 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km).

Charging an electric car on Australia’s cleanest grid — Tasmania — has an emissions cost of just 27g CO2/km, or around one-seventh the emissions of petrol. In South Australia, that goes up to 95g CO2/km — still around half that of petrol.

In fact, in every state except Victoria, you’re producing less emission by driving an electric car charged from the grid, than by driving a combustion-powered car.

If we’ve got a chance of meeting our modest 2030 Paris target of 26-28 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels, greening our grid could have the two-fold benefit of greening our transport.

n 2019, researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) are looking at rolling out vehicle-to-grid technology at a couple of demonstration sites.

The technology is already in limited use in Japan, Europe and the United States, and an electric vehicle model will be released in Australia next year with vehicle-to-grid charging capability.

Vehicle-to-grid capacity effectively means that an electric car and its battery can be plugged into a house to provide power when other sources, like solar, aren’t available, according to Jake Whitehead from UQ.

“In the first instance, that could be for powering the building, supplementing the solar and the built-in battery storage,” Dr Whitehead said.

An average three-person home in south-east Queensland uses just over 15 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity daily.

The top-of-the-range electric vehicle currently on the Australian market has a battery capable of supplying more than 100 kWh from a single charge.

This means an electric car battery can easily supply the energy needs of a house overnight, and the driving needs of its occupants during the day, as long as there’s at least an hour of downtime to top up at a supercharging station.

According to Dr Whitehead’s calculations, electric car batteries have the potential to supply all our household energy storage in the future.

“If you look at the light vehicle fleet in Australia — just over 14 million cars and light commercial vehicles — if all of those were to be transitioned to be electric … you would have enough potential energy storage across that fleet to power the entire country across every sector for an entire day,” he said.

“If you could charge and discharge every day, that would essentially mean the entire fleet could run the country all year. So there’s all this potential there, but we’re a long way off 14 million EVs [electric vehicles].”………..

What’s better than an electric car?

Side by side, electric cars are a better environmental option than internal combustion vehicles.

Oil drilling and refining does, after all, come with its own equivalent set of environmental and geopolitical baggage.

But with China and India’s growing middle classes, it’s estimated that more than 500 million electric cars will have been produced worldwide by 2040, putting a massive strain on raw materials. Even if mining adheres to the strictest environmental parameters, deforestation from mining operations is inevitable and at odds with a sustainable future.

Better than both fuel and electric car options is no car at all, according to Martin Brueckner from Murdoch University.

While Dr Brueckner sees a role for electric transport in the future, he argues that we need a fundamental overhaul of how see transport.

“We’ve basically adopted wholeheartedly a US model of city development — an inner city and sprawling suburbia,” he said.

“As the density increases we’re now looking at clogged city arteries … it’s impossible basically, having large cities functioning using that old way of thinking.”

Instead, he’s advocating for better infrastructure, where cities are designed around public transport rather than cars.

According to the ABS, Australian cars travelled an average of 37 kilometres each day in 2016 — a couple of hours at most.

Replacing individually owned cars with car-share models could also cut down on the number of cars, according to Dr Brueckner.

“[Electric cars] don’t change congestion issues, it doesn’t change pedestrian-unfriendly cities and all the problems that are associated with that,” he said.

“We need whole new mobility concepts. In all likelihood it would also be electrified, but not necessarily individual car-based.”

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Exciting South Australian film project “Unwilling Nation”

Kim Mavromatis Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders 10 Dec 18 Ranges SELECTED FOR DOCULAB 2018 – We are really excited to be one of 6 teams selected to participate in the South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Australia Doculab Initiative.

OUR PROJECT : “Unwilling Nation” – a film about the 40 year fight to stop Nuclear Waste getting dumped in South Australia.
PROJECT KEY CREATIVES (Participating in the Doculab) :
Kim Mavromatis and Quenten Agius (Producers). 
Robyn Ravenna (Writer / Researcher).

Supporting the development of a range of documentary and factual projects in South Australia, Doculab is an intensive three day lab for factual screen-makers.

Courtney Gibson (SAFC Chief Executive ) said “Doculab is about putting weight behind SA documentary projects and teams, bringing them together as a community to provide latest market intelligence and develop their projects to optimal creative strength before they’re out to market, and we’re so pleased to be partnering with Screen Australia to make this happen”.

Sally Caplan (Head of Content at Screen Australia) said “The calibre of content emerging from SA is both locally and internationally recognised and it’s important to continue nurturing its vibrant screen community. The Doculab initiative is committed to developing the skills and knowledge of diverse documentary filmmakers. We firmly believe that incubating people and projects through mentorships, funding and fostering pitching skills to penetrate specific markets is essential. We’re excited to see new South Australian projects develop from this initiative that we hope provide longevity for the industry.”

