Australian news, and some related international items

Turnbull government wants to subsidise fossil fuel transport

Turnbull wants to subsidise coal AND gas transport, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 27 April 2017  Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has again declared his support for all things fossil fuel, after suggesting his government could use public money to sponsor both new coal and gas production facilities in Australia, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

In his latest concession to the nation’s powerful fossil fuel lobby, Turnbull told Brisbane Radio that the fund could be used both to subsidise gas pipelines in northern Australia and to underwrite the plans of Indian coal giant Adani to build a rail line from its proposed Carmichael mine………

Activist group GetUp said Turnbull’s plan to use public monies to underwrite gas pipelines was “another white elephant”.

“Not content with handing over a billion dollars to prop up Adani’s doomed coal project, Turnbull now wants to spend public money on an expensive and unviable gas pipeline as well.” said GetUp’s Miriam Lyons.

“Spending public money on white elephants in waiting is a betrayal of everyday Australians who pay their taxes to fund public services and public-interest infrastructure.

“As with Adani’s doomed Carmichael project, a gas pipeline from the Northern Territory to Queensland doesn’t stack up economically,” Lyons said.

“It will also do nothing to stop price-gouging by greedy gas generators who have a stranglehold on the market for supplying power to meet demand spikes caused by heatwaves and cold snaps.

“The best thing we can do to break the power of greedy gas companies is to back the competition: cleaner, cheaper, fracking-free energy from solar and storage, as well as energy efficiency,” she said.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s political leaders have a disgraceful history of climate inaction. Time to March For Science

March for science? After decades of climate attacks, it’s high time, The Conversation, Marc HudsonPhD Candidate, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, April 20, 2017. This Saturday, the March for Science will be held in cities around the world – coincidentally enough, ten years to the day since John Howard urged Australians to pray for rain.

While such marches are not the answer to everything, their very existence tells us that science is under attack, not merely from defunding of research bodies, but also via attacks on the inconvenient truths of climate science.

While scientists weep over the Great Barrier Reef, some politicians respond by laughing and joking. Continue reading

April 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, history | Leave a comment

New South Wales: Gladys Berejiklian government taking on a green tinge on energy and climate change

Energy policy: Gladys Berejiklian government might be greener than Mike Baird’s, SMH, 15  Apr 17  Kelsey Munro “….. Anthony Roberts, planning and housing minister in Gladys Berejiklian’s NSW government, which some believe is showing a far greener hue than the paralysed politics of climate change at federal level might lead anyone to expect.

Witness the Premier’s visit to the flood-stricken north coast earlier this month, where she said the flood was “a one in-40-year event, if not longer”, before adding, matter-of-factly, “Unfortunately, these freak weather incidents are going to increase.”

That is the language of a politician who takes mainstream climate science as an article of faith.

The government’s signals are particularly clear in energy policy, where the new Energy and Resources Minister Don Harwin is touting a statewide “boom in renewable energy projects”, mainly in large-scale solar. “Latest figures show our renewable energy sources already contribute 14 per cent to the NSW electricity energy mix,” he told Fairfax Media. “During the state’s heatwave on February 10 this year, at the time of peak demand, renewables provided 29 per cent of total energy generation.”

The government last week backed a Greens motion to support a technical change in the structure of the national energy market that would put batteries and other storage technologies on a level playing field with more established generators, with Mr Harwin saying in parliament he had already communicated that position to the Australian Energy Market Commission……..

According to the government’s modelling, 79 per cent of NSW greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels………

One significant factor is that the economics have changed dramatically. It is now far cheaper to build large-scale solar or wind than new fossil fuel powered stations, Ms McKenzie said, pointing to the Council’s recent report which found electricity from new coal-power stations would cost $160 per megawatt hour, while solar farms are around $110 per megawatt hour and falling……

Nationally, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising steadily, after a carbon tax-driven dip between 2012 and 2014.

April 17, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | 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

Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) backing shonky climate denial book

Australian Climate Denial Think Tank Picks Cat Author and Moonman Ken Ring as Climate Expert, Desmog blog, By Graham Readfearn, April 9, 2017 Do you love cats and want to know what makes them tick?  Do you think climate change is a hoax being pushed as part of a eugenics plot?  Do you like rubber band magic?

If your answers to these questions are “yes,” “hell yeah,” and “sometimes,” then have I got the book for you? Hell yeah, I do.

Australian “think tank,” the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), has launched a fundraising drive for its 2017 edition of the book Climate Change: The Facts.

The IPA is Australia’s biggest pusher of climate science denial and has assembled a conga-line of deniers and contrarians to write chapters for the upcoming publication. Continue reading

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

Australia’s “CATASTROPHIC collapse of life”, in some areas, if we don’t change policies on climate change

Professor Emeritus of science at Griffith University says govt energy policy risks ‘catastrophe’ Nick Whigham, 13 Apr 17

A “CATASTROPHIC collapse of life” is drawing closer and parts of Australia could become unlivable by the end of the century if we don’t change course

UNLESS the Australian government fully embraces renewable energy and moves to decarbonise our energy supply in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, parts of Australia like Bourke and Alice Springs will become unlivable in our lifetime.

That’s the warning from the highly decorated Professor Emeritus of the School of Science at Griffith University, and former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Professor Ian Lowe.

As public debate rages over the potential opening of the Adani coal mine in Carmichael, Queensland, Prof Lowe believes the government’s dedication to fossil fuels is taking the country in a troubling direction.

Speaking to he worried that the government’s intention to not only open up the controversial Carmichael coal mine but also open up the Galilee basin will “effectively guarantee the frying of the planet”.

“If we continue to expand fossil fuels — which is what things like opening up the Galilee Basin means — by 2050 the average global temperature will be at least two degrees more,” he said.

Under such a scenario, he expects parts of inland Australia to see average temperature rises that would make them virtually unlivable by the second half of the century.

“It’s difficult to imagine how life will continue in places like Alice Springs and Bourke under that sort of regime.”

In the coming decades, he believes countries including Australia who are not doing enough to combat global warming will receive backlash from the international community.

“I think there’ll be increasing international pressure for Australia to get into line,” he said……. .

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

Adani coal mine could become a massive stranded asset, lawyers warn

Loaning $900m for Adani’s central Queensland coal railway too risky, environmental lawyers say   The World Today  By Katherine Gregory Environmental lawyers have warned directors of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to not fund Adani’s proposed coal railway in central Queensland because it is in breach of their duties.

Key points:

  • Environmental Justice Australia writes to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, calling for its directors to not fund Adani’s coal railway
  • Lawyer says taxpayers exposed to financial risk if $900 million is loaned
  • Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan calls letter a bullying tactic

Indian coal miner Adani has been seeking a $900-million loan to build the railway line from its proposed mine site in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal port.

Not-for-profit legal group Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) said the Federal Government’s NAIF directors need to consider the financial risks associated with climate change and he warned the investment was not commercially viable.

Environmental lawyer David Barnden said EJA sent a letter to NAIF’s directors on Tuesday outlining the duty.  “The risks to the Adani rail project in the Galilee basin are too great,” Mr Barnden said.

“And there is a massive risk of it being a stranded asset and we think that if NAIF officials are to comply with their duties, then they cannot fund it.”

Mr Barnden said the directors were bound by statutory duties, according to the public governance and performance accountability act, which all Commonwealth public officials need to comply with.He said if they do decide to use taxpayer funds for Adani’s project, then “it would be a breach of law and a breach of a legal standard”.

Mr Barnden also said the Australian taxpayer would also be exposed to financial risk if NAIF decided to fund the project. “If there is no market for this coal, there’ll be no payment to the rail project and project couldn’t replay any loan to it,” Mr Barnden said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) commissioned the environmental lawyers’ advice on the issue.

The ACF has been using all avenues, including legal options, to stop Adani’s coal mine, fearing it will contribute to climate change and also further damage the Great Barrier Reef……say$900m-loan-too-risky/8439582  

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

The 10 most-absurd things about the Adani mine.

Australia’s climate bomb: the senselessness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine   Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies, Monash University April 12, 2017 Veteran environmental campaigner and former Greens senator Bob Brown has previously pointed to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine as the new Franklin River of environmental protest in Australia. Yet the future of this “climate bomb” hangs in the balance.

The ongoing contest over the mine’s approval is about to get very heated. Some of the final decisions are to be made very soon.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that native title claims would not impede the approval process, and that Adani would press ahead with its plans to seek A$1 billion in funding for the rail line needed to transport coal to Abbot Point for export.

The consequences of going ahead with the mine are almost incalculable. This is not simply because of the emissions it will produce, but from the fact it promotes and normalises the insanity that coal can still be “good for humanity”.

Here’s my list of the ten most-absurd things about the Adani mine. Continue reading

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

Prime Minister Turnbull actively lobbying for Adani and the coal industry, not without attracting criticism

His idea of protecting the Reef is giving a coal billionaire a billion dollars to build a coal mine right on the Reef’s doorstep.

Turnbull slammed for “sucking up” to Adani, as business pushes 50-year life for coal plants, REneweconomy, By  on 11 April 2017 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come under renewed criticism from Australian environmental groups after meeting with senior executives from Indian coal mining giant Adani Group as part of his three-day state visit to India.

The meeting with Adani chair Gautam Adani and other company executives in New Delhi on Monday coincides with deliberations on company’s final investment decision on the $21-billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin, which is set to be Australia’s largest coal mine, if built. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Senate Committee Report recommends market-based carbon trading scheme, but shows idealogical divisions between political parties

Senate inquiry sparks ideological fight over Australia’s energy supply and climate change, ABC News, By political reporter Angelique Donnellan, 10 Apr 17, A Senate inquiry report into Australia’s electricity supplies has descended into a slanging match between members, prompting questions about its value for taxpayers.

The Select Committee into the Resilience of Australia’s Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World heard from 60 witnesses in Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne, including major energy generators, retailers and industry regulators.

But in the committee’s draft report released today, Federal Greens senator and chairwoman Sarah Hanson-Young took aim at the Coalition and its policies.

“The introduction of a market-based carbon trading scheme would effectively end the decades-long subsidy that coal has received in the electricity generation market,” she said.

“Yet like the proverbial ostrich, the Coalition Government has buried its collective head in the coalmine and refuses to address in any meaningful way the crisis facing the nation.”

The committee had seven other members, including three Labor senators, two Liberal, One Nation and Nick Xenophon.

All dissented to Senator Hanson-Young’s draft report, with Coalition senators calling it biased, false, misleading and dismissive of coal as a generator for electricity…….

Senator Hanson-Young questioned the use of gas as a transition fuel and the need for more gas mining.

“The misplaced notion that coal seam gas could provide a solution to the gas shortage on Australia’s east coast displays a profound ignorance of how the market works,” she said.

“Any unconventional gas will surely find its way onto the export market.”

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull, Marketing Man for Coal in India – despite the glut in India’s coal market

Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India’s aim to stop imports Glut in Indian coal market, plans to phase out imports and lower than forecast energy demands cast doubt on future for exports from proposed Adani mine, Guardian,  , 11 Apr 17Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible. ………..On Monday Turnbull met Gautam Adani, the mining magnate whose company will soon decide whether to begin building the world’s largest coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Young Nationals split from party policy, now to back emissions trading

The motion taken by the Young Nats brings them into line with the National Farmers’ Federation, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and much of the energy sector, including the electricity transmission and distribution businesses

Young Nationals reject federal party policy to back emissions trading, The Age, Heath Aston , 10 Apr 17,  The Young Nationals have split with the senior ranks of the party, voting to support the introduction of a carbon trading scheme.  Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Turnbull in India, for talks with Mr Adani, who will press him for $900 funding for coal project

Adani to press Turnbull on $900m boost during visit , THE AUSTRALIAN, , Political correspondent, Canberra, @CroweDM, 10 Apr 17,  Malcolm Turnbull will be asked to seal a $900 million deal to clear the way for the mammoth Adani coal mine in central Queensland during his visit to India that also seeks to inject momentum into a trade deal between two countries.

The Prime Minister arrived in New Delhi last night for a three-day state visit that will include talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, meetings with business leaders and a focus on the country’s demand for energy.

The $21 billion coal project towers over other items on the agenda, with Adani pushing for action within months on financing agreements and regulatory hurdles. Its Carmichael mine is being opposed by green groups in the courts and on the ground.

“We’ll certainly be talking about the importance of energy exports to India,” Mr Turnbull said before flying to New Delhi from Port Moresby, where he concluded a two-day visit yesterday morning. “India has a massive program of expanding electrification across the country and Australian coal has a very big role to play in that.”

Adani founder Gautam Adani told Indian media last month the company was eligible for $900m from the Turnbull government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build the rail line from the mine to the company’s port at Abbot Point.

The backing from the fund, which uses federal guarantees to finance commercial projects, will help Adani limit its equity contribution to the rail project to about $800m of a total investment of about $2.5bn in the next two years, with the rest coming from debt and the NAIF.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met Mr Adani in Mumbai last month and announced most approvals had been concluded for the project. At the same function, Mr Adani said he expected final approval from the federal government by May.

Mr Turnbull is expected to see Mr Adani during the visit after meeting him at least twice, in November 2015 and December 2016, when the billionaire pushed for more help to get the mine open.

After the 2015 meeting, Mr Adani said he had pressed Mr Turnbull to legislate to stop environmental groups delaying the project in the courts. The Abbott government’s attempt to amend the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop “vigilante” activists was stymied in the Senate a month before Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister.

Writing in The Australian today, Mr Turnbull emphasises the opportunities for Australia as the Indian economy grows, increasing demand for Australia…..

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

Farmers For Climate gives a voice for rural Australians

Farmers are leading way on climate change action, John Iser, 9 Apr 2017It’s often assumed that farmers and regional communities aren’t concerned about climate change. Our state and federal politicians debate the issue with little thought of what’s happening in the country, despite agriculture being Australia’s most climate-exposed sector.

However, farmers are taking it upon themselves to bridge the divide. A new advocacy group called Farmers for Climate Action has formed to give a voice to those who are on the frontline of climate change. At the same time, the country’s peak farming body, the National Farmers’ Federation, has updated its thinking on the issue.  It now recognises that climate change poses a significant challenge for Australian farmers. In fact, taking action offers many benefits for the millions who live in the country.

The practical solutions for farmers to reduce carbon emissions will advance innovation, and renewable energy developments create jobs.

Climate action is also crucial for land health and biodiversity, both of which affect the productivity of agriculture.

Farmers and rural communities also have a major influence on government decisions.

The Victorian government have just banned fracking after farmers vigorously voiced their concerns.  The politicians recognised that mining of unconventional gas puts the quality of farmland and its water at risk, as well as the health of people and animals living nearby.

In South Australia, a parliamentary inquiry made a similar finding.

Rural communities are now turning their attention to the effects of climate change. They know that action will protect farmland and their livelihoods which will then benefit the country as a whole.  John Iser is the Victorian chairman of Doctors for the Environment Australia

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

Scientists despair at new data on Great Barrier Reef destruction

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest bleaching data ‘Last year was bad enough, this is a disaster,’ says one expert as Australia Research Council finds fresh damage across 8,000km

‘Australia’s politicians have betrayed the reef and only the people can save it, Guardian,  and , 10 Apr 17, Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found.

The findings have caused alarm among scientists, who say the proximity of the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events is unprecedented for the reef, and will give damaged coral little chance to recover.

Scientists with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies last week completed aerial surveys of the world’s largest living structure, scoring bleaching at 800 individual coral reefs across 8,000km.

The results show the two consecutive mass bleaching events have affected a 1,500km stretch, leaving only the reef’s southern third unscathed.

Where last year’s bleaching was concentrated in the reef’s northern third, the 2017 event spread further south, and was most intense in the middle section of the Great Barrier Reef. This year’s mass bleaching, second in severity only to 2016, has occurred even in the absence of an El Niño event.

Mass bleaching – a phenomenon caused by global warming-induced rises to sea surface temperatures – has occurred on the reef four times in recorded history.

Prof Terry Hughes, who led the surveys, said the length of time coral needed to recover – about 10 years for fast-growing types – raised serious concerns about the increasing frequency of mass bleaching events.

“The significance of bleaching this year is that it’s back to back, so there’s been zero time for recovery,” Hughes told the Guardian. “It’s too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year’s bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year’s bleaching.”

Last year, in the worst-affected areas to the reef’s north, roughly two-thirds of shallow-water corals were lost.

Hughes has warned Australia now faces a closing window to save the reef by taking decisive action on climate change.

The 2017 bleaching is likely to be compounded by other stresses on the reef, including the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish and poor water quality. The category-four tropical cyclone Debbie came too late and too far south for its cooling effect to alleviate bleaching……….

April 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment