Fossil Fuel Industry is weaker than ever. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever | Bill McKibben

Bill McKibbenThu 21 Jun 2018 20.00 AEST

From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet.

That gives us reason to hope

The basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking for good news on the climate front, don’t look to the Antarctic. Last week’s spate of studies documenting that its melt rates had tripled is precisely the kind of data that underscores the almost impossible urgency of the moment.

And don’t look to Washington DC, where the unlikely survival of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to prove the political power of the fossil fuel industry. It’s as if he’s on a reality show where the premise is to see how much petty corruption one man can get away with.

But from somewhat less likely quarters, there’s been reason this month for hope – reason, at least, to think that the basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly under way.

At the Vatican, the pope faced down a conference full of oil industry executives – the basic argument that fossil fuel reserves must be kept underground has apparently percolated to the top of the world’s biggest organization.

And from Wall Street came welcome word that market perceptions haven’t really changed: even in the age of Trump, the fossil fuel industry has gone from the world’s surest bet to an increasingly challenged enterprise.

Researchers at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis minced no words: “In the past several years, oil industry financial statements have revealed significant signs of strain: Profits have dropped, cash flow is down, balance sheets are deteriorating and capital spending is falling.

The stock market has recognized the sector’s overall weakness, punishing oil and gas shares over the past five years even as the market as a whole has soared.”

The IEEFA report labeled the industry “weaker than it has been in decades” and laid out its basic frailties, the first of which is paradoxical.

Fracking has produced a sudden surge of gas and oil into the market, lowering prices – which means many older investments (Canada’s tar sands, for instance) no longer make economic sense.

Fossil fuel has been transformed into a pure commodity business, and since the margins on fracking are narrow at best, its financial performance has been woeful.

The IEEFA describes investors as “shell-shocked” by poor returns.

And the third problem for the fossil fuel industry?

That would be the climate movement

The second weakness is more obvious: the sudden rise of a competitor that seems able to deliver the same product – energy – with cheaper, cleaner, better technologies.

Tesla, sure – but Volkswagen, having come clean about the dirtiness of diesel, is going to spend $84bn on electric drivetrains.

China seems bent on converting its entire bus fleet to electric power.

Every week seems to bring a new record-low price for clean energy: the most recent being a Nevada solar plant clocking in at 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, even with Trump’s tariffs on Chinese panels.

And the third problem for the fossil fuel industry?

According to IEEFA, that would be the climate movement – a material financial risk to oil and gas companies. “In addition to traditional lobbying and direct-action campaigns, climate activists have joined with an increasingly diverse set of allies – particularly the indigenous-rights movement – to put financial pressure on oil and gas companies through divestment campaigns, corporate accountability efforts, and targeting of banks and financial institutions.

These campaigns threaten not only to undercut financing for particular projects, but also to raise financing costs for oil and gas companies across the board.”

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, 190 miles outside Las Vegas. Photograph: Pedro Alvarez for the Observer

Hey, the movement against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline got so big, the Canadian government had to literally buy the thing in order to try and ram it through. Protesters will die, a former Bank of Canada governor predicted this week – though he added the country will have to muster the “fortitude” to kill them and get the pipeline built.

For activists, the best part of the IEEFA report is a series of recommendations for precisely how to hurt the industry the most, from creating delays that “turn a marginal project into a cancelled one” to “strategic litigation” to “changing the narrative”.

The report’s authors write: “The financial world is just beginning to understand the fundamental weakness of the fossil fuel sector, and barely acknowledges the global climate movement’s growing power and reach.

This has created a powerful opportunity to develop and foster a new storyline on Wall Street: that the oil and gas industry is an unstable financial partner just as it faces its greatest test.”

That’s work we’re capable of. If a few years of campaigning is enough to convince the pope we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, a few more quarters might finally persuade the suits that there’s more money to be made elsewhere. But speed is clearly of the essence. If massive losses of money loom over Wall Street, massive losses of polar ice loom over us all.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and the founder of the climate campaign 350.org

This article originally appeared in The Grist

Press link for more: The Guardian


NAIF backs Genex Power Kidston project. World 1st #Renewable energy 24/7 #auspol #qldpol #Solar #wind #PumpedHydro #ClimateChange #StopAdani

NAIF backs $1 Billion Genex Power Kidston project

Genex’s Kidston solar and pumped hydro plant at the old Kidston Gold Mine west of Townsville. Supplied

The Turnbull government’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has finally unlocked its coffers and flagged a significant funding allocation with a $516 million loan to Genex Power’s Kidston large-scale solar and hydro project in North Queensland.

Amid much criticism about the slow pace of NAIF allocating funding to big projects and a hasty redrafting of its investment guidelines, the NAIF announced on Wednesday it was giving conditional backing to the second stage of the much-hyped Genex Kidston project, which will use an old goldmine for a pumped-hydro project, supported by wind and solar projects.

The large indicative funding for a renewable project will further anger some Coalition backbenchers who have been agitating the Turnbull government to provide similar investment for coal-fired power projects as federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg attempts to push through the National Energy Guarantee by the end of the year.

It is the third loan from the NAIF – which was established two years ago – following a $16.8 million loan for a $120 million port project in Western Australia and $7 million for a barramundi farm in the Northern Territory.

Genex’s Kidston renewable project in North Queensland. Geoff Hunter

But the proposed Genex funding is the most significant investment decision so far from the NAIF and will be a significant leg-up for the listed Genex Power’s planned $1 billion renewables hub in North Queensland. The listed company’s share price closed almost 11 per cent higher on Thursday.

Loan is conditional

Genex said NAIF had agreed to an indicative term sheet for a long-term concessional debt facility of up to $516 million for the stage two of the Kidston project.

This will let them secure funding for the rest of the project and hopefully reach financial close by the end of the year.

But the secured, subordinated loan is subject to a string of conditions imposed by NAIF including Genex negotiating off-take arrangements and grid connection for their project; finishing a cost-benefit analysis, finalising terms for senior debt funding, securing the balance of equity funding and due diligence on a range of project matters.

The loan is still subject to final NAIF credit approval and the NAIF board’s investment decision.

But Genex Power chief executive James Harding said they were confident they could meet the conditions and reach financial close before the end of the year.

“The issuance of the term sheet and NAIF’s support to negotiate the detailed terms of a long tenor, concessional loan which would secure the bulk of the project debt funding is a significant milestone in the development of the project,” Mr Harding said in a statement to the ASX.

NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker said the NAIF support would help Genex secure financing for the rest of the project.

“This is a demonstration of how NAIF can work with stakeholders to help them understand how its concessional financing can support the development of a project which has the potential to provide substantial benefits to Northern Australia,” Ms Walker said.

“NAIF sees the projects as important for the transition of the market to lower emissions renewable energy sources and the board’s preparedness to consider a capital commitment of this size reflects the alignment of this type of project with NAIF’s objective to contribute to the transformation of Northern Australia through infrastructure development.”

$1b renewable hub

The conditional funding announcement for Genex will be a relief to Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan, who was copping the brunt of the frustration about the slow pace of NAIF project assessment.

Senator Canavan said the likely Genex investment was a direct result of changes made in April when he ordered the overhauling of the investment mandate for the NAIF after an independent review found the mandate was too restrictive and holding back financial support for big projects in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The key changes include the removal of the 50 per cent debt cap on funding for individual projects, a loosening of the gap test, broadening the definition of infrastructure and a fast-tracking of projects into the latter stages of the NAIF investment pipeline.

It is understood the $516 million indicative loan to Genex is significantly more than 50 per cent of the debt – and was able to be pushed through because of the change to the guidelines.

“This project will secure [electricity] supply for North Queensland. It would create 500 jobs in the construction phase,” he said.

Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the NAIF funding was a “long time coming” since the $5 billion fund was announced three years ago and no money had yet flowed to Queensland.

“This would represent less than 20 per cent of money out the door at a time when we know regional Queensland does need a lot more attention and support from the federal government,” she said.

The Palaszczuk government has left the door open for NAIF funding for coal projects in the Galilee Basin, saying its veto was only for Adani’s controversial $16.5 billion Carmichael project. But Ms Trad noted there were no coal projects on the NAIF shortlist.

Genex, which has also received $18 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, is attempting to build a $1 billion renewable energy hub based around an old gold mine, 400 kilometres west of Townsville.

This will include a $300 million, 250-megawatt pumped hydro project – which has been likened to a giant battey which will have 1500 megawatt hours storage capacity – a $420 million, 270-megawatt solar project and a 150-megawatt wind farm.

If it all goes ahead, it will be the first pumped hydro/solar/wind project in the world with a potential to run 24 hours a day.

Press link for more: AFR.COM

South-East Queensland is droughtier and floodier than we thought #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

South-East Queensland is droughtier and floodier than we thought.

Jack Coates-Marnane June 22, 2018 4.48am AEST

New data recording the past 1,500 years of flows in the Brisbane River have revealed that South-East Queensland’s climate – once assumed to be largely stable – is in fact highly variable.

Until now, we have only had access to 200 years of weather records in South-East Queensland. But our new research used marine sediment cores (dirt from the bottom of the ocean) to reconstruct stream flows and rainfall over past millennia.

This shows that long droughts and regular floods are both prominent features in South-East Queensland’s climate.

Brisbane flood

This is concerning.

Decisions about where we build infrastructure and how we use water have been based on the assumption that our climate – especially rainfall – is relatively stable.

Read more: Old floods show Brisbane’s next big wet might be closer than we think

Archives of past climates

Natural archives of climate are preserved within things such as tree rings, coral skeletons, ice cores, lake or marine sediments. Examining them lets us extend our climate records back beyond documented history.

We can then undertake water planning in the context of a longer record of climate, instead of our short-term instrumental records.

In this study, we used sediment cores from Moreton Bay (next to the mouth of the Brisbane River) to reconstruct the river’s flow over the past 1,500 years. In these cores we measured various indicators of fresh water to reconstruct a record of streamflow and regional rainfall.

At the turn of the last millennium the region was in the middle of a prolonged dry spell that lasted some six centuries, from roughly the year 600 to 1200. After about 1350 the region became gradually wetter, with peaks revealing a series of extreme floods in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Large floods in the 1700s have also been documented in the upper reaches of the catchment, in the Lockyer Valley.

These broad shifts in regional rainfall and streamflow are linked to drivers of global climates, including hemispheric cooling and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

Read more: Explainer: El Niño and La Niña

A cool La Niña-dominant climate that persisted from roughly 1350 until 1750 caused increased rainfall and reduced evaporation.

In addition, the southward displacement of monsoon troughs at this time may have increased the likelihood of cyclone-related weather systems reaching southern Queensland.

This information helps us contextualise the climate of the last 200 years and gives us some insights into how regional rainfall responds to shifts in global climate.

Wet and dry extremes

Over the past 20 years, South-East Queensland has experienced its fair share of extreme weather events. Severe floods have caused deaths and damaged infrastructure. Flooding cost the Australian economy some A$30 billion in 2011.

Regular droughts may mean South-East Queensland needs to rethink water resource strategies. Shutterstock

The millennium drought, which in this region was most severe from 2003-08, resulted in widespread water shortages. This prompted major investment in the South-East Queensland Water Grid, a connected network of dams, water treatment plants, reservoirs, pump stations and pipelines.

So far Queensland has coped with everything Mother Nature has thrown at it. But what if extreme floods and droughts became the norm rather than the exception?

Read more: Floods don’t occur randomly, so why do we still plan as if they do?

Water quality is getting worse

The 2011 and 2013 floods highlighted the vulnerability to these extreme events of Brisbane’s major water treatment facility at Mt Crosby. The drinking water supply to the city in 2013 became too muddy for purification. The 2011 flood was also alarmingly muddy.

Such events also threaten the ecosystem health of downstream waterways, including the iconic Moreton Bay

Our reconstruction found that big floods over the past 1,500 years rivalled the size of floods in recorded history (1893, 1974 and 2011), but the level of sediment in the water of more recent floods seems to be unprecedented.

This indicates that historical and ongoing land-use changes in the Brisbane River catchment are contributing to more abrupt and erosive floods.

This will continue unless better land management techniques are adopted to improve the resilience of catchments to extreme weather events.

What does this mean for the future?

We are learning that over the last millennium natural climate and rainfall have been more variable than previously thought. This means that modern anthropogenic climate change may be exacerbated by a background of already high natural climate variability.

In addition, our water infrastructure has been built based on a narrow understanding of natural climate variability, limited to the last 200 years. This may mean the quantity of reliable long-term freshwater resources in eastern Australia has been overestimated.

Read more: Droughts & flooding rains: what is due to climate change?

Press link for more: The Conversation

Future We Don’t Want: Billions at risk of climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food shortages #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

The Future We Don’t Want: Billions of urban citizens at risk of climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food shortages and blackouts by 2050

New research reveals number of cities and citizens threatened by direct and indirect climate hazards if global greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked

Bold climate action by cities key to prevent 1.6 billion people being exposed to extreme heat; 800 million to coastal flooding and 650 million to droughts.

Download & explore the full research here.

Cape Town, South Africa (19 June 2018) — Billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food shortages, blackouts and social inequality by mid-century without bold and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, cities around the world are delivering bold climate solutions to avert these outcomes and create a healthier, safer, more equal and prosperous future for all urban citizens.

New research from C40 Cities, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and Acclimatise predicts how many urban residents will face potentially devastating heat waves, flooding and droughts by 2050 if global warming continues on its current trajectory. The Future We Don’t Want – How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities also looks at indirect climate impacts and estimates how climate change under a ‘business-as-usual scenario’ will impact urban food security and energy systems as well as the urban poor, who are most vulnerable to climate change.

Headline findings include that, by 2050

• 1.6 billion people living in over 970 cities, will be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures.

• Over 800 million people, living in 570 cities, will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding.

• 650 million people, in over 500 cities, will be at risk of water shortages due to climate change.

• 2.5 billion people will be living in over 1,600 cities where national food supply is threatened by climate change.

• The power supply to 470 million people, in over 230 cities, will be vulnerable to sea level rise.

• 215 million poor urban residents, living in slum areas in over 490 cities, will face increasing climate risks.

The Future We Don’t Want – How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities also contains concrete examples of bold climate solutions that cities are delivering, which, if adopted at-scale, could help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The research was launched at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town, where representatives of cities around the world are sharing ideas on how to prepare and adapt their cities for the effects of climate change.

“For decades, scientists have been warning of the risks that climate change will pose from increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, growing inequality and water, food and energy shortages. Now we have the clearest possible evidence of just what these impacts will mean for the citizens of the world’s cities, said Mark Watts, Executive Director C40 Cities. “This is the future that nobody wants. Our research should serve as a wake-up call on just how urgently we need to be delivering bold climate action.”

“For most C40 cities, the impacts of climate change are not a far off threat. From Cape Town to Houston, Mayors are seeing severe droughts, storms, fires and more,” said Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies and C40 Board Member, “As this report shows, C40 mayors are on the front line of climate change, and the actions they take today–to use less energy in buildings, transition to clean transportation and reduce waste—are necessary to ensure prosperity and safety for their citizens.”

“Climate change is already happening and the world’s great cities are feeling the impact. Cape Town is facing an unprecedented drought, but thanks to the efforts of our citizens to adapt, we have averted Day Zero, when we would have had to switch off most taps,” said Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Board Member. “The lessons from Cape Town, and from this important new research is that every city must invest today in the infrastructure and policies that will protect citizens from the future effects of our changing global climate.”

Many of the solutions being delivered by cities, as well as regional governments, investors and businesses to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, will be showcased at the Global Climate Action Summit, taking place in San Francisco, September 12-14th, 2018.

Press link for more: C40.org

Coal Is Being Squeezed Out of Power by Cheap Renewables #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Reed Landberg19 June 2018, 10:00 pm AEST

Coal will be increasingly squeezed out of the power generation market over the next three decades as the cost of renewables plunges and technology improves the flexibility of grids globally.

That’s the conclusion of a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which estimated some $11.5 trillion of investment will go into electricity generation between now and 2050.

Of that, 85 percent, or $9.8 trillion, will go into wind, solar and other zero-emissions technologies such as hydro and nuclear, the London-based researcher said.

Better batteries, which allow grid managers to store power for times when it’s neither breezy nor sunny, will allow utilities to take advantage of plunging costs for solar panels and wind turbines.

The ability of natural gas plants to work at a few minutes notice means the fuel will become the choice for most utilities wanting guaranteed generation capacity.

“Coal emerges as the biggest loser in the long run,” said Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF. “Beaten on cost by wind and PV for bulk electricity generation, and by batteries and gas for flexibility, the future electricity system will reorganize around cheap renewables.”

The chart below shows renewables taking dominant market shares in all of the world’s biggest electricity markets by 2050, reflecting both government policies to curb emissions and improving economics for wind and solar.

Powered By Renewables

Key economies are expected to be running on at least 50% clean energy

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

BNEF’s forecasts compare with International Energy Agency’s most optimistic scenario for electricity generation, envisioning clean energy and fossil fuels reaching parity at 50 percent of the market each in 2025. The Paris-based institution’s central forecast puts the two on par by 2040, and fossil fuels would retain about a two-thirds share of generation by then if governments make no further steps to tighten regulations, the IEA says.

BNEF’s outlook, set out in the graphs below, shows renewables are likely to end up dominating power generation by 2050, taking about the same share of the industry then that natural gas and coal enjoy now.

BNEF’s scenario, set out in a 150-page annual report drawing on the expertise of 65 analysts worldwide, is based on country-by-country modeling of how the electricity market will evolve as well as forecasts for costs of different power generation technologies.

Gas will keep much of its market share, BNEF says. The nature of plants being built in the future will shift to peaker units that utilities can switch on and off quickly and away from the baseload plants that tend to operate around the clock. The chart below shows BNEF’s forecast that utilities will burn much less coal over time.

Coal’s Decline

Power stations are predicted to burn a lot less coal in the future

The decline of coal won’t be enough to dramatically alter the picture for a gradual increase in global temperatures in excess of the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times that has become the United Nations climate target.

“Even if we decommission all the world’s coal plants by 2035, the power sector would still be tracking above a climate-safe trajectory, burning too much unabated gas,” said Matthias Kimmel, energy economist at BNEF.

Even without tighter environmental rules, renewables will be increasingly attractive to utilities if only because of their falling costs. Building wind and solar farms will become much cheaper by 2040, according to the BNEF estimates, while traditional nuclear and coal projects become more costly.

Crash Course

The cost of solar and wind power is expected to keep plummeting

With solar energy, the amount of capacity being installed is rising as overall capital costs decline, BNEF estimates.

Press link for more: Bloomberg

New report examines coal’s future outlook, and it isn’t pretty #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

New Bloomberg forecast sees 17-fold rise in solar by 2050, and an $8.4 trillion investment in renewables.

Jun 20, 2018, 12:20 pm

Solar Panels and wind turbines in Palm Springs. March 2015. Connie J. Spinardi/Getty Images

The era of fossil fuel dominance in power generation “is coming to an end,” concludes Bloomberg NEF in its new forecast: “Cheap renewable energy and batteries fundamentally remake electricity systems around the world.”

Bloomberg’s 150-page New Energy Outlook (NEO) 2018 released Tuesday projects that wind and solar will combine to provide 48 percent of global power generation in 2050, while coal will slump to 11 percent. And this will happen without any new climate policies, simply because renewables are becoming the cheapest power source.

“Coal is the biggest loser,” notes Bloomberg in the new forecast. This is a complete reversal from historical trends.

Solar and wind power crush coal by 2050 in new Bloomberg forecast

The on-going revolutions in renewables and batteries are driving this reversal.

First, the stunning drop in solar and wind prices of the last three decades is expected to continue for the next three, says Bloomberg. By 2050, the cost of electricity from solar farms will drop another 71 percent, and for wind power, it will fall another 58 percent.

Stunning drops in solar, wind costs mean economic case for coal, gas is ‘crumbling’

Second, Bloomberg NEF projects that lithium-ion battery prices — which dropped  almost 80 percent since 2010, will drop another 66 percent by 2030. This is driven by a quantum leap in global electric vehicle (EV) sales, from a record 1.1 million last year to a projected 30 million in 2030.

“The economic case for building new coal and gas capacity is crumbling,” warns Bloomberg, as batteries begin to provide renewables more flexibility, including the ability to shift power to peak usage times.

Why electric cars will soon be superior to gasoline cars in every respect

The result is “coal gets squeezed out,” with total consumption in the power sector dropping by more than half in the next three decades.

Meanwhile, “gas consumption for power generation remains flat out to 2050.” But gas does play “a key role, however, in backing up renewables.”

As a result of all of these shifts, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector are expected to remain flat for the next decade and then drop nearly 40 percent by 2050.

But despite all this, Bloomberg notes, emissions would still be much too high to keep total warming below 2°C (3.6°F), which is the point at which impacts from climate change shift rapidly from dangerous to catastrophic (see chart).

Global power sector CO2 emissions under 3 scenarios.

In fact, if the world phased-out all coal plants between 2025 to 2035, “the power sector would still be tracking above a climate-safe trajectory,” explains Bloomberg NEF energy economics analyst, Matthias Kimmel. We’d still be “burning too much unabated gas.”

Such a phase-out, would, however, keep us close to a 2-degree pathway. It would  also help ensure that the shift toward vehicles running on electricity would be accompanied by a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, too.

But the fact is that we are going to have to start phasing out natural gas by the mid-2030s. The renewable energy revolution and the battery revolution are remarkable, but they don’t replace strong national and global climate policy if we are to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Slamming the brakes on large-scale infrastructure projects #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Slamming the brakes on large-scale infrastructure projects

Catherine Harte | 20th June 2018

At least half of the large-scale infrastructure projects being proposed today are a bad idea, argues a leading scientist who has spent nearly forty years studying building around the world.

“And when I say ‘bad’, I don’t just mean bad for the environment,” says Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University in Australia. “I mean bad for economies, bad for societies, and bad for project investors.”

Professor Laurance has summarised decades of research on the costs and benefits of big infrastructure projects – such as major highways, railroads, hydropower dams and industrial mines – in an article in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

Just plain foolish

“It’s vital to understand the realities because we’re living in the most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history,” said Laurance.

“Most new infrastructure projects are occurring in developing nations, which direly need smart development and investment. But many proposed projects are just plain foolish.

“For starters, widespread corruption completely distorts things. Projects that should never proceed get approved because government decision-makers are being paid off by project proponents.

“And the economic benefits of big projects are often grossly unfair—a few power brokers and their cronies are becoming fabulously wealthy, while most people see little benefit or even fall behind. That’s not smart development.”

He added: “In environmental terms, we’re seeing new projects tear into the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet.

Hidden risks

“For example, in parts of the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America, our research team is seeing Chinese-backed roads, dams, and mines happening in places that no rational investor should be touching.

“Investors assume they understand the risks and rewards of big projects. But far too often there are shoals of hidden risks, and projects that sound highly promising can turn into shipwrecks.

He concluded: “Just look around. You see big projects failing all the time. Nations are incurring big debts, investors are losing money, the environmental damage is appalling, and most of all, the average person isn’t getting ahead.

“The vital thing is to slow down the big projects. Delay them so there’s time for vital information to be disclosed and the public to debate the merits of each project.

“When the public understands what’s happening—what’s really happening—you’ll see a lot of bad projects disappear.”

This Author

Catherine Harte is a contributing editor to The Ecologist. This story is based on a news release from James Cook University, Australia.

Press link for more: The Ecologist

Health Care Without Harm praises American Medical Association divestment decision. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #divest #ClimateChange #AirPollution

Health Care Without Harm praises American Medical Association divestment decision

News posted by nknock@hcwh.org on June 14, 2018

Health Care Without Harm congratulates the American Medical Association (AMA) on their recent commitment to divest their financial holdings from toxic fossil fuels.

AMA’s House of Delegates’ adoption of a resolution “to end all financial investments or relationships (divestment) with companies that generate the majority of their income from the exploration for, production of, transportation of, or sale of fossil fuels” is a critical step toward ensuring health care providers first do no harm.

“It is meaningful that the American Medical Association…is saying to the dirty fuels industry now just what it said to tobacco a generation ago: You are killing our patients and we will not allow it anymore,” noted Todd Sack, MD, co-author of the divestment resolution.

From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities.

The air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, and the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements.

Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, contributing to more intense and more frequent storms, growing vector-borne diseases and heat-related illnesses, as well as increased food and water scarcity.

Health professionals have a moral obligation not to benefit financially from an industry that endangers human health.

By choosing not to invest in companies that profit from pollution, members of the American Medical Association are fulfilling their responsibility to protect the health of their patients and communities.

AMA’s decision to divest also sends a strong message to all health professionals and medical societies that, just as the health sector divested from tobacco as a matter of professional ethics, the time has come to end all investments in harmful fossil fuels.

Peter Orris, MD, Health Care Without Harm senior advisor, stated, “With the AMA joining the British Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, and the World Medical Association in this action, we can now securely bring this unified message to health organizations, policymakers, and civic society in general throughout the world.”

Letter to the editor template for health professionals on AMA divestment

This template was created by Health Care Without Harm for health professionals to submit to their local newspaper’s Letters to the Editor section. You are encouraged to edit the text below to make it more relevant to readers in your community.

Dear Editor,

As a [physician or nurse], I was pleased to hear the news that the American Medical Association has chosen to divest from toxic fossil fuels. In doing so, the AMA is part of a growing movement that already includes the World Medical Association, British Medical Association, and Canadian Medical Association, all of which have divested their assets from fossil fuel companies. In the 1990s, leading health organizations divested their tobacco holdings to bring attention to the harm caused by smoking. Now, such organizations are committing to divest from an another industry that profits by making us sick.

From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities. Air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year, but the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, which contributes to increased insect-borne and heat-related illnesses; food and water scarcity; and injuries, deaths and mental health impacts from extreme weather events. As health care providers, we have a moral obligation not to support an industry that causes so much harm.

It is time for all health organizations to honor our responsibility to our healing mission by divesting from fossil fuels. Our policymakers must also follow the advice of medical experts and make the decision to invest in clean energy for our health and for the health of our children and future generations.

Thank you,

[your name and professional title]

Tips for getting published and making an impact:

• Be sure to read carefully the requirements for your local newspaper’s letter-to-the-editor submissions and follow the instructions, including word count limits.

• Instead of the general health effects of pollution and climate change, edit this template to include the specific impacts you see in your daily practice as a health professional in your region.

• Rather than closing with a general call to action, edit this template to include a specific recommendation. For example, name local policymakers or proposed city or state policies to increase renewable energy.

Press link for more: No Harm

The Truth About Coal #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

This is the Truth About Coal

Gavin Dillingham19 Jun 2018

There has been a recent push to revive US coal-fired power plants in the name of electric power resilience and reliability.

Why is this a bad idea?

It is a bad idea for several reasons.

Following is a list of the top 4 reasons why coal is a bad idea

Electricity from Coal Plants is More Expensive

Coal requires all of us to pay more on our energy bills.

It’s expensive compared to most other forms of power from renewable energy to natural gas.

According to Lazard’s most recent report on the unsubsidized levelized cost of energy, the lowest cost coal plant is $60/MWh this is in comparison to wind at $30/MWh, gas combined cycle at $42/MWh and utility scale solar at $43/MWh.

When there is an apples to apples comparison between coal and renewable energy.

This means that we are looking at plants that produce the same amount kWh per year, coal is much higher than solar and significantly higher than solar. The facts demonstrate that coal is more expensive than most other viable options.

Keep in mind that this is unsubsidized costs, none of the “unfair” investment tax credits or production tax credits are included in this price.

Further, this does not include the social and environmental costs that come from coal.

That is covered later.

Coal Plants are a Public Health Nuisance

Speaking of social and environmental costs, coal power plants emit mercury and a variety of other greenhouse gas emissions that should be properly accounted for.

The key concern here is the amount of mercury emitted by coal plants. which can result in significant health risks.

According to a recent EPA analysis, over 42% of mercury emissions in the United States come from coal fired power plants. Overall 50% of mercury emissions comes from fossil fuel plants. This does not include all of the other dioxins and heavy metals that come from primarily coal plants. Below you can see the dispersion of mercury/toxic emitting power plants.

EPA – Toxic Rule Facilities

The problem with mercury is that it significantly increases a community’s health risk. High levels of mercury emitted from power plants can harm brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune systems of people of all ages. Further, mercury from power plants has been found to have a significant negative impact on a baby’s development, with particular impacts to a baby’s nervous system.

Coal Plants are not that Resilient

Coal power plants are not as resilient as some would like us to believe. Coal plants and the supply chain that gets coal to the power plants are highly susceptible to cyber, physical and climate risks. A recent study by the National Academies of Science titled Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy found that ““The rail net­works that transport the nation’s coal—like air traffic control and electric trans­mission networks—have an inherent fragility and instability common to complex networks. Because con­cerns about sabotage and terrorism were largely ignored until recently, existing networks were created with potential choke points [like some rail bridges over major rivers]…that cause vulnerabili­ty…[and] the potential for small-scale issues to become large-scale disruptions.”

Climate Change May Hurt Rail System

The Department of Energy further elaborates on the fragility of coal transport by finding  “Hardly a month goes by that delivery of Powder River Basin (PRB) coal somewhere in the supply chain is not interrupted by a derailment, freezing, flooding, or other natural occurrence.” Climate change is likely to increase heat that buckles rails, floods and storms that undermine tracks, and extreme weather that spikes electric demand. Meanwhile, utilities, having cut coal inventories threefold during 1980–2000 to save cost, keep trying to squeeze out more cost, exacerbating risk.” A recent example of coal not being that fuel secure was the Texas WA Parish plant. During Hurricane Harvey, the plant had to switch from coal to natural gas due to saturated coal piles. Those proponents for coal should also recall the Polar Vortex that resulted in frozen coal piles. You can’t burn frozen coal.

One other thing, coal or any other water-cooled power generation system can’t operate or at least not very efficiently when the water is too warm or there is not enough water to cool the plant. I covered this in a recent blog post on the power sector having a significant water problem.

Climate Change Induced Lack of Water Reduces Power Resilience

Coal Plants are Significant Greenhouse Gas Emitters

Can’t forget this one. Coal power plants emit significant greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, coal accounts for 67% of greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions, 28% comes from electric power generation. Granted, overall GHG emissions have come down due to fuel switching since 1990, but not by much. This largely due to much of the switching is to natural gas, another greenhouse gas contributor, although not as large of one. Also, there have some increases in demand across parts of the country which has limited overall reduction.

Coal Power Plant’s Climate Change Problem

The current administration has not made the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. By not making this connection, that cannot see that sustaining or increasing emissions will result in a significant increase in storm intensity that will negatively impact the overall power system, i.e. hurt system resilience. Storm intensity, demonstrated by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, the Polar Vortex, to name a few, is anticipated to significantly increase under current greenhouse gas projection scenarios. If the concern of the administration is resilience of our power system due to extreme storms, there probably should be some effort to reduce the likelihood of this intensity by reducing the cause.

To Conclude

There are four really good reasons why coal fired power plants may not be the best option for a resilient and reliable grid. This was just a high-level overview. Each of these topics could be their own posts. For the long-term resilience of our electric power system, it is key that we not look to short-term fixes to the detriment of long-term health, economic and environmental well-being.

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James Hansen: “I’m sorry we’re leaving such a f.cking mess” #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Listening to James Hansen on Climate Change, Thirty Years Ago and Now

Elizabeth Kolbert

On June 23, 1988—a blisteringly hot day in Washington, D.C.—James Hansen told a Senate committee that “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.” At the time, Hansen was the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and though his testimony was certainly not the first official warning about the “greenhouse effect”—a report to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, predicted “measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate” in the decades to follow—it was the first to receive national news coverage.

The Times ran the story at the top of the front page, with a graph showing a long-term rise in average global temperatures.

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Hansen’s testimony, and it would be hard to think of a more lugubrious milestone.

In the intervening three decades, nearly half of the Arctic ice cap has melted away, the oceans have acidified, much of the American West has burned, lower Manhattan, South Florida, Houston, and New Orleans have flooded, and average temperatures have continued to climb.

Just last week, a team of scientists reported in Nature that the rate of melt off Antarctica has tripled in the past decade; as the Washington Post put it, “If that continues, we are in serious trouble.” (Were the Antarctic ice to melt away entirely, global sea levels would rise by two hundred feet; if just the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would rise by about ten feet.) Also last week, scientists reported that most of Africa’s oldest baobab trees have died, probably because of climate change, and last month researchers showed that rising CO2 levels were reducing the nutrient content of rice, which is probably the single most important food source for people.

Yet Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it.

How can this be?

A possible answer, which seems to be the one that Hansen himself, at least in part, subscribes to, is that scientists are to blame.

Hansen is now seventy-seven and retired from NASA.

He recently told the Associated Press that he regrets not being “able to make this story clear enough for the public.”

Many climate scientists seem similarly to believe that they are not good at conveying information to lay audiences, and, as a result, dozens of Web sites and several whole organizations have been created to help them communicate better.

As someone who has interviewed a lot of climate scientists—including, on several occasions, Hansen—I can attest that, as a group, they are not particularly good at expressing themselves. (I once wrote a Profile of Hansen, and watched him lose even audiences predisposed to adore him.) But thirty years into the so-called climate debate—fifty-three years, if you go back to the report to L.B.J.—I also think it’s time to put this particular story line to rest.

Back in 1988, just about the only information available on climate change was written in the dry-as-standard-deviations style of academic science.

The following year, Bill McKibben published the first book on the subject aimed at a popular audience, “The End of Nature.” Since then, more generally accessible books have been written on the climate than even the most avid reader could possibly keep up with; these include kids’ books, comic books, and even a coloring book. Meanwhile, countless newspaper and magazine articles, television specials, and documentaries have appeared on the topic. Above all, climate change has become obvious. You don’t need to read or watch or hear about it; in many parts of the world, all you have to do is look around. The southwestern United States, for instance, is currently experiencing such a severe drought that water restrictions are in place and many national forests are closed. “Thirty years ago, we may have seen this coming as a train in the distance,” Deke Arndt, the chief of climate monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center in Asheville, North Carolina, recently told the A.P. “The train is in our living room now.”

Instead of using this anniversary to lament the failures of climate scientists, I’d like to propose that we use it to celebrate—well, “celebrate” probably isn’t quite the right word, but maybe recognize—their successes.

Three decades ago, led by Hansen, they made a series of predictions; for the most part these have proved to be spectacularly accurate.

That we, the general public, have failed to act on these predictions says a lot more about us than it does about them.

I happened to interview Hansen last year, for a video project.

I asked him if he had a message for young people. “The simple thing is, I’m sorry we’re leaving such a fucking mess,” he said.

Could the message be any clearer than that?

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