Australian news, and some related international items

Court action in India against Adani – allegations of ‘coercion, fraud and undue influence’

Adani power plant and coal plans threatened by land owner court action, ABC News, By Stephen Long, 11 July 20

  “……….   Allegations of ‘coercion, fraud and undue influence’

The case filed with the court accuses Adani and its agents of using “coercion, fraud [and] undue influence” to illegally exclude thousands of people affected by the development from a required social impact assessment.

The claimants allege that a key meeting was full of labourers “from far away” who were paid to attend a crucial public hearing about the development and — in conjunction with local police — used brutal force to keep villagers opposed to Adani’s project out.

“Thousands of people gathered to go into the venue site but they were prevented both by the police, who were acting as agents of private company Adani Power Limited, as well as by their security guards,” the writ filed with the court alleges.

“The situation was so bad that the police lathi [baton] charged the affected families. When they tried to attend the public hearing were beaten mercilessly.”

Residents challenge land acquisition

The court case also challenges the forced takeover of land for the development by the State Government on behalf of Adani.

Under Indian law, a government can only acquire land for a private company if the project is for “public purpose”.

The claimants argue the project does not meet the definition of “public purpose” under the law.

Part of their argument is that the power plant will have few local benefits, since the electricity will all be exported and the coal used to generate the power will all be imported — largely from Australia.

“It is crystal clear from the various documents of Adani Power Limited that the power which shall be generated from this private project shall be exported to Bangladesh [while] the coal shall be imported from Australia … to Dharma Port and transported to the project covering a distance of around 700km causing immense pollution in transportation.

“Thus, there is not even a semblance of public interest.”….

The irony is that Jharkhand is a resource-rich state, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the mineral resources of India, and the Adani power project is situated amid some of the richest coal deposits in the nation.

Adani’s own Jitpur coal mine is just kilometres away from the project site; when the plant was first proposed five years ago, this was to be the source of the coal.

But those plans rapidly changed, apparently because under Indian law domestic coal cannot be used for thermal power projects that will export electricity to another country.

So, Adani now appears set to transport imported coal vast distances, at extraordinary expense, into a state that is home to the biggest coal reserves in India…….

‘Land is indispensable to a Santhal’

The patriarch of the Adani business empire, Gautam Adani, is one of the richest men in India, while many of the villagers affected by the Godda power project are from the other end of the wealth spectrum.

Some are from the lowest castes in the Hindu religion and others are from an Indigenous tribal group known as the Santhal.

Archaeologists estimate that the Santhal have been in eastern India for up to 65,000 years. Like Aboriginal Australians, they have an ancient and spiritual connection to the land that has long been recognised in legislation.

“Land is indispensable to a Santhal,” a local villager explained to the independent Indian filmmaker who shared her interviews with the ABC.

“It is an intrinsic part of culture. The Santhal tribe and their land are like two sides of one coin. If land exists, Santhal exists, but if the land is taken away it just means they will be totally wiped out.”

The Santhal have a practice of burying their dead in the fields they sow, which become sacred to them.

One of them says: “We belong here, this is our ancestral land. We are buried on our land. We have no problem dying on our land but we will not give it away.”

Santhal land rights have previously been protected under a long-standing law which prohibited industrial development on their farming lands, but the laws have recently been watered down…….

those fighting the project face a race against time; the High Court case, and a separate environmental challenge before India’s National Green Tribunal — scheduled for hearings in early August — will be of no consequence if construction reaches a point where the development becomes a fait accompli.

Curiously, geopolitics is working in favour of the project’s opponents.

Adani has contracts with a Chinese firm for equipment purchases and engineering work on the power plant.

With a border conflict taking India and China close to war, Adani is facing political pressure to terminate the deal, which could further delay or even jeopardise the project.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Australia a big world player in producing greenhouse gas emissions

Australia: an emissions super-power, 9 JUL 2020

New government figures show that the greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s exported fossil fuels have increased 4.4% between 2018 to 2019 (OCE, 2020).

Not only is Australia a laggard in meeting its UN Paris emission reduction targets, it is now the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas. In fact, the emissions from Australia’s exported fossil fuels are now greater than Germany’s domestic emissions (Hein, Peter & Graichen, 2020).

Despite federal government claims that our national emissions have only a minimal impact on the global climate, Australia is, in fact, a major contributor to global climate change. The massive emissions that result from our fossil fuel exports are not counted in Australia’s national carbon budget under our UN climate obligations, nor do we take responsibility for the impact these emissions are having globally.

Key facts:

  • Australia’s exported emissions have increased 4.4% between 2018 and 2019.
  • In 2019, the emissions from Australian fossil fuel exports were 1.4 times greater than Germany’s domestic emissions.
  • In 2019 Australia’s exported emissions were 1.4 times greater than all the CO2 emissions produced by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires.
  • Every Australian is paying $1,832 per year for fossil fuel subsidies, compared to the one-off payment of around $78 for bushfire relief.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Keep Australia’s nuclear prohibition laws: it appears that nuclear is no part of climate action, not necessary

The end of ecomodernism  , John Quiggin, 9 July 20, 
I was due to appear tomorrow before the Environment and Planning Committee’s inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition in Victoria, but I’ve just been advised that it’s been deferred until after the lockdown. I’d just finished writing a supplement to my earlier submission which concluded that there was no real support for the kind of ‘grand bargain’ I’d earlier proposed, combining a commitment to a rapid phase-out of coal with a removal of the prohibition on nuclear power. It’s over the fold.

The most important group of nuclear power advocates who have consistently promoted concerns about climate change as the main reason for their advocacy have been the self-described ‘eco-modernists’. The main organizational focus of ecomodernism is the Breakthrough Institute, established by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in 2003.
Recently, Shellenberger has issued what he describes as ‘an apology on behalf of environmentalists everywhere’ in which he repudiates previous concerns about catastrophic climate change and indicates that he never sincerely shared these concerns. Other ecomodernists have demurred at some of his claims, but have not indicated fundamental disagreement. The result is that, as a movement combining a pro-nuclear position with a commitment to a serious response to climate change, ecomodernism has ceased to exist.This outcome reinforces the conclusion drawn from my own experience that there is no political basis for a ‘grand bargain’ combining a commitment to rapid decarbonization with the removal of restrictions on nuclear power. I therefore see no merit in changing existing restrictions.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australia now the biggest exporter of global heating- the Saudi Arabia of coal and gas

July 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

NUCLEAR’s WHOPPING CLIMATE LIE – theme for July 2020

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth ”

Dr Goebbels would be delighted with the nuclear lobby’s lie that nuclear power is zero carbon and will fix climate change. He would be even more delighted with the current success of this lie.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

The failing nuclear industry is fighting for its life. It now pitches its salvation on its claim to halt climate change. Even if
that were true (which it isn’t) the world would have to construct several thousand ‘conventional’ reactors, or several millions of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) very quickly, within a decade or two.

How is it that politicians , media, academics have swallowed this lie?


July 7, 2020 Posted by | Christina themes, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia seen as successful in Covid-19 response, deplorable in climate response

July 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, health | Leave a comment

It’s time to get emotional about climate change

Rebecca Huntley on why it’s time to get emotional about climate change, SMH, By Caitlin Fitzsimmons, June 28, 2020 —Rebecca Huntley had to submit her manuscript for her new book on climate change just as the country was entering lockdown for coronavirus.

The book, How to Talk about Climate Change in a Way that Makes a Difference, to be published this Thursday July 2, is based on social science rather than science. What scientists know about climate change is the jumping off point for Huntley’s exploration of the psychology behind activism, disengagement and denial.

“I nearly called it How to Talk about Climate Change with Your Drunk Uncle,” says Huntley, a social researcher and author. “It’s a bit derogatory but it’s about the idea that everybody who is concerned about climate change has somebody in their life who wants to pick a fight with them about it. Do we fight them or not?”

If the book is about the human factor in the climate change equation and society has just been through major disruption in the form of the pandemic and lockdown, it begs the question whether anything has changed since April, when she submitted her final edits.

The short answer is yes. Huntley says the way the pandemic has played out, at least in Australia, has given her unexpected hope.

She knew greenhouse emissions would go down if people stayed at home, industry was closed and flights were grounded and she knew there would be stories, some of them apocryphal, about wildlife reclaiming human spaces.

stories about low emissions and environmental rejuvenation would mean that people associated climate action with personal deprivation, that we’ve all got to be locked in our homes, losing our jobs, not being able to hug our aunt and uncle and not being able to go on holidays … or out to dinner and the movies,” Huntley says. “I thought if people thought that was the sacrifice we have to make in order to do something about climate change, it would be hugely detrimental.”

The book’s thesis is that the climate change argument won’t be won by reason alone: it’s time to get emotional. Huntley writes about her own emotional transformation from a citizen who believed in the science of climate change and tried to act accordingly to a citizen who believed in the science of climate change and organised her entire personal and professional life accordingly. Her belief in the scientific consensus did not shift, her world-view did…….

June 30, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change a grave threat to nuclear power, especially in Australia – theme for July 2020

Over recent months the global nuclear lobby, USA in particular, and its Australian followers, have managed to get Parliamentary Inquiries and Bills going, with the aim of undoing Australia’s laws that prohibit the nuclear industry.  At the same time the push to make South Australia a nuclear waste importing hub has been revived, with the Federal government’s plan for a waste dump at Kimba as the first step.

And what is the nuclear lobby’s argument for nuclear power?  – the absurdly false claim that it will solve climate change.

IT’s THE OTHER WAY AROUND!      Nuclear facilities cannot cope with global heating!   Especially in Australia.

Climate change is bringing  extreme temperatures and weather events, and sea level rise, to Australia.

For Australia, the threats from global warming are very real:

  • bushfires would pose the greatest threat to any nuclear facilities, (as Ukraine and USA are already finding out).
  • Droughts bring water shortages, meaning that precious water is not easily available for water guzzling nuclear reactors.
  • Where inland reactors are water-cooled – the threat to river life of heat pollution becomes greater.
  • There would be great  danger to the Great Artesian Basin increases, especially  for any nuclear facilities located in South Australia
  • For coastal nuclear facilities, sea level rise and storm surges are dangers.
  • For many nuclear facilities ( reactors, fuel processing, waste disposal), coastal or inland, flooding brings more danger.


June 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, climate change - global warming, safety | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s fiancé calls on the Australian government to secure his freedom

June 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Pacific leaders do not want the coronavirus pandemic to distract from work on climate change

June 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Morrison government just doesn’t get it, on climate change

Hewson’s View: How long can Morrison deny the undeniable?

John Hewson, 19 June 20
, The government is doing little to ensure that our soils are more drought resistant and resilient.

Unfortunately, the Morrison government just doesn’t get it when it comes to the imperative for urgent climate action.

Sure, the worst of the drought is over. Sure, the bushfire season has ended. Sure, Morrison has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well, certainly better than expected, but only so far – the more difficult economic and social challenges are yet to come, and the risk of a pick-up in the infection rate is omnipresent.

But, what has the government actually learned from these experiences such as to encourage them to embrace longer-term strategic thinking and planning to better respond to the inevitability of more of these crises in the future? Apparently, very little!

Climate was an important cause of the drought, and the climate predictions are that droughts will occur more frequently and with even greater intensity. Climate was an important cause of the bushfires, again the predictions are for more and worse to come. COVID-19 was very much a dress rehearsal for what awaits us if we continue to ignore the science and the urgent demands of the climate threat. The government has a “tin ear” to all this, not really accepting the significance of the science; certainly not doing much to ensure that our soils are more drought resistant and resilient, or to better prepare for the next bushfire season; and clearly failing to seize the opportunity in developing its COVID Recovery Strategy to accelerate our transition, sector by sector, to a low carbon Australia by mid-century.

They are totally self-absorbed in short-term politics, cynically relieved that they have been able to “survive” their mismanagement of both the drought and the fires, and are now making anti-climate decisions, perceiving some sort of short-term political advantage from paying out to certain vested interests and political supporters, against our longer-term national interest.

Australia is now clearly a laggard in response to climate ...

Australia is now clearly a laggard in response to climate, having squandered the opportunities to lead over the last three decades, thereby forgoing billions of dollars of investment and growth, and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

A new survey (based on digital news) released this week by the University of Canberra and conducted at the end of the bushfire season earlier this year, found that the number of climate deniers (8 per cent) in Australia is more than double the global average (3 per cent), and of the 40 countries surveyed, behind only the US (12 per cent) and Sweden (9 per cent).

While 58 per cent think climate is an “extremely or very serious problem”, this is lower than the global average of 69 per cent, and only one-quarter of the countries surveyed are less concerned than we are.

This clearly reflects the reliance on commercial AM radio and Sky/Fox News – more than one-third who listen to these outlets consider climate to be “not at all” or “not very” serious. It also reflects the government’s failure to encourage and sustain a mature debate on climate, including “threats” of job losses and disruption.

Moreover, as our government is sticking with support for more coal and gas projects, including new coal and gas-fired power projects, large fossil fuel companies are accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels. Following on from the likes of BHP and Rio Tinto, global oil giant BP this week announced the write down of its exploration and production assets by some A$25 billion, as it reassesses the global energy market – post COVID – and the increasingly rapid shift to clean energy.

The finance and investment sectors are also driving the essential climate transitions, with most major banks refusing to finance new fossil fuel or dirty energy projects; major insurers becoming increasingly reluctant to insure them; and the big global investors, fearing the possibility of “stranded assets”, are shifting their investments towards less climate-exposed assets – for example, the largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Fund, has quit coal, and Blackrock, the world’s largest funds manager, has adopted its Climate Action Strategy. Also, major corporates such as Unilever have urged Morrison to join the climate fight.

Morrison is clearly focused within the “Canberra Bubble”, mostly taking his much lauded “Quiet Australians” for granted. His short-term political game is grossly irresponsible, selling out our national interest, and stealing from future generations, to whom he will happily leave the increasingly difficult task of cleaning up his mess, probably in the context of lower living standards.

John Hewson is a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Another Australian wonderful lead – in CLIMATE DENIAL!!!!

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new survey finds, The Conversation, Caroline Fisher, Co-author of the Digital News Report: Australia 2020, Deputy Director of the News and Media Research Centre, and Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Canberra, Sora Park, Lead Author of Digital News Report: Australia 2020, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra, June 16, 2020 Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during January 17 and February 8, 2020.

Read more: Media ‘impartiality’ on climate change is ethically misguided and downright dangerous

It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.

15% don’t pay attention to climate change news

More than half (58%) of respondents say they consider climate change to be a very or extremely serious problem, 21% consider it somewhat serious, 10% consider it to be not very and 8% not at all serious.

Out of the 40 countries in the survey, Australia’s 8% of “deniers” is more than double the global average of 3%. We’re beaten only by the US (12%) and Sweden (9%).

While most Australian news consumers think climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (58%), this is still lower than the global average of 69%. Only ten countries in the survey are less concerned than we are.

Strident critics in commercial media

There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.

More than one-third (35%) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32%)…….

June 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Australian Government’s Covid-19 advisory body – stacked with fossil fuel big-wigs, but their conflicts of interest kept secret

June 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia must plan for future disasters, bushfires, floods – NSW Resilience Commissioner

NSW Resilience Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons is urging Australians to start planning now for future disasters. SBS, 5 June 20, Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says Australia’s disaster recovery will be “quite significant” and that people should start planning for future disasters.

The former NSW Rural Fire Service boss says the country has faced unprecedented damage and destruction during the bushfire season, which was compounded by storms and floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are communities that have been so profoundly impacted and affected, and whilst there’s a tremendous focus on the rebuilding of infrastructure, on people’s homes, it’s a massive undertaking,” he said in an online webinar on Friday.

The commissioner is urging individuals, families, businesses, industries, and governments to begin having conversations about how they might respond to disruptions caused by disasters in the future to build resilience……..

June 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

COVID-19 Commission stacked with fossil-fuel bigwigs. Surprise surprise -they find gas is the answer

Transparency called for in fossil fuel-stacked COVID-19 Commission,  Independent Australia, Martin Hirst | 2 June 2020   Who’s running the country and where are they taking us? Dr Martin Hirst thinks the Canberra bubble is filling with gas.

IN THE LAST WEEK of March, right at the start of Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the formation of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NC-19CC). He said it would “solve problems” so “we all get through to the other side”.

Now, at the start of June, we have some idea of what the “other side” looks like according to the leading figures on the Coordination Commission. From what we can glean from the cheap seats in the bleachers, the future is going to be a gas — literally gas……

For a start, the NC-19CC is an energy sector lovefest.

The Commission chair is Neville (Nev) Power and he’s well connected to the Australian energy and mining industries. He is Deputy Chairman of Strike Energy Ltd and for nearly a decade was managing director and CEO of Fortescue Metals Group.

Catherine Tanna is the managing director of Energy Australia, ‘one of Australia’s leading electricity and gas retailers’ according to the helpful but rather anodyne biographies provided on the commission’s website.

The commission’s “special advisor” is the American chemical industry leader, Andrew Liveris, a former CEO and chairman of the Dow Chemical Company and on the board of a major Saudi oil company.

There are two other important members of NC-19CC: the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens and the head of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzulo. These are also political appointments — Gaetjens is a loyal fixer for Morrison and Pezzulo is Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s lieutenant.

Who does the Commission report to?

Australians first heard of the Coordinating Commission when Morrison announced it at a media event on 25 March, but he didn’t tell us how the members were selected, or why, or by whom.

Presumably, it was a “captain’s pick” by Morrison……

In mid-May, the Senate select committee that is holding an ongoing inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic requested Mr Power come and chat with it, but he didn’t show up. Instead, the PM’s protector, Phil Gaetjens and Peter Harris, the CEO of the Commission, came to block any real scrutiny of the Commission.

All that the senators were able to learn was that there are no rules in place for managing conflicts of interest and that the Commission’s members and advisors were being handsomely paid for their time and service. According to the transcript, almost every other question was stonewalled.

Apparently, the commissioners are also recruiting other people “through their own networks” according to Phil Gaetjens, but who remain largely unknown to the public — to help across various things to do with the economy re-opening.

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson grilled Phil Gaetjens about the advice the commissioners might provide, but the PM’s advisor would only say that most advice would be confidential.

This has not satisfied a coalition of public interest watchdog groups who collectively issued a statement calling for greater transparency round the discussions and decisions of the NC-19CC………

I should mention that many environmental groups are concerned that the COVID-19 Commission is stacked with fossil fuel advocates, and with good reason. ……,13954

June 4, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment