Australian news, and some related international items

Complete ecosystem collapse in sections of Great Barrier Reef

coral bleachingSections of Great Barrier Reef suffering from ‘complete ecosystem collapse’
Coral Watch investigator reports ‘shocking’ lack of fish and says the surviving corals are continuing to bleach, even during winter,
Guardian, , 22 July 16, “Complete ecosystem collapse” is being seen on parts of the Great Barrier Reef, as fish numbers tumble and surviving corals continue to bleach into winter, according to a scientist returning from one of the worst-hit areas.

“The lack of fish was the most shocking thing,” said Justin Marshall, of the University of Queensland and the chief investigator of citizen science program Coral Watch. “In broad terms, I was seeing a lot less than 50% of what was there [before the bleaching]. Some species I wasn’t seeing at all.”

Marshall spent a week this month conducting surveys on the reefs around Lizard Island………overall, Marshall estimate that more than 90% of the branching corals had died around Lizard Island. He said many of the huge porites corals, which could be a thousand years old, had died.

Coral and other organisms like anemones and giant clams bleach when water temperatures are too high for too long. When they become stressed, they expel their colourful symbiotic algae that provide them with energy, becoming pale or white. Unless the water temperatures quickly return to normal, many of those organisms die.

Lizard Island was particularly badly hit by the global bleaching event that hit every major reef region in the world and killed almost a quarter of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef. But, in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef, between Lizard Island and the Torres Strait, a majority of the coral is thought to have died.

The mass bleaching this year was driven by climate change, which raised water temperatures close to the maximum threshold coral could stand, and a strong El Niño that bumped the temperatures above that threshold.


July 23, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Taxpayer to fund Adani coal project – says new ‘Environment” Minister Josh Frydenberg

Frydenburg, JoshFrydenberg signals $5 billion taxpayer frolic with Adani’s unwanted coal CarmichaelMine2
fossil flop,
Independent Australia  Sophie Vorrath 24 September 2015  In a shock interview yesterday, the Turnbull Government’s new energy and resources minister, Josh Frydenberg, signalled that taxpayers would be stumping up funds for Adani’s unpopular Carmichael coal mine.Renew Economy’s Sophie Vorrath reports.

IF AUSTRALIA’s new Prime Minister and refreshed front bench are showing signs of being more progressive about renewable energy investment and R&D, it looks like they are also going to be far more candid about coal, and their plans to invest heavily there, too.

In an interview with Fairfax media on Wednesday, the newly sworn in energy and resources minister Josh Frydenberg was crystal clear on the government’s intent to use taxpayer money from its $5 billion Northern Infrastructure Fund to help get the Adani-owned Carmichael coal mining project off the ground.

And he was equally clear that the Turnbull Government’s attitude to developing new coal projects – despite the smart money being on all untapped fossil fuel resources staying in the ground, and despite the fact that most banks and institutional investors won’t touch the Galilee Basin project with a 10 foot barge pole – remains the same as the Abbott Government’s. Frydenberg told the AFR, repeating the mantra of his former boss:

[Carmichael coal mine is] a very important project, which will see significant investment in Australia and provide electricity to millions of people in the developing world,”

Anti-development activism can create major delays in projects and send investment offshore, and you have to be very conscious of that when there are such large time frames involved and we are competing internationally for investment in this country.

The trouble is, the sort of investment Frydenberg sees Australia competing for is looking more like divestment to the rest of the world, with a new report showing that there is now an estimated $2.6 trillion in coal, gas and other fossil fuel assets set to be dumped from the investment portfolios of 430 institutions and 2,040 individuals around the world…….,8193

July 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Greening of south-east Queensland – City of Logan leads

map-solar-QueenslandLogan becoming south-east Queensland’s greenest city , Brisbane Times, July 17 2016 The greener side of Logan is starting to show through, with the south-east Queensland city embracing solar energy, recycling initiatives, DIY kits and sustainable living workshops.

Energex statistics from June revealed Logan was ahead of nearby cities when it came to solar power, with more than a quarter of all properties having solar panels on their roofs.

This was compared to 17 per cent in Brisbane and 18 per cent on the Gold Coast.

The city of more 308,000 residents is 70 per cent rural or semi-rural, an appealing factor for those in the area who enjoy their open spaces…….




“A lot of schools are becoming a lot more sustainable, Calvary Christian College at Springwood have their own chickens and sell their eggs, the children involved in gardening, selling produce, checking the eggs,” ………..

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland: Catholic schools recognised by Vatican for solar energy success

church green 1Vatican praise for Townsville Catholic diocese solar scheme By Ben Millington Catholic schools in north Queensland have caught the eye of the Vatican with a solar project that is cutting carbon emissions and saving millions of dollars.

The Diocese of Townsville, which stretches from the coast to Mt Isa in the state’s north-west, has installed solar panels on roofs of all its eligible schools. The diocese has invested $6 million in one megawatt of solar panels, but diocese director of education Dr Cathy Day said this could deliver a much higher return. “The best figures that I like to think is a saving of $40 million over 25 years,” she said.

“Now when you turn that into teachers that we can pay for, or resources for students, that’s quite a substantial amount of money and I think it’s a great investment.”

In combination with the use of low-energy LED lighting, she said, the diocese had cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent, which is equivalent to taking 40,000 cars off the road. Dr Day said her main motivation had been to set a positive example for students and the broader community. “We’ve all got to start investing in technology and energy efficiency,” she said. “This is the way of the future. Our students are going to be in these industries. Nobody’s going to be working in a coal-fired power station in years to come.”

Emissions will eventually be cut by 80 per cent With further investment, Dr Day said they expect to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in emissions through installing more solar and energy-efficient air conditioning, as well as using batteries to store the power generated.

She returned last week from a visit to Rome, where she presented the project to Vatican officials in meetings led by former deputy prime minister and onetime ambassador to the holy see, Tim Fischer, who has become a spokesman for the project. Mr Fischer said the scheme was well received in Rome and he would like to see it rolled out in schools across the world. “What has happened in Townsville is mildly revolutionary and is extremely positive in terms of energy savings because it works and it can be monitored in real time,” he said.

“That’s what caused positive ripples in Rome. They saw in this sustainable, cut-through, realistic energy savings created without massive capital expenditure.”

The project is already being replicated in other Catholic schools in Cairns and the Northern Territory.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, religion and ethics, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland wind farm to ‘drought proof’ farm incomes and provide jobs

Wind park in Scotland. Author: Ian Dick. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.Queensland’s $500m Coopers Gap wind farm could be operational by 2020  By Ellie Sibson An energy company planning to build Queensland’s largest wind farm is hoping to have the project operational by 2020.

AGL Energy’s proposed $500 million Coopers Gap wind farm would be constructed at Cooranga North, about 200 kilometres north-west of Brisbane in the state’s South Burnett region. It has a proposed capacity of 350 megawatts and could power 190,000 homes each year.

Under the plans, up to 115 turbines would be built across 11 properties.

Last month, the wind farm was declared a coordinated project and community consultation on the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement is currently underway. Dozens of residents attended a recent public meeting at the nearby township of Bell to raise concerns and ask questions about the project.

Project manager Neil Cooke said most of the feedback had been positive. “Some of the community are concerned about the noise being too high and concerned about sleep,” he said. “We’re in the process of organising a second trip down to our wind farms in Victoria so people can actually get to see wind farms close up.”

Wind farm would ‘drought-proof property’  If the wind farm is approved, Cyril Stewart would have three turbines built on his cattle property. During times of drought, Mr Stewart has had to leave his land in search of a job. “It would be the greatest thing since sliced bread because it is drought-proofing the property,” he said. “This is something that rain, hail or shine, there’s an income.”

About 350 workers are needed for construction with ongoing employment for 20 people. South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said it would be a big jobs boost for the region. “Economic development is something our region really needs,” he said. “These sorts of things don’t come about often … employment driven by the economic outcomes is something that as a region we can’t ignore.” The environmental impact process is expected to take at least six months.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland approves all environmental activity applicants despite ‘disqualifying events’ ‘An independent review has raised se

rious questions about the system for registering people and companies for sensitive environmental activities in Queensland.
Key points:
– Applicants were approved despite leaving questions unanswered, missing documents
– Environmental lawyer describes the process as “sloppy”
– The Environment Department says it helps applicants fix applications
The ABC can reveal that not a single applicant has been denied “suitable operator” status
since the system was brought in three years ago, despite instances of missing paperwork,
inadequate information, and applications containing “disqualifying events”.’
‘Concerns over #Adani port expansion prompted review … 
Background check ‘ignores foreign offences’ … ‘
Exclusive by the National Reporting Team’s Mark Willacy | ABC News

June 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Whitsunday residents take expansion of Adani’s Abbot Point Terminal to court

justice EDO Qld
The following statement is from our client 
Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) 24 June 2016:

“Local community group, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping,
which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef from damage,
is asking the QLD Supreme Court to scrutinise whether the QLD Department of Environment
properly considered legislative tests when granting authority for
Adani’s controversial Abbot Point Terminal 0 expansion to go ahead.
The first directions hearing is taking place today in the Queensland Supreme Court.
Local grandmother, former tourism worker and spokesperson for Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, Sandra Williams said,
“Our precious Great Barrier Reef is already in poor health, and Adani’s controversial port project,
which will cause irreparable damage, has raised significant concern in our community.
“Residents in our group have never taken legal action before,
but we were forced to because of our worry that the approval of the port expansion,
which will require damaging dredging and see hundreds of extra ships through the Reef each year, was not lawful.
“There is a question mark over whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it gave this billion dollar proposal the green light.
“It is critically important that the decision, which has such grave implications for the Reef, is properly scrutinised. … ”
To continue reading the full statement, click on this link:

June 26, 2016 Posted by | environment, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland wind farm creating jobs, powering a city

green-collarWind farm at Mount Emerald, near Cairns, set to create 150 jobs May 27, 2016  A WIND farm to be built in far north Queensland will generate enough renewable energy to power a regional city. Ergon Energy and proponents Ratch Australia and Port Bajool on Friday signed a power purchase agreement to build the 170 megawatt Mount Emerald Wind Farm, near Cairns.

About $400 million in total expenditure is projected during the project’s two-year construction phase and 25-year operational period.

The project is also expected to boost the region’s economy by $900 million through direct and indirect flow-on impacts.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the project would mean the state’s wind energy production, which sat at 12 megawatts, would be increased by 15 times.

 “It will not only create 150 jobs in far north Queensland … it will also generate enough power to power a city the size of Mackay,” Mr Bailey said.

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Some parts of tourism industry trying to conceal the plight of the Great Barrier Reef

coral bleachingGreat Barrier Reef tourism operators refuse media and politicians access to bleached reefs, Guardian, , 28 April 16Several major operators refuse to take Greens’ senators to bleached reefs as a backdrop for policy announcements, fearing potential impact on tourism.  North Queensland tourism operators are routinely refusing to take media and politicians to see coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef for fear the attention will trigger a collapse in visitor numbers, it has been claimed.

Several major operators with the backing of industry heavyweightsrefused to ferry Greens senators Richard di Natale and Larissa Waters to reefs off Cairns, the backdrop for their election campaign announcement on reef policy on Thursday.

They were just the latest in a string of operators denying media requests to help them obtain pictures and footage and report on what scientists say is the worst bleaching event in the reef’s history, according to dive operator, Tony Fontes. Continue reading

May 18, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Origin Energy to buy whole output from new Queensland solar farm

solar-farmingOrigin Energy signs up for output from new Queensland solar farm, The Age, May 4, 2016   Energy Reporter A 13-year deal signed by Origin Energy to buy all the electricity produced at a new 100 megawatt solar project in north Queensland has accelerated the recovery of the renewable energy sector after a stalling in new investment over the past two years.

The contract, which will have Origin buy both the output and the renewable energy certificates generated by the Clare Solar Farm, also underscores how large-scale solar is improving in competitiveness, catching up with wind power…….

The Clare project will be built by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures at a site 35 kilometres west of Ayr. Production is due to start next year and Origin will buy all of the output until 2030.

The deal follows Origin’s commitment in March to buy the output of FRV’s 56MW Moree solar farm, a project that is already in production in northern NSW. It has also applied for government funding for its own solar project in south-east Queensland.

Origin is one of the biggest liable parties under the RET regulations, which requires it to buy an increasing proportion of renewable energy for its electricity retailing activities. The deal with FRV for the Clare output will take Origin’s portfolio of renewable energy generation and purchase contracts to more than 700MW.

Origin’s head of energy markets Frank Calabria said the cost of solar “is falling rapidly compared with other renewable resources”.

“Now is the ideal time to invest in solar and we have been actively looking for opportunities to diversify and add more renewable energy to our portfolio,” Mr Calabria said.

For FRV, the contract with Origin kicks off a third new investment in Australia, after the Royalla solar project in the ACT and the Moree venture.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

New legal case against Adani coal mine now underway

Activists launch fresh court challenge over Carmichael coalmine  Australian Conservation Foundation argues emissions from coal mined from Adani’s project
will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk by exacerbating climate change’ Michael Slezak | The Guardian Australia 3 May 16:

” … If successful, the case will have ramifications beyond the Carmichael mine or even the Great Barrier Reef. It could have implications for any fossil fuel development, and require the minister to consider the effect of the burned fuel on any world heritage area – like the forests in Tasmania, for example.

“This is the first case of its kind to be heard in Australia,” said O’Shanassy. “The court will be asked to examine a section of Australia’s national environment law that has never before been tested in court. If this case is successful it will strengthen climate change considerations and world heritage protection in Australian law.” The hearing at the federal court in Brisbane is expected to go for two days. Hunt and Adani will be represented.”


Adani Big Coal Case Could Make It Harder To Get Mines Approved ‘A landmark case that could “put a brake on Australia’s fossil fuel exports”  kicked off this morning in the Federal Court, in a precedent-setting bid to invalidate  Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the largest coal mine the nation would ever see’  Thom Mitchell | New Matilda 3 May 16:

” … Under the United Nations process, the country that burns fossil fuels is responsible for them. Who exported the fossil fuels is considered irrelevant. And that was why Hunt, and all governments to date, largely ignored the damage Australia’s fossil fuels exports do to our environment when making approval

The Australian Conservation Foundation is trying to change that. They’re arguing that irrespective of where the coal is burnt, it will have a serious impact on the Reef, and that this impact will be felt irrespective of how the United Nations framework on climate change works. … “

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

First-ever council solar farm for Queensland – on the Sunshine Coast

map-Sunshine-CoastSunshine Coast builds Queensland’s first-ever council solar farm Brisbane Times, Tony Moore, 28 Apr 16, Queensland’s first large-scale solar farm run by a local government – saving that council $22 million in electricity costs over 30 years – is now being built on the Sunshine Coast.  It will provide green power on the Sunshine Coast by mid-2017 and will slash the council’s costs of buying electricity for everything including streets lights, sports facilities, buildings, galleries, parks and libraries.

The council expects to be able to sell excess electricity from the solar farm, with documentation showing the farm will generate more electricity than the council needs.

Queensland’s Local Government Association says nine local governments are also investigating geothermal energy plans.Redland City Council is also exploring a solar farm.

The Sunshine Coast will build the 15-megawatt solar farm on 50 hectares behind Coolum, making it the first local government in Australia to finance a solar plant itself……. More than 57,800 solar panels will be built on stands three to four metres high above an abandoned canefield owned by the council.

They will generate power by early 2017. The Sunshine Coast Council will fund the $48.5 million to build the solar power plant and awarded the contract to construction firm Downer Utilities.

About 60 jobs will be created during construction and a 10-metre buffer will be planted around the solar farm, which will include a solar research centre…….

“Where we originally planned to save our ratepayers $9 million over the 30-year life of the project, we are now forecasting we will save $22 million,” Cr Jamieson said. Solar energy is popular on the Sunshine Coast, with 30,000 homes installing solar system in the past five years……

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Approval of Adani’s Queensland coalmine faces another legal challenge

text-relevant‘Conservationists claim the state government failed to ensure the planned Carmichael mine was ecologically sustainable’

Joshua Robertson | The Guardian Australia

coal CarmichaelMine2“Adani’s plan for Australia’s largest coalmine faces yet another snag, with a conservation group mounting what is now the eighth legal challenge to the  contentious project. …

The Coast and Country spokesman, Derec Davies, said the decision to grant environmental authority to the Galilee basin mine “ignored climate change totally and failed to properly take account of the true jobs figures – 1,464 net jobs not the 10,000 advocated”. …

The federal court  is yet to rule on an Australian Conservation Foundation appeal against federal
environmental approval of the mine. … representatives of the mine site’s  traditional owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, have several legal actions under way to challenge a land use deal with Adani … “

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

Australia needs action, not just Turnbull’s words, to save the Great Barrier Reef

Waters,-Larissa-Senator-1Climate deal won’t stop Great Barrier Reef from getting ‘cooked’, say Greens, Guardian, 23 Apr 16  Australia’s lack of action on pollution reduction targets has made the country a laughing stock on the international stage, according to senator Larissa Waters   Australia’s lack of follow-through on climate change will leave the Great Barrier Reef “completely cooked” despite it signing the Paris climate deal, the Greens say…….

 the Greens senator Larissa Waters says Australia signing the agreement won’t enable it to avoid warming of 3C to 4C if it’s not backed up by action.

“Unfortunately, minister Hunt likes to bandy about some figures but Australia has been a laughing stock on the international stage,” she said.

“Our pollution reduction targets are so far below the science and people know that our policies aren’t even getting us towards those very low targets.”

Senator Waters rejected the government’s commitment of a further $11m on projects to continue improving water quality on the Great Barrier Reeffollowing a study this week showing 93% of the reef was bleached.

She pointed to the Queensland and federal government’s backing of the Adani coal mine, which critics say will further imperil the reef. “We need to really have a change of policy when it comes to approving every coal mine anyone ever thinks of and instead really fund and support the transition and speed it up to clean-energy,” Senator Waters said.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

The death of the Great Barrier Reef – due to Australia’s carbon exports

coral bleachingGreenpeace: Australia’s Carbon Exports Are Killing The Reef, New Matilda, By  on April 21, 2016  On Friday the Australian Government will be in New York presenting itself as a world-leader in the race to reduce carbon emissions, at the official signing of the Paris agreement.

But on the eve of this historic hippodrome, Greenpeace Australia has released a new report which it says puts the lie to the Government’s posturing.

It notes that while Australia’s emissions have remained relatively stagnant since 1990, coal exports have exploded a staggering 253 per cent, and now represent almost twice as much carbon as total domestic emissions of carbon dioxide.

Greenpeace says that this year Australia will “export” one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, through coal alone. That’s more than it plans to cut down through reducing domestic emissions using the Direct Action in the decade to 2030, according to the report.

It’s a carbon trade that the United Nations process takes no stock of: emissions are counted at the national level. Conversely, the fossil fuels nations export are treated as the responsibility of the importer country where they’re burned.

Greenpeace maintains that in reality – outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – “Australia’s overall contribution to global climate change is getting worse, not better”.

The report argues Australia has taken advantage of the international framework around climate change by “growing its coal exports and disowning the consequences”. “This has helped to suppress coal prices, making the dirtiest option more competitive for longer in electricity generation and in steelmaking.” And the iconic environmental group points out the government has no plans to stop.

According to government projections, coal exports will continue to grow nearly two thirds more by 2030. It’s an ambition this government, and the Labor governments before it, have made little secret of………

April 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment


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