Carbon Tax

Australia shirks it’s moral responsibility #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility
A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. 

Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced.

Press link to download report Breakthrough online

 Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

 Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. 

We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
This should mean an honest, objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, guarding especially against more extreme possibilities that would have consequences damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilisation as we know it would be lucky to survive.
Instead, the climate and energy policies that successive Australian governments adopted over the last 20 years, driven largely by ideology and corporate fossil-fuel interests, deliberately refused to acknowledge this existential threat, as the shouting match over the wholly inadequate reforms the Finkel review proposes demonstrates too well. 

There is overwhelming evidence that we have badly underestimated both the speed and extent of climate change’s effects. 

In such circumstances, to ignore this threat is a fundamental breach of the responsibility that the community entrusts to political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders.
A hotter planet has already taken us perilously close to, and in some cases over, tipping points that will profoundly change major climate systems: at the polar ice caps, in the oceans, and the large permafrost carbon stores. 

Global warming’s physical effects include a hotter and more extreme climate, more frequent and severe droughts, desertification, increasing insecurity of food and water supplies, stronger storms and cyclones, and coastal inundation.
Climate change was a significant factor in triggering the war in Syria, the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the “Arab spring”, albeit this aspect is rarely discussed. 

Our global carbon emission trajectory, if left unchecked, will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migrations, political instability and conflicts.
Australia is not immune.

 We already have extended heatwaves with temperates above 40 degrees, catastrophic bushfires, and intense storms and floods. 

The regional effects do not receive much attention but are striking hard at vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, forcing them into a spiral of dislocation and migration. 

The effects on China and South Asia will have profound consequences for employment and financial stability in Australia.
In the absence of emergency action to reduce Australian and global emissions far faster than currently proposed, the level of disruption and conflict will escalate to the point that outright regional chaos is likely. 

Militarised solutions will be ineffective. 

Australia is failing in its duty to its people, and as a world citizen, by playing down these implications and shirking its responsibility to act.
Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia.


Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia. Photo: Jason South

Nonetheless, people understand climate risks, even as their political leaders underplay or ignore them. 

About 84 per cent of 8000 people in eight countries surveyed recently for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. 

The result for Australia was 75 per cent. 


Many people see climate change as a bigger threat than epidemics, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence.
What is to be done if our leaders are incapable of rising to the task?
The new normal? 


Residents paddle down a street in Murwillumbah in March after heavy rains led to flash flooding. Photo: Jason O’Brien

First, establish a high-level climate and conflict taskforce in Australia to urgently assess the existential risks, and develop risk-management techniques and policies appropriate to that challenge.
Second, recognise that climate change is an global emergency that threatens civilisation, and push for a global, coordinated, practical, emergency response.
We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
Third, launch an emergency initiative to decarbonise Australia’s economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fourth, help to build more resilient communities domestically and in the most vulnerable nations regionally; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hot spots of instability and conflict; and rethink refugee policies accordingly.

Young children walk through debris in Vanuata after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Photo: Unicef

Fifth, ensure that Australia’s military and government agencies are fully aware of and prepared for this changed environment; and improve their ability to provide aid and disaster relief.
Sixth, establish a national leadership group, outside conventional politics and drawn from across society, to implement the climate emergency program.
A pious hope in today’s circumstances?

 Our leaders clearly do not want the responsibility to secure our future. 

So “everything becomes possible, particularly when it is unavoidable”.
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

This is an extract from his report with David Spratt, Disaster alley: climate change, conflict and risk, released on Thursday.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

If we burn all the coal we heat the planet by 8C #StopAdani

On our current trajectory, climate change is expected to intensify over the coming decades. 


If no policy actions are taken to restrict GHG emissions, expected warming would be on track for 8.1°F (4.5°C) by 2100. 

Strikingly, this amount of warming is actually less than would be expected if all currently known fossil fuel resources were consumed. 

Were this to occur, total future warming would be 14.5°F (8°C), fueled largely by the world’s vast coal resources.
The United States will not be insulated from a changing climate. 

If global emissions continue on their current path, average summer temperatures in 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia would rise above 85°F (29.4°C) by the end of the 21st century, well above the 76 to 82°F (24 to 28°C) range experienced by these same states during the 1981–2010 period (Climate Prospectus n.d.). 

Climate change will lead to increased flooding, necessitating migration away from some low-lying areas; it will also lead to drought and heat-related damages (Ackerman and Stanton 2008).
There is no question that the United States has begun to make important progress on climate change. 

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were nearly 15 percent below their 2005 peak, marking the lowest level of emissions since 1992 (EIA 2017a). 

The drop was largely driven by recent reductions in the electric power sector, where inexpensive natural gas is displacing more carbon-intensive coal-fired generation and renewables like wind and solar are slowly gaining market share.


However, large challenges remain.

 Avoiding dangerous future climate change will require reductions in GHG emissions far greater than what have already been achieved.

 Though progress in reducing emissions associated with electric power provides cause for optimism, developments in other sectors are less encouraging.

 In particular, transportation recently surpassed electric power generation as the largest source of U.S. emissions and is projected to be a more important contributor in coming years. 

Transportation CO2 emissions have increased despite strengthened fuel efficiency standards that aim to reduce emissions, suggesting that a review of this policy is warranted.


Moreover, climate change is a global problem. 

Recent gains in the United States have been offset by rising emissions elsewhere in the world. 

In past decades, most global emissions originated in the developed nations of Europe and North America. 

However, new GHG emissions are increasingly generated by China, India, and other developing economies, where economic growth and improving living standards are highly dependent on access to reliable, affordable energy. 

Today, that largely means coal. 



As economic and population growth surges in these countries, GHG emissions will rise accordingly; as a result, global emissions will continue to rise despite stabilization in Europe and the United States.
Numerous technologies—from nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration to cheaper renewables and energy storage—hold considerable promise for addressing the global climate challenge.

 Yet current economic conditions do not favor the large-scale implementation of these technologies in developed or developing countries. 

Rapidly deploying these solutions on a large scale would almost certainly require some combination of expanded research and development (R&D) investments and carbon pricing, the policy interventions recommended by economic theory.
It remains uncertain whether policy makers around the world will be successful in responding to the threat of climate change. 

The consensus view of the scientific community is that future warming should be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) (Jones, Sterman and Johnston 2016).

 Achieving that target would require much more dramatic actions than have been implemented globally, with global CO2 emissions falling to near zero by 2100.
The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago aim to support broadly shared economic growth. 

This jointly written document provides useful context for a discussion of the dangers to the economy posed by climate change and the policy tools for addressing those dangers. 

Given the immense threat that climate change represents, it is crucial that policy makers implement efficient solutions that minimize climate damages from our use of energy.

Press link for more: Brookings.edu

Existential Risk! #StopAdani 

EXISTENTIAL RISK

An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential (Bostrom 2013).

 For example, a big meteor impact or large-scale nuclear war.

Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. 

Because the consequences are so severe – perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know
it – “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks” (Bostrom and Cirkovic 2008).

Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response.

 Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. 

But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.

Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable” (Anderson 2011). 

He says: “If you have got
a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving” (Fyall 2009).

Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”. 

The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to
a 4°C world is possible” (World Bank 2012). 

Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.


The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us
to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. 

Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks (see page 10).

Yet this is the world we are now entering. 

The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.


This does not take into account “longer-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks – such as permafrost thaw and declining
efficency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. 

If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. 

(Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher gure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” – which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases – to calculate the warming.

A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity gure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming (Reilly et al. 2015).)

So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

 Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.

The world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. 

A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises (Dannenberg et al. 2017)

Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of
being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard. 

The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. 

In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. (GCF 2017) 

PRess link for full report: Disaster Alley

We need a Strong Carbon Price. #auspol #StopAdani 

Leading Economists: A Strong Carbon Price Needed to Drive Large-Scale Climate Action
Berlin, May 29, 2017 – Meeting the world’s agreed climate goals in the most cost-effective way while fostering growth requires countries to set a strong carbon price, with the goal of reaching $40-$80 per tonne of CO2 by 2020 and $50-100 per tonne by 2030. 

That’s the key conclusion of the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, led by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern.

Convened by the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC)[1] at Marrakesh in 2016 and supported by the Government of France and the World Bank Group, the Commission brought together 13 leading economists from nine developing and developed countries to identify the range of carbon prices that, together with other supportive policies, would deliver on the Paris climate targets agreed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015. 


“The world’s transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy is the story of growth for this century,” said Commission co-chairs Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern. “We’re already seeing the potential that this transformation represents in terms of more innovation, greater resilience, more livable cities, improved air quality and better health. 

Our report builds on the growing understanding of the opportunities for carbon pricing, together with other policies, to drive the sustainable growth and poverty reduction which can deliver on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Commission’s report, released today in Berlin at the Think20 Summit[2], concludes that a well-designed carbon price is an indispensable part of a strategy for efficiently reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also fostering growth. 

It states that a strong and predictable carbon-price trajectory provides a powerful signal to individuals and firms that the future is low carbon, inducing the changes needed in global investment, production, and consumption patterns.

The Commission concluded that a $40-$80 range in 2020, rising to $50-$100 by 2030, is consistent with the core objective of the Paris Agreement of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees.

 Carbon prices and instruments will differ across countries, and implementation and timetables will depend on the country context. 

The temperature target remains achievable with lower near-term carbon prices if complemented by other policies and instruments and followed by higher carbon prices later. 
However, this may increase the aggregate cost of the transition.


The Commission noted the importance of complementing carbon pricing with a range of well-designed policies to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, innovation and technological development, long-term investment in sustainable infrastructure, as well as measures to support the population in the transition to low-carbon growth.
“Specific carbon price levels will need to be tailored to country conditions and policy choices,” said Commission member, Professor Harald Winkler of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. 

“Carbon pricing makes sense in all countries but low-income countries, which may be more challenged to protect the people vulnerable to the initial economic impacts, may decide to start pricing carbon at a lower level and gradually increase over time.”
In its five months of deliberations, the Commissioners explored multiple lines of evidence to reach its conclusion on the level of carbon pricing that would be consistent with achieving the 2C-or-below temperature objective of the Paris Agreement. 

They analyzed national mitigation and development pathways, technological roadmaps, and global integrated assessment models.
The Commission found that explicit carbon-pricing instruments, like a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, can raise revenue for countries efficiently and these revenues can be used to foster green growth in an equitable way, depending on their circumstances. 

Options include returning the revenue as household rebates, reducing taxes on labor or investment, supporting poorer groups in society through cash-transfer programs, supporting new green technologies, helping companies transition to lower-carbon technologies or investing in basic services like energy, water and sanitation.
The report also points to action on carbon pricing by the private sector with hundreds of corporations already setting internal carbon prices to help inform their decision-making. Together with the Carbon Pricing Corridor Initiative led by We Mean Business and the Carbon Disclosure Project which focuses on carbon pricing in the power sector, the Commission’s report will help contribute to the design of climate policies and carbon pricing instruments around the world.

Press link for more: Carbon Pricing Leadership

We need to harness the wind. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Utilities need to harness the wind
Most people accept that coal is a dirty fuel: Dirty to mine, dirty to burn and dirty to dispose of the ash.


Already there is a shift away from coal-fired power plants, but they still account for 30 percent of our electric power nationwide.

 In many cases, natural gas (also known as methane) has been the preferred alternative fuel.

 Natural gas has some advantages, but it is important to recognize that it also emits carbon dioxide, and the leakage rates of natural gas completely negate its partial benefit as a solution to climate change.


Wind power has caught on briskly in iconically oil-rich Texas, where it generates about 16 percent of the state’s electric power at a lower retail rate than the national average. 

Wind power is equally or less costly than electricity derived from coal-fired power plants in nearly all environments. Various calculations show that there is vastly more potential wind energy available in the United States than the current electricity consumption rate. 
Most of the existing capacity is derived from land-based windmills, but there is enough potential for offshore wind power along the Atlantic coast to supply all the electricity from Virginia to Maine with windmills located in shallow waters.


Some folks don’t like the idea of windmills spoiling their view of the ocean, but my suspicion is that most of these same folks would not want to live near a coal-fired or nuclear-generating station either. 

And all of those who live downwind of coal-fired power plants suffer the consequences of the air pollution they generate. Some birds are killed by wind facilities, but the overall rate of mortality from windmills is much less than that caused by house cats and collisions with buildings.

 There are consequential impacts of generating electricity.
Utilities argue that wind power is problematic, because the wind does not always blow and it may not blow at the time of day or season that corresponds to peak demand for electricity. 

This problem can be overcome by an adequate, interconnected and robust grid of electric lines to move power from where it is generated to where it is needed. 

Mark Jacobson and his colleagues at Stanford University have shown that when using reliable grid and power storage facilities, the intermittent nature of wind power is of no consequence. 

The wind is always blowing somewhere.
All this argues for electric utility companies to spend far less money planning natural gas and nuclear power plants and far more on windmills and improvements to the grid, if they are to fulfill their mission of supplying least-cost electric power to the American public. 

A change of mindset is needed – one that does not embrace old, unhealthy and expensive sources of electricity when newer sources are at hand. 

If the tradition can be broken in Texas, it can be broken anywhere.
William H. Schlesinger is Dean Emeritus of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Press link for more: new Observer.com

Frydenberg’s carbon capture pipe dream. #StopAdani #Auspol 

By Paul Bongiorno


Frydenberg’s carbon capture pipe dream

Back in 2008 under the perennially polluted grey skies of Beijing, then prime minister Kevin Rudd took a busload of press gallery journalists to the 800 megawatt coal-fired power station in the suburb of Gaobeidian.

 The purpose: to see a functioning pilot program in carbon capture.
On top of the smoke stacks was a device capturing 3000 tonnes of carbon and sulphur gases a year – 2 per cent of the plant’s emissions. 

“A small beginning,” Rudd conceded. 

The $4 million Australian-funded program was developed with the co-operation of the CSIRO. 

A seasoned reporter asked one of the scientists what happened to the captured pollutants. 

The media pack was taken around the corner of the plant, where there was an exhaust outlet. “We let it go,” was the answer. 

The scientist explained that working out how to store the stuff was another project.
It still is.

So it was with some bemusement that some of the old hacks who were on that trip greeted Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s announcement that he would remove the legislative prohibition on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to allow it to support investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

The very optimistic minister said such technology could reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent.
ONE CCS PLANT VISITED BY THE ENERGY MINISTER – PETRA NOVA IN TEXAS – COST $US1 BILLION.

 IT’S TOUTED AS THE WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL OPERATION, YET IT CAPTURES ONLY ABOUT 6 PER CENT OF THE OUTPUT OF ITS ADJACENT POWER STATION.

According to its mandate, the $10 billion so-called Green Bank must lend funds to viable projects that would lead to a healthy return on investment.

 Indeed the CEFC – which the Liberals under Tony Abbott wanted to abolish – has been very successful in funding renewable energy projects that have turned a nice profit for taxpayers.
Frydenberg quite reasonably argues that excluding the Green Bank from investing in technology that would deliver clean coal as a reliable energy source is not incompatible with its original mission.

 Except the Greens insisted the Gillard government exclude anything to do with coal from the bank’s mandate. 

“Renewables are the future” was their firm conviction, then and now: taxpayers should invest in the future and leave coal to the billionaires who profit from it to pay their own way in seeking to keep it commercially feasible.
Labor’s Bill Shorten says the government’s announcement is nothing more than kite flying: “It seems like they’re trying to feed some red meat to the right wing of the Liberal Party. 

I think the government needs to explain what is a viable project they want to invest in?”

 Indeed, earlier on the day of the Frydenberg announcement the prime minister told the Coalition party room there would be no price on carbon, ruling out both an emissions trading scheme or an emissions intensity scheme, both of which he once supported and one or other of which business is urging the government to implement.

Seven years ago Malcolm Turnbull’s assessment of CCS was that it was an industrial pipedream. 

He said it was sobering that “as of today, there’s not one industrial-scale coal-fired power station using carbon capture and storage – not one”. 

Both sides of politics had reached the same conclusion about its viability.

 Labor began withdrawing funds from research and the Abbott government shut down Rudd’s $1.7 billion Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program. 

Industry had lost interest. 

Treasurer Joe Hockey returned nearly half a billion dollars of funds allocated to it back to the budget.
This week Frydenberg pointed out that government has invested $590 million in CCS and said it is now being successfully employed in three overseas power plants. 

But a closer look shows the lessons learnt from those plants mean its use has already peaked.

 The proponents of these plants are on the record stating they won’t be investing in any more.

 Renewables entrepreneur Simon Holmes à Court told the ABC that exponential cost blowouts and disappointing results are the rule.


One plant visited by the energy minister – Petra Nova in Texas – cost $US1 billion. 

It’s touted as the world’s largest and most successful operation, yet it captures only about 6 per cent of the output of its adjacent power station. 

That’s “an incredibly low bang for buck”, concludes Holmes à Court. 

Another CCS plant targeted to cost $US2 billion will open three years late and with an incredible final bill of $US7.5 billion.
Holmes à Court agrees with Frydenberg that CCS has a role to play in cutting emissions in industrial processes such as cement or steel production. 

Carbon can be captured in these cases for about $15 to $30 a tonne.

 “So with a healthy carbon price, those projects make sense,” he says. 

And there’s the rub. 

The very government wanting to be a champion of CCS for industry is denying it any incentive to spend a cent pursuing it. It’s commercially cheaper to keep polluting. 

Industry may get away with that but finance markets are now pricing climate change into lending for major energy projects. 

Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this year costed CCS coal at $352 a megawatt hour, compared with wind and solar at between $61 and $140 megawatts an hour.
It’s little wonder that experts can’t see private industry investing in new coal-fired power stations without substantial government input. 

But none of this seems to deter the resources and Northern Australia minister, the Nationals’ Matt Canavan. 

With an eye on the Queensland election probably later this year, he sees votes in talking up a new coal-fired power station for Townsville and in giving a leg-up to the giant Adani Carmichael coalmine in the nearby Galilee Basin. 

While Labor parts company on the power station, it has one foot on both sides of the barbed-wire fence when it comes to the Adani mine.

The politics here is excruciating. 

One Labor strategist says there are different fault lines on the Adani project. 

One running from Cairns down the coast is hostility fuelled by fears for the Great Barrier Reef and the 50,000 jobs dependent on it. 


The other fault line runs from Townsville to Gladstone and inland. 

Here support for the project is strong – its hyped promise of thousands of jobs is beguiling in a region of high unemployment. 

Then from Gladstone south all the way to Tasmania support is weak to hostile.
But no matter what voters think of the project, they are overwhelmingly against any taxpayer funds bankrolling the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani. 

Research by the advocacy group GetUp! 

in marginal seats in Queensland and elsewhere has found resolute opposition to any government loan. 

Paul Oosting from GetUp! says opposition ranges from 70 to 86 per cent depending on the seat. 

He has mobilised dozens of his 350,000 members to make 50,000 scripted phone calls into marginal seats in Queensland and around the nation.


It sort of worked with the Palaszczuk Labor government.

 Much to the delight of Adani, the premier organised a royalties pause. 

The miner will be given 60 years to pay the tax, although he will attract an interest charge for any delay. 

That puts all the risk on taxpayers if the project fails to perform as promised or Adani’s labyrinthine company structure for the mine collapses. 

With some companies registered in the Cayman Islands the existence of a lucrative escape hatch for Adani cannot be ruled out.
Ominously, Indian newspapers are reporting Adani is under pressure to sell its Australian assets. 

The Reserve Bank of India is worried about a looming debt crisis and is pressuring banks to demand repayment of loans worth billions of dollars. 

The influential Hindu newspaper noted that the Standard Chartered Bank recalled loans of $2.5 billion from Adani and that “global lenders have backed out from funding the $US10 billion coalmine development project.

 State Bank of India also declined to offer a loan despite signing an MoU [memorandum of understanding] to fund the group with $1 billion”. 

What all of this means for Adani’s bid to get a concessional billion-dollar loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is not yet known. 

It should make it highly unlikely, but given the zealotry of Canavan and his leader Barnaby Joyce for the project such concerns are a mere bagatelle.

Federal Labor’s stand is in line with the GetUp! research, maintaining that no taxpayer dollars should be thrown at the Carmichael mine. 

In that Shorten has the support of Adani’s commercial rivals such as BHP, the Hunter Valley miners and the huge coal port of Newcastle. 

They all say the project should stand or fall on its merits and that it’s not the role of government to use public money to undercut them.
Again we have seen Turnbull’s need for pragmatic appeasement of the conservatives in his ranks undermine his brand on the environment and climate change. 

It probably goes a long way to explain why again in this week’s opinion polls he is still deep in negative territory for approval of his performance and Labor’s lead looks entrenched.
The resignation of Dr Peter Hendy from the inner sanctum of the prime minister’s offices is being read by some in the Liberal Party as a sign the government’s days are numbered. 

The economist, long-time Liberal apparatchik and former MP is planning to hang up his shingle as a consultant.

 “He wants to cash in on his contacts while they are still in power,” was one explanation. Another was: “Peter’s been around a long time and knows when a vote is cemented in.”
On that view Hendy is not waiting to see if the handful of pro-Adani seats in Queensland will be enough to save the federal government. 

Its chances are up in smoke and out the chimney – like the Beijing carbon capture pilot project.

Press link for more: The Saturday Paper

Trump is more honest about climate inaction than Turnbull #StopAdani #auspol

Donald Trump is more honest about climate inaction than Malcolm Turnbull

There is a depressing honesty about Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. 

It stands in stark contrast to the hypocrisy of Malcolm Turnbull’s big talk on climate change, which is accompanied by a $1 billion subsidy for the enormous new Adani coal mine. 

At least Trump is doing what he said he would do.

Trump shows his contempt for the world’s problems by withdrawing from a global agreement on the basis that he doesn’t think it’s in his nation’s interest, while Turnbull shows his contempt by remaining in that same agreement while funding the construction of a new coal mine that will still operate in 2080. 

Which is worse?
Trump’s climate call
US President Donald Trump has withdrawn America from the Paris climate change agreement, but Australia will not follow according to the energy minister.
The “business case” for Turnbull’s coal line from the Adani mine to the Great Barrier Reef is that five other major coal mines will also be built in the Galilee basin.

 In the words of Resources Minister Matt Canavan, “what I’d expect to see, with the federal government wanting to open the Galilee basin, is that the rail line’s open access that other mines can use it and that we can, by building, connecting up a new coal basin in our country, create wealth, not just in one individual project but right across the board, that’s what we’d like to see”. 

Combined with the Adani mine, the other mines Canavan referred to would together produce 300 million tonnes of coal a year.


To put Turnbull’s coal expansion plans into context, Australia is already the world’s largest coal exporter. 

At 388 million tonnes in 2015-16, we have a larger share of the traded coal market than Saudi Arabia has of the world oil market. 

And the Australian government hopes to facilitate a doubling of our coal exports.
Think about that. 

Australia is a signatory to an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in 33 years’ time.

 And Turnbull wants to subsidise the opening-up of a new coal basin in the hope that it will export an extra 300 million tonnes of coal a year. 

I’d take Trump’s denial over Turnbull’s deception any day.

The Coalition clearly takes the adage that, if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one quite seriously. 

Having decided to adopt a bizarre “pro-coal, pro-climate” public position, it has set out to abuse language, policy and taxpayers’ money to design a bridge between the multiple sandcastles it is building in the air. 

Take this week’s announcement that more taxpayers’ money will potentially be invested in “carbon capture and storage”.

Like cold fusion, and healthy cigarettes, coal-fired power stations that can capture their pollution and pump it safely underground have promised big and delivering nothing for decades. 

But such fantasies are central to the political strategy of those who want to defend the status quo while promising change. How can Australia double its coal exports and support climate action? 

Easy! We’ll invent “clean coal”. 

The fact that taxpayers fund the coal industry cover story is just icing on the cake.

Speaking of defending that status quo, on the domestic front, the Coalition’s direct action plan is reaching its use-by date and the Turnbull government is faced with the impending arrival of a new report by Chief Scientist Professor Alan Finkel. 

It’s the latest in a string of government reviews of the need for a long-term climate policy that can actually put some pressure on polluters to reduce their emissions rather than put putting pressure on the budget to buy emission reductions.
Donald Trump announces the US will withdraw from the Paris climate change accord.


Donald Trump announces the US will withdraw from the Paris climate change accord.

The Chief Scientist’s problem is not the scientific or economic challenges of building a new electricity grid based on new generation and storage technologies. 

Those problems are easy compared to the linguistic and political “barriers” to bringing our energy system into the 21st century.
Obstacle No. 1 is that the Coalition can’t possibly introduce a simple and effective carbon tax. The idea that a government would introduce a tax to discourage a harmful activity has become anathema to the “good economic managers” in the Coalition, even if it is economics 101. And even if Tony Abbott increased tobacco taxes to discourage smoking.


Climate protesters 

Obstacle No. 2 is the Coalition’s inability to introduce anything that “looks like a carbon tax”. 

This apparently rules out any notion of emissions trading, in which a government sells a limited number of tradable permits to polluters. 

Needless to say, the Coalition has never described the tradable free-to-air TV licences it sells as a “television tax” although, hey, who knows, maybe that’s coming next.
Obstacle No. 3: you can’t propose a scheme like an emissions intensity scheme (or EIS) in which the government never raises a cent. 

Under an EIS, the government sets a target level of “emission intensity” and any electricity generators whose emissions intensity (tonnes of CO2 per unit of electricity produced) is above the target must buy “credits” from generators whose intensity is below the target. 

Needless to say, the notion you can’t slug some industry participants who misbehave is odd coming from a government that just introduced a “bank levy” on the big banks.
Australia has a larger share of the traded coal market than Saudi Arabia has of the world oil market.
So what might Finkel advise? 

If we start from the assumption that, these days, “independent reviews” take the arbitrary and self-imposed political constraints of governments seriously, it’s unlikely he’ll strongly recommend any of the simple and effective options described above.
A fourth option is a low emissions target (or LET) to augment, or replace, the effective renewable energy target (RET). The RET, first introduced by John Howard, requires electricity retailers to source a fixed amount of electricity from renewables. It helped drive down the cost of renewable energy and, according to modelling commissioned by Tony Abbott, lowered electricity costs, too. The only “problem” with the RET is that, in setting aside a minimum market share for renewables, it sets a maximum market share for fossil-fuel generators. While the Nationals like to lead the charge against the “distortionary” RET, they are the driving force behind the NSW laws that force drivers to buy petrol blended with a fixed proportion of ethanol.

 

While the RET specifies that electricity retailers must buy energy from wind and solar, a LET could potentially require electricity generators to source their “low emission” electricity from gas or nuclear as well. 

While including gas and nuclear on the list of eligible sources of “clean” fuels is an obsession for some who think that climate policy should be “technology neutral”, the reality is the high cost of gas and nuclear energy probably means that a LET and a RET are similar policy beasts. 

Needless to say, many of those who say renewables should need to compete without subsidies on a “level playing field” are strategically silent about the Commonwealth subsidies required to open up the Galilee coal basin.
The fact is the acronym by which our climate policy is known is far less significant than the ambition, and legislative detail, on which it is based. 

Put simply, there is more room for variation within the possible climate policies than there is between them.
Trump’s clear repudiation of the US’s commitment to tackle climate change and Turnbull’s cynical pretence of support for climate action both point to the same obvious conclusion. 

Until the world stops building new coal mines and stops building new coal-fired power stations, the world’s emissions will continue to grow. 

Everything else is just a cover story for our failure to act.

Richard Denniss is The Australia Institute’s chief economist. Twitter: @RDNS_TAI

Press link for more: Canberra Times

They may change policy but climate change is still climate science. 

As you know, today the White House announced that the United States would begin the process of leaving the Paris Agreement. 

Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action.

 It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time.  
But disappointment is not despair.
Make no mistake: if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.
Civic leaders, mayors, governors, CEOs, investors and the majority of the business community will take up this challenge. We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. 

President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president; but no matter what he does, we will ensure that our inevitable transition to a clean energy economy continues.  


As proof, just look at how communities like Salt Lake City, Utah and Boulder, Colorado are committing to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity. Just last month, California set a new record for clean energy use in the state, and over the past several weeks and months, major corporations and businesses from around the world reaffirmed their commitment to clean energy, the Paris Agreement, and US leadership on climate. The momentum of clean energy and climate action only continues to build, and ignoring that reality is shortsighted and wrong.
Now it’s up to us to pick up where the White House is leaving off. It’s up to us to keep this progress going full steam ahead. If you’re in the US, commit to pushing your local council or mayor to embrace renewable electricity in your community. If you’re outside the US, commit to pressuring your leaders to fulfill your country’s Paris Agreement pledge and keep the process moving.  
My friends, it’s time to fight like our world depends on it. Because it does. And because together we will win.
Sincerely,
Al Gore

Founder and Chairman

The Climate Reality Project

The Day I Left My KeyBoard & Became A Climate Activist to #StopAdani 

For years I having been using my keyboard to encourage politicians and anyone who would listen to take the threat of climate change seriously.

 In 2007 I supported Kevin Rudd’s words “Climate Change Is Our Greatest Moral Challenge” I joined Jim Turnour’s campaign driving around Cairns with a giant Kevin07 banner. Jim managed a 14 percent swing and joined Rudd in Canberra I thought the battle was won. At last politicians were listening to the scientists, Australia signed the Kyoto agreement & later the Paris agreement. Australia put a price on carbon, we seemed to be heading in the right direction. 

Then along came Tony Abbott shouting “Climate Change is crap!”


 Australia took several steps backwards. I couldn’t understand the fact that Australia was turning its back on science. I feared for the future we were leaving our children.

I completed several online climate courses with Exeter, McQuarie & James Cook universities. The science wasn’t in doubt, I lectured on climate change at U3A Mandurah and started this blog. I became a keyboard warrior encouraging all who would listen to act.

In 2016 & 2017 I watched as the Great Barrier Reef suffer back to back coral bleaching.


I knew my keyboard activities hadn’t changed much, I knew I had to step up & become more active. We were running out of time.

I moved back to Cairns earlier this year, determined to do all I could to make a difference. I joined Stop Adani Cairns & moved from my keyboard to real climate activism.


I over came my fear & attended a meeting where an action was being planned on the Commonwealth Bank in Cairns. I found the Stop Adani group were people just like me. Many protesting for the first time in their lives. I was impressed by their non violence ethic & their passion for change. 

I volunteered to be spokesman for the action, doing interviews with Star Fm, Cairns Post & Win News. We started with a thank you to Westpac for ruling out finance for Adani Coal. We moved to the Commonwealth Bank singing & gathering up bystanders who joined with us to demand Commonwealth Bank stop funding Adani Coal. It was exciting and fun, I had made the next step, gone from my keyboard to join the ranks of Joan Pankhurst, Ghandi & Martin Luther King in non violent action to change the world. 

If,like me you are frustrated and want to be part of real change join us find a Stop Adani Group near you. Leave the keyboard it’s time to take to the streets. Time isn’t on our side we need urgent action now! 
John Pratt

Why hasn’t the world become more sustainable? #StopAdani #Auspol 

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests.

 But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

This is the question that a team of researchers and I have tried to answer in a recent article.
We reviewed 94 studies of how sustainability policies had failed across every continent.

 These included case studies from both developed and developing countries, and ranged in scope from international to local initiatives.


Consider the following key environmental indicators. Since 1970:
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity and has risen to the point where 1.6 planets would be needed to provide resources sustainably.
The biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50% as the populations of other species continue to decline.
Greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have almost doubled while the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.
The world has lost more than 48% of tropical and sub-tropical forests.
The rate at which these indicators deteriorated was largely unchanged over the two decades either side of the Rio summit. Furthermore, humanity is fast approaching several environmental tipping points. If crossed, these could lead to irreversible changes.
If we allow average global temperatures to rise 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, for example, feedback mechanisms will kick in that lead to runaway climate change. 

We’re already halfway to this limit and could pass it in the next few decades.

What’s going wrong?
So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? 

We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.
The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded.

 A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.
Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. 

This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. 

This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.


Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.
Again, this happens around the world. A good example would be community resistance to changing water allocation systems in rural areas of Australia. 

In this situation, farmers were so opposed to the government buying back some of their water permits that copies of the policy were burned in the street.
These types of failure are mutually reinforcing. 

Poor communication of the benefits of sustainable development creates the belief that it always costs jobs and money. 

Businesses and communities then pressure politicians to avoid or water down environmentally friendly legislation.
Ultimately, this represents a failure to convince people that sustainable development can supply “win-win” scenarios. As a result, decision-makers are stuck in the jobs-versus-environment mindset.
What can we do?
The point of our paper was to discover why policies that promote sustainability have failed in order to improve future efforts. 

The challenge is immense and there’s a great deal at stake.

 Based on my previous research into the way economic, social and environmental goals can co-exist, I would go beyond our most recent paper to make the following proposals.
First, governments need to provide financial incentives to switch to eco-efficient production. 

Politicians need to have the courage to go well beyond current standards.

 Well-targeted interventions can create both carrot and stick, rewarding eco-friendly behaviour and imposing a cost on unsustainable activities.
Second, governments need to provide a viable transition pathway for industries that are doing the most damage.

 New environmental tax breaks and grants, for example, could allow businesses to remain profitable while changing their business model.


Finally, leaders from all sectors need to be convinced of both the seriousness of the declining state of the environment and that sustainable development is possible. 

Promoting positive case studies of successful green businesses would be a start.
There will of course be resistance to these changes. 

The policy battles will be hard fought, particularly in the current international political climate.

 We live in a world where the US president is rolling back climate policies while the Australian prime minister attacks renewable energy.

Press link for more: WEFORUM