Climate change could threaten entire financial system, APRA warns, ABC News, 17 Feb 17, By Stephen Long Climate change could threaten the stability of the entire financial system, the prudential regulator has warned, as it prepares to apply climate change “stress tests” to the nation’s financial institutions.
In its first major speech on climate change, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chastised companies for a lack of action on the risks it poses.
“While climate risks have been broadly recognised, they have often been seen as a future problem or a non-financial problem,” APRA executive board member Geoff Summerhayes told an Insurance Council conference in Sydney.
“Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now.
The speech comes as the Government and the Opposition bicker about renewable energy targets amid dismay among industry leaders about a lack of certainty on climate change policy.
The Climate Institute’s CEO John Connor described the speech as a “huge” development.
“APRA has never gone out there like this before,” he said.
“It’s an antidote to the hyper partisan political culture war on climate policy; our regulator’s moved to the front foot in managing climate risks.”
The Climate Institute and the Investor Group on Climate Change wrote jointly to the Council of Financial Regulators two years calling for regulatory action on the financial risks from climate change.
Lack of policy ‘could greatly increase financial risks’
APRA warned in the speech that lack of policy and regulatory action could make the financial risks posed by climate change “greater and more abrupt”.
“There could be either sharper, more significant policy changes and market adjustments down the track, or the physical impacts of climate change could become more severe, more likely and more unpredictable,” Mr Summerhayes said.
“Like all risks, it is better they are explicitly considered and managed as appropriate, rather than simply ignored or neglected.
“So what can you expect to see from us? A greater emphasis on stress testing for organisational and systemic resilience in the face of adverse shocks.
“Just as we would expect to see more sophisticated scenario-based analysis of climate risks at the firm level, we look at these risks as part of our system-wide stress testing.”
APRA’s intervention follows a similar though more pointed warning two years ago by the head of the Bank of England about the threats climate change posed to financial stability…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-17/climate-change-could-threaten-entire-financial-system-apra/8281436?pfmredir=sm
About Seed http://www.seedmob.org.au/about_seed
“Seed is Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network.
We are building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
“Our vision is for a just and sustainable future with strong cultures and communities, powered by renewable energy.
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, but we also know it is an opportunity to create a more just and sustainable world.”
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
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
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
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
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. … “
Meet El Niño’s cranky uncle that could send global warming into hyperdrive, The Conversation, Research Fellow in Climate and Water Resources, University of Melbourne, Climate Extremes Research Fellow, University of Melbourne Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Melbourne Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO, PhD student, University of Melbourne February 6, 2017
You’ve probably heard about El Niño, the climate system that brings dry and often hotter weather to Australia over summer.
You might also know that climate change is likely to intensify drought conditions, which is one of the reasons climate scientists keep talking about the desperate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the damaging consequences if we don’t.
El Niño is driven by changes in the Pacific Ocean, and shifts around with its opposite, La Niña, every 2-7 years, in a cycle known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO.
But that’s only part of the story. There’s another important piece of nature’s puzzle in the Pacific Ocean that isn’t often discussed.
It’s called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO, a name coined by a study which examined how Australia’s rainfall, temperature, river flow and crop yields changed over decades.
Since El Niño means “the boy” in Spanish, and La Niña “the girl”, we could call the warm phase of the IPO “El Tío” (the uncle) and the negative phase “La Tía” (the auntie).
These erratic relatives are hard to predict. El Tío and La Tía phases have been compared to a stumbling drunk. And honestly, can anyone predict what a drunk uncle will say at a family gathering?
We all need to divest from fossil fuels now – especially Australian universities, Guardian
John Quiggin, 2 Feb 17 The end of coal is inevitable but divestment will help accelerate the process, especially as we can’t rely on government to stabilise the environment. T
The movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry has grown rapidly over recent years in tandem with the urgent need to decarbonise the global economy. In Australia, divestment commitments have been made by local councils, charitable trusts, super funds and the Australian Capital Territory.
Universities have been a central focus of the campaign. Leading global universities such as Yale, Stanford and Stockholm have undertaken partial or complete divestment. In Australia, La Trobe and the Queensland University of Technology have made comprehensive divestment commitments, while others including the Australian National University, Monash and Sydney have taken substantial steps towards this goal. Continue reading
Resources Minister Matt Canavan opens $5 billion infrastructure fund for clean-coal power stations, ABC News, 3 Feb 17 By political reporter Henry Belot Resources Minister Matt Canavan has opened the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to fund new so-called clean-coal power stations.
- The Federal Government has invested close to $590 million in clean-coal technology since 2009
- Australia does not have a high-efficiency, low-emission power station
- Prime Minister Turnbull announced the push for more clean-coal technology earlier this week
Senator Canavan’s comments come days after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australian industry had an obligation to be at the forefront of coal technology.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has also not ruled out using money set aside in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to pay for new generation power stations.
Mr Canavan said he had received interest from energy generators to tap into the billion-dollar investment fund and explore North Queensland. “I’ve received some interest over the past week associated with our commitment to build base load power stations, including to support clean coal options,” he told ABC AM. Mr Canavan would not say which companies had expressed interest but said there were viable options near the Galilee Basin and other parts of the state’s north.
The Federal Government has invested close to $590 million in clean-coal technology since 2009 but Australia does not have a high-efficiency, low-emission power station. The Resources Minister cited a 2012 report by industry consultants GHD, which indicated clean-coal power stations could be commercially viable in Australia’s north.
Mr Canavan dismissed comments by some Australia’s energy generators — including AGL and Energy Australia — saying new power stations would be expensive to build and require significant public funds……
Bloomberg New Energy finance researcher Leonard Quong said new coal would be the most expensive form of energy supply. “New coal is made particularly expensive due to the substantial carbon, reputation, trading and construction risks the technology presents to an investor,” he said.
The renewed focus on clean-coal has drawn criticism from Labor and the Greens, who have accused the Government of trying to protect “the coal club”.
Opposition spokesman for climate change and energy Mark Butler said a preference for coal over renewables would mean higher power bills for Australians. Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the cleanest form of electricity would remain wind and solar, while raising concerns about the cost of new base-load coal plants. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-03/infrastructure-fund-opened-for-clean-coal-power-stations/8237866
Push for coal-fired power Malcolm Turnbull has formed a new, powerful cabinet committee to oversee national energy policy.
Turnbull taskforce to push coal-fired power for north The Australian February 4, 2017 DENNIS SHANAHAN Political Editor Canberra MICHAEL OWEN, Malcolm Turnbull has formed a new, powerful cabinet committee to oversee national energy policy as the government proposes to use some of the $5 billion Northern Australia Fund to help build a new, commercially viable coal-fired power station in northern Queensland……
As parliament resumes next week the Prime Minister is putting energy security and lower power prices at the heart of the Coalition’s policy and political campaign with the new cabinet sub-committee — including Mr Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison, Mathias Cormann, Josh Frydenberg, Matt Canavan and Arthur Sinodinos — starting to co-ordinate and develop a national energy policy…….
Mr Turnbull and the Treasurer have flagged using funds from the Clean Energy Development Fund for modern coal-powered generators the government has convinced the $100 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to lend for coal-fired electricity generation in Asia. Senator Canavan, the Minister for Northern Australia, yesterday suggested the government help fund a coal-fired power station in the Galilee Basin in Queensland……
“We back clean-coal options in the north and I want to make clear that we will back investment in clean coal through our $5bn Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. We set up that facility to build infrastructure in the north, to build specific infrastructure like power stations,” Senator Canavan said….
The minister said Mr Turnbull had announced that the “Australian government would look at encouraging the development of a clean coal-fired power station in Australia”. “This will be a clear difference between us and the Labor Party. We support coal…….. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/turnbull-taskforce-to-push-coalfired-power-for-north/news-story/e15cbb9f03c1922f909780ccbffd41cb
New coal plants wouldn’t be clean, and would cost billions in taxpayer subsidies, The Conversation, Director, Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Australian National University February 2, 2017 Following a campaign by the coal industry, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has argued for new coal-fired power stations in Australia. But these plants would be more expensive than renewables and carry a huge liability through the carbon emissions they produce.
Major Australian energy companies have ruled out building new coal plants. The Australian Energy Council sees them as “uninvestable”. Banks and investment funds would not touch them with a barge pole. Only government subsidies could do it.
It may seem absurd to spend large amounts of taxpayers’ money on last century’s technology that will be more costly than renewable power and would lock Australia into a high-carbon trajectory.
But the government is raising the possibility of government funding for new coal plants, with statements by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg. The suggestion is to use funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. For this to happen, presumably the CEFC’s investment mandate would need to be changed, or the meaning of “low-emissions technologies” interpreted in a radical way.
It should come to nothing, if minimum standards of sensible policy prevailed.
But an ill wind is blowing in Australia’s energy and climate policy debate. The situation in parliament is difficult, and the Trump presidency is giving the right wing in the Coalition a boost.
Definitely not ‘clean’……https://theconversation.com/new-coal-plants-wouldnt-be-clean-and-would-cost-billions-in-taxpayer-subsidies-72362
Clean coal explained: Why emissions reductions from coal remain a pipe dream http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-02/clean-coal-explained/8235210 ANALYSIS
Advocates use the phrase to describe two different technologies: carbon capture and storage; and highly efficient, lower emissions coal-fired power stations.
Carbon capture and storage is based on the principle of catching the carbon emissions, or CO2, from burning coal before they are released into the atmosphere.
It works by forcing the exhaust from a coal-fired power plant through a liquid solvent that absorbs the carbon dioxide, heating the solvent to liberate the gas, then compressing it and sending it away for storage underground.
Great in principle, but the technology faces big hurdles in practice.
One is the huge cost and logistical challenge of transporting all the captured carbon dioxide and burying it.
It would require a vast network of pipelines and storage sites. As one doubter observed: “Collectively, America’s coal-fired power plants generate 1.5 billion tons per year. Capturing that would mean filling 30 million barrels with liquid CO2 every single day — about one-and-a-half times the volume of crude oil the country consumes.”
The cost of building the required infrastructure would be enormous and the time periods involved may be too long to prevent the risk, identified by the consensus of expert scientists, of potentially catastrophic climate change.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that the world would need to capture and store almost 4 billion tonnes per annum of CO2 in 2040 to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Far more would be needed to limit it to 1.5C, the target agreed to by 195 nations at the Paris climate conference in 2015.
Yet current carbon capture capacity for projects in operation or under construction sits at approximately 40 million tonnes per annum.
We also don’t know if all gas would stay buried. While scientists are confident that there are geologically stable areas that could keep the carbon underground for very long periods, there is a risk of carbon seeping into the atmosphere.
To date, the technology is not commercially viable.
‘Cleaner coal’ sometimes mislabelled ‘clean coal’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-02/clean-coal-explained/8235210High efficiency, low-emission power stations, also known as ultracritical or supercritical coal-fired power plants, are sometimes also labelled as “clean coal”.
How Malcolm Turnbull could ignore the facts and fund the myth of ‘clean’ coal, Guardian, Michael Slezak 2 Feb 17 “….. Turnbull said in his National Press Club speech on Wednesday that “it’s security and cost that matter most, not how you deliver it”.
But new coal technology is not cheaper than renewable energy.
The US Energy Information Agency recently compared the cost of energy from various types of coal power plants and renewable energy plants.
They found that ultra supercritical coal power plants were about twice as expensive to build per unit of energy, compared to wind farms, and almost 40% more expensive than solar farms. Then coal power stations have higher ongoing maintenance costs, as well as significant fuel costs, compared with the wind and solar where the fuel is free.
Dylan McConnell from the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne said if those costs were recovered through energy prices, that would push energy prices up.
Tennant Reed from the Australian Industry Group recently pointed outthat wholesale electricity prices that are currently worrying big energy consumers have been sitting at about $75 per MWh. But recent projections by the CSIRO suggest the ultra supercritical coal generators would produce electricity at a cost of about $80 per MWh.
“To build a coal plant with such costs, investors would need to expect wholesale prices to rise even above looming levels and stay there for decades,” Reed wrote.
Reed also pointed out that the $80 per MWh projection was optimistic, since it was assuming that the power plants were being used at about 80% of their capacity, which was much higher than was generally the case.
Meanwhile, new wind and solar will produce electricity at about $75-85/MWh today and that price will decrease in coming years.
Buckley says: “So renewables are already at grid parity or cheaper than new USC coal-fired power, they can be built more modularly and five times faster, they have 100% emissions reduction relative to the PR spin called ‘clean coal’, they conform to our Paris CO2 commitments and they are likely to get finance – unlike a new coal-fired power plant.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/02/how-malcolm-turnbull-could-ignore-the-facts-and-fund-the-myth-of-clean-coal
Most Australians oppose government’s $1bn Adani loan for coal railway line https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/most-australians-oppose-governments-1bn-adani-loan-for-coal-railway-line
More than half of Liberal voters also oppose plan to loan Indian company $1bn to build a rail line between proposed Carmichael coalmine and Abbot Point, Guardian, Michael Slezak, Three-quarters of Australians, including most Liberal voters, oppose the government giving a $1bn loan to Adani to build a rail line between its proposed Carmichael coalmine and the Abbot Point shipping terminal.
The government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (Naif) granted Adani “conditional approval” for a $1bn loan in December last year.
The rail line, if built, would allow Adani to build the country’s biggest coalmine and open up the Galilee Basin to further mines by linking them to an export terminal.
Coral scientists have argued the coal needs to stay in the ground if the Great Barrier Reef is to be protected from the impacts of climate change.
The government has argued there is no definite link between the coal from the Adani mine being burned and climate change, and the resources minister, Matthew Canavan, has said the mine would “be a good thing for the environment”.
But a ReachTel poll of 2,126 people across Australia conducted on 12 January, commissioned by GetUp, found 74.4% of respondents said “no” when asked whether “lending $1bn to an offshore mining company ￼to build a coal rail line is a good use of public money”.
Just 16.2% of respondents thought it was a good use of public money, with 9.5% saying they didn’t know.
The opposition was strong regardless of voting intention, with 53.7% of those who said they would vote Liberal opposing the loan. Just over 80% of “undecided” voters, 85.5% of Labor voters and 89.9% of Greens voters said the loan was a bad use of public money.
A previous survey of people living in the region that would host the mine found two-thirds opposed public money being used to support the mine. Analysis from Greenpeace has suggested the rail project does not meet the requirements for a loan under the scheme, since it will not be “of public benefit” and it is not clear Adani will be able to repay the loan.
GetUp’s Miriam Lyons said: “A mere 16% of Australians think this is a good way to invest public money. While we see hospitals and schools starved of resources, the government sees fit to hand over a billion bucks to build Adani’s shiny new train.”
Lyons called on Malcolm Turnbull to stop the loan going ahead.
“Prime minister Turnbull’s not even playing for his own team – only 32% of Liberal voters agree with this use of public money,” she said.