Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Capital Territory consumers reap rewards of 100 pct renewables as wind and solar farms hand back windfall profits.

The ACT is the only region of Australia’s main grid spared from sharp
increases in electricity bills, and its consumers can thank the shift to
100 per cent renewables and the structure of their deals with wind and
solar farms.

The ACT government has written contracts with 11 wind and
solar farms to provide the equivalent amount of electricity consumed by
homes and businesses in the ACT each year. The nature of these deals –
called contracts for difference (CfDs) – means that if the wholesale market
trades below the agreed strike price, the government (and consumers), top
up the difference to the wind and solar farms.

But if the wholesale prices are above the strike price – as they have been by a big distance over the
last six months – then the wind and solar farms must return these windfall
gains to ACT consumers. And in the last quarter, as wholesale prices soared
to record highs – and an average of more than $300/MWh in NSW – the wind
and solar farms paid back a total of $58 million to electricity consumers
in the ACT, shielding them from any significant bill hikes.

Renew Economy 22nd Sept 2022

September 24, 2022 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Canberra Extinction Rebellion members convicted by ACT Magistrates Court for crimes during protests

Canberra Extinction Rebellion members convicted by ACT Magistrates Court for crimes during protests

Climate activists who admitted to offending during various protests earlier this month said they did so after exhausting legal avenues to avert the “already looming” threat of climate change that if not addressed would “kill the future of our children”.

August 26, 2021 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

In the Australian Capital Territory, (ACT), Labor to share power with The Greens

Labor-Greens power-sharing deal set to be revealed on Monday, Canberra Times, Dan Jervis-Bardy, 30 Oct 20, Labor and the Greens are poised to unveil their power-sharing agreement for the next four years of government, following high-level talks between the two parties.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury are aiming to finalise the new parliamentary agreement on Monday, ahead of a ceremonial sitting of the new ACT Legislative Assembly the following day.

Mr Barr will be reconfirmed as chief minister during Tuesday’s formalities, which will also see the eight newly-elected members sworn in and a new speaker elected.

Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury, along with senior staff, have been locked in private talks throughout the week on the parliamentary agreement, thrashing out a list of shared priorities for the two parties and the terms under which the Greens will guarantee Labor’s hold on power………..

October 30, 2020 Posted by | ACT, politics | Leave a comment

The Greens had a remarkable win in Australian Capital Territory elections

The Green wave that swept the 2020 A.C.T. Election, Independent Australia, By Chris Mordd Richards | 26 October 2020,  In a result almost none saw coming, the A.C.T. Greens have tripled their seat count in the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly following the Election on 17 October.

Going from two seats to six, stealing two seats each from A.C.T. Labor and the Canberra Liberals in the process……..

Clearly any party which manages to increase its representation by 300% in a single election has done an excellent job, appealing to the voters not only as a party but as credible individual candidates as well.

Newly elected MLA Johnathan Davis, who was in a very tight race for Brindabella but emerged the victor at the final count, had this to say on behalf of the Greens:

“The A.C.T. Greens are so grateful for the support we’ve received from Conder to Kippax, from Forde to Fraser. Every single Canberran is now represented by the Greens. We commit to working hard and honouring the support offered to us. Together, we’ll work every single day to build a better normal.”….

While Labor did reasonably well in retaining government, it was instead the Greens’ message which most struck a chord with a particular key segment of voters across the entire Territory this time. …….

The Australian Greens will certainly be examining in detail how the local party pulled it off to see how they might replicate this result in other parts of the country. For now, the A.C.T. is once more the greenest jurisdiction in Australia.,14448

October 27, 2020 Posted by | ACT, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change fuelled Australia’s devastating Black Summer – Climate Council Report

March 12, 2020 Posted by | ACT, New South Wales | Leave a comment

#ScottyFromMarketing ‘s bushfire inquiry studiously ‘ignores’ carbon emissions

February 12, 2020 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, politics | 1 Comment

Bushfire state of emergency in Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Times 2nd Feb 2020, An inferno was raging near the Australian capital, Canberra, yesterday as a  heatwave combined with high winds to prolong the country’s devastating bushfire season. The tiny Australian Capital Territory (ACT), between Sydney and Melbourne, declared a state of emergency as the fire, covering 140 square miles, threatened Canberra’s southern suburbs.

February 3, 2020 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Drinking water threatened by forest fires

As forests burn around the world, drinking water is at risk

By TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press | Friday, January 31, 2020 Fabric curtains stretch across the huge Warragamba Dam to trap ash and sediment expected to wash off wildfire-scorched slopes and into the reservoir that holds 80% of untreated drinking water for the Greater Sydney area.

In Australia’s national capital of Canberra, where a state of emergency was declared on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire to its south, authorities are hoping a new water treatment plant and other measures will prevent a repeat of water quality problems and disruption that followed deadly wildfires 17 years ago.

February 3, 2020 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, water | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory leads the nation in the climate emergency

Canberra acts ‘first’ in the climate emergency, Canberra Times, Penny D Sackett , 16 Sept 19,   On Monday, the ACT government released its Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025, just a few months after declaring a climate emergency in May, the first Australian state or territory to do so. The document contains several more Australian “firsts,” reflecting the government’s desire to lead climate action. Is this new strategy needed, and what does it mean for Canberrans?

September 17, 2019 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Good to see former Australian Chief Scientist Penny Sackett with the kids in Canberra climate march

‘More effective than UN’: Student climate strike draws thousands  16 Mar 19Students have skipped school and marched through Canberra in their thousands to demand federal government action on climate change.

“We’ll stop acting like adults if you stop acting like children,” students told crowds gathered in Garema Place for the “School Strike 4 Climate” rally on Friday.

We’re skipping school today to do some teaching, we’re teaching politicians about science. We’re teaching them that coal causes climate change. We’re teaching them what happens if they continue to do nothing.”

Organisers estimate 150,000 Australian students flocked to 50 rallies across Australia on Friday, part of a global movement spanning more than 100 countries that began in Sweden last year with teen activist Greta Thunberg.

Roads were closed off in parts of Civic as crowds marched to Glebe Park, holding high home-made signs declaring “Don’t burn our future” and “I can’t go to school today, I’m saving the planet”.

While the first school climate strike in November last year drew attention, this time around students wanted action. They came prepared with a list of demands (which they chanted down the line of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s personal phone in Canberra) – an end to new fossil fuel projects, including the controversial Adani coal mine, and a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy in Australia by 2030.

George, 10, explained why he chose to skip school as he waited for a squadron of classmates cycling over from North Ainslie Primary.

“The earth is warming up and if adults aren’t going to do something about it, we sure are,” he said.

“We can’t vote so this is our vote.”

Parents, grandparents, activists and academics also joined the march, including Australia’s former chief scientist Penny Sackett.  The reality is that the approach taken by adults so far isn’t working,” Professor Sackett said.

“School children striking around the world may be the beginning of a social movement more effective than 25 years of UN climate summits.”

Fourteen-year-old Maanha Manzur was one of about a dozen student organisers behind the event, coordinating security, land permits and public liability insurance in between classes.

She said the ACT turnout had greatly outstripped the first strike, which saw about 500 students brave the rain outside Parliament House. More than 3500 people poured into the city for Friday’s rally, she said, and at least 2000 of them were students.

Some said they had defied their schools by attending but many said they had been supported to head along, with parental permission. Most scoffed at criticism from federal ministers, including the prime minister’s calls for students to focus on learning not activism.

“Maybe they should actually do their job if they don’t want us striking,” one student said.

“We’re here because we’re almost out of time.”

Also among the crowd were federal candidates Tim Hollo from The Greens and Labor’s Alicia Payne, as well as ACT Minister for Climate Change Shane Rattenbury. Mr Rattenbury said he was inspired by the strikers and suggested those still denying the science of global warming should go back to school themselves.

Education Minister Yvette Berry also backed the protest as “learning in itself” and said students would not be penalised for attending.

But shadow education spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee questioned who was really behind the strike and suggested skipping school was not the best way for students to get their point across.

“I would hate for them to have been used as a political pawn in a matter as serious as climate change,” she said.

On Friday afternoon, students shrugged off the suggestion, collapsing gratefully in the shade of Glebe Park after months of hard work.

“We do have our own minds,” one laughed.

“But it’s motivating to see so many people behind us, even my grandma’s here.”

March 16, 2019 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Canberra aware of climate change, but heatwave adds urgency

January 19, 2019 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

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

Australian Capital Territory’s energy policy could be damaged by Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee

A National Energy Guarantee could be bad news for the ACT, Canberra Times, Katie Burgess , 24 Nov 17,  A National Energy Guarantee could risk years of ACT energy policy and force Canberrans to pay more, ACT climate change minister Shane Rattenbury has warned.

The Greens minister met with his state and federal counterparts at the COAG Energy Council meeting in Hobart on Thursday and Friday.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg had intended to ask state and territory leaders to give in-principle support to the energy guarantee, but instead sought approval to undertake further analysis of the proposal.

But Mr Rattenbury said he was concerned that the guarantee would “stymie” new sources of renewable energy, the emission targets were too low, the agreement too short and the modelling was tailored to “inflate the apparent cost-savings”.

He also said an “artificially suppressed” wholesale price would impact on the contract-for-difference model the ACT used as part of its plan to go 100 per cent renewable by 2020.

 Through its reverse auctions, ActewAGL pays each large-scale renewable energy generator the difference between their feed-in tariff and the current wholesale price per megawatt hour.

However when wholesale prices are higher than the feed-in tariff, the generator pays ActewAGL and the savings are passed onto customers.

That model has insulated Canberra customers from future price rises.

But if the wholesale price was pushed down, Mr Rattebury said the ACT could pay more.

“We are concerned it will suppress artificially prices in the wholesale market and we believe the wholesale market is an effective means of driving good energy outcomes so the transition across to a certificate-based approach we think distorts the price signalling effect the labour wholesale market is designed to operate,” Mr Rattenbury told a stakeholder meeting.

“As a jurisdiction it’s particularly problematic for us because we have set ourselves on a pathway that’s premised on having an effective wholesale price. For our consumers it’s going to represent a potentially significant cost increase because of the way our electricity contracts are set for the next 20 years.”………

The federal government chose not to adopt the Clean Energy Target recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, instead opting for a National Energy Agreement which would require energy retailers to meet a reliability and emissions guarantee.

The reliability guarantee compels retailers to make a proportion of electricity available from “dispatchable” sources like batteries, hydro or gas, that can be switched on when demand is high.

The emissions guarantee requires retailers to cut their greenhouse emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 by 2030.

The energy guarantee won’t apply to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, meaning those two jurisdictions will have no federal emissions reduction policy after the Renewable Energy Target is scrapped in 2020.

The ACT and South Australia called on the federal government to model the cost of a Clean Energy Target and a Renewable Energy Target as well but they refused.

Mr Rattenbury that was “deeply concerning”.

“We know the National Energy Guarantee is the fourth or fifth best choice because that’s what the backbench watered it down to.

“[The refusal to model other options] says to me it’s not going to stack up.”

November 24, 2017 Posted by | ACT, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Canberra stood out at Bonn climate talks as a progressive city, adopting renewable energy

Canberra climate action on show at UN talks in Germany, Canberra Times, 19 Nov 17, Tom McIlroy   The role of cities like Canberra in affecting progress against global warming has been considered in the latest United Nations climate talks, with experts welcoming “a groundswell” of innovation.

World leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and environment advocates gathered in the former German capital of Bonn last week for the 23rd conference for signatories to the UN Convention on Climate Change.

University of Canberra chair of Urban and Regional Planning Barbara Norman said a key message from the talks had been how mayors, governors and regional leaders could work together to create large-scale change, boosting wider efforts on a national and international basis.

Professor Norman said powering cities with 100 per cent renewable electricity, building integrated transport systems, designing green precincts and environmentally sustainable developments were key to meaningful progress……….

Chair of the ACT Climate Change Council, she said Canberra stood out among cities involved in an international cooperation network, including because the territory was on track to achieve its target of 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020……..

November 20, 2017 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Community energy in Canberra – backing a solar energy future

Investing in a brighter energy future for Australia, 20 Aug 2017, We’re backers, not bystanders. Like many, we’re concerned about climate change – and want to play our part. That’s why we’re among the 867 people who invested in what will be Australia’s largest, community-owned solar farm.

SolarShare is building its flagship project, a one-megawatt solar farm that shares land with a vineyard, in the Majura Valley in Canberra.

It’s the first of hopefully many solar farms and projects owned by the community.

SolarShare has been funded by people like us, who will receive a good return on our initial investment as the electricity it generates from the sun is sold. At the same time, the farm will power 260 homes, reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

While governments can be slow to act, individuals, communities and businesses across Australia are finding their own solutions.

The transition to renewable energy has started – and it’s exciting. But it needs to happen faster if we are to leave this place better, cleaner and safer for our grandchildren. None of us can do everything, but we can all do something.

As soon as we could, we put solar panels on our roof making our house somewhat of a novelty in the neighbourhood. These days, solar covers 21 per cent of Australia’s suitable rooftops.

A couple months ago we bought an electric car, which we fuel for free with the rooftop panels. We were amazed to see that India, Britain, France and Norway have announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Until governments pick up the pace, individuals will have to work together. Being part of a larger project, like a community solar farm, is a great way to be part of an exciting new vision.   David and Lainie Shorthouse are SolarShare investors, and Canberra residents.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment