Carbon Tax

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

How did Australia get this stupid about Clean Energy! #auspol #qldpol

How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?

By Giles Parkinson

Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.
Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. 

So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

Photo courtesy Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 
But it plumbed further depths this week. 

And it got really stupid and really nasty. 

Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”
Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.
Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. 

The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. 

And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack.
“The Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party,” Murdoch columnist Piers Akerman wrote.
Then they added another target – the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. Broadcaster Alan Jones urged that “this woman”, who he accused of being a “global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines”, be “run out of town”.

On the same day, writing in Quadrant magazine, Alan Moran, the former head of regulation for the Institute of Public Affairs, described Zibelman as a “refugee from Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat.”

 (Actually she worked for New York governor Andrew Cuomo).
“Alan Finkel’s otherworldly prognosis is bad enough. But toss in Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy of renewables and then add an imported American chief regulator who would have been happier working for Hillary Clinton and where are you? 

The simple answer: thoroughly stuffed,” Moran wrote.
These attacks on Finkel, and now Zibelman, come in groups. 

It begs the question, are they co-ordinated? And if so, by whom?
But really, how did Australia get this stupid? And this ugly?

South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis thinks it’s because the conservatives, or at least the Coalition, are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby.
“The only thing standing in the way of lower prices, improved grid security and meeting our carbon reduction commitments is a divided federal Liberal Party that is completely beholden to the coal lobby,” Koutsantonis said on Thursday.
He may have a point, because ideology alone does not explain the absurdity and ignorance of some of the remarks made this past week.
It seems there is nothing about the clean energy economy that these people like. The conservatives and the Murdoch camp has been relentless against wind farms for years now and this week they turned its target to battery storage and solar panels.
One story focused on fires from solar panels, claiming 40 such fires occurred over the last five years in Victoria.
Context: Victoria has around 3,000 house fires a year, mostly from heaters and clothes dryers and electric blankets. Fridges cause one fire a week in London, including the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington that claimed 80 lives.
The Murdoch media’s campaign against Elon Musk’s “bulldust boutique batteries” was actually kick-started by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who made some ridiculous remarks about how a single battery could not power the whole state, or store its entire wind output.
(But it was 20 times bigger than the 5MW battery storage “virtual power plant” he was hailing earlier in the year).
No one is suggesting that this battery storage array can provide all of the state’s power needs: It is designed to help make up any energy shortfall, which occurred last year when the biggest gas plants sat idle, or when they unexpectedly tripped, and to help ride through network faults and generator failures.
And battery storage would have prevented, or at least reduced, all three major outages that occurred in South Australia since November 2015. It would certainly be smarter and quicker than the dumb, slow responding fossil fuel generator that did the wrong thing and extended the blackout on that day last November.
Battery storage is a threat to the incumbents, and their defenders, because it and other storage will make wind and solar dispatchable, will make more expensive gas peaking plant redundant, and eventually – with the addition of pumped hydro and solar thermal – allow the coal fleet to be entirely replaced.
The attack on proposed vehicle emissions standards was extraordinary. Australia has become a dumping ground for inefficient and polluting vehicles because of its absence of any such standards.
That is causing health issues and higher prices (it means more fuel consumption), but the Murdoch media had no hesitation in calling it a “carbon tax” on cars, and epithet that even Fairfax used to lead its coverage.
“Hands off our cars, warmists,” warned Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, echoing the extraordinary push back by conservatives against the idea of autonomous driving. “Don’t try and steal my pick-up, I’ve got a gun.”
One wonders: Do any of these people use modern technologies? Or are they still riding a horse and cart, sending telegrams and listening to the wireless, storing their beers in an ice box.
Of course, the clean energy industry doesn’t help itself – either too brow-beaten by the media or scared to offend the government. When I started writing about clean energy a decade ago, I was astonished by the circular nature of the mutual put-downs from the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass industries.
Last week, when the Murdoch media got their “scoop” on an issue well reported in RenewEconomy, the draft standards that may effectively ban lithium-ion batteries from the inside of homes, and bring a halt to the nascent household battery storage industry – a major threat to incumbent utilities.
The response from some of Australia’s leading battery storage developers? The promoters of vanadium and zinc bromine flow batteries hopped on to their soap-box and crowed about how their product was not affected.
No sense of a common purpose there. Sauve qui peux! Every man for themselves. The story of Australia’s energy industry.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel push continues unrelenting. The Minerals Council producing yet another report claiming that “High efficiency, low emissions” coal plants could meet climate targets. To understand how preposterous that claim is, read this.
“Low emissions” is just another marketing lie. “High emissions, low efficiency” might be a more accurate description of HELE coal plants compared to the alternative smart technologies.
It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.
Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.
And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

Press link for more: Renew economy.com

Climate Change: The Science 

By Justin Gillis
The issue can be overwhelming. 

The science is complicated. 

Predictions about the fate of the planet carry endless caveats and asterisk.

We get it.
So we’ve put together a list of quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change. 

This should give you a running start on understanding the problem.

1. How much is the planet warming up?

2 degrees is actually a significant amount.

As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than 1 degree Celsius, since 1880, when records began at a global scale.

 That figure includes the surface of the ocean. 

The warming is greater over land, and greater still in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica.

The number may sound low. 

We experience much larger temperature swings in our day-to-day lives from weather systems and from the changing of seasons. 

But when you average across the entire planet and over months or years, the temperature differences get far smaller – the variation at the surface of the Earth from one year to the next is measured in fractions of a degree. 

So a rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century is actually high.
The substantial warming that has already occurred explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace.

 The heat accumulating in the Earth because of human emissions is roughly equal to the heat that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding across the planet every day.


Scientists believe most and probably all of the warming since 1950 was caused by the human release of greenhouse gases.

 If emissions continue unchecked, they say the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet and undermine its capacity to support a large human population.
2. How much trouble are we in?

For future generations, big trouble.

The risks are much greater over the long run than over the next few decades, but the emissions that create those risks are happening now.

 This means the current generation of people is dooming future generations to a more difficult future. 

How difficult?
Over the coming 25 or 30 years, scientists say, the climate is likely to resemble that of today, although gradually getting warmer, with more of the extreme heat waves that can kill vulnerable people. 

Rainfall will be heavier in many parts of the world, but the periods between rains will most likely grow hotter and drier. 

The number of hurricanes and typhoons may actually fall, but the ones that do occur will draw energy from a hotter ocean surface, and therefore may be more intense. 

Coastal flooding will grow more frequent and damaging, as is already happening.

Longer term, if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the risks are profound. 

Scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities.
All of this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to play out, but experts cannot rule out abrupt changes, such as a collapse of agriculture, that would throw civilization into chaos much sooner. Bolder efforts to limit emissions would reduce these risks, or at least slow the effects, but it is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely.
3. Is there anything I can do about climate change?

Fly less, drive less, waste less.

You can reduce your own carbon footprint in lots of simple ways, and most of them will save you money. 

You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off the lights in any room where you are not using them, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food and eat less meat.
Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined.

 If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.

If you want to offset your emissions, you can buy certificates, with the money going to projects that protect forests, capture greenhouse gases and so forth. 

Some airlines sell these to offset emissions from their flights. You can also buy offset certificates in a private marketplace, from companies such as TerraPass; some people even give these as holiday gifts. 

In states that allow you to choose your own electricity supplier, you can often elect to buy green electricity; you pay slightly more, and the money goes into a fund that helps finance projects like wind farms.
Leading companies are also starting to demand clean energy for their operations. You can pay attention to company policies, patronize the leaders, and let the others know you expect them to do better.
In the end, though, experts do not believe the needed transformation in the energy system can happen without strong state and national policies.

 So speaking up and exercising your rights as a citizen matters as much as anything else you can do.


4. What’s the optimistic case?

Several things have to break our way.

In the best case that scientists can imagine, several things happen: Earth turns out to be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than currently believed; plants and animals manage to adapt to the changes that have already become inevitable; human society develops much greater political will to bring emissions under control; and major technological breakthroughs occur that help society to limit emissions and to adjust to climate change.
Some technological breakthroughs are already making cleaner energy more attractive. 

In the United States, for instance, coal has been losing out to natural gas as a power source, as new drilling technology has made gas more abundant and cheaper; for a given amount of power, gas cuts emissions in half. In addition, the cost of wind and solar power has declined so much that they are now the cheapest power source in a few places, even without subsidies.

Unfortunately, scientists and energy experts say the odds of all these things breaking our way are not very high. 

The Earth could just as easily turn out to be more sensitive to greenhouse gases as less.

 Global warming seems to be causing chaos in parts of the natural world already, and that seems likely to get worse, not better. 

So in the view of the experts, simply banking on rosy assumptions without any real plan would be dangerous. They believe the only way to limit the risks is to limit emissions.

5. Will reducing meat in my diet really help the climate?

Yes, beef especially.

Agriculture of all types produces greenhouse gases that warm the planet, but meat production is especially harmful — and beef is the most environmentally damaging form of meat. Some methods of cattle production demand a lot of land, contributing to destruction of forests; the trees are typically burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other methods require huge amounts of water and fertilizer to grow food for the cows.
The cows themselves produce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes short-term warming. Meat consumption is rising worldwide as the population grows, and as economic development makes people richer and better able to afford meat.
This trend is worrisome. Studies have found that if the whole world were to start eating beef at the rate Americans eat it, produced by the methods typically used in the United States, that alone might erase any chance of staying below an internationally agreed-upon limit on global warming. Pork production creates somewhat lower emissions than beef production, and chicken lower still. So reducing your meat consumption, or switching from beef and pork to chicken in your diet, are moves in the right direction. Of course, as with any kind of behavioral change meant to benefit the climate, this will only make a difference if lots of other people do it, too, reducing the overall demand for meat products.
6. What’s the worst case?

There are many.

That is actually hard to say, which is one reason scientists are urging that emissions be cut; they want to limit the possibility of the worst case coming to pass. 
Perhaps the greatest fear is a collapse of food production, accompanied by escalating prices and mass starvation. It is unclear how likely this would be, since farmers are able to adjust their crops and farming techniques, to a degree, to adapt to climatic changes. But we have already seen heat waves contribute to broad crop failures. A decade ago, a big run-up in grain prices precipitated food riots around the world and led to the collapse of at least one government, in Haiti.
Another possibility would be a disintegration of the polar ice sheets, leading to fast-rising seas that would force people to abandon many of the world’s great cities and would lead to the loss of trillions of dollars worth of property and other assets. In places like Florida and Virginia, towns are already starting to have trouble with coastal flooding.  
Scientists also worry about other wild-card events. Will the Asian monsoons become less reliable, for instance? Billions of people depend on the monsoons to provide water for crops, so any disruptions could be catastrophic. Another possibility is a large-scale breakdown of the circulation patterns in the ocean, which could potentially lead to sudden, radical climate shifts across entire continents.
7. ​Will a technology breakthrough help us?

Even Bill Gates says don’t count on it, unless we commit the cash.

As more companies, governments and researchers devote themselves to the problem, the chances of big technological advances are improving. But even many experts who are optimistic about technological solutions warn that current efforts are not enough. For instance, spending on basic energy research is only a quarter to a third of the level that several in-depth reports have recommended. And public spending on agricultural research has stagnated even though climate change poses growing risks to the food supply. People like Bill Gates have argued that crossing our fingers and hoping for technological miracles is not a strategy — we have to spend the money that would make these things more likely to happen. 
8. How much will the seas rise?

The real question is not how high, but how fast.

The ocean is rising at a rate of about a foot per century. That causes severe effects on coastlines, forcing governments and property owners to spend tens of billions of dollars fighting erosion. But if that rate continued, it would probably be manageable, experts say.
The risk is that the rate will accelerate markedly. If emissions continue unchecked, then the temperature at the Earth’s surface could soon resemble a past epoch called the Pliocene, when a great deal of ice melted and the ocean rose by something like 80 feet compared to today. A recent study found that burning all the fossil fuels in the ground would fully melt the polar ice sheets, raising the sea level by more than 160 feet over an unknown period. Many coastal experts believe that even if emissions stopped tomorrow, 15 or 20 feet of sea-level rise is already inevitable.
The crucial issue is probably not how much the oceans are going to rise, but how fast. And on that point, scientists are pretty much flying blind. Their best information comes from studying the Earth’s history, and it suggests that the rate can on occasion hit a foot per decade, which can probably be thought of as the worst case. Even if the rise is much slower, many of the world’s great cities will flood eventually. Studies suggest that big cuts in emissions could slow the rise, buying crucial time for society to adapt to an altered coastline.
9. Are the predictions reliable?

They’re not perfect, but they’re grounded in solid science.

The idea that Earth is sensitive to greenhouse gases is confirmed by many lines of scientific evidence. For instance, the basic physics suggesting that an increase of carbon dioxide traps more heat was discovered in the 19th century, and has been verified in thousands of laboratory experiments.
Climate science does contain uncertainties, of course. The biggest is the degree to which global warming sets off feedback loops, such as a melting of sea ice that will darken the surface and cause more heat to be absorbed, melting more ice, and so forth. It is not clear exactly how much the feedbacks will intensify the warming; some of them could even partly offset it. This uncertainty means that computer forecasts can give only a range of future climate possibilities, not absolute predictions.
But even if those computer forecasts did not exist, a huge amount of evidence suggests that scientists have the basic story right. The most important evidence comes from the study of past climate conditions, a field known as paleoclimate research. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air has fluctuated naturally in the past, and every time it rises, the Earth warms up, ice melts and the ocean rises. A hundred miles inland from today’s East Coast of the United States, seashells can be dug from ancient beaches that are three million years old, a blink of an eye in geologic time.
These past conditions are not a perfect guide to the future, because humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the air far faster than nature has ever done. But they show it would be foolish to assume that modern society is somehow immune to large-scale, threatening changes. 
10. Why do people question the science of climate change?

Hint: ideology.

Most of the attacks on climate science are coming from libertarians and other political conservatives who do not like the policies that have been proposed to fight global warming. Instead of negotiating over those policies and trying to make them more subject to free-market principles, they have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science.
This ideological position has been propped up by money from fossil-fuel interests, which have paid to create organizations, fund conferences and the like. The scientific arguments made by these groups usually involve cherry-picking data, such as focusing on short-term blips in the temperature record or in sea ice, while ignoring the long-term trends.
The most extreme version of climate denialism is to claim that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public so that the government can gain greater control over people’s lives. As the arguments have become more strained, many oil and coal companies have begun to distance themselves publicly from climate denialism, but some are still helping to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.
11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

In some cases, yes.

Scientists have published strong evidence that the warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense. It is also causing heavier rainstorms, and coastal flooding is getting worse as the oceans rise because of human emissions. Global warming has intensified droughts in regions like the Middle East, and it may have strengthened a recent drought in California.
In many other cases, though, the linkage to global warming for particular trends is uncertain or disputed. That is partly from a lack of good historical weather data, but it is also scientifically unclear how certain types of events may be influenced by the changing climate.
Another factor: While the climate is changing, people’s perceptions may be changing faster. The Internet has made us all more aware of weather disasters in distant places. On social media, people have a tendency to attribute virtually any disaster to climate change, but in many cases there is little or no scientific support for doing so.
12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

In certain ways, yes.

Countries with huge, frozen hinterlands, including Canada and Russia, could see some economic benefits as global warming makes agriculture, mining and the like more possible in those places. It is perhaps no accident that the Russians have always been reluctant to make ambitious climate commitments, and President Vladimir V. Putin has publicly questioned the science of climate change.
However, both of those countries could suffer enormous damage to their natural resources; escalating fires in Russia are already killing millions of acres of forests per year. Moreover, some experts believe countries that view themselves as likely winners from global warming will come to see the matter differently once they are swamped by millions of refugees from less fortunate lands.
13. Is there any reason for hope?

If you share this with 50 friends, maybe.

Scientists have been warning since the 1980s that strong policies were needed to limit emissions. Those warnings were ignored, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to build up to potentially dangerous levels. So the hour is late.
But after 20 years of largely fruitless diplomacy, the governments of the world are finally starting to take the problem seriously. A deal reached in Paris in late 2015 commits nearly every country to some kind of action. President Trump decided in 2017 to pull the United States out of that deal, saying it would unfairly burden American businesses. But other countries are promising to go forward with it anyway, and some states and cities have defied Mr. Trump by adopting more ambitious climate goals.
Religious leaders like Pope Francis are speaking out. Low-emission technologies, such as electric cars, are improving. Leading corporations are making bold promises to switch to renewable power and stop forest destruction.
What is still largely missing in all this are the voices of ordinary citizens. Because politicians have a hard time thinking beyond the next election, they tend to tackle hard problems only when the public rises up and demands it.
14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

It’s a big contributor, but there are signs of progress.

The environmental pressures from global agriculture are enormous. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down large swaths of the Amazon forest.
Brazil adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.
Scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York in 2014 pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.
Many forest experts consider meeting the pledge to be difficult, but possible. They say consumers must keep up the pressure on companies that use ingredients like palm oil in products ranging from soap to lipstick to ice cream. People can also help the cause by altering their diets to eat less meat, and particularly less beef.
15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Think lumpy.

Many people imagine the ocean to be like a bathtub, where the water level is consistent all the way around. In fact, the sea is rather lumpy — strong winds and other factors can cause water to pile up in some spots, and to be lower in others.
Also, the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica exert a gravitational pull on the sea, drawing water toward them. As they melt, sea levels in their vicinity will fall as the water gets redistributed to distant areas.
How the rising ocean affects particular parts of the world will therefore depend on which ice sheet melts fastest, how winds and currents shift, and other related factors. On top of all that, some coastal areas are sinking as the sea rises, so they get a double whammy.
16. What are ‘carbon emissions?’

Here’s a quick explainer.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions,” just for shorthand. That is because the two most important of the gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. Many other gases also trap heat near the Earth’s surface, and many human activities cause the release of such gases to the atmosphere. Not all of these actually contain carbon, but they have all come to be referred to by the same shorthand.
By far the biggest factor causing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. That process takes carbon that has been underground for millions of years and moves it into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, where it will influence the climate for many centuries into the future. Methane is even more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but it breaks down more quickly in the air. Methane comes from swamps, from the decay of food in landfills, from cattle and dairy farming, and from leaks in natural gas wells and pipelines.
While fossil-fuel emissions are the major issue, another major creator of emissions is the destruction of forests, particularly in the tropics. Billions of tons of carbon are stored in trees, and when forests are cleared, much of the vegetation is burned, sending that carbon into the air as carbon dioxide.
When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods designed to limit greenhouse emissions or to make them more expensive so that people will be encouraged to conserve fuel.

Press link for more: NY Times

The far right have hijacked Australia’s energy policy! #Auspol #StopAdani 

How the far Right have hijacked Australia’s energy policy

By Giles Parkinson

If you ever wondered just how comprehensively the Far Right has hijacked the Coalition’s energy policy, it’s worth reading the speech by NSW energy minister Don Harwin we reported on last week.
It’s a speech that might once have been made by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – and in fact large parts of it, particularly the focus on energy efficiency and demand management, are exactly the sort of things Turnbull did talk about.
That was, however, before he was prime minister and became master of all he surveyed, apart from his own climate and energy policies.


The thrust of Harwin’s speech was this: the era of baseload coal is coming to an end, fossil fuel plants are not a guarantee of reliability, wind and solar offer the cheapest forms of new generation, we need to look at storage, and we must not lose sight of the long-term climate targets.
Turnbull is not allowed to say any of these things, for fear of upsetting the Far Right. 

The sight of the craven apology offered by front bencher and government whip Christopher Pyne last weekend for daring to suggest that the moderates had some influence over policy matters was testimony to that.

And so too have been the efforts of federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg to placate the Far Right by suggesting that each individual new wind and solar farm should carry an equal amount of storage for its rated capacity – megawatt-hour per megawatt – effectively trying to turn the new technology into the same monoliths that exist now in the current energy market model which is clearly past its use by date.


Frydenberg said this to the party room and then repeated it when addressing an energy conference in Melbourne a week later. 

He made clear it was not about energy security, but “levelling the playing field” between lower cost renewable and expensive and polluting coal.


It’s a classic case of overkill – of politics over policy, and of ideology over technology.
It is true that the Far Right in Australia have not had the same powers as their colleagues now have in the US, where climate science, environmental protections, renewable policies, and emission controls are being systematically trashed and dismantled by the Trump administration.
But they have given it a good shot. 

While in power, the Abbott government abolished the carbon price, slashed the renewable energy target and other institutions. 

Since losing power, they have still succeeded in freezing their policy, or politics, in time.

The whole debate around the potentially ground-breaking Finkel Review boiled down to whether it was good for coal generators or not.
The climate science was discarded, and then the fossil fuel industry and the conservatives began to question the very idea that wind and solar were cheaper than new coal.

 Fake news made front page headlines in the Murdoch media as the incumbents fought back.
Harwin’s speech puts a nonsense to this, and highlights the fact that to be a member of a conservative government does not necessarily equate to the need to deny basic facts.
It is worth repeating Harwin’s major themes, because like the $565 million investment in Nectar Farms, the creation of 1,300 jobs and the shift of one of Australia’s biggest vegetable growing operations to 100 per cent renewables, it did not get a single mention in the mainstream media.
It seems there are some things MsM doesn’t want you to know. (Although we should belatedly note that the Guardian did finally write a story on the Harwin speech on Tuesday, nearly a week after it was delivered).
The major themes of the speech were in direct opposition to the positions and beliefs held by the Far Right.
The era of baseload power is coming to an end: This is not a new concept – the head of the UK National Grid, the head of China State grid, even Australia’s AGL and the BNEF and goodness knows how many others have acknowledged it. 

“Our old paradigm was based upon a notion of a baseload of energy demand being supplied by large thermal generators, and then a peak. Over the coming decades, this will change.”


Wind and solar are cheaper than coal. 

Full stop. 

Harwin says wind and solar are even cheaper than modelled by the Finkel Review, and noted the history of underestimating cost reductions, particularly from the IEA. 

Not only are wind and solar cheaper than new coal, Harwin suggests they will soon be cheaper than existing coal plants. 

“We could see a situation in the 2030’s where existing coal plants struggle to compete during the day because new solar is cheaper.” 

This is in direct contrast to the Coalition view that somehow new coal is cheaper, an argument vigorously promoted by the Minerals Council of Australia and the Murdoch media.


Coal and gas plants do not equate to reliability: Harwin was appointed just a week before the heatwave in NSW, and describes the “white knuckle ride” as authorities tried to keep the lights on as coal and gas-fired power plants tripped across the state.

 In NSW, the grid lost more than 2GW of capacity as coal plants succumbed to the heat and gas generators failed. 

Renewables, and in particular solar, performed as expected and kept the lights on. 

“Clean energy performed as forecast. Thermal generation did not,” Harwin said.
Energy storage will fill in the gaps between renewables: Harwin came out in support of one of the few positives to have emerged from the federal Coalition government, when glimpses of the “old Malcolm” were briefly visible: Snowy Hydro 2.0, and the need for flexible rather than baseload generation, this time through pumped hydro. 

It is not yet clear if this is a go-er financially, but the implications are important if it is. 

Harwin says it will be a “game-changer” and support 5GW of new wind and solar in the state – which makes a nonsense of the Frydenberg push for each new wind and solar plant to match each megawatt of rated capacity with a megawatt-hour of storage.


New rules are needed: Harwin supported new rules and mechanisms to level the playing field for new technologies. 

It is not enough that wind, solar and storage offer cheaper alternatives to coal and gas if the rules are fixed in favour of the incumbents. 

The most important of these is the 30-minute settlement, which most people agree allows the big generators to manipulate prices, and does not encourage battery storage.

 “It (the 30-minute settlement) is a classic example of a rule made to suit existing technologies. 

I have supported change so we can benefit from new technologies such as batteries.” 

Without reform, Harwin noted, “the National Electricity Market could start to resemble Voltaire’s view on the Holy Roman Empire – which he quipped was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”
We have to take climate change seriously.


 “We must end the self-indulgent climate culture war,” Harwin says.


 The Paris climate deal has to be taken into its main target, not the initial down-payment made by Abbott. 

NSW has a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, and first off the rank will be electricity.

 The Finkel Review, prepared to mollify the Far Right, had a net zero emissions electricity sector target of 2070. 

“Investors know that emissions are expected to go down in the future” Harwin said. “And it’s not ideological. 

Whatever your view on the science, carbon is risk, that’s how investors see it, and this is an exercise of risk management.”
We have to be ambitious with renewables: Harwin spoke of a vision of having two renewable energy spines running across the state: the first running from west to east – South Australia to Snowy – unlocking Riverina solar and Western Division solar and wind, along with a huge balancing battery in Snowy. 

The second would run from the Hunter to Queensland, tapping wind in the tablelands and solar from the Central West, and use the Hunter’s existing infrastructure for a balancing battery and bioenergy hub.
Such vision is anathema to the Far Right, who are still pushing for new coal generators in Queensland and Victoria, with the loud support and editorials from conservative commentators, and the Murdoch media.
Harwin is not the only one to lament the influence of the far Right. 

Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler makes mention of it in his book Climate Wars, describing in detail how the Far Right has skewered climate policies and politics over the last decade.
Butler described the campaign against the “carbon tax” by media commentator Alan Jones, who was “joined by other right-wing commentators and News Limited papers in a campaign of vitriol, the likes of which none of us had ever seen in Australia.” 

But which continues to this day.
Ross Garnaut, the economist whose work was central to much of the policy designs, including the carbon price that was in place for two years, and the associated institutions that remain (such as the CEFC), said in a speech this week that it was only a small minority.
“(Some people) have ideological objections to modern atmospheric physics, or ideological or vested interests in old ways of supplying energy,” Garnaut said in a speech to the Melbourne Energy Institute this week.
“There is no way of building a bridge across to the ideological and vested interests. 


But people of such mind represent a small proportion of the Australian community, and it must be possible to establish effective policy stability without them.”
And Ian Hunter, the climate change minister in the South Australian Labor government, had this to say in a speech late last month in response to Finkel and the reaction to it from the federal Coalition:
Following the release of the Finkel review, the federal Liberals spent the whole week debating climate change science rather than seriously looking at the challenges facing our country in terms of energy policy.
“We are still struggling with federal Liberals like Tony Abbott, the former Liberal leader, who said that climate change was crap, who led his troops into battle once again in the party room, discrediting and debating the merits of climate science all over again.
“The science is very clear.

 To achieve the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 2o or less means decarbonising the economy and it means more clean renewable energy. 

It is clear from across the country that there is a set of ageing energy infrastructure which has to be replaced.”
To be sure, the ideological interests are not just the province of the federal Coalition. 

At state level, we saw an unbelievable push-back against renewable energy by the Northern Territory government; the former WA LNP government vigorously opposed any new wind and solar development; the state opposition in Queensland promised to put the wagons in motion for a new coal generator within 100 days of winning election; and the Victoria and South Australia Coalition parties remained implacably opposed to their state government’s ambitious renewable energy and climate targets.
Several senior Coalition operators who might have guided the party to more science-based and economically realistic policies have lamented their impossible position. “You have no idea what we have to deal with (in the party room),” is a common refrain.
Oh, but we can imagine.

 At least now we know what might be said, assuming they had the courage of their convictions, as Harwin seems to do.

 And, the ideologues should note this point that Harwin made: “The coal sector should accept the Finkel framework as potentially the best deal that coal will get.”

Press link for more: Reneweconomy.com.au

6-Point plan to save the world. 

How To Save The World: 6-Point Climate Change Plan Laid Out By Scientists, Policymakers
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but that doesn’t mean the Earth is doomed. 

Scientists and policymakers laid out a plan in the journal Nature listing six ways humans could help save the planet in three years.

In the past three years, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels worldwide have flattened after increasing for decades, suggesting certain actions taken to curb pollution have worked.

The authors pointed out that although Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, it won’t be able to do so until November 2020. 

If global emissions rise beyond 2020 or remain level, the Paris temperature goal will be hard to reach, which is why the authors launched Mission 2020, a campaign that will work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by that year.


The one-degree Celsius warming driven by human activity has impacted ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica while sea ice disappears in the Arctic and coral reefs suffer from heat stress. 

There have also been heatwaves and droughts because of climate change.

However, scientists say there are ways to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions start to decrease by 2020. 

The authors are optimistic, noting U.S. emissions went down by 3 percent in 2016 while gross domestic product rose. 

Researchers also pointed out that wind and solar power in the EU made up more than three-quarters of new energy capacity installed.
Referencing those positive notes, the scientists and policymakers revealed six milestones that could reduce global carbon emissions.
Energy
Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, would need to make up at least 30 percent of the world’s electricity, up from 23.7 percent in 2015. Furthermore, no more coal-fired power plants should be approved by 2020, and all the existing one should be retired, the paper said.


Infrastructure
Cities and states will have to decarbonize buildings and infrastructure fully by 2050.

 This goal wouldn’t be impossible since many governors and mayors nationwide have pledged to uphold the Paris accord despite Trump’s decision.

Read: Coral Reefs And Climate Change Facts: Massive Bleaching Event May Be Coming To An End
Transportation
To lower global emissions, electric vehicles will have to make up at least 15 percent of new car sales worldwide, a spike from today’s 1 percent market share of battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold. 

Use of mass transportation will also have to double in cities, and there must be a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles and a 20 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation per kilometer traveled.


Land
Land-use policies will have to be changed to reduce deforestation since current net emission from forest destruction and land use changes make up about 12 percent of the global total.
Industry
Industries including iron, steel, cement, chemicals, oil and gas emit more than a fifth of global carbon dioxide. Heavy industries will need to develop and publish plans to cut emissions in half before 2050.
Finance
Governments, private banks and lenders, like the World Bank, will need to hand out more “green bonds” to fund climate initiatives.
“These goals may be idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst,” former U.N. climate negotiator Christiana Figueres and her colleagues said in the paper. “However, we are in the age of exponential transformation and think that such a focus will unleash ingenuity.”
Mission 2020 scientists called on leaders who will get together at the Group of 20 summit next week in Hamburg, Germany, to focus on global warming.
“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change,” the authors said. “But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

Press link for more: IBtimes.com