Heatwaves to be hotter, longer and more frequent, climate change report says, ABC News 9 Feb 17 By Lexy Hamilton-Smith Heatwaves are becoming hotter, lasting longer and occurring more often, the Climate Council’s latest report card on climate change says.
The Cranking Up The Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events report has found 2016 was the hottest year on record globally.
Climate scientist Professor Will Steffen warned extreme weather events were projected to worsen across Australia as the climate warmed further. He said the extreme heat had to be “taken really seriously, first and foremost”. “It is a risk for human health, particularly for the most vulnerable — the elderly, very young people, and exposed outdoor workers,” he said.
“It is obviously a risk for the agricultural industry, it is a risk for natural ecosystems.
“We saw an underwater heatwave about a year ago wipe out a large part of the Great Barrier Reef.”A lot of these impacts we are seeing occurring now are occurring earlier than we had projected a few years ago.
“It is giving us some cause for concern that the climate system may be shifting a bit faster than we originally thought.”
Impact varies for each state Continue reading
Powershop reveals cash for renewable projects from customers who paid more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/09/powershop-reveals-cash-for-renewable-projects-from-customers-who-paid-more
Energy retailer raised $100,000 from customers, which will be given out as grants to community-owned energy projects, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 9 Feb 17, Amid fresh attacks on renewable energy targets from the federal government and large energy retailer ERM Power, smaller electricity retailer Powershop has raised $100,000 from its customers to be given out as grants to 10 community-owned projects around the country.
Three months ago Powershop launched the Your Community Energy initiative, where they gave customers the opportunity to pay higher rates, which it said would then be distributed to renewable energy projects that were community-owned.
Powershop aimed to raise $20,000 by the end of 2016 but, as of February 2017, it had raised $100,000.
One project – rooftop solar on the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (Ceres) centre in Melbourne – has already received $10,000 from the initiative and used that to complete their 15 KW solar installation.
A spokeswoman for Ceres, Judy Glick, said the installation would save the community group $2,000 each year and reduce their yearly emissions by almost 16 tonnes of CO2. “Ceres is on a mission to achieve zero emissions by 2025,” she said.
Five other projects were also announced as recipients of a share of the money. Continue reading
Why coal-fired power handouts would be an attack on climate and common sense
The evidence suggests the push for government help is an attempt to squeeze money out of unwise investments made at the end of the mining boom, Guardian, 9 Feb 17, Michael Slezak, The recent coordinated push for new coal-powered electricity generators in Australia comes as the industry is on its last legs.
The intensified push for government handouts can be seen as a last-ditch attempt for the coal industry to squeeze some money out of the unwise investments it made at the end of the mining boom.
Here are the facts and figures that point towards that conclusion.
The coal industry knows that to stop runaway climate change all coal-powered generators need to close
Australia joined 174 countries and the European Union in 2015, signing the Paris agreement. In doing so, Australia agreed to do its part in keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2C.
It also commits countries to achieving net-zero emissions “in the second half of this century”.
That agreement, designed to stop runaway climate change, requires that all of Australia’s coal-fired generators close.
According to the International Energy Agency, OECD countries such as Australia need to shut down almost all of their coal-fired power stations by about 2035.
And the rest of the world will need to phase out coal power by 2050, it says. [excellent graph on original] With coal-fired power stations taking up to a decade to build, and designed to last 30 or 40 years, building new ones now is obviously inconsistent with those commitments.
In particular, Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a commitment that is not strong enough to limit global warming at 2C and will need to be “ratcheted up”.
But the Australian government recently released projections of the country’s carbon emissions showing that current policies are going to cause emissions to rise to 2030, not drop, leaving Australia overshooting that commitment by a long way. [graph on original] …….
New coal is the most expensive form of energy
While the proponents of coal talk about coal power being “cheap and reliable”, they are wrong on both fronts. Coal is now the most expensive form of new power. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of energy from a new coal power plant would be $134-$203/MWh.
That’s more expensive than wind, solar or highly efficient combined-cycle gas (costing $61-$118/MWh, $78-$140/MWh and $74-$90/MWh, respectively)………
The global coal industry recently saw its biggest player, Peabody, go bankrupt in the US. If companies are forced to take write-downs for these projects by admitting they will never go ahead, it could mean the end for some of the companies.
At his National Press Club address last week, Malcolm Turnbull appeared to point to this as the reason he is now looking to subsidise the most expensive and dirtiest form of energy, saying that it could help our mining industry. He said: “As the world’s largest coal exporter, we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art, clean, coal-fired technology.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/07/why-coal-fired-power-handouts-would-be-an-attack-on-climate-and-common-sense
Carmichael mine jobs need ’21 times the subsidies’ of renewables, says lobby group
Federal funding for Adani project amounts to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector, 350.org says, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 8 Feb 17, Clean energy projects in Queensland are already on track to create more employment than Australia’s largest proposed coalmine, which if funded federally would cost taxpayers 21 times more per job, according to new study.
Federal government agencies are investing $71.4m in seven solar farms and a windfarm in Queensland, which are set to deliver a total of 2,218 jobs, according to analysis by climate advocacy group 350.org.
Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal project in central Queensland, which has obtained conditional approval for a $1bn federal infrastructure loan, is predicted to deliver 1,464 jobs.
The level of federal subsidy for Adani would amount to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector.
The Queensland government has accused the federal government of misrepresenting key data while talking up coal in an ideological attack on renewable energy. Continue reading
Solar battery rebate scheme pushed by Greens in WA election pitch, ABC News , 9 Feb 17 By Laura Gartry More than 100,000 WA households could be entirely powered by their own solar energy using battery storage within five years under a 50 per cent tax rebate proposed by the Greens.
In one of first major election commitments by the party, Upper House candidate Tim Clifford said the cost of battery units were currently out of reach for a lot of people.
The Greens’ proposed rebate would allow individuals to get up to half the cost of their storage system covered to a maximum of $5,000 in the first year and tapering off to $1,500 in five years.
The $290 million scheme would also provide a $5,000 upfront grant to install solar for families earning less than $80,000. Households with solar panels in WA are looking to batteries as a way to offset the sharp fall in rebates Synergy pays them for their electricity.
It is hoped the scheme would kick-start the industry and drive down the cost of units and power bills.
Energy Minister Mike Nahan said a possible battery subsidy was discussed, but would not be implemented by the Government…..
Mr Clifford said up to 3,000 WA businesses could also benefit, allowing their battery storage assets to be depreciated over three years rather than 15, which could pay off their battery storage unit within 10 years.
The scheme would be co-funded from the removal of federal fossil fuel and mining subsidies……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-08/solar-rebates-mooted-by-greens-wa-election/8252706
7 Feb 17 Selling Australian uranium to Ukraine would increase the risks of war, civil unrest and corruption in the eastern European country, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties today recommended the conditional ratification of the nuclear co-operation agreement with Ukraine even though the committee’s own investigation conceded existing safeguards were ‘not sufficient’ and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear off the radar in Ukraine.
“Australia, the nation that fuelled Fukushima should not sell uranium to the country that gave us Chernobyl,” said ACF’s Dave Sweeney.
“The treaties committee’s report found ‘Australian nuclear material should never be placed in a situation where there is a risk that regulatory control of the material will be lost’ (2.53), yet that is exactly what could happen under the inadequate checks and balances that apply to exported Australian uranium.
“The committee’s report clearly states the Australian government must undertake a detailed and proper risk assessment and develop an effective contingency plan for the removal of ‘at risk’ Australian nuclear material.
“There can be no justification for seeking to fast-track uranium sales based on this report.
“Australia should be very cautious about contributing nuclear fuel to an already tense geo-political situation in eastern Europe. Tensions recently flared again in Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s nuclear sector is plagued by serious and unresolved safety, security and governance issues.
“Two-thirds of Ukraine’s aging fleet of 15 nuclear reactors will be past its design lifetime use-by date in just four years.
“This is an insecure and unsafe sector and a risky sales plan.
“ACF calls on the federal government to be a responsible global citizen and not to advance uranium sales to Ukraine.”
Australia’s richest woman, the mining magnate Gina Rinehart, is also reportedly backing Bernardi and joined him in meetings in New York in late 2016 with key figures from the Donald Trump camp.
Rinehart has previously supported speaking tours by Lord Christopher Monckton, the British climate science denier once described as a “vaudeville artist” by a former version of Malcolm Turnbull (the one that claimed to care deeply about climate change).
How Cory Bernardi was inspired to push climate denial from US conservative groups, Guardian, Graham Readfearn, 7 Feb 17 Climate science denial group the Heartland Institute helped inspire Cory Bernardi and Malcolm Roberts to push back against policies to cut emissions I
If the dissident conservative senator Cory Bernardi’s new political party shares the views of its founder, then we can chalk up it up as another fringe party firmly in the climate science denial camp.
Ignoring mountains of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry carried out over many decades, Bernardi has for a long time chosen to listen instead to fake experts pushing talking points that walk like zombies through barbecue conversations across Australia.
A Bernardi-led party would join One Nation, Family First, the Liberal Democratsand Rise Up Australia in rejecting the evidence for action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of the climate change talking points pushed individually and collectively by these political groups perfectly match the propagandised science pushed by conservative “free market” thinktanks in the US.
Like Bernardi, the likes of One Nation and Family First have taken their cues and inspiration from that US network of ideological “thinktanks”that push climate science denial as if their lives, or their salaries, depended on it.
Let me explain.
Bernardi has been much more than just an outspoken politician who thinks human-caused climate change is mostly a fraud and that carbon prices are just “a form of socialism”.
Bernardi has been a funder and an organiser of the opposition to action on climate change in Australia for years. Continue reading
Australia’s chief scientist compares Trump to Stalin over climate censorship
Alan Finkel warns that forcing EPA data to undergo political review before publication will ‘cause long-term harm’, Guardian, Gareth Hutchens, 7 Feb 17, Australia’s chief scientist has slammed Donald Trump’s attempt to censor environmental data, saying the US president’s behaviour was comparable to the manipulation of science by the Soviet Union.
Speaking at a scientific roundtable in Canberra on Monday, Alan Finkel warned science was “literally under attack” in the United States and urged his colleagues to keep giving “frank and fearless” advice despite the political opposition.
“The Trump administration has mandated that scientific data published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency from last week going forward has to undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA website or elsewhere,” he said.
“It defies logic. It will almost certainly cause long-term harm. It’s reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union.
“Every military commander there had a political officer second-guessing his decisions.”
Last month Trump’s administration mandated that any studies or data from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointeesbefore they can be released to the public.
The communications director for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said the review also extended to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing the Earth’s climate was warming and human-induced carbon emissions were to blame.
Finkel compared the Trump administration’s attempt to censor science to the behaviour of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
“Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism,” he said……..https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/06/australias-chief-scientist-compares-trump-to-stalin-over-climate-censorship
Is Malcolm Turnbull’s priority really just keeping the lights on?, Guardian, Kristina Keneally, 6 Feb 17 It seems Turnbull is basing his core political agenda for 2017 on a rare weather event. It’s a textbook definition of being buffeted by events rather than shaping them Imagine a severe thunderstorm had not hit South Australia last September and caused a state-wide blackout. What on earth would the Turnbull government have to talk about?
The day after the South Australian storm, the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, nominated “energy security” as the government’s number one priority.
Last week at the National Press Club, Malcolm Turnbull said that this year his government would prioritise energy security and storage.
The Turnbull government is basing its core political agenda for 2017 on a once-in-50-years weather event. This must be the textbook definition of a government buffeted by events rather than shaping them.
Let’s set aside – for a moment – the happenstance nature of the Turnbull government’s top policy priority and instead consider the relevance of its pitch to voters. What does energy security even mean? When was the last time you used that phrase in conversation? Does it have something to do with defence? Is it keeping our power plants safe from attack?
And if that is the Turnbull government’s priority, well, that’s pathetic. So much for innovation, agility, jobs and growth, and budget repair. The Turnbull government is flat out making sure our fridges are still running and we can still charge our mobile phones. They have no ambition or time for anything greater.
But the biggest joke of all is that Turnbull can’t even manage to pretend for more than a week that energy security is his number one priority. Last night Turnbull told Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes that “what I set out is our agenda for this year and what we’re going to deal with is energy prices”.
Energy security and energy prices. Yeah, they are not the same thing. Continue reading
Turnbull’s over-riding ambition is to last at least one day longer as prime minister than Abbott. That means that he will remain beholden to the right, who are ready to push the self-destruct button at any moment in the fervent belief that they can win power, if not immediately then after a single term of Labor.
Like Trump, Turnbull’s energy policy is based on “alternative facts”http://reneweconomy.com.au/like-trump-turnbulls-energy-policy-is-based-on-alternative-facts-25100/ By Giles Parkinson on 7 February 2017 The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been extraordinary, and quite frightening – not just because of the incompetence of a president who appears to be little more than a self-obsessed idiot, but by the actions of the dangerous ideologues at the helm of the world’s biggest economy and military power.
There have been shocks across the policy spectrum, but probably none more so than in climate and clean energy, where Trump has promised to throw the baby out with the bathwater, quit the Paris deal, disband or dismember environmental regulations, “re-invent” coal, stop renewables and build more gas pipelines.
It might sound stone-cold crazy to many people in Australia, but it should be familiar: There is little that Trump and his regime is doing on climate and clean energy that has not already achieved, or attempted, by the current Coalition government in Canberra. Continue reading
“If the same sequence of events happened today the system black would not occur,” Marxsen told the audience, according to one source.
This is an important concession from AEMO. It suggests that South Australia, even with around 40 per cent wind energy and a further 6 per cent from rooftop solar, is not at risk of a system-wide shut-down that affected the state late last year.
AEMO says wind farm changes mean SA blackout won’t be repeated http://reneweconomy.com.au/aemo-says-wind-farm-changes-mean-sa-blackout-wont-repeated-43631/ By Giles Parkinson on 6 February 2017
The Australian Energy Market Operator says it is confident that adjustments made to wind farm software means there is no risk of the South Australia blackout being repeated in the future.
AEMO chairman Tony Marxsen told more than 100 energy experts at a presentation under the auspices of the Electrical Energy Society of Australia last week that the “system black” event in South Australia in September – which has set off a huge debate about renewable energy across the country – would not be repeated. Continue reading
No surrender – Traditional Owners move to defeat Adani’s ‘fake ILUA’ Wangan & Jagalingo http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/no-surrender-traditional-owners-move-to-defeat-adanis-fake-ilua/ 7 February 2017 Traditional Owners act to defeat Adani’s invalid Indigenous Land Use Agreement in the wake of Noongar ruling
W&J Council will seek a declaration to knock out ‘fake ILUA’
“Lawyers for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Councilhave today written to Adani
demanding it withdraw its application to have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
for its proposed Carmichael mine registered by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT).
Should Adani refuse, a declaration will be sought in the Federal Court to have the ILUA struck out.
See the Letter. http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/wj-council-acts-on-adanis-invalid-indigenous-land-use-agreement/
“Members of the W&J Council lodged a formal objection last year to the purported ILUA.
The NNTT was due to make its decision this Friday, however the Federal Court in the matter of
McGlade v Native Title Registrar  throws doubt on whether Adani’s agreement is a valid ILUA.
“Leading Aboriginal rights advocate, a primary W&J Traditional Owner and Council spokesperson, Mr. Adrian Burragubba, says,
“We make it plain to the Queensland and Federal Governments that we will not surrender our ancestral homelands for Adani’s mine of mass destruction.
We will defeat this company’s attempts to divide and conquer us and continue our legal battles to remove the leases issued by the Queensland Government.
““Our fight is far from over.
Anyone who wants to bankroll Adani, and the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments,
are on notice that we will not stand by if attempts are made, in response to the Noongar decision,
to put our rights and interests, and our laws and customs, on the chopping block for the mining lobby,” he said. …
W&J youth leader and Council spokesperson, Ms. Murrawah Johnson, says,
“We have maintained all along that Adani does not have the consent of the rightful Traditional Owners.
Our Traditional Owners group have rejected an ILUA with Adani three times.
We will defeat Adani’s fake ILUA and continue to fight for our land and culture until the company
and Governments respect our rights and abandon this disastrous proposal”.
“In seeking Adani’s withdrawal, W&J Council has not removed its objection to the registration of the Adani ILUA by the NNTT. … “
No new coal-fired power stations planned for Queensland, Australian Financial Review, by Mark Ludlow, 7 Feb 17
The Palaszczuk Labor government said it had no plans to back any new coal-fired power stations in Queensland, despite the Turnbull government planning to use the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to help bankroll new base-load power in the state’s far north.
Energy Minister Mark Bailey – who is attempting to transform the state’s power mix from 7 per cent to 50 per cent renewables in the next 13 years – said new “clean coal” power stations were too expensive and there was more than enough wind, solar and hydro projects about to come online in the state.
“There is simply no need for new coal-fired base load generation in North Queensland,” Mr Bailey said.
“With the start of a large scale renewable industry under the Palaszczuk government, North Queensland is getting its own power stations, with twenty-first century producing affordable, clean energy.”
It comes as Mr Bailey has written to federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg to accuse him of using flawed modelling to criticise the state Labor governments and their ambitious renewable energy targets.
These include Queensland (50 per cent by 2030), South Australia (50 per cent by 2025), Victoria (40 per cent by 2025) and the ACT (100 per cent by 2020).
In the letter, obtained by The Australian Financial Review, Mr Bailey questioned the $27 billion figure Mr Frydenberg has repeatedly claimed would be the cost of the state renewable programs, asking since late last year to publicly release the modelling to back up the figure.
“I am disappointed by the lack of detail provided in your response in which you simply outlined some of the data sources used in your department’s analysis,” Mr Bailey said in the letter.
“As a consequence, your response leaves me no clearer as to how the capital cost estimate of $27 billion was calculated. It confirms my concerns, however, about your use of this figure which even with limited visibility of your modelling is clearly flawed.”
Mr Bailey said the Turnbull government was continuing to “demonise renewable energy” and undermine Queensland’s consumer confidence by attacking the state renewable targets. He said the state was committed to moving away from fossil fuels, with more than 680 megawatts of new renewable projects, worth $1.5 billion, in the pipeline.
Last week Chief Scientist Alan Finkel – who is conducting a review for the Turnbull government on energy security – said taxpayer money should not be used to subsidise high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants, such as those used in Japan………
Meanwhile, the Clean Energy Regulator has warned electricity retailers that they have until the deadline of February 14 to meet their obligations under the Renewable Energy Target. It follows ERM Power, one of Australia’s largest electricity retailers, choosing to pay a $123 million penalty rather than their RET liabilities.
“Paying a shortfall charge does not support generation to meet the 2020 target [of 23.5 per cent],” the Clean Energy Regulator said. “The intentional failure to surrender certificates will be viewed as a failure to comply with the spirit of the law and an undermining of the objectives and integrity of the scheme.” http://www.afr.com/news/politics/no-new-coalfired-power-stations-planned-for-queensland-20170206-gu69z8#ixzz4Y4ELrTUX
Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges, 6 Feb 17, Inside the massively shielded “intermediate level waste container that returned to Australia from France” are multiple stainless steel containers of vitrified reprocessed waste (pictured) – and this would be called “High Level Waste” (HLW) in France, USA, Canada, Japan and the UK.
Accepting the first container of this HLW anywhere into South Australia opens the door to South Australia becoming the vitrified HLW dump for Sellafield and France. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/