Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia trapped in its status as Nuclear Umbrella State

Aust-weaponsThe great nuclear disarmament divide,   “……On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, and on the other, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by it, Livemint, 29 Aug 16 W.P.S. Sidhu,  Austria, which remained neutral and nuclear weapon-free during the Cold War, has become the leading anti-nuclear crusader in the post-Cold War era. Last year, Austria, along with a group of non-nuclear countries—mostly from the southern hemisphere and Africa, which is entirely covered by nuclear weapon-free zones—proposed several United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions including on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. One of the significant Austrian co-sponsored resolutions proposed an open-ended working group (OEWG) to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.

Although this resolution was overwhelmingly supported by 138 countries, the five permanent nuclear weapon states of the UN Security Council plus Israel voted against it. While India and Pakistan abstained, North Korea, curiously, supported the resolution. Significantly, 34 states—mostly members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) and those protected by the US nuclear umbrella—also abstained.

Subsequently, while all nine nuclear-armed states (including India) stayed away from the OEWG deliberations in Geneva, the group made substantial progress. By 19 August, the group’s final report had drafted far-reaching recommendations, including a call to initiate negotiations in 2017 on a legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons—unlike biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons have never been banned. There were indications that this report would be carried by consensus among the states participating in the OEWG. Clearly, a consensus report recommending a treaty to ban nuclear weapons outright would be anathema not only for the nuclear armed states but also the so-called ‘umbrella states’, which depend on the nuclear protection particularly of the US. Thus, the nuclear-armed states sought to influence the OEWG process by proxy.

Enter Australia. In the past, Australia played a leading role in pushing disarmament initiatives, for instance, when it resurrected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 and co-sponsored an International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in 2008. However, this is at odds with its dependence on nuclear weapons.

As an umbrella state, it depends on the perceived security of US nuclear weapons. In the OEWG, Australia became a proxy of nuclear weapon states and a disarmament spoiler: it called for a vote on the group’s final report even though it was evident that the majority would support the report’s recommendations.

Australia’s objective was two-fold: first, to break the emerging consensus and, second, to close ranks among all the umbrella states. Australia almost succeeded in its second goal. Although 19 Nato states plus Australia and South Korea voted against the report, several other Nato members plus Japan abstai-ned, indicating that not all umbrella states are willing to sustain nuclear weapons and deterrence in perpetuity.

The OEWG process reflects a great disarmament divide not only among the nuclear haves and have-nots, but also among the umbrella states. On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, even though it is not apparent that such security is omnipotent. On the other hand, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by the protection provided, but are unsure how get out of this situation. This debate will now play out on the floor of the UNGA…..http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/4smGv8MNF3hg63Y1WpRzQL/The-great-nuclear-disarmament-divide.html

August 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Surface nuclear waste spurs community concern

Community concern is mounting about plans to store high level radioactive waste above ground for years before building a proposed nuclear waste dump, warns Conservation SA CEO Craig Wilkins.
“From our public consultation, most people think this proposed dump is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ idea, where we bury the waste deep in the outback and that’s it,” he said. “The reality is very different.

“The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was very candid: The project only stacks up financially if we import and stockpile 50,000 tonnes of nuclear waste above ground for as long as 17 years before we can deposit it in an underground disposal site. Indeed, that ‘interim’ surface site will store tens of thousands of tonnes above ground for the next 100 years.

waste containers New Mexico

“So, we acquire the risk and responsibility for this nuclear waste before we know if we can actually build and operate the ultimate repository – let alone obtain community consent for it.

“Before we get there, ships containing that high-level waste enter South Australian waters through problem areas such as the South China Sea, then traverse our prawn and tuna fisheries, aquaculture zones and tourism hotspots every month for 70 years. That is a huge amount of risk.

“The plan would require a purpose-built nuclear port and rail line with nuclear waste being stored at five different locations across the state. While these facts are publicly accessible, they’ve been obscured by the promise of eye-popping windfall profits from this proposal.”

However, community concern has grown as South Australian citizens identify problems with the financial viability, environmental impact and community effects of the proposed nuclear waste dump.

In Port Augusta, a two-day community forum, called Exposure 2016, will run this weekend, from September 2-4, at the city’s Institute Theatre, starting on Friday night with ‘Talking Straight Out’. This exhibition showcases the famous Irati Wanti campaign when senior Aboriginal women from Coober Pedy, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, defeated Federal Government plans to dump radioactive waste on their land.

The free event will also include sessions on the SA Government’s international nuclear waste dumping plans; current Federal Government plans to dump waste in the Flinders Ranges; traditional owners’ voices and rights; impacts of radiation on people and the environment; impacts on industries including tourism, farming and recreation and the track record of radioactive waste management / mismanagement in South Australia and globally.

For many South Australians, the proposed nuclear waste dump in the State’s outback invokes memories of Maralinga and Emu Fields, the South Australian sites of nine British secret nuclear tests between 1953 and 1963. The tests exposed local Aboriginal communities to radiation that caused cancers, blindness and ongoing genetic damage. British and Australian servicemen were also exposed and radioactivity was detected in SA, NT, NSW and Queensland.

South Australian singer Mike Roberts also communicates concern about the nuclear waste dump in his new song Welcome to the Nuclear State. Listen at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mikeroberts23#. For community concerns about the SA nuclear waste dump, visit http://www.nodumpalliance.org.au/.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) a disaster for climate

Friends of the Earth has recently released a report called ‘Fuelling the Fire: the chequered history of Underground Coal Gasification and Coal Chemicals around the world’

The report draws together evidence of UCG test projects over the last three decades and highlights how destructive UCG and Coal Chemicals are

climate-changeFuelling the fire: New coal technologies like UCG spell disaster for climate https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/fuelling-the-fire-new-coal-technologies-like-ucg-spell-disaster-for-climate-,9393  Cam Walker 26 August 2016Given UCG’s disastrous history including Linc Energy’s irreversible environmental damage in Queensland, Friends of the Earth is calling for a moratorium on all UCG projects in AustraliaCam Walker fromFriends of the Earth reports. 

IN RECENT years Australia, like many countries around the planet, has seen a major expansion in the development of unconventional oil and gas drilling.

These are oil and gas resources which cannot be produced by conventional processes (that is, through using the natural pressure of the wells to release the resource trapped in a coal or rock seam).

Until the 1990s, production of conventionaloil and gas kept prices relatively stable, so there was limited incentive to develop technologies to explore and produce unconventional oil and gas resources.

In the 2000s, prices started to increase, and with known reserves starting to peak, it was clear that this trend would continue into the future.

As debate increasingly focused on energy independence, a number of countries who consume large volumes of fossil energy such as the USA, Canada and China started to realise they had potentially enormous volumes of unconventional oil and gas. This in turn lead to a major development effort that saw a huge expansion in the use of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) to access methane in shale beds to produce gas in the USA and elsewhere.

Australia also has major reserves of oil and gas which could potentially yield through the use of unconventional drilling methods. Here the unconventional gas resource includes coal seam gas (CSG), shale gas and tight gas. Exploration for CSG in Australia began in 1976 in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. The industry took hold, initially in Queensland, where there are currently around 4,000 onshore gas rigs. More than 37% of the Australian landmass is currently under exploration permit or application for coal or gas.

The UCG industry has been strongly resisted by regional communities and environmental groups around the country and the many dangers of fracking are well documented. This has resulted in moratoriums on fracking in states such as Victoria. Continue reading

August 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Another dumb Resources Minister supports ‘clean coal’ myth

clean-coal.Coalition climate numbskulls back again flogging CCS at a cost of $209 billion  Lachlan Barker, Independent Australia  25 August 2016,  The Coalition’s latest brainsnap of flogging Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a solution to CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations will set the taxpayer back an eye-watering $209 billion, says Lachlan Barker. “…… the utterly ludicrous notion of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), as a solution to CO2 emissions from coal fired power stations has raised its idiot head once more.

The CCS process involves capturing the CO2 emitted from the burner chamber, compressing it, and sequestering it underground.

Canavan, Matt climateResources Minister Matt Canavan recently handed out $23.7 million to various bodies around the country to (once more) discover CCS can never work.  So I can tell you right here, right now, CCS is not feasible in any way — financially, ecologically or in an engineering sense.

However since Canavan has done this thing, once more we are all forced to go through the mill of showing why CCS is an utterly fallacious idea.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has an excellent reference page for CCS, so I’ve distilled the Power Plants CCS Projects page down for you here: [excellent charts and graphs on original]……..https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/coalition-climate-numbskulls-back-again-flogging-ccs-at-a-cost-of-209-billion,9394

August 28, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia makes itself unpopular at Geneva with unintelligent nuclear weapons diplomacy

The real reason for Australia’s opposition to a ban treaty (that a ban will make it more difficult for Australia to continue its reliance on extended nuclear deterrence) was never mentioned. The transparent dishonesty in Australia’s rhetoric only increased scepticism of Australia’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.
thumbs-downAustralia writes itself out of nuclear disarmament diplomacy http://www.text-relevantlowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/08/23/Australia-writes-itself-out-of-nuclear-disarmament-diplomacy.aspx 23 August 2016 

On Friday at the United Nations in Geneva, Australian diplomats called a vote they knew they would lose, split their already modest support base in half, and enraged more than 100 other countries that had been ready to agree to a painstakingly negotiated compromise. For its trouble, Australia gained precisely nothing, and seriously damaged its credibility and influence. If it sounds like a diplomatic train wreck, it was. What on earth was going on?

The drama unfolded on the final day of the UN Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. This group has met intermittently throughout 2016; the principal goal for Australia and around 28 other countries in nuclear alliances (also known as ‘umbrella states’ or, more colourfully, ‘nuclear weasel states’) was to ensure that the group did not recommend the negotiation of a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons (Tim Wright covered the ban treaty proposal and the associated dilemmas for Australia in The Interpreter in June).

Australia’s manoeuvres on Friday were merely the latest in a series of ill-conceived efforts to try to stop the ban treaty, but which have only fuelled support for it. Continue reading

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Australia’s weasel words at United Nations Nuclear Disarmament Conference

Australia has steadily retreated from the push for universal nuclear disarmament that Bill Hayden, notably, inserted into policy when he was foreign minister in the Hawke government to provide moral balance to the alliance with the US.

weasel-words1As we’ve noticed before, the new Defence White Paper this year dropped all that. “Australia’s security is underpinned by the ANZUS Treaty, United States extended deterrence and access to advanced United States technology and information,” it stated. “Only the nuclear and conventional military capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia.”

Julie Bishop is all for nuclear weapons, gushing that “the horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are precisely why deterrence has worked”. In Geneva, her diplomats have been hard at work trying to derail efforts for a United Nations ban on nuclear weapons.

…..much bad will towards Australia. But Bishop can be sure of brownie points in Washington, no doubt.

People’s tribunal finds Australia guilty over nuclear weapons, The Saturday Paper, HAMISH MCDONALD, AUG 27, 2016

Weasel words at UN working group Malcolm Turnbull is getting accused of many things as he text-relevantheads towards the first anniversary of his snafu-prone prime ministership. But aiding and abetting the planning of genocide, ecocide and even omnicide (that is, the destruction of everyone and all living things)?

Well, yes. The University of Sydney was recently the venue for an international people’s tribunal, a kind of volunteer court, in which the leaders of the nine nuclear powers were on trial for planning the above crimes through their explicit threats to use their weapons. Turnbull, as our current leader, was up for facilitating the use of American weapons. The judges were New Zealand’s former disarmament minister Matthew Robson and Sydney politics academic Keith Suter, who duly found the accused guilty, in absentia of course.

They ruled that nuclear weapons violate the accepted principles of international humanitarian law in wartime because they cannot discriminate between military and civilian targets; go far beyond proportional response and military objectives; don’t protect non-combatants; cause unnecessary suffering by spreading poison, disease and genetic damage; cause massive environmental damage; threaten future generations; threaten death on a scale amounting to genocide; and involve massive collateral damage to neutral countries.

The United States, France, Russia, Pakistan and Britain refuse to rule out first use of their nuclear weapons, “but all indicted leaders have military plans and exercises that demonstrate that they are ready to use nuclear weapons if they deem it necessary”, the tribunal found. …….

The gesture comes as nuclear powers are expanding or modernising their arsenals. India and Pakistan are in a nuclear arms race: even use of 100 Hiroshima sized-bombs in that theatre would plunge the Earth into its coldest climate for a thousand years, University of Missouri expert Steven Starr told the tribunal. An exchange between the big powers would, aside from the immediate casualties, create a new Ice Age and result in most surviving humans and large animals dying of starvation……

Nuclear ‘weasels’ Continue reading

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s betrayal of the global nuclear disarmament movement -theme for August 16

This week, sadly, I, and many others have to report that Australia’s history of doublespeak on nuclear disarmament  has now gone even further down the path of promoting nuclear weapons.

The Australian government did this by sabotaging the final day of the UN Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  It did this by attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

thumbs-down Australia’s contribution.  More detail on this can be found in several recent articles quoted on this website
world-nuclear-weapons-free

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Time that Australia ended its reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END)

The revival of concern about the humanitarian impacts of these weapons is shifting old assumptions.

Australia’s reliance on END keeps us on the wrong side of history. And it has led previous governments and the current government to actively oppose the growing calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.

Instead of blindly following US nuclear policies into whatever a future president might envisage, Australia should carefully consider its non-nuclear defence and challenge all claims, surrogate or otherwise, to nuclear weapons.

highly-recommendedAustralia’s stance on nuclear deterrence http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/08/australias-stance-on-nuclear-deterrence-.php 26 August 2016

IN SUMMARY Analysis for The Conversation by Swinburne PhD candidate text-relevantDimity Hawkins and Swinburne senior lecturer Julie Kimber.CONTACT Lea Kivivali  +61 3 9214 5428      lkivivali@swin.edu.au  

For Australia, the US election should provide an opportunity to rethink defence relationships, especially as they relate to nuclear weapons.

There has been much hand-wringing at the thought of Donald Trump becoming US president. If, by some miracle, Trump succeeds in November, he will have his hand on the nuclear trigger.

But this concern, while great political fodder, is dangerously simplistic. It presupposes there are “safe hands” when it comes to nuclear weapons. There are not.

The US has around 7,000 nuclear weapons. Hundreds of these can be launched within minutes. While the global community has outlawed other indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are yet to be banned.

The Cold War’s MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine has morphed over the years into a framework of nuclear deterrence. Many governments globally have played a double game: supporting nuclear disarmament on the one hand, while relying on a nuclear defence on the other.

One such government is Australia’s. Despite consecutive governments insisting they support nuclear disarmament, Australia’s reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) means it is frustrating attempts at a total ban.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Indigenous people oppose Australian company’s plan for massive uranium mine in Greenland

nuke-indigenous.1Greenland Inuit oppose open-pit uranium mine on Arctic mountain-top http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988016/greenland_inuit_oppose_openpit_uranium_mine_on_arctic_mountaintop.html, Bill Williams ,17th August 2016 

A collapse in the price of uranium has not yet stopped Australian mining company GME from trying to press ahead with a massive open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain in southern Greenland, writes Bill Williams – just returned from the small coastal town of Narsaq where local people and Inuit campaigners are driving the growing resistance to the ruinous project.

As a doctor I routinely get asked for a second opinion, but it is not often that I travel halfway around the world to deliver it.

Recently I was invited to assess an old Danish uranium exploration site in Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland.

Inuit Ataqatigiit – the opposition party in the national parliament – had asked me to talk to local people about the health implications of re-opening the defunct mine.

An Australian firm called Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME) has big plans to extract uranium and rare earth minerals here. It would be a world first: an open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain-top.

From the top of the range above the mine site I looked down across rolling green farmland to the small fishing village of Narsaq. Colourful timber houses rested at the edge of a deep blue strait that the Viking Eric the Red navigated a thousand years ago. Hundreds of icebergs bobbed on its mirror-like surface. To the east, half way up the valley, a small creek tumbled into a deep rock pool.

Behind that saddle lies Lake Tesaq, a pristine Arctic lake that GME plans to fill with nearly a billion tonnes of waste rock. This part of the mine waste would not be the most radioactive, because the company plans to dump this material in a nearby natural basin, with the promise that an ‘impervious’ layer would prevent leaching into the surrounding habitat.

Left behind – all the toxic products of radioactive decay

These mine tailings would contain the majority of the original radioactivity – about 85% in fact – because the miners only want the uranium and the rare earth elements. They would mine and then leave the now highly mobile radioactive contaminants, the progeny from the uranium decay behind: thorium, radium, radon gas, polonium and a horde of other toxins.

Even at very low levels of exposure ionising radiation is recognised as poisonous: responsible for cancer and non-cancer diseases in humans over vast timespans.

This is why my own profession is under growing pressure to reduce exposure of our patients to X-Rays and CT scans in particular – making sure benefit outweighs risk. It’s also why ERA, the proprietors of the Ranger mine in Kakadu, Australia, are legally obliged to isolate the tailings for at least 10,000 years.

While this is hardly possible, the mere fact that it is required highlights the severity and longevity of the risk. My Inuit audience in Narsaq was particularly interested to hear the messages I brought from traditional owners in Australia like Yvonne Margarula, of the Mirarr people:

“The problems always last, but the promises never do.”

And Jeffrey Lee from Koongara:

“I will fight to the end and we will stop it, then it won’t continue on for more uranium here in Kakadu.”

So far in 2016, not a single new nuclear reactor has opened

When GME started touting this project a decade ago the price of uranium was over $120 per pound and everybody in the extractive industry was breaking open the bubbly in anticipation of the ‘nuclear renaissance’.

We were told that nuclear power would save the world from anthropogenic carbon-carnage and uranium was a stock-market wunderkind. Then came the global financial crisis of 2007/2008 and the spot-price halved. And then the nuclear reactors at Fukushima melted down, and the price halved again.

And so the ‘renaissance’ failed to materialize: the real news today is that there has not been one reactor construction start-up so far this year. Not one. Not even in China, the only place where one could honestly claim there has been significant build in the past decade. Consequently, the uranium price has collapsed down to about $25 a pound at present.

GME’s share price trajectory has amplified the fall in the uranium price – from $65 a share in 2007 to less than 3 cents today. Despite this reality GME continues to wax lyrical about the company’s prospects.

A small nation divided

Two years ago the newly elected Greenland national government rescinded a 30-year ban on mining and exporting uranium – but their majority of just one seat in the 31-seat parliament makes this a fragile promise. Inuit Ataqatigiit holds the other 15 seats and is strongly committed to preventing any mine.

Similar division exists in the region where the ore-body is located. The small town of Narsaq deep in the southern fjords has seen much conflict and distress ever since the Aussie miners came to town. While some locals believe the mine would mean jobs and dollars, many of their neighbours are profoundly suspicious and resistant.

When I reached the mine site I was reminded of Tolkien and of Orcs and Goblins. The Danes who first dug down deep into the mountain side 40 years ago left a great grey door fastened tightly into the mine entrance to deter any curious future visitors. And behind the door lies the booty – the fuel for the world’s most dangerous weapons and long lived industrial waste, buried in the mountain top.

If allowed to the Antipodean treasure hunters would dump a billion tonnes of waste rock in a sapphire lake and hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid radioactive waste in a shallow ditch at the head of a primeval watershed. Then they would pack up and leave within a few decades.

But the wastes and risks they would have generated would not. Some of uranium’s radioactive byproducts would be a contamination threat to the surrounding region for tens of thousands of years.

And as the Inuit Party and a lot of folks in Narsaq have been trying to tell GME, keeping the door open for a truly green Greenland means keeping the great grey door in the mountain firmly shut on uranium mining.   Bill Williams MBBS is Chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons(ICAN) – Australia.

 

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate Change Adaptation – South Australia in the lead

National Climate Adaptation Conference 2016, Day Three – Sean Kidney

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION  The Climate group, August 2016. Sandy Pitcher, Chief Executive of South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, reflects on the achievements of Australia’s preeminent climate change forum, the Climate Adaptation 2016 conference, which took place in Adelaide in July. 

The Climate Adaptation 2016 conference provided an unprecedented opportunity for South Australia to highlight the important progress being made on climate change adaptation in our state, and learn from others in Australia and around the world.

The conference was presented by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, with the South Australian Government – a member of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, the platinum sponsor. It attracted around 490 policy makers, researchers and practitioners and the debate focused on the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change adaptation.

The innovation that we’re seeing mainly happens at the local level, and can be shared at conferences like this. It is a crucial way, for us in South Australia and beyond, to share ideas, catalyze local action, and bring key influencers together.

ADAPTATION IS A VERY KEY TENANT TO ANY FUTURE STRATEGY – THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO BE IMPACTED BY A CHANGING CLIMATE

Tim Jarvis, Australian adventurer  ADAPTATION CENTRAL TO CLIMATE EFFORTS

South Australia has long been recognized as a global leader on climate action, and our work in climate change adaptation is central to our efforts.

Our award-winning adaptation framework is based on a collaborative, regional approach involving partnerships between local government, regional development committees and natural resources management boards, who are working together to develop well-informed adaptation solutions for their communities.

Currently, in each of the State’s regions, five climate adaptation plans have been completed with the remainder due to be finalized by the end of the year….https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/south-australia-leading-climate-change-adaptation

August 26, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s nuclear waste dump plan not economically viable? The nuclear lobby doesn’t care

The global nuclear lobby surely does not care about whether or not the South Australian nuclear waste importing scheme is economically viable. Their fairly desperate need is to sell nuclear reactors to those countries that don’t already have them. In particular, the ‘small nuclear” lobby sees an urgency now, with ‘big nuclear’ failing, to get their industry happening.

A commitment by an Australian State to take in nuclear waste could do the trick for them – as Oscar Archer put it – by unblocking the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle.

toilet map South Australia 2

Mixed motives in South Australia’s nuclear waste import plan. Online Opinion, Noel Wauchope, 23 Aug 16  In South Australia the continued nuclear push focusses solely on a nuclear waste importing industry. Yet that might not be economically viable. Behind the scenes, another agenda is being pursued – that of developing new generation nuclear reactors.

First, let’s look at the message. The message from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) is clearly a plan to make South Australia rich, by importing foreign nuclear wastes. …..This theme has been repeated ad nauseam by the NFCRC’s publicity, by politicians, and the mainstream media.…..

Whereas other countries are compelled to develop nuclear waste facilities, to deal with their waste production from civil and military reactors,that is not a necessity for Australia, (with the exception of relatively tiny amounts derived from the Lucas Heights research reactor).

So, the only reason for South Australia to develop a massive nuclear waste management business is to make money.

If it’s not profitable, then it shouldn’t be done.

Or so it would seem.

There is another, quieter, message. When you read the Royal Commission’s reports, you find that, while the major aim is for a nuclear waste business, in fact, the door is kept open for other parts of the nuclear fuel chain……… Continue reading

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission, South Australia | Leave a comment

154 scientists press Australian government for urgent action on climate change

climate-change154 Australian scientists demand climate policy that matches the science https://theconversation.com/154-australian-scientists-demand-climate-policy-that-matches-the-science-64359 

  1. Editor, Environment & Energy, The Conversation

Interviewed

  1.   Earth and paleo-climate scientist, Australian National University
  2.   Professor of Engineering, Australian National    University
  3.  Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

  August 25, 2016 154 Australian experts have signed on open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanding urgent action on climate change that matches the dire warnings coming from climate scientists.

The letter, organised by Australian National University climatologist Andrew Glikson, calls on the federal government to make “meaningful reductions of Australia’s peak carbon emissions and coal exports, while there is still time”.

Signatories include leading climate and environmental scientists such as the Climate Council’s Tim FlanneryWill Steffen, and Lesley Hughes, as well as reef scientists Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Charlie Veron.

They point out that July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded, and followed a nine-month streak of record-breaking months. Average carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, and are rising at a rate of nearly 3 ppm each year.

The world is already witnessing the effects of climate change, the letter argues, including an increase in extreme weather eventsmelting of the polar ice sheets, and ocean acidification.

Australia, along with 179 other nations, has signed the climate treatybrokered in Paris last year, aiming to limit average global warming to “well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃”.

However Glikson warned that “the Paris Agreement, being non-binding, is in danger of not being fulfilled by many of the signatories”. The deal will not enter into force until it is ratified by 55 nations accounting for at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.

Glikson called for action to “transition from carbon-emitting technologies to alternative clean energy as fast as possible, and focus technology on draw-down (sequestration) of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere”.

Australia’s current greenhouse gas target, which it took to December’s Paris climate summit, calls for emissions to be reduced by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. It has been widely criticised by experts as not ambitious enough.

Andrew Blakers, professor of engineering at the Australian National University, said Australia could reduce emissions by two-thirds by 2030 “at negligible cost”.

He said the falling cost of renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, the replacement of gas with electricity for heating, and the advent of electric vehicles would eliminate most emissions. Solar and wind installation, currently at 1 gigawatt each year, would need to be increased to 2.5 gigawatts each year to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Remaining emissions, from shipping, aviation, and industry, could be eliminated after 2030 at slightly higher costs.

Lesley Hughes, a member of the Climate Council and professor at Macquarie University, said there were a number of factors causing the gap between science and policy, including vested interests, perception of economic downsides of climate action, ideological biases, and inertia in the system from current investment in fossil fuels. But she said the “most important issue” was the difficulty in convincing people to act to reduce risk decades in the future.

The Climate Change Authority, which advises the government on climate policy, in 2014 recommended Australia adopt a target of 40-60% below 2000 levels by 2030.

In a report released yesterday, The Climate Institute highlighted that aiming for 1.5℃ instead of 2℃ would avoid longer heatwaves and droughts, and give the Great Barrier Reef a better chance of survival.

The institute recommended that Australia adopt an emissions reduction target of 65% below 2005 levels by 2030 and phase out coal power by 2035.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Suppression of native title for the Mirarr people- extinguishment of rights?

Timber Creek Aboriginal custodians win historic $3.3 million payout for native title rights loss, ABC News,  By Avani Dias and Jessicah Mendes  25 Aug 16  “………Extinguishment principle ‘hard to accept’

In a separate decision, the Federal Court has partially recognised the rights of the Mirarr people to one of the longest-running native title claims in the Territory.

The court has recognised the Mirarr’s rights over sections of the township of Jabiru that have been subleased to government entities. But those rights only apply if and when the leases expire — a move described as the “suppression” of native title.

The ruling also rejected or ‘extinguished’ the Mirarr’s rights over areas of the town subleased to private companies such as Energy Resources Australia — the operators of the Ranger uranium mine.

Mr Morrison said the case had been a complicated one.

“I think it was a very difficult case but I think it also sets an important precedent to partially recognise, through suppression, native title in parts of Jabiru,” he said.

But he said the concept of a native title claim being rejected or “extinguished” could be very difficult for Aboriginal people to accept.

“Aboriginal people right around the country have said it’s an abhorrent feature of the Native Title Act, this extinguishment principle.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-24/timber-creek-custodians-payout-for-native-titles-rights-loss/7779532

August 26, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

South Australia: Future Business Council calls for National smart energy grid

highly-recommendedTom Quinn: South Australian business is paying high price for ‘dumb’ national electricity grid http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/tom-quinn-south-australian-business-is-paying-high-price-for-dumb-national-electricity-grid/news-story/97918e65518213082303ddd011421d3f
Tom Quinn, The Advertiser August 25, 2016 SOUTH Australian businesses will continue to pay the price for a dumb electricity grid that’s no longer fit for purpose until all governments take decisive action to modernise our energy system.
smart-grid

Last week’s meeting of energy ministers fumbled their first chance to do so, leaving business hamstrung. Nowhere is that as painfully clear than in South Australia.

The state has led the country in tapping into rich, renewable resources but when it comes to accessing the benefits business is still missing out. The problem? South Australia must operate within a larger national system that’s designed for a different age.

The wholesale electricity price spikes seen in July, claims of gas market manipulation and barriers preventing the rapid shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity have highlighted the many systematic flaws. At the heart of all this, though, sits an outdated grid that is based on last century’s centralised generation model.

This obsolete system has served us well but is now holding back the state and business community.

The sand is rapidly shifting under the traditional energy market’s feet driven by households and businesses that are no longer just consumers of energy but also producers, particularly through domestic solar panels Continue reading

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Turnbull’s plan to defund Australian Renewable Energy Agency will cause loss of 100s of solar energy jobs in Queensland

Turnbull destroys renewablesQueensland solar projects that could create 2,600 jobs at risk in federal cuts
Many schemes may not go ahead if the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is defunded in the government’s omnibus bill, ACF warns,
Guardian, , 25 Aug 16, Thousands of jobs could be created in Queensland if 10 large-scale solar projects were to receive funding, according to analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The projects, earmarked for funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), would create around 2,695 jobs according to the study.

logo-ARENA

The figure compared favourably with the 1,400 jobs which the Indian conglomerate Adani estimates its $16bn Carmichael coalmine would bring to the state if it obtains approval for the controversial project, the study claimed.

However, the findings comes as Arena faces defunding by the federal government, placing the projects in jeopardy. Continue reading

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

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