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Audiovisual, media, South Australia | Leave a comment

Students lead thousands in nationwide protests against Adani coal mine

SBS, 9 Dec 18  Thousands of people have marched through Australia’s capital cities in protest of Adani’s Queensland coal mine project. Thousands of people have protested Indian mining giant Adani’s plans to dig a new thermal coal mine in Queensland and have called on state and federal governments as well as the federal opposition to stop it going ahead.

Protesters marched the streets in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns just a week after upwards of 15,000 school students demonstrated against government inaction on climate change.

It follows the announcement last month by Adani it would self-fund the controversial project after scaling back its size and scope.

The coal project is being downsized from a 60-million-tonnes a year, $16.5 billion mega-mine to a more manageable 10-to-15 million tonnes a year costing around $2 billion.

“No longer will we sit back and be lectured to by people who are outdated and out of touch,” Thomas Cullen told hundreds of protesters gathered in Brisbane on Saturday.

The 17-year-old was one of the thousands of students criticised by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for skipping school to stage national strikes calling for immediate action on climate change just over a week ago…….

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s Prime Minister maintains his allegiance to COAL

Remember Mr Lump O’Coal? He’s still doing his thing, Brisbane Times, By Warwick McFadyen, 8 December 2018  So, we are doomed. And in a perverse way there is a grotesque sense of achievement in this. No other species can realise this for an entire planet. We can. Three cheers for us. Hip, hip hooray.

The most famous environmentalist on this blue planet, Sir David Attenborough, has pronounced it so as an envoy of the people to the UN: “Right now we’re facing a man-made disaster on a global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change.

“I am only here to represent the voice of the people to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions.

“The people have spoken. Leaders of the world you must lead. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”………

Donald Trump believes in fossil fuels. Just one of many examples of this is his choice of Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. You wouldn’t see this in a forward-looking country like Australia. Oh, hello, ministers Melissa Price and Angus Taylor.

It is almost two years ago that Prime Minister Scott Morrison, then the treasurer, walked into question time with his friend, Mr Lump O’Coal.

In February 2017, Morrison, courtesy of the Minerals Council of Australia, brandished his friend. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared.”

Mr O’Coal, of course, had no say in the matter. Others spoke for him. He was just there – a token of their esteem, a symbol of their way of thinking, a pillar, metaphorically, of their ideology. He sat quietly except when passed around. There was laughter and much mirth. He was not the butt of jokes, but light entertainment. See, look at him, poor harmless fellow. Oh, don’t be scared yon naysayers across the floor and throughout the land, he won’t bite. See, he has no teeth. Look at our hands. Clean!

He was servant to a grinning master and, his usefulness in the skit done with, put away. You can’t blame Mr O’Coal. He was just the prop, the sight gag to a larger joke that is still running throughout the land: in this long night of the lumpenproletariat, ignorance flourishes. Too much sunlight and it withers. Too much science and it withers. It’s as if there’s an idiot wind making it so we can hardly breathe.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Cash-strapped UN climate fund needs Australia to continue contributing

Australia has been asked to reconside­r its decision to withdraw support for a multi-billion-dollar Green Climate Fund, as finance has emerged as a key stumbling block to progress in talks in Poland on implementing the Paris Agreement. ... (subscribers only)

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Crushing children instead of climate change

Beyond Nuclear International

Young people suing US government over climate change are staying the course

By Linda Pentz Gunter

“As California burns, Trump administration battles climate lawsuit.”

That’s the headline that recently ran across the website of Our Children’s Trust. It refers to a lawsuit brought in 2015 by 21 children, now aged between 10 and 21, first against the Obama administration and now the Trump administration. The children’s claim? That “through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

Trump may want to rake while California burns, but his administration is also using every legal avenue possible to stamp out the fire of these determined young people fighting for their future. 

In effect, the government is using its battery of lawyers to play the game of delay. But…

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December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ALP “safeguard mechanism 2.0” for industry likely to be short, but cheaper than EU ETS — RenewEconomy

A scaled up ALP baseline-and-credit scheme for industry is modelled to be short from day one, with domestic offsets the marginal source of emissions reductions. The post ALP “safeguard mechanism 2.0” for industry likely to be short, but cheaper than EU ETS appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via ALP “safeguard mechanism 2.0” for industry likely to be short, but cheaper than EU ETS — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment