Australian news, and some related international items

How Canberra can lead the way in cutting carbon emissions to zero

Can a growing city cut carbon emissions to zero?,By Penny Sackett, Frank Jotzo & Will Steffen, 19 January 2019 How can Canberrans keep cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions as their city grows quickly and spreads out? And how will the ACT benefit from going low-carbon? Having adopted stringent emissions targets for 2025 onwards, these questions are becoming front of mind for the ACT government.

The new targets include net zero emissions on or before 2045, with interim targets of 50 to 60 per cent emissions reduction by 2025; 65 to 75 per cent by 2030; and 90 to 95 per cent by 2040, all compared to the ACT’s emissions in 1990. The 2020 target, which has been in place for several years, is a 40 per cent reduction.

Meeting an emissions trajectory like this would mean the ACT does its fair share to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement of holding global warming below 2 degrees. The ACT would help lead the way in Australia by respecting the boundaries set by its “carbon budget”, and demonstrating how to make deep reductions in an urban economy.

The idea behind setting a clear trajectory to zero emissions is that business, government and the ACT community can invest in modern, low-emissions technology with confidence about the overall goal, knowing that policy will support the shift. Climate action is part of creating a healthier, better-connected, more resilient and prosperous city. Positive change can occur in nearly every aspect of life in Canberra.

As one of Australia’s richest communities, we should find it easier than elsewhere to invest in the necessary change. And taking a lead in climate-friendly modernisation helps attract highly skilled people to Canberra, which is what is needed for continued economic success in the ACT. Canberra has a national, and growing international, reputation for innovation in the low-carbon economy, and ACT energy and climate policy programs have already attracted global renewable-energy companies.

The targeted reductions are steep, but they can be achieved if government, businesses and the community all make a sustained effort.

The ACT is on track to have 100 per cent of its electricity sourced from renewables by about 2020. This will make possible the targeted 40 per cent reduction in emissions (as they are accounted in the ACT). Carbon-free power supply gives us emission-free options for other sectors, notably transport – electric cars and buses, as well as light rail – and the use of electricity instead of gas for heating, cooking and in industry. This is critical because transport and natural gas use account for the lion’s share of Canberra’s direct emissions outside of electricity generation, at about 65 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

The vision is clear: a transport system where public transport, as well as biking and walking, play a bigger role; where almost all cars, buses and trucks run on electricity or hydrogen; and where almost no gas is used. Quite aside from climate change, this means even cleaner air in Canberra and much less noise. The shift to higher-density living and the rapid progress with electric cars will help make it possible. Electric bicycles are already an alternative.

The first step is to stop investment that locks in carbon use into the future. We need electric cars and buses rather than petrol and diesel, and electric heating systems, not gas. Extra investment to improve energy efficiency in houses, apartments and public buildings is needed, too.

In all of this, the ACT government can and should lead by example. And climate policy must go hand-in-hand with social policy, ensuring that the shift to a truly clean city does not put some groups at a disadvantage. That means a keen eye on energy costs and the needs of commuters in the suburbs, and increased engagement by all of us during the transition.

Penny Sackett, an honorary professor at the ANU, is a former Australian chief scientist; Frank Jotzo is a professor at the ANU’s Crawford school of public policy; and Will Steffen, an emeritus professor at the ANU, is on the Climate Council of Australia. The authors are on the ACT Climate Change Council, an independent statutory body that advises the ACT government on emissions targets. This is the first of several articles exploring how Canberra can transition to carbon neutrality.

January 18, 2019 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Adani still under investigation by Queensland government, over groundwater bores

Adani cleared of wrong doing by Federal Government over bores but Qld investigation continues, ABC News By Josh Robertson , 18 Jan 19, Adani remains under investigation by the Queensland Government for alleged illegal works on its Carmichael mine site, despite federal authorities ruling out any wrongdoing.

State officials have confirmed the ongoing probe into whether the company breached its environmental authority by sinking six dewatering bores last year.

The ABC revealed in September the department had launched an investigation into whether Adani sunk the groundwater bores in breach of its approval under the state Environmental Protection Act. …….

Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said she had reviewed documents relating to the Federal Environment Department’s inquiries and “unfortunately it seems that there wasn’t a thorough investigation”.

Ms Waters is a former lawyer at Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), which has provided the State Government evidence of the alleged breach, including drone footage of the bores.

State Government investigation still underway

A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) said the Government was aware of the Commonwealth findings.

“DES is undertaking a more comprehensive investigation under separate state legislation, and has made several information requests to Adani, and has also carried out site inspections,” he said.

“If non-compliances are identified during the course of the investigation, DES can move to enforcement action.”

Adani still needs approval for its groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan to carry out mining operations.

Last month, the ABC revealed the Queensland Environment Department was examining evidenceincluding specifications of groundwater bores registered by Adani on a government website.

Queensland’s EDO and a university groundwater expert argued the bores construction, materials and depth are consistent with dewatering bore standards but incompatible with groundwater monitoring……..

January 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

On NITV A feast of films celebrating indigenous Australia, in leadup to 26 January

#AlwaysWillBe: films celebrating strength and survival on NITV, In the lead up to 26 January, NITV is playing the best Indigenous films and television series including Sweet Country, which will have its television premiere. By Grayson McCarthy-Grogan, 16 JAN 2019 

NITV is inviting all Australians to hear stories of our nation’s shared history from an Indigenous perspective.

Come and explore what 26 January means to Indigenous people, through a curated slate of distinctive programming.

Collectively housed under our #AlwaysWillBe special programming, stories of strength, resilience and survival, from across the country are coming to Channel 34.

Songlines (Season 2) – Daily, 7pm

Songlines Season Two brings a collection of six documentaries from some of Australia’s greatest and oldest storytellers. Each documentary presents an Indigenous Songline story.

Community and elders share their rich accounts of dreaming, serving as a reminder of the ancient roots of our country and the enduring power of its original people.

Songlines presents a chance to understand and celebrate our rare and precious heritage.

Songlines airs 7pm, daily from Sunday, 20 January until Friday, 25 January on NITV (Ch. 34). And will be repeated throughout the day, Saturday, 26 January…………

Connection to Country – Monday 21 January 11.35pm

Connection to Country follows the Indigenous people of the Western Australian Pilbara’s battle to preserve Australia’s 50,000-year-old cultural heritage from the ravages of a booming mining industry.

The Pilbara region sits in the Burrup Peninsula (or Murujuga) and is host to the largest concentration of rock art in the world, dating back over 50,000 years.

Connection to Country will repeat on Saturday 26 January at 10am on NITV (Ch.34)

Wik Vs Queensland – Tuesday 22 January, 8.30pm

In 1996 The High Court of Australia granted native title co-existence rights to the Wik Peoples of Cape York. The “Wik Decision” should have been a catalyst for positive change, but instead sparked a national, cultural and political fallout.

With unique access to never-before screened footage of a young Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton, this uncompromising feature documentary forensically explores the racism, fearmongering and political maneuvering that occurred in the lead up to the case, and its aftermath.

Told from the very personal Wik Peoples’ perspective, Wik vs Queensland causes us to question who we are as a nation today.

Another Country – Tuesday 22 January, 10pm

Narrated by David Gulpilil, Another Country is about his home Ramingining, a remote Indigenous community in North-East Arnhem Land.

But, in many ways, as the title suggests, it is ‘another country’. This award-winning 2006 film looks at Indigenous life before the arrival of white settlers.

This groundbreaking piece of cinema was the first film shot only in an Indigenous Australian language.

Occupation: Native – Thursday 24 January, 7.30pm

Filmmaker Trisha Morton-Thomas dishes up a fresh look at our colonial past. Exploring everything they never taught you at school, but should have.

It’s Australian history, but not like you have you ever seen or heard before. Trisha decides it’s time to go looking for answers, and along with actor Steven Oliver and several historians the film is a satirical recount of our untold
history.   Occupation: Native will repeat on Saturday 26 January, 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34).


January 18, 2019 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

The radiation risk posed when you undergo CT scans

Scannell: The radiation risk posed when you undergo CT scans. The Mercury News, 18 Jan 19 
Researchers estimate that nearly 2 percent of future cancers could be related to computerized tomography, 
It’s often said, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” But I’ve never understood the rationale behind that. In fact, as a doctor, I’d argue otherwise — that what you don’t know can harm you a great deal.

I’m thinking of this in light of recent studies concerning radiation exposure from medical imaging tests like computerized tomography (CT) scans. Many of us don’t know that we’re exposed to ionizing radiation when we undergo a CT scan, that ionizing radiation is a carcinogen or that data links an increased risk of cancer to low-level doses that are commonly used in CT imaging.

And while that increased risk may be small, it’s also cumulative over time — a concern for patients who receive multiple scans.

The benefits of CT scans in diagnosing disease and saving lives are indisputable. But, like any medical test or treatment, CT scans entail potential risks that should be balanced against expected benefits. Unfortunately, we’ve paid little attention to the radiation risks.

Putting the risk in perspective is difficult, considering the various yardsticks by which meaningful radiation exposure and cancer risks are measured. But, in broad terms, we can consider the constant background radiation from natural sources that we’re exposed to every day. While a chest X-ray exposes us to a 10-day dose of background radiation, a chest CT scan delivers about 2 years’ worth. And the average 3-year dose we get from a CT of the abdomen and pelvis more than doubles when the scan is repeated with and without contrast.

It’s important to remember that the increased cancer risk from a single CT scan remains low for most individuals. Still, the risk accumulates with additional scanning, and it constitutes an unnecessary risk if the scan isn’t medically necessary.

That latter point deserves underscoring because about 30 percent of CT scans performed in the U.S. are unnecessary, according to estimates. And, given that we perform over 80 million CT scans annually, it’s gob-smacking to consider the extraordinary unnecessary risk we’re assuming as a population. In fact, taking this population perspective, researchers have estimated that nearly 2 percent of future cancers could be related to CT scans.

Given the risks, our causal attitude toward CT scans is surprising. But they’ve become the Big Mac staple of modern medical fare. As a matter of perceived need or convenience, too many doctors order them and too many patients demand them when they aren’t medically needed.

Radiation risk reduction could be pursued through various strategies, beyond the obvious one of reducing unnecessary scans. Another obvious tactic involves minimizing the amount of radiation per scan without sacrificing image quality………..

January 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hibakusha stories

Ground Zero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  “…………….Hibakusha stories

It’s essential for us to remember such grim details, not just for the sake of history, but for our future, because nuclear weapons far more powerful and devastating than the Nagasaki bomb are now commonplace.

In a small area of Nagasaki that includes Hypocenter Park, the  Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and Peace Park, dedicated teams of Japanese men and women still work tirelessly to counter the world’s inclination to forget what happened. For the past 35 years, one organization, the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, has assembled cadres of hibakusha speakers – typically about 40 at any time – willing to tell their stories. They are now aging women and men with unique memories of the day of that bombing and the weeks, months and years that followed.

Sixteen-year-old Taniguchi Sumiteru was delivering mail on his bicycle about a kilometer and a half from the hypocenter when, a split-second after the bomb detonated, its tremendous force and searing heat blew him off his bicycle and slammed him face-down on to the road. His entire back was burned off. By all rights, he should never have survived. Three months later, he finally received medical treatment. Still in constant pain 10 years after the bombing, he became one of Nagasaki’s earliest anti-nuclear activists.

Wada Koichi, an 18-year-old streetcar driver at the time of the bombing, decided to speak out when he held his first grandchild and flashed back to the charred corpse of a baby he’d stepped over as he searched for his missing colleagues.

Do-oh Mineko, then 15, suffered critical injuries to her head and lingered near death for months. Though those injuries eventually healed, radiation exposure had caused all her hair to fall out. For nearly a decade, she hid in her house until her hair finally grew back. As an adult, she kept her identity as a hibakusha secret until, in her late 60s, she found new meaning for her life by telling her story to schoolchildren.

Yoshida Katsuji, only 13, was looking up in the direction of the bomb at the moment it exploded. His entire face was scorched. Years later, as friends and colleagues told their stories publicly, he remained silent, afraid of looks of disgust from audiences due to his disfigurement. He finally began speaking out in his late 60s after deciding that being shy was not a good reason to keep silent when it came to the terrorizing impact of nuclear weapons.

These four and many others dared to cross boundaries in Japanese culture to tell their personal stories of suffering and help others grasp what nuclear war would mean for the world. Unfortunately, most  hibakusha – at least those who were old enough to have vivid memories of the bombing and its aftermath – have died or are reaching the end of their lives. They are the only people capable of telling us first-hand about the experience of nuclear war, and each year their numbers diminish. …………..

January 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hitachi stops work on $19.3 billion, nuclear power project in North Wales, ending a long, expensive, saga

Hitachi to Cease Work on Nuclear Power Plant in North Wales, NYT,   Stanley Reed, Jan. 17, 2019, Hitachi said on Thursday that it was suspending work on a 15 billion pound, or $19.3 billion, nuclear power project in North Wales after failing to agree on financial terms with the British and Japanese governments.

“The decision was made from the viewpoint of Hitachi’s economic rationality as a private enterprise,” the company, based in Japan, said.

Ben Russell, a spokesman for Hitachi’s British venture, Horizon Nuclear Power, said that discussions with the governments would continue but that its staff, currently around 300 people, would be cut to “a minimal handful.”

Hitachi will also stop planning work on a second project, in Oldbury, England. The company said it planned to take a write-off of 300 billion yen, or $2.75 billion, on the projects.

The decision by Hitachi is a blow to the British government, which is betting heavily on nuclear installations to help meet the country’s electric power needs in the coming decades.

The big question is whether Hitachi’s move will be a death knell for Britain’s campaign to build nuclear plants, which so far has resulted in only one project under construction.

While there are signs that the government is rethinking its energy policy, it was willing to go a long way toward trying to keep Hitachi on board.

In a statement to Parliament on Thursday, Greg Clark, the secretary of state for business and energy, said the government had been willing to consider providing one-third of the equity financing for the project and to take on all of the construction debt. When Hitachi continued to balk, Mr. Clark said, “I was not prepared to ask the taxpayer to take on a larger share.”

…….For Hitachi, though, the announcement could mark the end of a long and expensive saga. The company acquired the Horizon sites from two German utilities in 2012 for £697 million, or about $900 million, and wound up spending around £2 billion in total on design approvals, staff and other matters. It has been hiring apprentices, who have been training at a technical college on the island and going to Spain and Japan for work experience. At times in recent months more than 100 archaeologists were on the site, excavating and recording ancient structures that the construction would have destroyed.

Hitachi hoped Britain would prove to be an international showcase for its reactor designs. Ultimately, the company lost patience with the high level of spending required to land such a project there.

Hitachi had sought to arrive at a financial arrangement that would attract long-term investors like pension funds to the project and reduce its own exposure. But the offers of support from both the British and the Japanese sides were not enough………

January 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

January 18 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “EPA: New Air Pollution Plan Worse Than Doing Nothing” • Andrew Wheeler, former coal industry lobbyist, will soon be the official head of the EPA, the agency charged with protecting the environment. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health suggests the plans Wheeler has proposed will be only make things worse. […]

via January 18 Energy News — geoharvey

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Construction begins on 336MW Dundonnell wind farm – one of biggest in Victoria — RenewEconomy

A 336MW Victoria wind farm inspired by local landowners, and then selected by the state government’s renewable energy auction scheme, has begun construction. The post Construction begins on 336MW Dundonnell wind farm – one of biggest in Victoria appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Construction begins on 336MW Dundonnell wind farm – one of biggest in Victoria — RenewEconomy

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feedback sought for electricity regulation review — RenewEconomy

The AEMC is seeking stakeholder feedback on the proposed approach to the 2019 review of economic regulation of electricity networks. The post Feedback sought for electricity regulation review appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Feedback sought for electricity regulation review — RenewEconomy

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China lays out plans for subsidy-free wind and solar — RenewEconomy

China has laid out plans to drive the development of subsidy-free wind and solar projects across the country in an effort to push the technologies to grid parity. The post China lays out plans for subsidy-free wind and solar appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via China lays out plans for subsidy-free wind and solar
 — RenewEconomy

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

State of the climate: How the world warmed in 2018 — RenewEconomy

Why last year proved to be so remarkable across the oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and surface temperature of the planet. The post State of the climate: How the world warmed in 2018 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via State of the climate: How the world warmed in 2018 — RenewEconomy

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Windscale/Sellefield Pt. 6. Research for a book length study — Nuclear Exhaust

I am now searching for the full text of Comare report number 1 of 1986. Two years after the Black report and the TV program which highlighted the leukemia cluster around Sellafield (1984). These occurred prior to Chernobyl. In my search I found the following archive record of the government response to the first comare […]

via Windscale/Sellefield Pt. 6. Research for a book length study — Nuclear Exhaust

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NT on track for 10% renewables by 2020, with two new solar farms announced — RenewEconomy

Northern Territory government to build construction two new solar farms, totalling 20MW of capacity – a move it says will “catapult” its renewables share to 10% by year’s end. The post NT on track for 10% renewables by 2020, with two new solar farms announced appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via NT on track for 10% renewables by 2020, with two new solar farms announced — RenewEconomy

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment