Carbon Tax

UN Climate Chief: “Urgent requirement to cut emissions”#StopAdani #Auspol 


Mission 2020’s Christiana Figueres says a clean energy policy with bipartisan support could have prevented many difficulties. Katherine Griffiths
The former climate chief at the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, has urged the federal government to stop obsessing about the fate of individual power plants and seize the opportunity to recast its power system in line with the urgent requirement to cut carbon emissions.

Figueres, who oversaw the negotiations on the landmark Paris accord in December 2015, said Australia has wasted 10 years in “constant back-and-forth” on climate policy while individual states and cities are pushing ahead on clean energy.
“It’s 10 years that are resulting in a very difficult chaotic situation that everyone is facing with very high levels of anxiety that could have been prevented,” Figueres said while in Sydney as part of her Mission 2020 initiative aimed at “bending the curve” on the world’s trajectory on greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade.
The former Costa Rican diplomat said a clear energy policy with bipartisan support that tackled security of supply, affordability and emissions could have prevented Australia’s current difficulties.
All three of those goals are possible, with no need to choose one over the other, Figueres said.

“This is a systemic issue: it’s not about closing or opening one plant here, or one plant there.”
“It’s a systemic challenge and it’s a systemic opportunity to really understand that the power sector of the future is very different to the power sector of the past.”
Broad support
Figueres’ comments come at a crucial time in the policy debate in Canberra, where the federal government has been unable to reach a consensus within the Coalition on the centrepiece of recommendations from the Finkel Review, the introduction of a clean energy target.
But she said she is still optimistic that the Finkel work will provide a direction for energy policy that will garner broad support and so have the potential to unleash needed investment in new, lower-emissions energy supply.
“There has been no direction and the result of that is that this policy uncertainty has not attracted the level of investment that Australia deserves and needs,” Figueres said.
“If we had had that investment over the past 10 years we wouldn’t be in a crisis mode now.”
Still she believes things can rapidly turn around.
“Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Let’s see if we can get more policy clarity, more predictability so that you can attract investment which can come very quickly if there is confidence in the system.”
Quizzed on worries about soaring costs for baseload power users, Ms Figueres insists that the problem is meeting demand spikes rather than continuous demand from round-the-clock electricity consumers.
Gradual transition
And in that regard, renewables are better placed to meet peak demand, when worked up in a package with gas, demand-response measures, smart metering, energy efficiency and storage.
Critical to remember is that the transition is a gradual one: “No-one is talking about a jump to zero fossil fuels – that is absolutely irresponsible,” she said.
“What is being considered here and should be accelerated is a smooth transition.”
At the same time making a proper start on the changes is urgent to avoid locking in further increase in emissions that contribute to climate change.
“The carbon intensity of the investments we make over the next three years is basically going to fundamentally decide the carbon intensity of the energy matrix over the next 20 or 30 years,” Mr Figueres said.
“So if we are talking about being net zero by 2050, guess what, we have to make those investments now.”

Press link for more: AFR.COM

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The Truth About Souring Power Prices #auspol #climatechange 

The truth about soaring power prices: wind and solar not to blame.
By ABC business editor Ian Verrender 


Between them, however, competition kahuna Rod Sims and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week demolished an old chestnut about renewable energy: it is not the cause for the recent spike in electricity prices.
In fact, according to both, it has had very little impact.
For the past decade or more, we’ve been bombarded with the message from a vocal but powerful minority within Parliament and the broader community that the switch to renewable energy has made Australia uncompetitive, crippled our industry and driven power prices higher.


The real issue is that, fundamentally, they don’t believe climate change is real or that humans have adversely affected the planet.
Having spent so long denying science and rejecting the overwhelming body of evidence, they’re now being forced to ignore economics; that renewables have become a cheaper longer term power source.
Coal is the future, they argue.

Coal-fired generators have no future here


Much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage, writes Ian Verrender.

That’s simply not a view shared by the power generators, whose primary motivation is to turn a profit and stay in business, or the banks who must finance them.
Nor is it a view shared by BHP, the nation’s biggest company that built a large part of its wealth on coal exports.
Last week, it confirmed it was reviewing its membership of the Minerals Council of Australia because of “materially different positions” on issues such as a Clean Energy Target and climate change.
Technical innovation around renewable energy generation has seen costs plummet.
So much so that US investment bank Goldman Sachs — hardly a standard bearer for radical ideology — now argues that, rather than pushing power costs higher, renewable energy is the cheapest form of power generation.

 More on that later.
The truth about the power price spike
As the theatre over keeping open the creaking Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW’s Hunter Valley played an encore last week, the ACCC boss and the PM delivered a few sobering nuggets.
First, there was Rod Sims at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday: “Forty-one per cent of the increase in electricity prices over the last 10 years has been in network costs and we keep forgetting that.”
He went on: “Those poles and wires that run down your street are the main reason you are paying too much for your electricity.”
Video: Rod Sims addressed the National Press Club on “Australia’s Gas and Electricity Affordability Problem” (National Press Club)

According to Mr Sims, extra retail charges account for 24 per cent of the higher prices while higher generation costs as a result of a failure to invest make up 19 per cent of the price hikes.
Green energy initiatives contribute just 16 per cent to the recent price hikes.
On Thursday in Brisbane, responding to questions, the PM concurred, explaining that “particularly for retail customers, the largest single part of your bill is the network costs.”
“That’s the poles and wires basically,” he said.
Gas, not coal, will fix prices
The short-term fix to Australia’s soaring electricity prices is to fix the gas crisis, but long-term fix it’s greater investment in renewables and energy storage, writes Ian Verrender.

But then he elaborated on the more immediate issues, particularly around generation and the changes that have been foisted upon consumers.
“In terms of the green schemes, they do have a cost but it is a relatively small cost,” he said.
“Gas is the biggest single fact at this point in time.”
What does gas have to do with it? As the PM explained, the electricity price is set by the last generator to come into the stack.
It’s what economists call the marginal cost of production. You might be to meet half the demand at low price. But it is the expensive bit at the end that determines how much a producer will charge everyone.
When it comes to electricity, gas is that last final element.
“It is peaking power,” the PM said. “The increase in the gas price has increased the cost of electricity.”
The gas debacle

Gas prices haven’t just increased. They have quadrupled.
And the tragedy is that Australia, with one of the greatest reserves of gas on the planet, now charges its households and businesses far more to use that energy than the countries to which we export.
Gas forgotten in energy debate
As politicians continue trading barbs over the merits of renewable energy versus coal-fired power generation, missing from the debate these days has been the role of gas.

With the continued reversal of policy on carbon pricing and climate change, the unofficial industry consensus was to build solar and wind generation with gas-fired back-up to shore up reliability; a decision affirmed by the chief scientist Alan Finkel in his report on how to cope with future challenges.
But three major export terminals were built at Curtis Island just off Gladstone in Queensland, with Santos building a plant that required far more gas than to which it had access.
To fulfil its export contracts, it began sourcing gas previously destined for the domestic market.
That forced the price of domestic gas sky high just as a global glut sent international prices crashing.
It’s now cheaper to buy Australian gas in Asia. A fortnight ago, gas from West Australia’s giant Gorgon project was sold to India at $8.70 a gigajoule. East coast gas sells here for $17.50.
That’s why the Federal Government has shanghaied gas producers like Santos to direct export gas back into the local market.
If Australians could get the same deal on our gas that Indians have secured, our electricity would be much cheaper.
Renewables or coal: What is the cheapest?
 A line chart showing the price of LCOE dropping dramatically since 1983.


When it comes to cost, coal lobbyists usually refer to the subsidies doled out to the renewable sector to argue the industry wouldn’t exist if it had to stand on its own.
That’s a valid point. But it overlooks two things; the vast billions handed out to the coal industry and the increasing competitiveness of renewables.
Every coal fired generator in Australia was built, not just partially subsidised, entirely with taxpayer funds.
When they were privatised, many were given state owned coal mines with contract prices way below market, effectively a further subsidy.
Then there are the health costs.
A health study in the Latrobe Valley last year identified much higher respiratory and asthma admissions to hospital than the Victorian average while life expectancy was significantly lower than the state average.
But it is the cost of energy generation where the game really is changing.
As the Goldman Sachs graphs above show, renewable energy costs have plunged by up to 70 per cent since 2009 and will be the cheapest form of generation in Europe this year and in the US within eight years on a levelised cost basis.
When the cost of installation is taken into account, however, the story changes.

Wind and solar are much cheaper. Not only is the fuel free and faces no regulatory risk — in the form of a carbon price — but the technology is simpler and quicker to install.
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel went one step further. He factored the extra costs of adding gas or battery backup to ensure stability or baseload power in the system.
Wind still came out cheapest, with solar only marginally more expensive than black coal.


Renewable plants can be built within one to three years while coal-fired plants take between four and seven years to build.
Putting aside arguments about climate change, the main problem with coal-fired electricity is that the numbers no longer stack up.
It’s too expensive, it has much higher regulatory risks and renewable technology is rapidly advancing.
It will take more than a taxpayer subsidy to build one here. It will need a full taxpayer handout. And it will result in more expensive power bills.
Coal is simply a form of stored solar energy. New technology has delivering cleaner, more efficient and cheaper ways to directly harvest solar energy to power our lives.
Don’t expect that innovation to stop.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

The Light’s Still Out On LNP Energy Policy #Auspol #StopAdani 

Power For Power’s Sake: The Light’s Are Still Out On Coalition Energy Policy
Ben ElthamSeptember 8, 2017


(BACKGROUND IMAGE: mendhak, Flickr)
When it comes to energy policy, the government has no-one to blame but itself, writes Ben Eltham.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has run hard on energy this week.
He gave a media conference mid week after the release of the latest report by the Australian Energy Market Operator, or AEMO. AEMO was asked by the government to give advice on electricity supply in the forthcoming summer.
Unsurprisingly, the government is worried about the possibility of blackouts. AEMO says that the national grid “is not delivering enough investment in flexible dispatchable resources to maintain the defined target level of supply reliability.” 

In other words, there hasn’t been enough investment in new generation, particularly the dispatchable kind.
None of this should be news to anyone, let alone the federal government.
Australia’s electricity grid is undergoing rapid change. 

The generation mix is changing, and so are the technologies that underpin it.

 As newer forms of generation like wind and solar are added to the grid, older forms like coal are being phased out. 

In recent years, we’ve seen the retirement of a significant number of coal-fired power generators, most notably Victoria’s Hazelwood plant in Morwell.

The smoke stacks of the Hazelwood coal-fired power plant, in Morwell, Victoria. (IMAGE: Jonathan Warner, Flickr)
In the long term, this is good news, as renewable energy is the cheapest form of new electricity generation, and will eventually bring prices down. 

Renewable energy is also cleaner, obviously, which is a good thing if you think dangerous global warming is a problem.

 But in the short term, there might be some short falls in electricity supply. 

Which might mean blackouts.
The AEMO report has been misunderstood by many in the media.

 AEMO is not saying there will be rolling blackouts in the southern states this summer, but it is saying that supply will be tight, particularly on hot days when the wind isn’t blowing. 

According to AEMO, this is because “radically changing dynamics of the power system are resulting in a tight supply-demand balance in parts of the National Electricity Market.”
AEMO recommends the creation of a 1 gigawatt “strategic reserve” of dispatchable energy (in other words, energy available to be sent to the grid), to ride through any problems on those really hot days.

 The agency has been preparing for months. 

According to AEMO’s boss Audrey Zibelman, speaking to the ABC’s Rafael Esptein on Wednesday, “no, we’re not in trouble this summer.”
The government is still worried, though. It knows that when the lights go out, voters tend to blame whoever is in charge. 

And so they should: this is a failure of planning. 

The failure is entirely the Coalition’s.

When the Coalition took government in September 2013, it inherited an electricity grid that was in transition. 

It also inherited a comprehensive plan to manage that transition, in the form of Labor’s Clean Energy Future policy. 

Labor’s policy represented a plan to transition Australia slowly to renewable energy, but with rather conservative safeguards for energy security. 

A carbon price penalised dirty industries for pollution, while a renewable energy target subsidised investment in new, clean technology. 

There was money for technology innovation, and consumers were compensated for the cost of higher electricity bills. 

Carbon permit sales that raised billions a year provided a steady stream of revenue.
Tony Abbott got rid of all that. 


He killed the carbon price, slashed nearly all funding to green energy, and launched a jihad against renewables that spooked investors. 

New renewable energy investment essentially stopped for two years. 

The government then tried to wind back the Renewable Energy Target by 15,000 gigawatt hours. 

In the end, after Labor negotiated, the government reduced it by 8,000 GWh, from 41,000 to 33,000 GWh in 2020.
Four years later, we can see the results. Coal hasn’t flourished – indeed, it’s being rapidly phased out. 

Renewable energy is still the only new generation being built – because it’s the cheapest and most profitable.

 Electricity bills are even higher than they were under Julia Gillard’s carbon price. 

Carbon emissions are going up. 

It’s failure on every front.
Not to put too fine a point on it: this is all the Coalition’s doing. By killing off the carbon price, sabotaging the RET, but refusing to put in place a viable alternative, the Coalition essentially guaranteed that the grid’s problems would deteriorate.


A coal-loader in action. (IMAGE: Thom Mitchell.)

It’s pretty obvious what Australia has needed in energy policy: certainty.

 The carbon wars have led to crippling uncertainty for investors, terrible outcomes for consumers, and even worse outcomes for the environment. 

What we should have done was put in place a plan, and stick to it.
As happens so often to this government, political expediency has blinded it to policy reality, such that the inevitable somehow surprises it. 

But no-one should be surprised that coal plants are closing. 

They were always going to close.
The sad irony is that no amount of Coalition special treatment can save coal as an electricity source. 

The dirty black rock has had its day.


 As the Guardian’s Adam Morton pointed out earlier this year, “coal generators usually operate for about half a century and most Australian plants are pushing that age”. 

Many of Australia’s plants were built in the 1970s, and have simply reached the end of their productive lives.


Hazelwood, for instance, was built in the 1960s. 

It was closed by French multinational Engie this year, essentially because it was old, expensive to maintain, and highly polluting. 

“The closure of Hazelwood is in line with Engie’s strategy to gradually end its coal activities,” the company announced last year.

 “Besides, Hazelwood power station has been operating in difficult market conditions, with lower electricity prices and a surplus of electricity supply in Victoria State.”
The same can be said for the Liddell power plant in the Hunter Valley, which the government now wants to try and keep operating after 2022. 

That’s five years away, but the fact that energy oligopolist AGL wants to shut it down makes for a handy political weapon for a government keen to be seen to be doing something – anything – about energy security.

Like everything else to do with this government, ideology has trumped economics, or even common sense. 

Liddell is 46 years old. 

It suffered serious boiler leaks in 2016 and 2017.

 The reason that AGL wants to close Liddell is that it will cost too much to keep running. 

Upgrading it will be even more expensive, and coal plants don’t make as much money as they used to.
AGL’s boss Andy Vesey always seems to be smiling when you see him the media.

 Perhaps that’s because the energy giant dominates Australia’s dysfunctional energy markets. High wholesale prices are contributing to fat times for the vertically integrated ‘gentailers’. AGL raked in more than $1.5 billion from its wholesale electricity operations last financial year, contributing to underlying profits of $1.3 billion. While AGL enjoys good publicity for its claims to be getting out of coal, it’s making big dollars from the coal plants it still runs.
Note that the price rises faced by consumers are largely the government’s fault, too. Had it wanted to, the Coalition could have attempted to reform Australia’s absurdly dysfunctional National Electricity Market, in which the price gouging by the energy generators is so profitable. This has nothing to do with renewable energy: it’s simply a consequence of a poorly-designed market where clever oligopolists are gaming the system. But the Coalition hasn’t done anything to reform the NEM either.
All of this is due to policy failure. Australia can have cheaper energy, and still have energy security, and reduce emissions at the same time. We just need a plan.
It’s fairly obvious what should replace antiquated coal plants at the end of their productive lives: new technology that will be cheaper to run and cleaner for the environment. It’s not as though we don’t have the know-how. According to the Finkel Report, which the government commissioned, the cheapest new form of electricity generation is wind. But the govenrment finds such facts inconvenient, because it is completely in thrall to the fossil fuel enthusiasm of the troglodyte Liberal right wing. We’re still waiting for the government’s response to Finkel’s recommendations.


According to chief scientist Alan Kinkel, the cheapest new source of electricity generation is wind power. (Source: Finkel Review)
If we need more dispatchable energy, and a more secure electricity grid, the cheapest way to deliver that is by smart grid technologies that better manage demand. Batteries and stored hydro can also play a role. Solar thermal is now being built for the first time in Australia, promising renewable energy at all times of the day or night. A sensible combination of these options will be vastly cheaper than building new coal plants or keeping ageing plants operational well past their use-by date.
The problem for the government is that it is now so invested in the political value of fossil fuels that it seems unable to acknowledge that renewable energy has won the economic race.
“Many of the problems we face at the moment have taken a long time to create,” Turnbull said at his media conference this week. “They can’t be solved overnight.”
He got that right. Energy policy in Australia has been a train wreck for years – roughly, you might say, since the Coalition took office.

Press link for more:  New Matilda

Sue The Bastards #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Sue the Bastards
L. Hunter Lovins, Contributor President Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management Bard MBA

When flood waters rose in Houston and Hurricane Harvey spread eastward to already battered regions of the Gulf coast, the urgent priority was preservation of life, evacuation of those threatened and long-term care of the displaced. 

The unfolding tragedy that is Harvey has already killed dozens, with more to come. 

Cost estimates rose from $30 billion before the storm, to $75 billion, as the severity became obvious, to over $100 billion. 

Harvey will certainly exceed Katrina, the previous record holder, costing up to one percent of U.S. GDP.


As usual, Americans reached deep to lend sympathy, understanding and practical assistance. 

As always, groups like the Red Cross stepped up, offering Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10
But is anyone responsible for Harvey?
When the Deep Horizon well blew out, no one questioned that the parties who killed eleven people and spewed oil across the Gulf of Mexico would be held to account. 

The only question was how much. 

BP’s costs for taking a $500,000 short cut was in the neighborhood of $62 billion, although they offset many of the fines against taxes.


Damage from storms has routinely been considered an “Act of God.” 

Legal dictionaries define this as, “An event that directly and exclusively results from occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.”
But is that true of Harvey?
The ultra warm waters of the Gulf and the tendency of storms now to move very slowly—the warming arctic is unable to maintain the jet stream that previously blew such storm away from the hot Gulf that fuels them—clearly contributed to the billions in damage. 

These, we now know, are results of global warming.

Several California communities recently tired of blaming God and sued the oil and coal companies claiming THEY caused the climate change that forecasts warned would devastate their communities in years to come.

 Global warming, they said, could have been prevented.

 They’re right: my first book on how to do this was in 1981.

 Since then many of us have shown that energy efficiency and renewable energy is cheaper than burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change, and that it would be better business to go green and just solve the crisis.


Marin and San Mateo Counties, and the city of Imperial Beach carried the argument further.

 Using the work of my colleague Richard Heede who showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of human caused global warming, they decided if you can name the creators of the harm, you ought to be able to sue them.

Wake up to the day’s most important news.
The governments argued, “37 coal, oil, and gas companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, knew about the harm their products posed to the planet and continued to undermine and obfuscate the dangers of climate change.”

The suit faces challenges.

 Peabody, once the world’s largest coal company, promptly claimed its recent bankruptcy shields it from such liability. 

Interestingly, it did not deny that it might have been liable, only that its early recognition of the unviability of its business model now enabled it to duck any ongoing responsibility. Mighty neighborly….
For arcane legal reasons (preemption by the Federal government limits people’s ability to sue) previous efforts to hold companies liable have failed. 

When the Inuit village being eaten by rising sea levels sought federal damages, they were told that only the legislative and executive branches could deliver relief.
But what if Congress and the Child-in-Chief are bought and paid for advocates for the fossil industry? 


Maybe suing is the only way to bring accountability to our system. 

Yes, apportioning blame will be tricky.

 And yes, every one of us is to blame every time we fire up a car or board an airplane.

 But we’ll already be paying the costs through our tax dollars. 

Isn’t it time that those who have made billions keeping us all addicted to oil pay their share?

Framing their case to mimic the successful public nuisance suits that forced tobacco companies to settle and pay damages for the public costs imposed on taxpayers to treat smokers, and filing in state court, may enable California plaintiffs to overcome the hurdles that derail federal law suits. 

Still, they must prove that any particular defendant is responsible for their specific harm, especially when the damage they allege is only anticipated.
But Harvey’s harm is all too real, compounding daily with creeping mold, exploding chemical plants, loss of water supplies, and the threat of disease. 

Harvey has already forced the release of millions of pounds of chemicals from oil operations spread across Houston. 

One Exxon facility collapsed, releasing 13,000 pounds of nastiness including benzene, a known carcinogen.

And the challenge of dealing with global warming is only beginning. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus put it, “Harvey is what climate change looks like.”
“In all of U.S. history,” he stated, “There’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey…. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”
He points out that Harvey is the third 500-year flood to hit the Houston area in three years. A storm like Harvey should not happen more than once in a millennium. 

The week before, 1,200 people died in floods also triggered by record rainfall across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Futurist Alex Steffen calls our tendency to deny threats like climate change “predatory delay”—it adds inevitable risk to the system.

 Legal liability is supposed to impose a measure of responsibility on parties with the capacity do damage. 

But if no one can be held liable, what will stop the catastrophe?
Holthaus warns, “It’s up to the rest of us to identify this behavior and make it morally repugnant….The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. 

Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. 

They look like Houston.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Coal is a big contributor to air pollution. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Energy the key to fight climate change
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord must not become a distraction from urgent global efforts to combat climate change.


Countries in Asia were among the most committed supporters of the Paris goals.

 Thailand, for example, has committed to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

 Now is not the time to break stride, but to reinforce the resolve.
Energy demand is set to double this century, with the world’s population reaching 11 billion, up from 7.5 billion today. 
As the world changes, so will the energy system that powers it, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions and – crucially for Asia – tackle air pollution that blights so many lives. 

Coal is a big contributor to that air pollution. 

This can, and must, change. 

Put simply: we will need more and cleaner energy if Asian countries are to continue to thrive in the coming decades. 

Today, coal is still the biggest source of power in the region, at 47 per cent of the power mix, compared to natural gas at 10 per cent. 

In some countries, coal’s share is rising.

For Asia’s population, renewable energy will be essential to meeting growing demand while tackling climate change and air pollution.
But renewables chiefly produce electricity. 

And there are parts of the economy, such as industries that produce iron, steel, cement, plastic and chemicals, that cannot be electrified yet – certainly not at a reasonable cost. 

That’s one reason why the world will still need oil and gas in large quantities in the coming decades.
During this time we will see a big change in the way energy is produced, used and made available to people. 

And I see a combination of renewables, such as wind and solar, and natural gas – the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon – playing an increasingly important role.

 Modern gas-fired power plants can quickly respond to an increase in demand for electricity when there’s no sun or little wind.
By the end of the century many millions of people in emerging economies will join the middle class. 

Most will use cell phones and refrigerators. 

Many will drive cars – or travel in self-driving cars – as their quality of life improves.
All this will create enormous pressures on the global energy system. 

At the same time, we face serious environmental challenges.

 What kind of air will our children and grandchildren breathe?

 How will climate change effect the quality of life of people in the most exposed areas, such as coastal regions?

Natural gas is one of the few energy sources that can be used across all sectors of the global economy, including fuelling transport, heating and lighting homes, and powering industries. Reserves are abundant and available in many regions. 
The environmental benefits are also clear. 

In power generation, for example, natural gas emits around half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and less than one-tenth of air pollutants compared to coal.
Some countries are already taking significant steps to boost the use of gas.
In Thailand, the government has introduced policies to open up the market to new suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it aims to meet the country’s future energy needs while reducing emissions.
China plans to raise the share of gas in primary energy from 6 per cent today to 15 per cent by 2030. 

It is also widely using gas for transport, with more than 200,000 trucks and buses fuelled by LNG.
In the city of Lanzhou, strict air pollution policies reduced coal consumption by 40 per cent and significantly increased the number of days with clear skies between 2012 and 2016.
In India, where gas makes up only 8 per cent of the energy mix, the government is moving towards its greater use, creating infrastructure such as gas pipelines and LNG terminals. 

In Gujarat, India’s most industrialised state, gas now makes up 25 per cent of the energy system, fuelling transport and cooking, as well as major plants producing petrochemicals, fertilisers and glass. 

Policies of successive governments will determine the extent to which gas will play a key role in coming decades.

 Their decisions must reflect the commitments made at the UN Paris climate summit. 

Government-led mechanisms that put a price on CO2 emissions would stimulate the development of low-carbon and renewable technologies. 

Singapore, for example, will be the first country in Southeast Asia to have a carbon tax to encourage industries to reduce emissions.
Beyond policy choices from governments, a lot will also depend on the action of energy companies. 

For Shell’s part, we continue to increase our investment in gas, now around half of our total production. And we are exploring commercial opportunities in areas such as biofuels, hydrogen and wind power. 
Governments, companies and consumers have the power to shape a new energy future, where renewables and natural gas play critical roles. Now is the time to step up the drive to deliver on the environmental pledges made in Paris. 
The writer is integrated gas and new energies director of Shell

Press link for more: Nation Multimedia

Scientists: Action needed on #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

Scientists: Action Needed on Climate
Various studies suggest the problem of rising temperatures is growing.

As new reports indicate that Earth’s temperature will likely increase by two degrees Celsius by the end of the century, scientist and economists are once again urging the government to take immediate action to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.


The call for change comes at an unusual time in U.S. climate policy. 

President Donald Trump recently said the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and key officials in his administration continue to cast doubt on the evidence surrounding global warming.
Two studies this week from the University of Washington and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, confirmed previous findings on global warming. 

Former Vice President Al Gore also released a new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, on August 4, to draw attention to the climate crisis.

 

Scientists and economists call on the federal government to implement carbon pricing and invest in carbon capture technologies to slow the process of global warming, and to establish adaptation measures to deal with inevitable temperature rises.
The reports, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, build on the existing research on climate change. 

They demonstrate that “we have to move even faster,” said Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 “The trend overall has been us underestimating climate change,” he said. “Each new study has been more and more sobering.”
One study used observational data to show that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were suddenly turned off today, Earth would still continue heating up about 1.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

“[The study] tells us about the momentum of the climate system,” said Robert Pincus, one of the lead authors and a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, a partnership of the University of Colorado–Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“Even if you stop pushing on the climate system, it continues to change and warm.”
The study also shows a 13 percent chance that we are already committed to a 1.5-degree C increase by the end of the century. 

The 2016 Paris Agreement set a target for keeping temperature increases to 1.5 degrees or lower by 2100.
The other study from the University of Washington used statistical analysis to show only a 5 percent chance that Earth will warm 2 degrees or less by the end of the century.
Climate Change Could Do Damage By Century’s End
“Our analysis shows that the goal of 2 degrees is very much a best-case scenario,” said lead author Adrian Raftery, a professor of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington, in a news release. 

“It is achievable, but only with major, sustained effort on all fronts over the next 80 years.”
The 2 degree threshold was first introduced by economist William Nordhaus in his 1977 paper, “Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem,” and is commonly seen by scientists as the “line in the sand that we shouldn’t cross,” said Gilbert Metcalf, professor of economics at Tufts University, whose research centers on environmental economics.
Two degrees corresponds closely to when carbon dioxide levels have doubled from pre-industrial levels, explained Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The threshold marks the point “when disruptions from climate change become so large, they can’t just be brushed aside and adapted to in the normal way of things. The environmental pressures and the number of people that are affected by them become potentially overwhelming.”
Researchers say that slowing the warming process and adapting to the rise in temperature that has already happened are crucial. “The clear implication [of the studies] is we need to get to a zero-carbon economy as quickly as we can,” Metcalf said.
Carbon pricing––either in the form of a carbon tax or a cap on the total level of emissions allowed by each company––is an especially important tool.
“It’s the single most impactful policy we could put in place,” Metcalf stated. A carbon tax would increase the price of carbon-intensive goods to the point that consumers begin seeking out alternatives, he said. “A carbon tax is a way for the invisible hand to have a green thumb.”

But John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at MIT, pointed out the difficulty involved in convincing governments to impose carbon prices at necessary levels.

 And without economic consequences, most industries continue emitting greenhouse gases.


“It’s hard for [companies] to imagine cutting their emissions by 80 percent by 2050 without the right economic incentives to do it,” Reilly said. “If companies want to do good, and do good, and go out of business, then all the efforts are wasted.”
Right now, few regions have implemented sufficiently high carbon prices, Mehling said, echoing Reilly. 

The International Monetary Fund has proposed a carbon price of $25 per ton, but carbon prices in most regions in the world with such prices are still far below that.
Investing in carbon capture and storage technologies is another, more aggressive, way to mitigate the effects of global warming, specialists say. Those technologies involve capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. But Mehling said carbon capture has not yet been deployed at scale anywhere.
Other possible solutions are in the works, notably with battery development, which is crucial to an “electric economy,” Gilbert said.
But given the inevitability of global warming, experts also advocate developing adaptation measures to deal with more extreme weather conditions including rising sea levels, stronger storms, greater risk of wildfires, and longer dry spells.

Press link for more: USnews.com

Cynical & Dishonest Denial of #ClimateChange has to end! #StopAdani #auspol 

The cynical and dishonest denial of climate change has to end: it’s time for leadership | Gerry Hueston
“Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.” 

Australia has enough renewable energy to power the country 500 times over. With South Australia a step closer to unveiling the largest lithium ion battery storage facility in the world, it is clear just how fast we can make the transition to large-scale renewables when the right policy settings are in place and investors have certainty. 

More than a decade ago, as the head of BP Australasia I pushed for action on climate change.
At the time many Australian business leaders, global companies, governments and the world’s major scientific institutions accepted the science of climate change. As a sector, we wanted certainty. Ten years later and business is still calling for certainty. That is, long-term policies that allow businesses to commit to do the heavy lifting in response to an identified, significant and growing business risk – climate change.
A carrot-and-stick approach will be required to nurture the transition to a clean energy future and move potential investments from discretionary to mandatory categories. Often there is no competitive advantage in being a first mover.
Businesses will not drive investment without the right policies. Our preference a decade ago was for a price on carbon established by an emissions trading scheme as a core part of policy settings.
The last decade’s climate policy debate has been characterised by U-turns, a lack of bipartisanship, short-term populism, denial and misinformation, not to mention the scoring of political points rather than developing a long-term framework for what is a global and intergenerational issue.
The transition to a low carbon future will now be more expensive and more disruptive than it ever needed to be. An absence of climate and energy policy has left Australia lagging dangerously behind, missing out on significant investment and facing major disruptions in local electricity markets.
Governments have also, for the most part, elected to overlook the social disruptions that our inevitable energy transition will cause.
The recent closure of the Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria was foreseen many years ago. Regrettably, a refusal to acknowledge the need for future planning until it was too late left the La Trobe Valley community to live with the consequences.
Likewise in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, a huge amount of political energy is being wasted talking up the benefits of the nation’s biggest planned coal mine, which will be bad for local communities and puts the Great Barrier Reef at risk.

Big business is often accused of making expedient short-term decisions with little regard to the long-term viability and survival of the business. Rather than long-term planning to address the very real issues being faced by the people in Queensland, we are seeing at best ill-informed and at worst cynical and dishonest denial of the reality.
The effects of climate change are happening now. This looks like sea-level rise and coastal flooding. It looks like record-breaking temperatures and worsening extreme weather events. There is widespread business and public support for action as well as widespread acknowledgment that inaction will leave us increasingly exposed to social and economic disruption.
Strong leadership is vital. Whether we get carrots and sticks or both, industry needs a political consensus that policy arising from the Finkel Review process will stand the test of time and changes of government.
Procrastination is not a good option. It’s time to take responsibility for our past decade of avoidant politicking. Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.

Press link for more: The Guardian

“The Uninhabitable Earth” #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

An email I received from the US based Climate Mobilization 
Allies—
Last week, David Wallace-Wells published a cover story in New York Magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century.

(see my earlier blog) Earth too hot for humans

 It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, a devastated economy, plagues, resource wars, and more. 

It has been read more than two million times.

The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece — though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. 

But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening:
“Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it.” –Michael Mann, writing with Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles.

Eric Holthaus tweeted about the consequences of the piece:
A widely-read piece like this that is not suitably grounded in fact may provoke unnecessary panic and anxiety among readers.
And that has real-world consequences. 

My twitter feed has been filled with people who, after reading DWW’s piece, have felt deep anxiety.
There are people who say they are now considering not having kids, partly because of this. 

People are losing sleep, reevaluating their lives.

While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article, I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions — namely, fear — in climate communications and politics.

 I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. 

I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist, and as the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization.
Affect tolerance — the ability to tolerate a wide range of feelings in oneself and others — is a critical psychological skill. 

On the other hand, affect phobia — the fear of certain feelings in oneself or others — is a major psychological problem, as it causes people to rely heavily on psychological defenses.


Much of the climate movement seems to suffer from affect phobia, which is probably not surprising given that scientific culture aspires to be purely rational, free of emotional influence. 

Further, the feelings involved in processing the climate crisis—fear, grief, anger, guilt, and helplessness — can be overwhelming. 

But that doesn’t mean we should try to avoid “making” people feel such things! 

Experiencing them is a normal, healthy, necessary part of coming to terms with the climate crisis. 

I agree with David Roberts that it is OK, indeed imperative, to tell the whole, frightening story. 

As I argue in The Transformative Power of Climate Truth, it’s the job of those of us trying to protect humanity and restore a safe climate to tell the truth about the climate crisis and help people process and channel their own feelings — not to preemptively try to manage and constrain those feelings.


Holthaus writes of people feeling deep anxiety, losing sleep, re-considering their lives due to the article… but this is actually a good thing. 

Those people are coming out of the trance of denial and starting to confront the reality of our existential emergency. 

I hope that every single American, every single human experiences such a crisis of conscience. 

It is the first step to taking substantial action. 

Our job is not to protect people from the truth or the feelings that accompany it — it’s to protect them from the climate crisis!

I know many of you have been losing sleep and reconsidering your lives in light of the climate crisis for years. 

We at The Climate Mobilization sure have. 

TCM exists to make it possible for people to turn that fear into intense dedication and focused action towards a restoring a safe climate.
In my paper, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode—a New Strategy for the Climate Movement, I argue that intense, but not paralyzing, fear combined with maximum hope can actually lead people and groups into a state of peak performance. 

We can rise to the challenge of our time and dedicate ourselves to become heroic messengers and change-makers.
I do agree with the critique, made by Alex Steffen among others, that dire discussions of the climate crisis should be accompanied with a discussion of solutions.

 But these solutions have to be up to the task of saving civilization and the natural world. 

As we know, the only solution that offers effective protection is a maximal intensity effort, grounded in justice, that brings the United States to carbon negative in 10 years or less and begins to remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere. 

That’s the magic combination for motivating people: telling the truth about the scale of the crisis and the solution.


In Los Angeles, our ally City Councilmember Paul Koretz is advocating a WWII-scale mobilization of Los Angeles to make it carbon neutral by 2025. 

He understands and talks about the horrific dangers of the climate crisis and is calling for heroic action to counter them. 

Local activists and community groups are inspired by his challenge.

Columnist Joe Romm noted that we aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency, which would of course entail initiating a WWII-scale response to the climate emergency. 

Our Victory Plan lays out what policies would look like that, if implemented, would actually protect billions of people and millions of species from decimation. 

They include: 

1) An immediate ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure and a scheduled shut down of all fossil fuels in 10 years; 

2) massive government investment in renewables;

 3) overhauling our agricultural system to make it a huge carbon sink; 

4) fair-shares rationing to reduce demand;

 5) A federally-financed job guarantee to eliminate unemployment 6) a 100% marginal tax on income above $500,000.
Gradualist half measures, such as a gradually phased-in carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, that seem “politically realistic” but have no hope of actually restoring a safe climate, are not adequate to channel people’s fear into productive action.
We know what is physically and morally necessary. 

It’s our job — as members of the climate emergency movement — to make that politically possible. 

This will not be easy, emotionally or otherwise. It will take heroic levels of dedication from ordinary people. 

We hope you join us.
Every dollar counts in the fight to make mobilization reality.
Thank you for your support, 

Margaret

We Need To Act On Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol @AnnastaciaMP Criminal Neglect! 

WE NEED TO ACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The letter titled “Climate change denial has disastrous impact” (Tuesday, July 4) says climate change can be “catastrophic for a sustainable economy,” noting the effects it’s already having on snowfall in the Vail and Aspen areas. 

This is only the beginning.


The world’s most highly cited peer-reviewed scientific journal, Nature, reports that climate change may cost more than $369 trillion. 

The world’s best climate scientists and economists have said that continued burning of fossil fuels will cause “global economic collapse,” followed by “societal collapse” (National Academy of Sciences/IPCC).


Are you serious @AnnastaciaMP ?

Photo courtesy Greens TNQ

What most people seem unaware of is that even if we could stop burning fossil fuels today, globally, we’d still face about 30 more years of worsening climate change.


 That’s because it takes about three decades for carbon emissions to heat up and affect our global temperatures. 

And those emissions won’t dissipate for millennia, so we won’t be able to turn down the global thermostat, no matter how hot it gets (skepticalscience.org).

That’s why it’s so important that we act now and why climate-change denial is so dangerous.

 It counsels delay. 

This costs lives. 

Climate change already kills more than 5 million people annually (DARA). 

Carbon pollution kills more than 5.5 million each year (Time). 

This is nothing compared to what’s to come.

But we can avoid the worst effects of future climate change by using carbon pricing, which can phase out fossil fuels within the next decade (Newsweek), soon enough to avert “catastrophic” climate change (IPCC). 

“Carbon fee-and-dividend” is a proven carbon-pricing mechanism that doesn’t punish consumers or taxpayers; it rewards them.
It’s a carbon tax that’s paid, not to the government, but to the taxpayer in equal monthly “carbon dividend” checks. 

The tax/fee goes up every year, and so do your “dividends.” If you switch to clean energy, then you don’t pay the carbon tax, but you still get the “dividend” money. 

So you save more every year, as clean-energy prices continue to plummet, already becoming as cheap or cheaper than fossil fuels. 

That’s projected to increase gross domestic product over $75 billion annually (citizensclimatelobby.org).
Carbon-fee-and-dividend is designed to have a global impact, using market forces to make other nations cut their emissions as much as we do, and it’s a bipartisan solution to climate change that uses the market, rather than government regulations or expenditures, so it can have conservative/GOP support in Congress, especially since it will jump-start a $50 trillion industry (Bloomberg) and create more than 5 million good-paying, permanent, local jobs, more than 70,000 in Colorado (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org).
It’s worked as promised in British Columbia for eight years now, lowering taxes and energy bills (The Economist). Clean energy will be nearly free there within 20 years (Washington Post).
Go to the Citizens Climate Lobby website to see how we can make it happen.
Lynn Goldfarb
Denver

Press link for more: vaildaily.com

Elon Musk exposes deep coal divide in Australia. #StopAdani @AnnastaciaMP #Qldpol #auspol 

Elon Musk Exposes Deep Coal Divide in Australia Bloomberg
Elon Musk’s intervention in Australia’s energy crisis is widening a divide over the future of coal.
The billionaire Tesla Inc. founder, who has promised to help solve an Australian state’s clean energy obstacles, sees no place for the fossil fuel. 

That conflicts with the national government’s push for it remaining a mainstay source of electricity generation, as well as the “clean, beautiful coal” technologies that U.S. President Donald Trump sees helping to save American mining jobs.

Elon Musk in Adelaide on July 7.


Photographer: Ben MacMahon/EPA

“Coal doesn’t have a long-term future,” Musk told reporters in Adelaide last week during a short trip to Australia. “The writing’s on the wall.”


His declaration in energy-strapped South Australia, where the 46-year-old entrepreneur announced plans to build the world’s biggest battery to support the state’s blackout-plagued power grid, has rankled lawmakers.

Photo Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg, 45, accused the state of tapping a celebrity to paper over its patchy clean energy record. 

Tesla’s battery plan “is a lot of sizzle for very little sausage,” Frydenberg, a member of the conservative Liberal-led federal government, said Monday. 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, said Musk’s plan “doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference” to the nation’s struggles over energy security.


Most of Australia’s states and territories — free to determine their own energy and climate policies independent of the national government — beg to differ. 

Just hours after Musk’s announcement, the neighboring state of Victoria closed the door on new coal-fired power stations, saying energy companies would rather invest in renewables.

Adani Project
The northern state of Queensland, where India’s Adani Group is planning to develop the $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine, expects a move to clean energy will completely wipe out its carbon emissions by 2050.
Energy policy is a fraught subject Down Under, where a push by the majority of Australians for more renewable power sources is clashing with the government’s political imperative to keep a lid on soaring power prices. 

Currently, some 76 percent of Australia’s electricity is drawn from coal-fired power stations which, while a cheap supply source, are at odds with a commitment to lower climate emissions.

A series of power outages in South Australia the past year spurred fears of more widespread blackouts across the nation’s electricity market and raised questions as to why one of the world’s largest producers of coal and gas is struggling to keep the lights on in a mainland state.
The nation’s largest and also dirtiest power generator, AGL Energy Ltd., says its investment appetite for coal has reversed in the space of just a few years. 

The economics of building new coal plants don’t stack up and increasingly renewables will dominate base-load power, AGL Chairman Jeremy Maycock said last week. 

Australians overwhelmingly want the government to focus on clean energy, according to a June poll by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.


‘Highly Improbable’
“It’s highly improbable that AGL will be constructing new coal-fired power stations because we don’t think the economics are likely to favor that,” Maycock said in a phone interview. “As the largest generator we want to play our fair share in the country’s emissions reduction targets.”

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, banging the drum on coal is proving a treacherous task.
In 2009, Turnbull lost his job as leader of the then opposition Liberal Party to Tony Abbott due to his support for an emissions trading program that was eventually installed by a Labor Party government in 2012.
After defeating Labor in 2013, Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition dismantled the levy on carbon emissions, claiming it was responsible for higher electricity costs, and cut targets for how much energy Australia aims to draw from wind and solar generation by 2020.
‘Good for Humanity’

While in power, Abbott claimed coal was “good for humanity” and his government attacked wind farms for being “ugly.” Since seizing the leadership from his unpopular predecessor almost two years ago, Turnbull has toned down the government’s attack on renewables.
Turnbull announced in March a plan to boost capacity at Australia’s largest hydro-electric power project by 50 percent in a bid to tackle surging electricity prices and supply constraints.

Yet the climate issue continues to create rancor within Turnbull’s party. When Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed last month that Australia gradually increase its renewable target to 42 percent by 2030, at least 22 members of his ruling coalition spoke out about it. Renewable energy generation provided 17.3 percent of Australia’s annual electricity generation in 2016, according to an annual report from the industry-led Clean Energy Council.

Abbott, who remains a lawmaker on the government backbench, is now calling for the government to subsidize the building of new coal-fired power plants even as investors shy away from it. Turnbull has refused to rule it out while his deputy Joyce has talked up the potential for the government taking an equity stake in any new plant. For now, the official political line is all energy sources need to be in the mix. Just don’t rule out coal.
“When it comes to energy sources, ours is a technology-neutral and all-of-the-above approach,” Frydenberg said in an emailed response to questions last week. “With a significant amount of base-load generation being phased out over the next 15 years, we need to ensure we are prepared and have enough power to meet future needs.”
‘An Absurdity’
Joyce, whose New England electorate in rural New South Wales is home to a number of coal mines, is typically more blunt. Not having any coal-fired power generation in Australia is “an absurdity,” he told Sky on Sunday.
Frydenberg and state and territory energy ministers agreed to implement 49 of the Finkel report’s 50 recommendations at a meeting in Brisbane on Friday. Among those endorsed were a requirement that renewable energy sources provide a backup in the event of blackouts, and that large power generators give at least three years notice before plant closures.
Not sanctioned was the report’s recommendation that a national clean-energy target be implemented. Instead, most state and territory Labor governments moved to have the Australian Energy Market Commission press ahead with designing options for a benchmark that could be introduced by the states.
Australia exported more coal than any other country in 2015, and has the fourth-largest share of the planet’s coal resources, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said in December. Still, the existing and perceived political and environmental costs attached to coal are deterring lenders.
‘Run a Million Miles’

“The high risk and cost associated with new coal plants make investors and financiers run a million miles from it in Australia,” said Ali Asghar, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Sydney. “The only way new coal could get built is if the government funds it and indemnifies any private entity against all future carbon risks.”
And doing so makes little sense, given that the cost of building cleaner, so-called high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants in Australia exceeds that of new projects relying on solar, wind, or gas, Asghar said.
“As solar and wind become cheaper and continue to undermine the economics of operating coal, investment in new coal plants become an even riskier proposition.”

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com