Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s fantasy about “low emission” coal

Canavan, Matt climateNo Minister, Australia doesn’t need last century’s expensive, outdated energy By  on 17 January 2017Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s suggestion that Australia could meet its climate targets by replacing ageing power stations with emerging ‘low emission’ coal-fired technology is an unrealistic fantasy that would cost billions and set back genuine efforts to tackle global warming, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The Australian reports today that research commissioned by Senator Canavan ­estimates Australia’s climate pollution could be cut by ‘up to 27 per cent’ if the country’s coal-based power stations ran on ‘ultra-super-critical’ coal technology.

There is not a single so-called ultra-super-critical coal fired power station in Australia. The vast majority of Australia’s coal fired power stations use old sub-critical technology and most are well past their use-by dates, being more than 30 years old, on average.

Senator Canavan is proposing that Australia builds a whole new fleet of coal-fired power stations at unknown cost (likely to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars) at a time when the rest of the world is moving away from coal fired power.

It is hard to imagine a company that would be prepared to build these huge white elephants, just waiting to become stranded assets.

French company Engie has pulled out of Hazelwood and two of Australia’s biggest electricity generators, AGL and Origin, have set timetables for the exit of their coal fired power stations and have been clear they won’t be making any more investments in coal.

Even if finance for these fantasy plants was found, the costs would never be recouped over the lifetime of the assets, considering Australia’s Paris climate commitments. 

In contrast, investments in new renewable energy, which has zero fuel cost, will still be useful and productive in decades to come.

Research released by ACF in December shows strong clean energy policies would generate an additional 90,700 jobs across Queensland by 2030.

If Senator Canavan cares about jobs and a healthy future he would stop spruiking last century’s dirty energy and start securingthe tens of thousands of new jobs that flow from strong clean energy policies.

Matthew Rose is an economist with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

90% of rural Australians say their lives are already affected by climate change

climate SOSClimate change: 90% of rural Australians say their lives are already affected, Guardian, , 15 Jan 17 
Overwhelming majority believe they are living with the effects of warming and 46% say coal-fired power should be phased out. 
Ninety per cent of people living in rural and regional Australia believe they are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and 46% believe coal-fired power stations should be phased out, according to a new study.

A poll of 2,000 people conducted by the Climate Institute found that 82% of respondents in rural and regional Australia and 81% of those in capital cities were concerned about increased droughts, flooding and destruction of the Great Barrier Reef due to climate change, and 78% of all respondents were concerned there would be more bushfires.

About three quarters of all respondents – 76% in capital cities and 74% in rural or regional areas – said ignoring climate change would make the situation worse and about two-thirds said they believed the federal government should take a leading role……..

The majority of people – 59% in capital cities and 53% in regional areas – said solar was their preferred energy source, followed by wind and hydro.

Only 3% of respondents in the city and 4% in regional areas said coal was their preferred energy source.

Nicky Ison, the director of the Community Power Agency, which represents 80 grassroots groups, said the results showed that concern about climate change was not limited to inner-city suburbs.

“I think there’s a misconception that concern is mainly held in the city and I think there are some strong voices, particularly in rural and regional Australia, that have exaggerated or stoked that misconception,” Ison said.

“A vocal minority gets a lot of traction, probably because they have a greater access to megaphones.”

Matthew Charles-Jones is a co-president of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, a community-run initiative that aims to make the small town, 300km north-east of Melbourne, entirely run on renewable power by 2022.

Charles-Jones said the group was motivated by energy security and rising electricity costs but members were also concerned about the effects of climate change.

“We have been threatened by bushfire roughly every three years for the last decade,” he said.

The last bushfire was in December 2015. “It’s very real for us in Yackandandah,” Charles-Jones said.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Protest movement intensifies against Adani’s Carmichael coal project

protestAdani coalmine activists gear up to fight: ‘This will dwarf the Franklin blockade’

As the protest against the Carmichael project – Australia’s largest proposed coalmine – moves beyond the courts and into the realm of civil disobedience, activists have a clear warning: ‘If you’re in bed with Adani, you’re a target’, Guardian, , 14 Jan 17, Across Australia a secretive network of activists are laying the groundwork for what they expect will be the biggest environmental protest movement in the country’s history.

Of course this won’t materialise if Adani and the rest of the miners proposing to open up one of the world’s biggest coalfields walk away from Queensland’s Galilee basin first.

But standing idly by on the assumption that the economics of the massive coal projects won’t stack up – at a time the world is trying to reduce carbon emissionsto limit global warming to under 2C – is not a choice these activists are willing to make.

And so the campaign to take the fight against Australia’s largest proposed coalmine, Adani’s Carmichael project, to another level, beyond the courts and into the realm of civil disobedience, is under way………

January 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

At both Poles – record losses of sea ice in 2016

New analysis: global sea ice suffered major losses in 2016  By Tom Yulsman | January 7, 2017 The extent of sea ice globally took major hits during 2016, according to an analysis released yesterday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

At both poles, “a wave of new record lows were set for both daily and monthly extent,” according to the analysis.


In recent years, Arctic sea ice has been hit particularly hard.

“It has been so crazy up there, not just this autumn and winter, but it’s a repeat of last autumn and winter too,” says Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.

In years past, abnormal warmth and record low sea ice extent tended to occur most frequently during the warmer months of the year. But for the past two years, things have gotten really weird in the colder months.

In 2015, Serreze says, “you had this amazing heat wave, and you got to the melting point at the North Pole on New Years Eve. And we’ve had a repeat this autumn and winter — an absurd heat wave, and sea ice at record lows.”

Lately, the Southern Hemisphere has been getting into the act. “Now, Antarctic sea ice is very, very low,” Serreze says.

From the NSIDC analysis:

Record low monthly extents were set in the Arctic in January, February, April, May, June, October, and November; and in the Antarctic in November and December.

Put the Arctic and the Antarctic together, and you get his time series of daily global sea ice extent, meaning the Arctic plus Antarctic:

As the graph [on original] shows, the global extent of sea ice tracked well below the long-term average for all of 2016. The greatest deviation from average occurred in mid-November, when sea ice globally was 1.50 million square miles below average.

For comparison, that’s an area about 40 percent as large as the entire United States.

The low extent of sea ice globally “is a result of largely separate processes in the two hemispheres,” according to the NSIDC analysis.

For the Arctic, how much might humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases be contributing to the long-term decline of sea ice? The graph above [on original] , based on data from a study published in the journal Science, “links Arctic sea ice loss to cumulative CO2emissions in the atmosphere through a simple linear relationship,” according to an analysis released by the NSIDC last December. Based on observations from the satellite and pre-satellite era since 1953, as well as climate models, the study found a linear relationship of 3 square meters of sea ice lost per metric ton of CO2 added to the atmosphere.

That’s over the long run. But over a shorter period of time, what can be said? Specifically, how much of the extreme warmth and retraction of sea ice that has been observed in autumn and winter of both 2015 and 2016 can be attributed to humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases?

“We’re working on it,” Serreze says. “Maybe these are just extreme random events. But I have been looking at the Arctic since 1982, and I have never seen anything like this.”

January 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Heat records smashed in 2016 in many Western Australian towns

heatHydrate before reading: WA’s record-smashing hottest towns for 2016
If you complained about the heat in Perth earlier this week, spare a thought for our friends in the north of the state, who sweltered through their hottest year ever.

The Bureau of Meteorology has just released its annual climate updates and while cooler than normal temperatures in the south stopped WA’s overall annual numbers blowing out, towns up north broke records that make you uncomfortable just reading about them.

Wyndham Aerodrome set a new Australian record for annual average maximum: 37.5 degrees.

Kununurra broke its 1992 record of 36.4 to set a new one: 36.7.

Derby broke its 2015 record of 35.7 with 36.3.

Bureau of Meteorology liaison Glenn Cook said Broome equalled its record average of 33.3 for the first time since 1988.

Other Kimberley towns to break their own daytime records were Warmun Aboriginal community, Troughton Island, Cygnet Bay, Doongan Station and Argyle Aerodrome.

And residents got no relief at night, Mr Cook said, with sites across the Pilbara and Kimberley also breaking their records for highest annual mean minimums.

Troughton Island set a new Australian record of 27 degrees.

Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha and Derby all broke 2010 overnight temperature records with new highs of 23.5, 21.5, 22.0 and 23.5.

Overall for 2016, the region had its hottest average overnight temperatures ever, and its second-hottest average daytime temperatures.

They couldn’t even have the relief of saying “but it’s a dry heat”, as WA also had its wettest year since 2011……Troughton Island set a new Australian record of 27 degrees.

Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha and Derby all broke 2010 overnight temperature records with new highs of 23.5, 21.5, 22.0 and 23.5.

Overall for 2016, the region had its hottest average overnight temperatures ever, and its second-hottest average daytime temperatures.

They couldn’t even have the relief of saying “but it’s a dry heat”, as WA also had its wettest year since 2011.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Matt Canavan Australia’s very own Minister For The Coal Industry

Canavan, Matt climateNext-generation coal can fill gap, says Matt Canavan, 5 Jan 17 
Australia should turn to the next generation of coal-fired power stations to generate more domest­ic electricity, according to a key federal minister who has gone on the offensive against conservationists who want to end the use of coal…. (subscribers only)   

a-cat-CAN(You can see why I don’t bother to subscribe to this puppet of industry newspaper!)

January 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

2016 – Australia’s year of record-breaking extreme weather

climate-changeRecord-breaking extreme weather in Australia in 2016 devastates ecosystems

Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement cites unprecedented bushfires in regions that don’t usually burn and worst coral bleaching on record, Guardian , 5 Jan 16 Australia’s weather was extreme in 2016, driven by humankind’s burning of fossil fuels as well as a strong El Niño, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement.

That extreme weather led to devastated ecosystems both on land and in the sea, with unprecedented bushfires in regions that don’t usually burn, the worst coral bleaching on record, and has been attributed as the cause of damage to vast tracts of crucial kelp forests, oyster farms and salmon stocks across southern Australia.

The statement, released on Thursday, said the country as a whole had its fourth-warmest year on record, but locally, Sydney and Darwin broke records for both their hottest maximum temperatures and hottest minimum temperatures.

Hobart had its warmest night on record in 2016 and both Hobart and Brisbane had records for their hottest annual mean temperature fall as well. The hot and dry start to the year sparked bushfires in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

The fires that swept through the Tasmanian world heritage forests were described as the worst crisis those forests faced in decades. The usually damp alpine forests there had been dried out by earlier dry weather and then a huge number of lightning strikes – which are expected to become more common as temperatures rise – burned through forests, killing trees that were hundreds of years old.

While land burned, the sea around Australia broiled. The bureau’s statement said despite the surface temperature of the seas around Australia being consistently high in recent years, 2016 reached a new record temperature, being 0.73C above the 1961-90 average.

Off the coast of Queensland, those record temperatures led to the worst coral bleaching on record, where an estimated 22% of the coral on the entire 2,300km length of the Great Barrier Reef was lost.

In the northern, most remote and most pristine part of the reef, coral was devastated by the unusually warm water, which scientists say will become the norm in fewer than 20 years.

The bureau’s statement also notes that ocean temperatures were at record highs around Tasmania in 2016. The freakishly hot waters there have been attributed as the cause of damage to oyster, salmon and abalone industries, as well as increased stress to kelp forests, already devastated by warmer waters in recent years.

The record hot waters in Tasmania were caused by a strengthened east Australian current, which drags warm waters from the tropics, along the coast of Australia. “This was associated with the longest and most intense marine heatwave on record for the south-east Australian region,” the statement said.

It added: “The pattern of above average temperatures over land and in the oceans reflects the background warming trend. The Australian climate in 2016 was influenced by a combination of natural drivers and anthropogenic climate change.”

The hot temperatures around the country were followed up by unusually wet conditions for much of Australia too.

The bureau said Adelaide had its second-wettest year on record and its wettest since 1992. Sydney, Canberra and Hobart had above average rainfall. But the pattern wasn’t uniform, as Perth and Melbourne were close to average and Darwin and Brisbane were significantly drier than average in 2016.

“Widespread, drought-breaking rains led to flooding in multiple states,” said Neil Plummer from the Bureau of Meteorology. “Even northern Australia saw widespread rainfall, during what is usually the dry season, greening regions that had been in drought for several years.”

January 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Determined local protests against Adani coal mine

Adani’s Mega Mine in Australia Runs Into Local Protests!topic/wgar-news/YhylvDagW10  Stephen de Tarczynski 2 January 2017:

” … But at a time when global warming is a significant threat to humanity, the Carmichael mine is generating substantial opposition. Since the project was announced in 2010, there have been more than ten appeals and judicial processes against the mine.

Shani Tager, a campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, is adamant that the coal that Adani wants to dig up must remain in the ground. “It’s a massive amount of coal that they’re talking about exporting,  which will be burnt and used and make the problem of global warming even worse,” she says. …

““The Carmichael coal mine will have a domino effect of bad impacts on the reef, from driving the need for port expansion and more dredging and dumping to increasing the risk of shipping accidents on the reef,” says Cherry Muddle from the Australian Marine Conservation Society. …

“If they can’t get the money, they can’t build the mine,” says Murrawah Johnson. … “

January 6, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Battle Lines Drawn Over Indian Mega Mine

‘Murrawah Johnson, 21, of the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, 
is among those standing in the way of the huge Carmichael coal mine project
in Australia’s Queensland state.’   Stephen de Tarczynski | MENAFN Press 30 December 2016:

“‘Our people are the unique people from that country,’ says Murrawah,  whose name means ‘rainbow’ in the indigenous Gubbi Gubbi language.
‘That is who we are in our identity, in our culture, in our song and in our dance,’ she adds.
The mine’s estimated average annual carbon emissions of 79 million tonnes are three times those of New Delhi, six times those of Amsterdam and double Tokyo’s average annual emissions.

“The Wangan and Jagalingou, numbering up to 500 people, regard the Carmichael coal mine
as a threat to their very existence and have repeatedly rejected the advances of Adani Mining,
the company behind the project.
The traditional owners argue the mine would destroy their land,  which ‘means that our story is then destroyed. And we as a people and our identity, as well,’
Murrawah, a spokesperson for her people’s Family Council, told IPS. … “

January 1, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increasing, government admits

Map Turnbull climateTurnbull government confirms Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising, SMH, 

Adam Morton, 22 Dec 16,   The government has confirmed Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and projected that it will not get near its 2030 climate target under current policies….. Released in the shadow of the Christmas holidays, the Environment Department greenhouse accounts show national emissions rose 0.8 per cent in the year to June.

The department analysis shows the increase largely came from electricity generation – the country used more power without much change in its reliance on fossil fuels – and new liquefied natural gas projects.

In per capita terms, emissions per person continued to fall – to less than 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide, down from about 26 tonnes a decade ago – as population growth outpaced the rise in pollution……

Australian Conservation Foundation economist Matt Rose said the government was failing to cut climate pollution, and was holding back evidence of its poor performance from the public.

Documents released to the foundation after a Freedom of Information request showed it had been sitting on the data since September, but chose to release it just three days before Christmas…….

The government is reviewing climate policies next year, but has already ruled out any form of carbon pricing that would penalise big emitters.

Business and environment groups are urging the government to keep all options, including a form of carbon pricing known as an emission intensity scheme, open to ensure cuts are made as cheaply as possible.

December 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest as Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) board members approve $1bn to Adani coal project

five of the seven Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) board members have what it calls “strong ties” to the mining industry.

Adani’s Carmichael coalmine doesn’t meet infrastructure fund criteria, says Greenpeace

Analysis says $1bn of commonwealth funding would amount to paying $683,000 for each job generated, Guardian, , 21 Dec 16, Adani’s coal infrastructure should not be given money from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund since it does not meet at least two of the mandatory criteria, according to analysis by Greenpeace. Continue reading

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

Resources Minister Matt Canavan attacks Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Canavan, Matt climateFederal resources minister accuses ABC of ‘fake news’ over Adani coalmine Matt Canavan attacks the broadcaster for being one-sided and says Australia’s biggest coalmine would improve the environment, Guardian, , 22 Dec 16, The federal resources minister has accused the ABC of reporting fake news and thrown his weight behind the energy giant Adani, amid Indian finance ministry investigations into the company.

Matt Canavan attacked the ABC for what he described as one-sided coverage of Adani’s plans to build Australia’s biggest coalmine and accused the national broadcaster of having a massive blindspot when it came to the project.

The Liberal National party senator from Queensland also said the Adani Carmichael coalmine would improve the environment in central Queensland by setting aside land for birdlife and returning water to the Great Artesian basin……..

The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, said Canavan’s comments showed the “lunatic fringe” was in power.

“For Matt Canavan to suggest that Adani’s Carmichael coalmine will be good for the environment, in contrast to all scientific evidence, shows that the lunatic fringe of the Turnbull government is running the show,” Di Natale said.

“Matt Canavan’s comments are an embarrassment and if [the prime minister] Malcolm Turnbull is serious about tackling dangerous climate change he will give Australia an early Christmas present by stopping the Adani coalmine from opening and stopping Matt Canavan from opening his mouth.”……

December 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Turnbull govt agreed to grant $640,000 to climate denialist centre

Federal grant to Bjørn Lomborg centre made in Turnbull era, documents show
Department agreement to provide $640,000 grant dates from March 2016, according to documents obtained under freedom of information,
Guardian, , 23 Dec 16, The Turnbull government signed an agreement to make a $640,000 grant to Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre nine months after plans to establish the centre had been abandoned.

Lomborg, Bjorn

The education department may have been under no legal obligation to make the grant, documents suggest.

The funding was used to support the centre’s post-2015 UN development goals project that found limiting global temperature rises to 2C was a poor investment.

A breakdown of costs released on Thursday shows that $482,000 of the Australian funding was spent on professional fees and services including research, “outreach” and forums.

About $146,000 was spent on travel in an ambitious global project convening seminars to discuss the UN development goals in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and New York.

The project formed the basis of Lomborg’s book The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World, which is not widely available in Australian shops.

Documents released under freedom of information show the department only entered a formal agreement to fund the project as late as 21 March 2016. Based on those documents and answers provided by the education department it appears the government did not have any ongoing commitment to the project when the Australian Consensus Centre was canned in June 2015……..

Labor’s innovation, industry, science and research shadow minister, Kim Carr, called on the government to provide a full explanation of the grant.

“The government must explain how and why this grant was still awarded, even after it had terminated the agreement with the university for the Australian Consensus Centre following pressure from the opposition and the research community,” Carr said.

“Malcolm Turnbull cannot hide behind a prior deal made by Tony Abbott – his government signed a fresh contract on 21 March 2016.”

“This use of taxpayers’ money to promote an anti-science conservative agenda shows that Malcolm Turnbull is still beholden to the right wing of the Liberal party.”

At Senate estimates on 20 October, Birmingham said the government had made a “special purpose” decision to allocate funding to the consensus centre, a process that was “terminated”…….

December 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Warning from UNESCO on Great Barrier Reef

barrier-reeefUNESCO says Great Barrier Reef is back in the danger zone (includes videos) 

December 19, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | 1 Comment

Greens urge Queensland government to reject $1 billion taxpayer-funded loan for Adani coal rail line

coal CarmichaelMine2NAIF funding: Greens call for Queensland government to put stop to Adani loan, SMH. Felicity Caldwell, 12 Dec 16.  Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should reject a $1 billion taxpayer-funded concessional loan for the Adani Carmichael mine’s rail line, the Queensland Greens say.

The Greens say the Premier has the power to reject funding under the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility………Last week, Ms Palaszczuk met with Mr Adani and announced Townsville would be home to the Carmichael mine’s regional headquarters.

The Greens’ statewide campaign calling on the government to reject the NAIF loan and protect the reef will start in the electorate of Mount Coot-tha, targeting Environment Minister Steven Miles’ seat.

Billboards will be erected in the electorate and will be accompanied with online videos and a doorknocking campaign.

December 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment