Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia the leader in energy efficiency

South Australia leads push for energy efficiency,   ,

July 1, 2019 Posted by | efficiency, South Australia | Leave a comment

Air-conditioning: its threat to the global climate

Air conditioning is the world’s next big threat , By Chris Bryant, June 29, 2019  The vast majority of Americans and many Australians have air conditioning, but in Germany almost nobody does. At least not yet.

So when temperatures in Berlin rose to an uncomfortable 37 Celsius this week – a record for the month of June – I was uncommonly delighted to go to the Bloomberg office, where it’s artificially and blissfully cool.

By letting people in overheated climates concentrate on their work and get a good night’s sleep, air conditioning has played a big part in driving global prosperity and happiness over the past few decades – and that revolution has still barely begun.

About half of Chinese households have this modern tool, but of the 1.6 billion people living in India and Indonesia, only 88 million have access to air conditioning at home, Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted in a recent report.

For many, relief is in sight. Because of the combination of population growth, rising incomes, falling equipment prices and urbanisation, the number of air-conditioning units installed globally is set to jump from about 1.6 billion today to 5.6 billion by the middle of the century, according to the International Energy Agency.

That’s encouraging news for US manufacturers of cooling systems such as Carrier (United Technologies Corp), Ingersoll-Rand and Johnson Controls International.

And because much of this growth will happen in Asia, Chinese companies such as Gree Electric Appliances, Qingdao Haier, Midea Group and Japan’s Daikin Industries Ltd should be big beneficiaries.

There’s just one glaring problem: What will all this extra demand for electricity do to the climate?

Vicious cycle

Carbon dioxide emissions rose another 2 per cent in 2018, the fastest pace in seven years. That increase was alarming in its own right, given what we know about the unfolding climate emergency.

But the proximate cause was especially troubling: Extreme weather led to more demand for air conditioning and heating in 2018, BP explained in its annual review of energy sector.

It’s not too hard to imagine a vicious cycle in which more hot weather begets ever more demand for air conditioning and thus even more need for power. That in turn means more emissions and even hotter temperatures.

That negative feedback loop exists at a local level too. Air-conditioning units funnel heat outside, exacerbating the so-called “urban heat island” effect, which makes cities warmer than the countryside.

BNEF expects electricity demand from residential and commercial air conditioning to increase by more than 140 per cent by 2050 – an increase that’s comparable to adding the European Union’s entire electricity consumption. Air conditioning will represent 12.7 per cent of electricity demand by the middle of the century, compared to almost 9 per cent now, it thinks.

Thankfully, much of that extra demand will be met by solar power (the need for cooling is highest during daylight hours). But because temperatures don’t always return to comfortable levels when the sun goes down, there’s a danger some will be supplied by fossil power.

‘Passivhaus’ and LED revolution

Buildings have long been a blind spot in climate discussions even though they account for about one-fifth of global energy consumption. The inefficiency of air-conditioning systems or badly designed homes and offices simply aren’t as eye-catching as electric cars and making people feel ashamed about flying.

At least Germany’s “passivhaus” movement, a way of building homes that require very little heating or cooling, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in buildings, shows some people are starting to recognise the danger.

There are lessons to be learned from the world of lighting too. The LED revolution was spurred by innovation but also by better energy efficiency labelling on products and the phasing out of out-of-date technology. Something similar needs to happen with air conditioning.

There was a big step forward in January when the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into force. Though not well known, its aim is to phase out the use of potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons, which are used widely in air conditioning systems. Unless substituted, these alone could cause 0.4C of additional warming by the end of the century.

Yet true to form, President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t yet submitted Kigali to the Senate for ratification, even though American manufacturers would benefit from demand for the new technologies that it would spawn.

Trump knows all about the importance of good air con. He spends much of his time at his Palm Beach country club, a place that couldn’t exist without it.

So he’d do well to remember this: You can air condition the clubhouse but not the golf course. And it’s starting to get awfully hot outside.

Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Will Scott Morrison repeat John Howard’s mistake, and join in military action against Iran?

Acting on Iran has painful shades of joining the US in Iraq The Age, Tony Walker, 1 July 19, Here’s a word of advice to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Unless he wants to risk a smudge on his reputation of the sort that accompanies John Howard to this day: don’t get involved in conflict with Iran beyond limited naval engagement in a Gulf peace-keeping role.

When we read that Canberra is open to joining an international effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran “in consultation with our allies and partners”, this invites disquieting questions.

If Morrison is talking about involvement in a “global coalition”, as described by the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then he might remind himself of what happened when Australia last lent itself to a so-called “Coalition of the Willing”.

That was 17 years ago in 2002 when John Howard – as one of the “three amigos” with Britain’s Tony Blair and Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar – joined George W. Bush in promoting a disastrous invasion of Iraq.

Only World War II, which absorbed one-third of American GDP, or $4 trillion in today’s dollars, has cost more than the Iraq debacle at $1 trillion (a total $2 trillion if Afghanistan is included).

These are the measurable costs in people, materiel and nation building. Incalculable are the ongoing costs of the destabilisation of the entire Middle East, and the empowerment of Iran…..

In a multi-year assignment in the Middle East I reported the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88); the first Gulf War (1990-1991), in which the US and its allies routed the Iraqi military; and the invasion of Iraq (2003). If I learned anything from those experiences it is that wars are easier to start than to finish. …..

Morrison is surrounded by a weak national security team. The national security committee of cabinet does not include one individual with credible security experience. …….

Morrison might remind himself that Canada’s then-prime minister, Jean Chretien, kept his country out of the Iraq war. The sky did not subsequently fall in on Ottawa.

All this is relevant today given that Morrison found himself last week in the presence over dinner of the two most hawkish members of the Trump administration. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton both advocated air strikes against Iranian targets in retaliation for suspected Iranian attacks on gulf oil facilities before the President, at the 11th hour, called off military action.

Bolton has been an intemperate advocate of regime change in Tehran. In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Pompeo said Australia had a key role in a “global coalition”. What that means is anyone’s guess.

Morrison would be well advised not to be suckered into joining a counter-punch against Iran. His response to requests for any significant Australian military involvement should be emphatically: No.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment