Australian news, and some related international items

Australia should not throw away $1 billion on a destructive and doomed Adani coal project

The first stage currently being discussed involves a total investment of around $5 billion, of which the Australian public is supposed to contribute at least a $1 billion.

we may easily end up with the worst of all worlds: no royalties and few jobs for a project that will contribute massively to environmental destruction both locally and globally.

We shouldn’t throw it away on a doomed project that will leave us with, at best, a stranded asset and a legacy of massive environmental damage.

There are better things to spend $1 billion on than the Adani coal mine, Brisbane Times, John Quiggin, 18 May 17 

Ever since taking office, the Palaszczuk government has been walking a tightrope with respect to the Adani Group’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that the project is both environmentally disastrous and economically dubious. The government has been keen to avoid putting public money into this mess. On the other hand, if the project falls over, as still appears quite likely, the government is keen to avoid the blame.

The supposed benefits of 10,000 jobs and billions of dollars in royalties make an appealing case to voters at any time and particularly with the mining boom on the edge of failing. For most of the past 18 months, the government has managed the tightrope act successfully, but now it appears to be on the verge of falling. Adani is pushing for a ‘holiday’ from royalties, which might last as long as nine years. The project may go ahead if the government accepts, but the promised benefits to the Queensland public will disappear into the never-never.

The holiday is supposed to be temporary, but that’s unlikely.  Continue reading

May 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Adani Carmichael coal mine: climate, health and economics are against it

Climate Council: climate, health and economics are against Carmichael mine, Will SteffenEmeritus professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Hilary BambrickHead of School, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology  May 19, 2017 Despite the overwhelming evidence that fossil fuels are killing the Great Barrier Reef and making many extreme weather events worse; despite the emphatic thumbs-down from the finance sector; and despite the growing awareness of the serious health impacts of coal, the proposed Carmichael coal mine staggers on, zombie-like, amid reports it has been offered a deferment of A$320 million in royalty payments.

A new Climate Council report, Risky Business: Health, Climate and Economic Risks of the Carmichael Coalmine, makes an emphatic case against development of the proposed mine, or of any other coal deposits in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, or indeed elsewhere around the world.

Burning coal is a major contributor to climate change. Australia is already reeling from the escalating impacts of a warming climate. Heatwaves and other extreme weather events are worsening. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered consecutive mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. Climate change is likely making drought conditions worse in the agricultural belts of southwest and southeast Australia. Our coastal regions are increasingly exposed to erosion and flooding as sea level rises.

If we are to slow these disturbing trends and stabilise the climate at a level with which we might be able to cope, only a relatively small amount of the world’s remaining coal, oil and gas reserves can actually be used.

The majority must be left unburned in the ground, without developing vast new coal deposits such as those in the Galilee Basin.

On budget

The amount of fossil fuels we can burn for a given temperature target (such as the 1.5℃ and 2℃ targets of the Paris climate agreement) is known as the “carbon budget”.

To give ourselves just a 50% chance of staying within the 2℃ Paris target, we can burn only 38% of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves. When this budget is apportioned among the various types of fossil fuels, coal is the big loser, because it is more emissions-intensive than other fuels. Nearly 90% of the world’s existing coal reserves must be left in the ground to stay within the 2℃ budget.

When the carbon budget is apportioned by region to maximise the economic benefit of the remaining budget, Australian coal in particular is a big loser. More than 95% of Australia’s existing coal reserves cannot be burned, and the development of new deposits, such as the Galilee Basin, is ruled out.

The health case

Exploiting coal is very harmful to human health, with serious impacts all the way through the process from mining to combustion. Recently the life-threatening “black lung” (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis) has re-emerged in Queensland, with 21 reported cases. Across Australia, the estimated costs of health damages associated with the combustion of coal amount to A$2.6 billion per year.

In India, the country to which coal from the proposed Carmichael mine would likely be exported, coal combustion already takes a heavy toll. An estimated 80,000-115,000 deaths, as well as 20 million cases of asthma, were attributed to pollutants emitted from coal-fired power stations in 2010-11. Up to 10,000 children under the age of five died because of coal pollution in 2012 alone.

Compared with the domestic coal resources in India, Carmichael coal will not reduce these health risks much at all. Galilee Basin coal is of poorer quality than that from other regions of Australia. Its estimated ash content of about 26% is double the Australian benchmark.

This is bad news for children in India or in any other country that ends up burning it.

The economics

The economic case for the Carmichael mine doesn’t stack up either. Converging global trends all point to rapidly reducing demand for coal.

The cost of renewable energy is plummeting, and efficient and increasingly affordable storage technologies are emerging. Coal demand in China is dropping as it ramps up the rollout of renewables. India is moving towards energy independence, and is eyeing its northern neighbour’s push towards renewables.

All of these trends greatly increase the risk that any new coal developments will become stranded assets. It’s little wonder that the financial sector has turned a cold shoulder to the Carmichael mine, and Galilee Basin coal development in general. Some 17 banks worldwide, including the “big four” in Australia, have ruled out any investment in the Carmichael mine.

From any perspective – climate, health, economy – the proposed mine is hard to justify. And yet the project keeps on keeping on.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Top UK fund manager divests from fossil fuels, incl BHP Billiton

Guardian 15th May 2017, Archbishop of Canterbury plays crucial role in BMO Global Asset Management’s decision to dump £20m of shares in firms such as BHP Billiton  One of Britain’s biggest managers of ethical funds is to dump £20m of shares in fossil fuel companies in one of the biggest divestments so farbecause of climate change.

Shares in BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, will be among those sold by BMO Global Asset Management’s range of “responsible” funds, which manage £1.5bn of assets. They were previously known as the “stewardship” funds, the first ethical funds launched in Britain. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, played a crucial role in the divestment, as president of BMO’s responsible investment council. The Church of England has already pulled out of investing in companies that make more than 10% of its revenues from thermal coal or oil from tar sands…..

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

The Global Uranium Industry and Cameco’s Troubled History

The Global Uranium Industry & Cameco’s Troubled History, May 2017, Jim Green − Friends of the Earth, Australia

Table of Contents


Australia’s Uranium Volume and Exports – 2006-2015

Australia’s top export revenue industries – Compared to uranium

“It has never been a worse time for uranium miners”

If there is a recovery, it will be a long time coming

Explaining the uranium market’s malaise

1. INTRODUCTION This report covers two overlapping issues. 
Firstly: the miserable state of the global uranium industry. For several years, the uranium prices (the spot price and long-term contract price) has been well below the level that would incentivise new mines. There is no end in sight to the industry’s current malaise ‒ as acknowledged by numerous industry insiders and market analysts.
Secondly: the problems facing uranium mining company Cameco, which provides about 17% of the world’s production from mines in Canada, the US and Kazakhstan, and has two uranium projects in Western Australia ‒ Kintyre (70% Cameco / 30% Mitsubishi) and Yeelirrie (100% Cameco).
Cameco has been continuously downsizing for the past five years and the company acknowledges that the situation will get worse before it gets better.
Cameco has written off the entire value of its Kintyre project in Western Australia: a C$238 million write-down in 2016 following a C$168 million write-down in December 2012. Several other mines have been subject to production slowdowns or suspension, the company plans to sell its two uranium mines in the US (if it can find a buyer), and CEO Tim Gitzel said in February 2017 that Cameco is “very far from requiring any new greenfield uranium projects”.
Cameco is currently embroiled in a court case, accused of illegal profit-shifting by the Canada Revenue Agency using subsidiaries in Switzerland and Barbados. If Cameco is found guilty, it may have to back-pay taxes amounting to C$2.1 billion.
Finally, the report includes a table listing many of Cameco’s accidents and controversies since 1981 ‒ leaks and spills, the promotion of dangerous radiation junk science (in WA and elsewhere), appalling treatment of indigenous people, systemic and sometimes deliberate safety failures and breaches, etc………
Explaining the uranium market’s malaise There are numerous reasons why the uranium market is likely to remain depressed for the foreseeable future. The most important are briefly discussed here.
1. Nuclear power is unlikely to expand…..
2. Uranium is plentiful. …..
3. Stockpiles (inventories) are massive and still growing…….

May 5, 2017 Posted by | business, reference, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

All about the Adani coal mine expansion plan

I can no longer keep up with this
Adani admits overseas steel cheaper 

Green groups to target Commonwealth Bank over potential Adani financing
GREEN groups will go to war with the Commonwealth Bank this week after documents revealed a continuing relationship with Adani that helped the controversial Carmichael mine gain approval for a water licence.
Govt considers action against Adani
ADANI is facing a new investigation by the Queensland Government into its operations after water released at its Abbot Point facility was found to contain eight times the permitted level of sediment.
Westpac’s Adani decision finds public support, despite Canavan’s disapproval
Survey shows 41% of people support bank’s decision to rule out funding Adani’s Queensland mine, with only 14% against, as the resources minister vows to switch banks
Arrium deal ‘no saviour’ for Whyalla steelworks
A PROMISE to source $74 million worth of steel from Arrium has been welcomed by the State Government, but Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis warns it won’t be the “saviour” of the Whyalla steelworks.
Adani faces possible multi-million-dollar fine over Abbot Point sediment water discharge
Mining giant Adani faces a possible multi-million-dollar fine after sediment water eight times above authorised levels was discharged from the Abbot Point coal terminal last month, the ABC can reveal.
Politician slams anti-coal ‘latte sippers’
A QUEENSLAND politician has slammed opponents of coal power, claiming if you don’t support coal, you can “sit under palm trees and weave baskets for a living”.
The government is swimming against the tide on Westpac’s Adani decision
David Peetz, Griffith University and Georgina Murray, Griffith University
As the cost of renewable energy falls, funding a new mine is a risky investment.
South Australia
Adani wards off Whyalla wipeout
The proposed $16.5bn Adani Carmichael mine project has thrown a lifeline to South Australia’s steel industry.

May 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Westpac in tune with Australians about climate. Government sadly out of touch

Westpac’s anti-coal stance exposes a Coalition out of sync with business and public on climate  Mark Kenny,  Obviously Westpac’s public ‘un-friending’ of new coal – for which you can read Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in the Galiliee Basin – is a body blow for a project whose backers are thinning by the day.

Westpac is the last of the big four Australian banks to bin Adani’s publicly toxic prospectus.

All are unmoved by the lure of ongoing coal profits, especially if it comes with ties to a venture that has become a byword for climate change denial.

Adani will continue to seek other financiers – including extraordinarily, the Australian taxpayer from whom it is telling Indian backers, it remains eligible for a $1 billion loan. This is despite the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund rules, which appear to render it ineligible.

With or without that welfare, the business case for new coal generally and the Adani mine in particular, looks to be ebbing. Fast.

Westpac’s decision is an environmental declaration of intent. But it is a coldly commercial one also that recognises what the Australian government defiantly rejects: coal’s day has passed.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan hit out strongly at the bank, suggesting it had succumbed to the inner-city politics of Sydney rather than the employment needs of the sunshine state. Remarkably, Canavan – cabinet minister – even advocated a boycott, counselling potential customers to back a bank that backs Queensland’s interests.

Doubtless there would be many Queenslanders upset by the Adani venture, not least the thousands already employed around the Great Barrier Reef.

Besides, Westpac is hardly going out on a limb. Try going to the AGL website. One of the nation’s biggest energy companies has announced a new campaign to end its association with coal entirely: “The reasons for getting out of coal are all around us” its homepage proclaims.

Privately, Malcolm Turnbull must surely be hoping the Adani thing just goes away.  The PM may be a progressive rationalist at heart but in his head there are other realities to balance. Party room realities like Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, and the Nationals, whose head-in-the-sand record on climate change has left farmers so exposed that even the National Farmers Federation now proposes a carbon price.

Paul Keating once described Turnbull as a cherry on a compost heap. The trouble with compost heaps is they tend to be stationary. This issue is anything but, and if you want proof, just follow the money.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Taxpayer loan for railway to Adani mine “not in the interests of NSW”: report ~ Matt Wade @MattWadeSMH  24 April 2017:

“The fairness of a proposed Commonwealth loan of nearly  $1 billion to fund a rail link to the giant Adani coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been called into question by economic modelling showing
it may cost NSW hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“Adani’s Carmichael mine will increase the global supply of coal by about 6 per cent, putting downward pressure on prices received by NSW coal exporters and  slashing mining royalties paid to the state government, the report by the Australia Institute says. … “

April 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine just does not make economic sense

Coal glut, cheaper renewables, Adani makes no sense at all,   As public angst over the prospective A$1 billion subsidy to coal magnate Guatam Adani hits fever pitch, a small company is modestly beavering away on another – more worthy – energy project in Far North Queensland.

Genex Power has turned the abandoned Kidston gold mine into a solar farm and pumped-hydro power storage project. Kidston will deliver 145MWh of renewable energy per year. This is enough to power 26,484 homes. In terms of reducing emissions, this is equivalent to taking 33,000 cars off Australian roads.

Like Adani, the Kidston project also got a leg-up from government. It won a grant of nearly A$9 million from ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and struck a deal with the state of Queensland to sell electricity for 20 years.

Unlike Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, however, the Kidston solar project has bankers and investors. Unlike Adani, whose labyrinthine corporate structure wends its way to the Cayman Islands, Genex is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has a market value of A$70 million and is owned by small investors. When it delivers its first power in the next three months, it’s likely to pay tax on its profits.

The furore over Adani has so far centred on the putative subsidy for the rail line to cart the coal from the Galilee Basin to the coast. There is no rail line without a mine, however, and so the bigger question is: who is going to tip in the A$10 billion in project finance to build the mine?

Adani’s bankers have long fled the scene – not just for environmental reasons, but because the business case for building this, the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine, is sketchy.

The global seaborne coal market is in structural decline. There is a glut. Thermal coal futures prices are well below the spot price – and even at present spot prices, this is hardly a viable financial proposition…….

April 19, 2017 Posted by | business, Queensland | Leave a comment

Adani coal project – a foolish useof tax-payers’ money

The Adani coal mine would be a poor use of our taxes, SMH, 15 Apr 17,  The Adani coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland looks like the Trump presidency did around this time last year: a bad idea with foreseeable bad consequences that may yet prove unstoppable.

In New Dehli this week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with billionaire Gautam Adani, whose company intends to seek a concessional loan of $900 million from the Australian taxpayer to support building the Carmichael coal mine, which would be Australia’s largest, with the express purpose of shipping coal to India.

The project will create “tens of thousands of jobs” and generate “an enormous amount” in taxes and in royalties, revenues for federal and state government”, the Prime Minister enthused. Meanwhile Barnaby Joyce has been banging the drum about how the coal will light up hundreds of thousands of poor households. In other words, lending our taxes to the billionaire proprietor would do India’s poor people a favour.

For now, new native title legislation that would remove one obstacle is blocked in the Senate, but the government is determined to fix that…….

It would be a very bad look indeed if the project goes ahead with the help of funds from the Australian public. It not only goes against this government’s belief in the wisdom of the free market, but would be yet another piece of embarrassing climate change denialism that sets us apart from more forward-thinking nations – including China and India – that are walking away from coal in favour of renewables.

The pivotal question for now is whether the project meets the eligibility criteria for a loan. The fact that the loan would only be available if the project couldn’t proceed otherwise (or would be seriously delayed) creates the bizarre situation that taxpayers are left footing the bill when commercial lenders baulk.

But it’s not up to politicians to decide whether Adani Mining gets the loan, although resources minister Matt Canavan, a strong supporter of the Carmichael mine, has the ultimate sign-off on disbursement of the loan funds. It’s up to the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to make a fully independent assessment on commercial grounds. Taxpayers are entitled to expect the board to be scrupulously diligent in its decision.

To date more than a dozen banks and other funding sources have declared they won’t back the project or have pulled out of existing funding arrangements. The project’s opponents say it’s no longer financially viable, if it ever was. It augurs badly that India’s coal and power minister Piyush Goyal has repeatedly stated a goal to stop importing coal, even specifying a time frame of between two and three years, so Adani coal imports would be up against the tide.

Add to that ongoing Indian government investigations into Adani group companies, including for alleged profiteering on coal imported from Indonesia and for international tax arrangements, it’s clear the NAIF board has a lot to consider…….

April 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Telecommunications company joins Click energy to challenge coal electricity utilities

Telco, online energy retailer merge to take on coal-laden utilities, REneweconomy, By  on 10 April 2017

Junior telecommunications company amaysim has agreed to pay $120 million for online energy retailer Click Energy in a move designed to challenge the dominance of the big utilities in both the telco space and the energy sector.

The potential merger of telecommunications and energy offerings has long been mooted. But, despite Telstra snapping up PowerShop’s Ben Burge last year to head the newly created Telstra Energy and promising its own line of solar and storage, little has happened to date, although combined offerings have become common in the US and Europe.

“I think it will be standard here in the next few years time,” says Dominic Drenen, who will continue his role as CEO of Click Energy. “We think we can put together a bundled product that is quite compelling. For consumers, they will be dealing with one platform, so it’s just one less hassle.”

The two companies think there are significant opportunities for an “asset-light” retailer that is not burdened by legacy assets such as ageing coal-fired power stations.

“Retailing industry players are burdened with complex legacy systems and pricing structures, with most major providers also owning ageing coal-fired generating assets,” amaysim CEO Julian Ogrin said in a presentation. “Customers face large confusing bills, bill shock, no real online engagement or DIY experience and poor customer service is common.”

Ogrin sees a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity in the forced migration of around 8 million Australian homes changing their broadband service by 2020. He says the telco and energy sectors are typically “inert”, so the opportunity to increase market share in the forced migration of NBN is a unique opportunity.

It expects to have its first combined offers available in 2018, and sees major savings in “back-end” IT platforms and other synergies of around $5 million a year…….

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Insurance companies want big increase in govt disaster mitigation spending

Insurers call for disaster mitigation increase THE AUSTRALIAN, 8 Apr 17   Reporter, Melbourne @michaelroddan The federal government rejected a Productivity Commission proposal to increase natural disaster mitigation spending at the same time it attempted to pressure state governments to accept a drastic cut to recovery spending.

Australia’s biggest insurers want the government to revisit the plans to dramatically increase natural disaster prevention spending, which the commission believes will save billions in post-catastrophe clean-ups.

As the damage wrought by Cyclone Debbie continues to mount, Insurance Australia Group and Suncorp have hit back at politicians’ accusations companies are “stingy” with claims, and have called on the government to adopt the recommendation it commit to an annual $200 million spend on mitigation. The proposal, part of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Natural Disaster Funding ­Arrangements, was rejected by the government two days before Christmas last year, after it sat on the report for two years.

“There is overwhelming evidence that shows the economic and social impact savings which upfront mitigation funding could achieve and this is being ignored,” IAG chief executive Peter Harmer told The Weekend Australian.

“The government response in late December …. was disappointing and did not go far enough, particularly in the area of funding for disaster resilience and mitigation.

“We have been advocating for some time that there needs to be a different approach to natural disaster funding, with more focus on mitigation, to avoid some of the impacts we are seeing.”

As of yesterday, insurers had received nearly 47,000 claims from Queensland and NSW policy­holders for insured losses stretching to $413m. It is estimated losses will break $1 billion.

The federal government invests about $50m a year on adaptation funding but spends more than $500m on average on post-disaster relief and recovery.

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience said spending $250m a year on preventive infrastructure, such as flood levees, would slash recovery costs in half and generate savings of more than $12bn by 2050.

“The recommendations of the review included significantly reducing recovery funding provided to states, while increasing mitigation funding over time,” a government spokeswoman said…….

April 10, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

ESG investors turn to green bonds

Green is the new black: ESG investors turn to green bonds to meet mandates, SMH, Myriam Robin, 9 Apr 17 

As the billions of dollars in ethical and environmental funds swell, Australian corporates and governments are issuing increasing amounts of “green bonds” to access the cash.

Green bonds function just like normal corporate or government bonds, but the issuer has to promise to use the funds to fund some type of environmentally beneficial development. This investment doesn’t have to sustain a commercial rate of return itself – if the bond is instead underwritten by the total balance sheet of the issuer, it shares the issuers’ credit rating. Because of this, green bonds typically have identical yields to equivalent regular bonds.

Between 2014 and 2016, the total amount of money put in funds with some social or green investment principles grew from $US148 billion to $US516 billion across Australia and New Zealand, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review, released in March.

Most of this growth, the report stated, came from professionally managed funds choosing to incorporate such principles into their main funds. Funds specifically targeting green or social impact investors amount to 3.8 per cent of Australia’s total professional managed assets market, up from 2.5 per cent in 2014.

The style of investments by such funds is changing in a way that shows increasing demand for green bonds. In Canada and Europe, the only two regions for which asset allocations were available to the Global Sustainable Investment Review report, a majority (64.4 per cent) of such funds were invested into green bonds – a rapid reversal of the dominant trend in 2014 when equities dominated.

The surging investment in green bonds, the review suggested, could reflect rising environmental concerns. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, $US90 billion of green bonds were issued in 2016, taking the total market past $US200 billion in early 2017. $US19 billion in green bonds were issued globally in the first two months of this year. At the end of February, $US2.3 billion in green bonds had been issued so far in Australia.

Australian governments and banks have led the way in green bond investments – their issuances have been oversubscribed, showing heavy local demand for the products. In a $300 million NAB green bond raising in December 2014, 54 per cent of the bond distribution went to fund managers, with another 30 per cent being purchased by institutions and pension funds.

HSBC’s Violeta Jovanoska, director of debt capital markets in its Sydney office, was involved in the first corporate green bond issue in Australia, a Euro-donominated bond issued by Stockland Trust Management in November 2014, as well as the NAB bond, which HSBC was a joint bookrunner on.

She said corporates were turning to green bonds as a way to access this swelling pool of money placed in funds with an environmental, social or governance mandate. As many investment managers have signed up to responsible investment or climate change agreements, green bonds are a way to meet that commitment………..

The lack of regulation around green bonds has meant some critics dismiss the area as “greenwash” marketing – an environmental sheen on what is essentially a regular corporate bond. It’s hard to say whether green bonds allow new green projects to be completed or if organisations are using them just to easily fund the more environmentally friendly parts of their investment agenda, with the green bond money going towards projects they would have funded anyway. Companies don’t have to turn green in any significant way to issue a green bond……

April 10, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

While the Australian government slumbers on, business takes lead on climate disasters

With actuaries warning that some properties could become uninsurable in future, land values in some areas would likely plummet.

“The possibility of legal liability heightens risks for companies that aren’t responding”

While the financial sector is now seriously factoring the practical impact of climate change into their plans, many within it fear government is not.

Business takes lead on climate disasters, In the wake of cyclone Debbie, the insurance and banking industries are pushing for better mitigation measures, while the federal government lags behind. By Karen Middleton, Saturday Paper 8 Apr 17, “……..The Cannons and their neighbours join the residents of Murwillumbah, Lismore and other affected areas of NSW and Queensland in surveying the damage from cyclone Debbie, and the storms and flash flooding of its aftermath, and asking what can be done to help communities protect themselves in future.

The same questions are being asked in the boardrooms of corporate Australia – especially but not only in the finance sector – with an increasing emphasis on planning for and guarding against such events, rather than just cleaning up afterwards.
…….The Insurance Council of Australia wants the federal government to focus on mitigation as a priority in the upcoming federal budget.

“Cyclone Debbie and the floods that followed it should be a starting point for state and federal governments to address mitigation,” council spokesman Campbell Fuller said.

In the insurance and superannuation industries, work is being done on the likely longer-term impact of climate change on the frequency and ferocity of these major disasters and how they and other investors – and ultimately governments – should respond.

The big banks have also begun studying the implications of climate change on their risk exposure through mortgages reaching back 30 years. Continue reading

April 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s big banks scrutinising business customers for exposure to climate change risks

Climate change: three of Australia’s big four banks reviewing exposure to fossil fuels

Commonwealth, NAB and ANZ are each analysing the financial position of business customers in sectors exposed to climate change, Guardian, , 7 Apr 17, Three of Australia’s big four banks are reviewing their exposure to fossil fuels, including their lending practices to households and farmers, in response to climate change.

The Commonwealth Bank is conducting a “detailed climate policy review” that will be released publicly pending board approval, and NAB has a working group reviewing the risks from global temperatures rising two degrees.

ANZ is conducting portfolio analysis to identify changes in the financial position of business customers in sectors “most exposed” to climate change. It is also working with the Bureau of Meteorology to understand variability in average annual rainfall over recent decades to understand how climate change is affecting Australia’s traditional farming areas.

Executives from the three banks shared this information with the House of Representatives’ standing committee on economics, as part of a review of the four major banks. The revelations, written in response to questions on notice from the committee, were published on the federal parliamentary website on Friday afternoon.

It comes two months after the banking regulator warned climate change posed a material risk to Australia’s financial system, and urged companies to start adapting.

 Geoff Summerhayes from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra), in a major speech to the Insurance Council of Australia’s annual forum in February, warned it planned to start running stress tests of the financial system to see if it would survive various adverse climate shocks.

He pointed to the Paris Climate Agreement, ratified by Australia in November, as a significant policy moment for all governments, including Australia’s.

Summerhayes said the Paris Agreement provided an “unmistakable signal” about the future direction of policy and adjustments that companies, markets and economies “will need to make”.

The revelations from CBA and NAB come after ANZ’s chief executive, Shayne Elliott, said last month he was examining the impact of sea level rise and other climate impacts on housing mortgage risk.

Adam Bandt, the Greens’ climate and energy spokesman, has welcomed the revelations. He also questioned why Westpac has not ruled out funding Adani’s giant Carmichael coalmine in Queensland given its competitors’ concerns about climate change.

“Following ANZ’s revelation that sea-level rises might make it tougher to grant a mortgage, CBA and NAB seem to be examining whether to follow suit,” Bandt said. “The penny doesn’t seem to have fully dropped, because banks like Westpac still think they can commit to a two degree target but leave the door open to expanding coal mines.

“Westpac’s refusal to rule out funding Adani is especially concerning; as the bank seems to think it can have its climate cake and eat it too. But the days of dealing with climate change simply by putting a polar bear in your ad are long gone.”

Last year, financial activists Market Forces said Australia’s big four banks could act on their stated ambition to help achieve a 2C warming target simply by giving no new loans to coal projects.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

While coal mining contributes to climate change, climate change is wiping out coal mining revenue!

Cyclone Debbie could wipe $200m of coal revenue, John McCarthy, The Courier-Mail, April 5, 2017 THE State Government could lose up to $200 million from coal royalty revenue after Cyclone Debbie knocked out crucial rail links to the coast.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment