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Clean Energy’s Dirty Secret. #auspol 

Clean energy’s dirty secret Wind and solar power are disrupting electricity systems
But that’s no reason for governments to stop supporting them
ALMOST 150 years after photovoltaic cells and wind turbines were invented, they still generate only 7% of the world’s electricity. 

Yet something remarkable is happening. 

From being peripheral to the energy system just over a decade ago, they are now growing faster than any other energy source and their falling costs are making them competitive with fossil fuels. 

BP, an oil firm, expects renewables to account for half of the growth in global energy supply over the next 20 years. 

It is no longer far-fetched to think that the world is entering an era of clean, unlimited and cheap power. 

About time, too. 

There is a $20trn hitch, though. 

To get from here to there requires huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching power plants and to upgrade the pylons and wires that bring electricity to consumers.

 Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns. 

Yet green energy has a dirty secret. 

The more it is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source. 

That makes it hard to manage the transition to a carbon-free future, during which many generating technologies, clean and dirty, need to remain profitable if the lights are to stay on. 

Unless the market is fixed, subsidies to the industry will only grow.


Policymakers are already seeing this inconvenient truth as a reason to put the brakes on renewable energy. 

In parts of Europe and China, investment in renewables is slowing as subsidies are cut back. 

However, the solution is not less wind and solar. 

It is to rethink how the world prices clean energy in order to make better use of it.
Shock to the system
At its heart, the problem is that government-supported renewable energy has been imposed on a market designed in a different era. 

For much of the 20th century, electricity was made and moved by vertically integrated, state-controlled monopolies. 

From the 1980s onwards, many of these were broken up, privatised and liberalised, so that market forces could determine where best to invest. 

Today only about 6% of electricity users get their power from monopolies.

 Yet everywhere the pressure to decarbonise power supply has brought the state creeping back into markets. 

This is disruptive for three reasons. 

The first is the subsidy system itself.

 The other two are inherent to the nature of wind and solar: their intermittency and their very low running costs. All three help explain why power prices are low and public subsidies are addictive.

First, the splurge of public subsidy, of about $800bn since 2008, has distorted the market. 

It came about for noble reasons—to counter climate change and prime the pump for new, costly technologies, including wind turbines and solar panels. 

But subsidies hit just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis. 

The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.
Second, green power is intermittent. 

The vagaries of wind and sun—especially in countries without favourable weather—mean that turbines and solar panels generate electricity only part of the time. 

To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in when renewables falter. 

But because they are idle for long periods, they find it harder to attract private investors. 

So, to keep the lights on, they require public funds.
Everyone is affected by a third factor: renewable energy has negligible or zero marginal running costs—because the wind and the sun are free.


 In a market that prefers energy produced at the lowest short-term cost, wind and solar take business from providers that are more expensive to run, such as coal plants, depressing power prices, and hence revenues for all.
Get smart
The higher the penetration of renewables, the worse these problems get—especially in saturated markets. 

In Europe, which was first to feel the effects, utilities have suffered a “lost decade” of falling returns, stranded assets and corporate disruption. 

Last year, Germany’s two biggest electricity providers, E.ON and RWE, both split in two. 

In renewable-rich parts of America power providers struggle to find investors for new plants. 

Places with an abundance of wind, such as China, are curtailing wind farms to keep coal plants in business.
The corollary is that the electricity system is being re-regulated as investment goes chiefly to areas that benefit from public support. 

Paradoxically, that means the more states support renewables, the more they pay for conventional power plants, too, using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency. 

In effect, politicians rather than markets are once again deciding how to avoid blackouts.

 They often make mistakes: Germany’s support for cheap, dirty lignite caused emissions to rise, notwithstanding huge subsidies for renewables. 

Without a new approach the renewables revolution will stall.
The good news is that new technology can help fix the problem.

Digitalisation, smart meters and batteries are enabling companies and households to smooth out their demand—by doing some energy-intensive work at night, for example.

 This helps to cope with intermittent supply. 

Small, modular power plants, which are easy to flex up or down, are becoming more popular, as are high-voltage grids that can move excess power around the network more efficiently.

The bigger task is to redesign power markets to reflect the new need for flexible supply and demand. 

They should adjust prices more frequently, to reflect the fluctuations of the weather.

 At times of extreme scarcity, a high fixed price could kick in to prevent blackouts. 

Markets should reward those willing to use less electricity to balance the grid, just as they reward those who generate more of it. 

Bills could be structured to be higher or lower depending how strongly a customer wanted guaranteed power all the time—a bit like an insurance policy.

 In short, policymakers should be clear they have a problem and that the cause is not renewable energy, but the out-of-date system of electricity pricing. 

Then they should fix it.

Press link for more: economist.com

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The Walking Dead In Washington #USPolitics #auspol #climatechange 

THE WALKING DEAD IN WASHINGTON

By Paul Gilding 


We’re all focused on the drama and entertainment of Trump’s takeover of the world’s centre of military, security and economic power. For some it’s exciting and entertaining, for others terrifying and apocalyptic. I too have been glued to the news – at various times having each of those responses! But now I’ve come back to earth, recognising it all for what it is. Important, but a sideshow to a much bigger and more important game. And on reflection, I’m glad he got elected.
How can a Trump Presidency be positive? Surely this is a major setback – to action on climate change, to addressing inequality, to human rights and global security. Doesn’t it make the world a scarier and less stable place? In isolation, all true, but in context, not so much. The context is the key.
Trump’s election is not a trend. It should not be seen as evidence of a swing to the right, to nationalism and xenophobia etc. It is simply a symptom of the volatility inherent in the accelerating breakdown of our current economic approach and model.
What we are seeing is the last hurrah of a dying approach. A desperate attempt by the incumbents to rescue the now failing economic model that did deliver great progress for humanity but has come to the end of its road – and that road finishes at a cliff.
A cliff is the right analogy for a range of reasons. Perhaps most starkly it’s climate change and resource scarcity but also inequality and the failure of the old model to deliver further progress for most people in Western countries. There are many other issues we face, but these two – climate change (and with it food supply and geopolitical security risks) and inequality within countries – are the systemic risks. They define the cliff because neither can continue to worsen without the system responding – either transforming or breaking down. So the old approach is finished, along with the fossil fuel industry, and the walking dead taking over Washington won’t bring it back to life.
This leads to why, on reflection, I’m surprisingly pleased Trump was elected, rather than Hillary Clinton. I know it is hard to imagine how someone as appalling as Trump is better than the alternative, so let me expand.
We are now accelerating towards the cliff and we don’t have much time left to change course. If Clinton had been elected, we would have continued to suffer the delusion that we were addressing the systemic risks we face in an inadequate but still worthwhile way. There would have been the same debates about fossil fuel companies having too much influence on politics, the conservative wealthy elites (yes there are liberal wealthy elites!) manipulating the system to their benefit etc. But we would have seen some progress.
Meanwhile business people would have argued the need for less regulation and “freeing up” the economy. They would have argued we needed to run the country like business people run companies, that if only we had strong (i.e. autocratic) leadership, we could get things done. And the Tea Party style extremists would have had their favourite enemy – another Clinton – to rail against and blame for it all, as they mobilized their base.
Now there’s no debate – it’s all there to see. The fossil fuel industry dominates the administration, gaining unfettered access to more coal, oil and gas. The iconic symbol and long term funder of climate change denial, Exxon has seen their CEO put in charge of US foreign policy and climate negotiations. Trump is “the businessman in charge” and can slash regulation, free up the financial markets to unleash more mayhem and wind back those pesky environmental protections.
He will attack the media, mobilise extremists and unleash all the autocratic and nationalistic tendencies that the system has – but normally suppresses. His solution to inequality will be to give tax breaks to the rich (you can’t make this stuff up!) when we know only government intervention – or catastrophe– prevents inequality being the inevitable result of unfettered markets.
The critical result of all this? No change to the fundamental direction we are on. The rich will get richer, the middle class will stagnate, racism and conflict will worsen and we will be less secure – all while climate change destabilises civilisation. How is this good?
Because three big things will change.
First, there will no-one left to blame. Extreme capitalism will be unleashed and it will not deliver. The fraud of trickle-down economics will be exposed.
Secondly – US climate policy will no longer matter – fossil fuels will die on the same schedule they were dying on. As I argued in my 2015 article “Fossil fuels are finished, the rest is detail”, these are fundamental trends driven by technology and markets – and no government can stop them.
Thirdly – and most importantly – is “the resistance”. We are seeing a huge mobilisation of activism and social engagement among people who have long been passive – as this humorous post describes. This is like the 60’s – without the drugs but with a political strategy! Climate change will be our Vietnam, the fossil fuel industry our military industrial complex. It could trigger, as this Atlantic article explored, a Tea Party of the left – maybe even a Green Tea Party. Chaotic, aggressive and not always rational, but very impactful. And the liberal wealthy elites will get right behind it – because they too have a lot to lose from extreme capitalism and climate chaos.
Isn’t this all a bit scary? Don’t we now face a period of extreme upheaval and risk? Yes, but in case you hadn’t noticed, we already are. Ask a Syrian climate refugee trying to get into Europe. Observe the terrifying trends at our melting ice caps. Talk to a disaffected, scared, unemployed factory worker in middle America who sees no prospects for themselves and their kids. The system is breaking down.
We’re racing towards the cliff. Despite our desperate denial, we are going to face a global crisis, regardless of what we do. This will not be gentle.
So we need to face reality on how really dramatic change could actually occur. System change doesn’t happen incrementally and is not triggered by traditional political processes – it takes a crisis. With Clinton, we would have blundered our way closer to the cliff, deluded by small progress. With Trump, we may just wake up in time.
The Great Disruption is now in full swing. We face the most important choice in human history – economic decline and the descent into chaos – possibly collapse – or transformation into a very different economy and society. Having the walking dead in Washington may be just what we need.

Press link for more :Paul Gilding.com

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Let’s Make a Deal #ClimateChange Put a price on pollution. #auspol 

Left & Right “Let’s Make a Deal” Put a price on Carbon Pollution #ClimateChange #auspol 

Earlier this month, conservative elder statesmen issued a “Let’s Make a Deal” on climate: Nix Obama-era regulations in return for a carbon tax and dividend.
So far, the idea has gained little traction from unretired Republicans who could actually make a deal. 

But if that changes, should Democrats and pro-environment independents accept it?

The proposal was issued with great fanfare by the newly formed Climate Leadership Council. 

Conservative economists Martin Feldstein and Gregory Mankiw and former secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker III touted the plan in op-eds for the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. 

The council launched its effort at the National Press Club the same day.
A carbon tax appeals to free-market conservatives by empowering markets to find the cheapest ways to cut emissions.

 By returning the money through a dividend, the tax would not grow the size of government. 

The council estimates the dividend would start at $2,000 for a family of four, and rise with the carbon tax.
However, the council isn’t offering something for nothing. 

Their proposal calls for ending President Obama’s climate regulations. 

Specifically, they would nix the Clean Power Plan, tougher fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks and additional regulations yet to be specified. 

Fortunately, the council is not seeking to weaken light-duty fuel economy standards, appliance efficiency standards or the hydrofluorocarbon deal signed in Kigali, Rwanda, last year.


Obama pledged under the Paris climate agreement that the United States would aim for 28 percent emission reductions by 2025 from 2005 levels. 

As I wrote last year, the U.S. had already cut emissions 9 percent by 2014. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that emissions fell another 2.2 percent in 2015.
The council estimates that continuation of Obama-era policies would leave the U.S. about 12 percentage points shy of its Paris pledge. 

That’s why 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had proposed an ambitious agenda for further progress.

With President Trump and congressional Republicans calling to reverse Obama’s policies without replacement, we’d likely fall further behind.
To meet our Paris pledge, the council proposes a carbon tax starting at $40/ton and rising with time. 

Unlike weaker taxes discussed before, the new proposal would likely be more than sufficient for that goal. 

A recent Treasury Department analysis estimates that a $49/ton tax would far surpass the emission cuts needed for Paris.

Meanwhile, Resources for the Future modeled various sets of carbon taxes that could achieve the Paris pledge. 

As co-author Marc Hafstead explained via email, their modeling shows a tax rising to $38/ton (in year 2013 dollars) by 2025 would meet the target. 

The council’s proposal would exceed that level with its annual increases, and yield further benefits for decades to come.
Interestingly, Hafstead noted that their calculation of a $38/ton threshold for Paris compliance assumes the U.S. abandons efforts to control more potent greenhouse gases like methane. 

That may be the case, as the House voted this month to overturn rules on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.
But if we don’t abandon progress on other pollutants, Hafstead estimates a tax of just $22/ton would be sufficient.
Ditching methane controls is a bad deal for many reasons. 

Methane is the leading source of ozone smog worldwide. 

That’s why researchers such as Jason West of the University of North Carolina and Arlene Fiore of Columbia University have shown that methane reductions can save tens of thousands of lives.

Leaking methane also means wasting a valuable fuel. 

Since methane is short-lived, it actually causes more warming near-term than traditional 100-year outlooks would suggest. 

Controlling methane while keeping the council’s $40-plus/ton tax proposal would accelerate U.S. progress toward its ultimate goal of 80 percent emission reductions by 2050.
Environmentalists have little to lose trading the Clean Power Plan for a carbon tax. 

As I wrote with Leah Parks last year, the U.S. is well ahead of schedule to meet the plan’s targets.

 That’s because cheaper natural gas and renewables are already displacing coal, even as the Clean Power Plan remains tied up in court.


The main importance of the Clean Power Plan is preventing a swing back to coal if natural gas prices rise. 

But a carbon tax averts that scenario. 

A $40/ton tax would add 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour to the cost of coal electricity, but just 1.6 cents for natural gas combined cycle plants. 

Solar and wind would pay nothing.

With many coal plants already losing money, coal would quickly give way to cheaper and cleaner forms of electricity.

 Meanwhile, the tax on natural gas is comparable in size to existing tax credits for wind and solar. 

Even without those tax credits, wind and solar are already as cheap as new natural gas plants. 

Taxing natural gas would help renewables extend their recent dominance of new generation capacity without the need for subsidies.
For transportation, the effects of a carbon tax would be far milder. 

A $40/ton tax would add just 36 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. 

That’s not going to convince many people to drive less or buy an electric car, especially since electricity prices would rise a bit too. 

However, with fuel economy standards set to tighten, electric car sales would continue to rise.

Looking beyond the 2025 Paris target, swapping regulations for a carbon tax becomes an even more attractive deal. 

The Clean Power Plan ends in 2030. 

However, a steadily rising carbon tax would continue to drive down emissions for decades to come.
Carbon taxes have traditionally been criticized as regressive, since the poor spend a greater share of their income on energy. 

However, by rebating the tax through a per-person dividend, the Climate Leadership Council’s proposal would leave many low-income families better off.
So should Democrats and independents welcome this deal?
In a word, yes. 

Writers in The Nation, the The New York Times and Mother Jones have reached similar conclusions. 

I’d bargain for tougher methane regulations, but could accept waiting to restore those later.
Trouble is, conservative economists and retired Republican statesmen are in no position to seal this deal. 

RepublicEn, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Climate Solutions Caucus are trying to rally Republican and bipartisan support for a carbon tax in Congress.
For now, such efforts have fallen on deaf ears from politicians who hear no evil on climate.

 If that changes, liberals and moderates shouldn’t shy away from nixing Obama-era policies to accept a market-based solution to climate change.
Dan Cohan is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Press link for more: The Hill

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We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 


The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.


Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.


Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

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It only takes 10% to cause disruption. #auspol 

When I asked whether consumer choices are an act of political rebellion, I noted that it only took a 10% cut in coal demand to radically slash the coal industry’s credit worthiness.
What if we could do the same thing for oil?

There’s good reason to assume that just such a disruption is coming, and sooner than many people think. Consider these recent headlines from around the web:
— Smart cars going 100% electric in the US (Cleantechnica)

—Sydney Airport orders 40 more electric buses (Cleantechnica – again…)

—Vattenfall (a giant Swedish utility) converting entire vehicle fleet to electric

—20% of new buses in China are now electric (yours truly)
Headlines like these are coming so thick and fast these days that we have to pick and choose which ones we write about. Individually, they are all just a blip in the global picture of oil demand, but collectively it won’t be long before they really start to add up. And when they do start to add up, it won’t take too much cut in demand to radically reshape the future prospects for oil.
Of course, all of the above stories are about adoption of existing technologies at current pricing. But what if prices were to fall further, and faster, than they have so far? Wards Auto is reporting on conversations with auto industry insiders who say electric vehicle batteries should be under $100 per kilowatt hour by 2020, and $80 not long after that. That’s a figure well below the $125 per kilowatt hour that the Department of Energy set in 2010 as a target for cost parity with internal combustion engines.
And once we reach cost parity, there’s little that can be done by dropping tax credits or removing other incentives, to slow the march to electrification.
It’s important to note, of course, that electrification isn’t the only—or even the best—way to reduce oil demand. From massive investments in cycling infrastructure to growing transit ridership in many major cities, there are plenty of other trends underway that could squeeze oil demand from all sides. And once you squeeze oil demand enough, the infrastructural, political and economic advantages that Big Oil once enjoyed quickly start to melt away.
Take, for example, gas stations. In cities with high uptake of electric vehicles, decent transit and cycle infrastructure, and restrictions on polluting vehicles, how long will it be for sales to drop far enough that the current number of gas stations are no longer viable? And once gas stations start thinning out, there’s one more reason for everyone else to abandon their gas cars too.
I look forward to revisiting this topic in ten years time. I suspect we may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly things have changed. I’ll leave the last word to Tony Seba, whose ambitious predictions about oil industry disruption I’ve written about before. In response to a recent tweet from a certain Mr Musk, Seba had this to say:
All my #CleanDisruption predictions are accelerating and it looks like they’re happening ahead of 2030! #solar #EV #batteries #selfdriving https://t.co/wnA3YliOpK
— Tony Seba (@tonyseba) February 15, 2017

I, for one, am beginning to believe he is right.

Press link for more: Treehugger.com

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G20 Urged To Ditch Fossil Fuel Subsidies by 2020, Go Green #auspol 

G20 urged to ditch fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, go green
Investors and insurers with more than $2.8 trillion in assets under management on Wednesday called on the Group of 20 economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 despite U.S. doubts about climate change.
G20 nations should work “to accelerate green investment and reduce climate risk”, they wrote on the eve of a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Germany to prepare a summit in Hamburg in July.

The summit should set a clear timeline “for the full and equitable phase-out by all G20 members of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020,” the 16 signatories wrote.
They included Actiam, Aegon Asset Management, Aviva Investors, KBI Global Investors, La Francaise, Legal and General and Trillium Asset Management.
All G20 nations signed up for a 2015 Paris Agreement aimed at phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels between 2050 and 2100 and shifting to cleaner energies to avert heat waves, floods, droughts and rising ocean levels.
U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has sometimes dismissed man-made climate change as a hoax and wants to favour the U.S. fossil fuel industry. He also told the New York Times that he has an “open mind” about the Paris Agreement.


It’s no time for politicians to push for more coal ignoring the science. 

Last year, the Group of Seven industrialized nations including the United States said they were committed to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and called on all countries to do so by 2025.
G20 fossil fuel subsidies total $444 billion a year, according to a 2015 study by the Overseas Development Institute in London and Oil Change International non-governmental groups.
(Reporting By Alister Doyle, editing by David Evans)

Press link for more: Reuters.com

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The Last Thing India Needs is Australia’s Coal! #auspol 


A thick layer of smog covers Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, India, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Altaf Qadri
In early November, a thick layer of smog choked Delhi, prompting the Indian government to close schools, shut down construction sites, temporarily cease operations at coal-fired power plants.


Scott Morrison might as well have blood on his hands! Coal is a killer! 

 In the country’s capital city, levels of harmful particles in the air were so high that they could not be measured by most air quality instruments. Those that could measure the pollution found levels of particulate matter — tiny particles that can penetrate deep into lungs and cross the blood-brain barrier — to be 16 times the safe limit.

It was, according to the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based nonprofit, the worst air quality that Delhi had seen in 17 years. 

But it was not a one-time phenomenon for the rapidly developing country. 

According to a new study of global air pollution, some 1.1 million people die prematurely every year in India due to air pollution, making it the one of the deadliest countries in terms of air quality in the world.


An evil grin on Barnaby Joyce’s face. Coal is killing us! 

Worldwide, air pollution-related deaths are also rising: particulate-matter related air pollution was responsible for 4.2 million deaths in 2015, or about 7.6 percent of all deaths worldwide.

Air pollution kills more people than malnutrition and unsafe sex, scientists say

According to the study, premature deaths in India have increased 50 percent between 1990 and 2015.

 Those numbers rival China, where levels of dangerous particulate matter, and corresponding premature deaths, have largely stabilized in recent years — though pollution remains a concern for Chinese officials and researchers.

In India, rapid industrialization, population growth, and a vulnerable, aging population combine to make air pollution particularly deadly, Michael Brauer, professor of environment and health relationships at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study, told the New York Times.

 India has also seen an increase in vehicle traffic, as well as energy from dirty sources like coal, wood, and dung.

“You can almost think of this as the perfect storm for India,” Brauer said.

In China, the government has taken aggressive steps to curb air pollution by placing limits on coal power and vehicle traffic. 

In an effort to transition away from coal-fired power, China has also begun investing heavily in renewable energy, most recently announcing a $360 billion investment in clean energy by 2020. 

The Chinese government also recently canceled plans to build some 103 coal-fired power plants, citing air pollution as one of the driving factors in that decision. 

Still, China remains fairly dependent on coal-generated power, and its aspirational limit on coal-generated electric capacity — 1,100 gigawatts by 2020 — would be three times as much as the coal-fired capacity in the United States.

India on track to beat its Paris targets years ahead of schedule, according to government report

India has also set a lofty goal for its transition to renewable energy, with plans to obtain around 60 percent of the country’s electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027. 

That would put the country on track to beat its commitments made during the Paris climate conference in 2015 years ahead of schedule. 

As the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, that would be a big win for climate — but it would also help cut down on the air pollution and particulate matter plaguing Indian cities. 

Over the past year, India has received over $20 million in investments aimed at building out the country’s solar capacity in order to meet the country’s growing demand for electricity; currently, some 240 million people in India lack access to electricity, meaning they often turn to polluting sources like wood and animal dung. 

A Delhi-based research group also suggested earlier this week that if the cost of renewable energy continues to decline at its current rate, India could be completely coal-free by 2050.

By Natasha Geiling 

Press link for more: Think Progress

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Rise Up For The Climate! #auspol 

Earth Week’s climate change plea

Photo: reb gro@Flickr

The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union launched Earth Week with a panel discussion, including campaigners Asad Rehman, from Friends of the Earth, and Martin Empson, from Campaign Against Climate Change.
Asad Rehman began with an enlightening speech about the effects of climate change on developing countries, and how intertwined the cause is with that of the #NoBanNoWall campaign. 

It is estimated that roughly 70,000 people die due to climate change related issues each year, but millions more are displaced from their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. 


It is estimated that 1 person every second is displaced from their homes as a result of drought, flood, or other climate change related disasters. 

So just as you have refugees of war, you have refugees of climate change.
What makes matters worse, is it is beyond their control. 

10 per cent of the richest countries are responsible for 50 per cent of the carbon emissions.

 Asad uses the analogy, “climate change is like the Titanic, and we’ve hit the proverbial iceberg. 

But it is the richer countries that are the people getting on the boats, whilst the poor and locked in the cabin.”
It is therefore not surprising that those who are feeling the effect of climate change-induced famine or other natural disasters are seeking refuge and help from us. 

But rather than villainising them as ‘economic migrants’, they need and deserve our legal protection.
It is because of this injustice that Asad stressed that we must rebuild a system of justice, and give a face to millions that don’t have a voice. 


We have a social responsibility to support causes such as Friends of the Earth and Campaign Against Climate Change to “build bridges, not walls”.

 Although we may not see the damage we cause, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Martin Empson elaborated that the way you can help such causes is to just get involved. 

Currently protests are everywhere and are certainly making the public’s voice heard, but he stressed that you should take part in all movements to do your bit. 

Or if that, sign a petition, write to your local MP or donate to make sure something is done.
Everyone wants to protest Trump right now, but we need to ensure the environmental and migration movements work together to positively reinforce each other and make their voices louder. 

By doing this, Martin claims we can “create a positive agenda that creates hope”.

Press link for more: Manunion.com

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We Must Close All Coal Power Plants To Meet Climate Change Goals #auspol

The EU Must Close All Coal Power Plants by 2030 to Meet Climate Change Goals

A new investigation suggests that if the European Union hopes to meet its climate change goals, it must close all coal power plants by no later than 2030.


Climate Analytics, the research institute responsible for this finding, reports that in order to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise less than two degrees Celsius, Europe must phase out all of its 315 coal-fired power stations by the 2030 deadline. 

Allowing the stations to run to the end of their natural lives just isn’t an option, they claim.
Not only that, but the EU must take immediate steps in order to stay on track to meet temperature control goals.

 The executive summary of this report notes:
To stay within the Paris Agreement temperature limit, a quarter of the coal-fired power plants already operating in the EU would need to be switched off before 2020; a further 47% should go offline by 2025. 

If the EU is to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, any investments in new plants and most investments in existing power plants will not be recovered by investors.
Climate Analytics arrived at these stark warnings by projecting current fossil fuel trends and estimating the EU’s carbon budget, as well as predicting what they will be by 2050. With this information, the group could evaluate if the figures matched up, or if there was a discrepancy — and there was.

With a projection that the EU’s carbon budget will be around 6.5 GtCO2 by 2050 — and assuming that coal-fired power plants continue to be in operation as planned until that time — the EU will exceed its CO2 emissions budget by 85 percent.
Obviously these figures only serve as projections. 

Nevertheless, the report indicates that by phasing out coal aggressively, the targets set during the Paris Agreement could still be met.
“We find the cheapest way for the EU to make the emissions cuts required to meet its Paris Agreement commitments is to phase out coal from the electricity sector, and replace this capacity with renewables and energy efficiency measures,” Paola Yanguas Parra, a lead author of the report, stated.


While nearly all EU nations will need to take swift action, the report highlights calls on Poland and Germany – two nations with the largest number of coal power plants — to lead the charge.
Although the EU as a whole should provide incentives and financial support to help Germany and Poland achieve these targets, progress in this area appears doubtful.


The Guardian reports:
Germany is postponing its coal phase-out plans until after elections later this year. 

Poland, which is preparing a legal challenge to the EU’s climate policy, argues that it can plant trees to offset coal emissions, and one day apply experimental carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).
Poland’s attempts at carbon sink have been discussed and debated at great length.

 While undoubtedly there are benefits to using and maintaining forests as one form of CO2 reduction, researchers remain unconvinced that the system will reach a balance. 

Instead, this report emphasizes that there is a more straightforward route: simply closing coal power stations.
There are several actions that the EU can take to improve its progress toward emission caps and temperature increase reduction.

 The report highlights how increasing the affordability of renewable energy has led to a significant shift toward greener energy in the past decade — something that can be further supported as we work toward target reductions.


Furthermore, stricter environmental regulations in the form of a clear phase-out schedule and supporting policies would ensure that coal fire plants are not kept alive. 

There is a particular concern that the UK, despite committing to CO2 reduction targets — and specifically, to a coal phaseout — could end up not meeting those goals due to soft regulation allowing coal power stations to stay open.
With the UK parliament looking to trigger Brexit soon, there is even more scrutiny on the UK government to ensure it does not further reduce its environmental commitments.
Regardless of the specific initiatives that EU chooses to institute, one fact becomes abundantly clear from this report: if the world is to hit temperature reduction targets, we cannot keep using fossil fuels as we have been doing. 

While this fact far from new, it’s worth repeating. 

Indeed, the world as we know it may depend on it.

Press link for more: care2.com

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India coal free by 2050 #auspol 

India optimistic of being coal-free by 2050

India will not need to build another coal power plant after 2025 if renewables continue to fall in cost at their current rate, according to a report that suggests that carbon levels could be cut significantly beyond parameters agreed at the Paris climate talks.

A report published on Monday by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) in New Delhi suggests that as long as renewables and batteries continue getting cheaper, they will undercut coal in less than a decade.
If that happens, it will reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 600m tonnes, or 10 per cent, after 2030, the report said.
India is the world’s fastest growing major polluter, and its ability to curb carbon emissions will be vital in capping the rise in global temperatures. The report suggests that if the Indian ministers get their policies right, they will be able to go much further than they have already promised, and even eliminate coal-fuelled power entirely by the middle of the century.
Ajay Mathur, director-general of Teri, said: “This is perfectly achievable if government gets its policies right. India’s power sector could be coal-free by 2050.”
India is currently the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide behind China and the US, contributing about 4 per cent of the world’s total.
But its emissions are growing rapidly as its economy expands by more than 7 per cent a year. In 2014, the country became the biggest contributor to global emissions growth after emitting 8.1 per cent more than the previous year. In 2015, it increased by another 5.2 per cent.

Much of the growth is being driven by the country’s increased use of electricity, with Narendra Modi, the prime minister, having made providing reliable power to everyone in the country a priority.
About 60 per cent of India’s electricity is currently fuelled by coal, and despite ambitious targets to build more renewables, many more coal-fired power stations are also expected to be built. The country is planning to build an extra 65 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in the next few years, equivalent to 20 large nuclear power plants.
There are already disputes about how much of the extra capacity is needed. India currently has 308GW of capacity, even though the highest amount ever used at once was 156GW.

Renewables and batteries are on track to undercut coal in less than a decade, according to The Energy and Resources Institute © AFP

According to Teri’s research, coal-fired power plants under construction will be built, but no more will be needed after 2025, provided two things happen.
First, the cost of both renewables and battery storage need to keep falling at their current trajectories. If they come down to half their current price by 2025, according to Mr Mathur, they will undercut coal, something he said he was confident would happen.
Second, the government needs to put in place policies to make it viable to run a system mainly off renewables. For example, ministers will have to allow companies running the electricity grid to buy power in an instant.
Mr Mathur said: “If a cloud comes over a large solar farm, the grid should be able in an instant to buy power from a stored source — most likely batteries.”
Ministers will on Monday signal their implicit backing for the conclusion by attending the report’s launch.
If companies cease building new coal power plants after 2025, the last one is likely to close somewhere around 2050, leaving one of the world’s biggest electricity users running its electricity grid almost solely with renewables.

Press link for more: Financial Times