Green renewable energy and Australia’s lack of commitment.

While Australia is a co-founder of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action on green renewable energy, the country has maintained considerable distance from the other co-founders.

This action has again put the Government headed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a controversial position at the Lima, Peru summit, deemed to be critical in the 2015 Paris global agreement.

The 14 Australians delegates, the lowest number in two decades, didn’t go unnoticed by attendees from other nations who observed that the Australian voice was barely heard compared with previous summits. This show of short staff may be an indication that although Australia has not yet officially cut its ties to the Cartegena Dialogue, the country it is no longer as invested in green renewable energy targets.

Cartagena Dialogue highlights Abbott’s lackluster commitment to climate change

The Australian Government’s decision to downgrade Cartagena’s position on their priority list has not boded well for the Abbott administration. This is the first conference on climate change which Australia has attended since the country scrapped the carbon price policy. Overtures of climate funding contribution have been dismissed by Australia as it cut funding of the UNEP.

The UNEP – short for United Nations Environment Programme – coordinates environmental activities worldwide and assists developing nations in their implementation of environmental-friendly practices and policies. With this apparent display of indifference from Australia climate talks are stalled every time the country participates in one of them.

Australia became upset at the mention of climate change during the G20 summit and has denied that climate change can be a threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Notwithstanding that work on its general carbon emission targets has not even been begun by Australia climate talks have progressed between Cartagena’s member-countries, including Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand.

Press link for more: Australian Solar Quotes

Global carbon emissions experienced zero growth in 2014. 

In what has been described as a real surprise by the International Energy Agency (IEA), annual global emissions of carbon dioxide experienced zero growth in 2014, even as the globe’s economy continued to grow. According to IEA data CO2 emissions for 2014 were 32.3 billion tonnes, the same as 2013, meanwhile the global economy grew by 3 per cent.

While this is not the first time that growth of emissions has stalled, on previous occasions it was coupled with a significant economic downturn such as the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and the collapse of industrial production with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On this particular occasion it appears to be driven by structural changes in China and decarbonisation and enhanced energy efficiency across China, the United States and Europe.

Press link for more: Tristan Edis |

Climate change the biggest threat to humanity yet journalists struggle to tell the story. 

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity. Yet journalism has struggled for two decades to tell a story that doesn’t leave the public feeling disheartened and disengaged.

This podcast series lets you behind the scenes as the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and team set out to find a new narrative. Recording as we go, you’ll hear what works, as well as our mistakes. Is there a new way to make the world care?

Press link for more: Aleks Krotosky |

China eyes fundamental shift in energy policy.

In 2013, China consumed an extra 93 million tonnes of the stuff.

That amount – a mountain of the black fuel that would at one time have kept the best part of a quarter of a million British miners in work – represented only a 2.6% increase in China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for coal.

Like Britain, China’s industrial revolution has been coal-powered, but it has been on a scale and speed like nothing else in world history, bringing with it serious environmental implications.

China surpassed the United States to become the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007 and, if that trajectory is followed, it is well on track to double US emission levels within the next few years.

For anyone, anywhere worried about climate change, China has become the problem, and with the country opening a new coal-fired power station on average every week, it is a problem that has looked likely to simply grow and grow.

‘Peak coal’

Except that the recently released figures for 2014 suggest that something very interesting may now be happening.

Rather than another giant increase in coal consumption, for the first time in 15 years, government data shows that China’s annual coal consumption declined by 2.9%, with an accompanying 1% fall in carbon dioxide emissions.

Press link for more: John Sudworth |

10 myths about fossil fuel divestment put to the sword.

1. Divestment from fossil fuels will result in the end of modern civilisation

It is true that most of today’s energy, and many useful things such as plastics and fertilisers, come from fossil fuels. But the divestment campaign is not arguing for an end of all fossil fuel use starting tomorrow, with everyone heading back to caves to light a campfire. Instead it is arguing that the burning of fossil fuels at increasing rates is driving global warming, which is the actual threat to modern civilisation. Despite already having at least three times more proven reserves than the world’s governments agree can be safely burned, fossil fuel companies are spending huge sums exploring for more. Looked at in that way, pulling investments from companies committed to throwing more fuel on the climate change fire makes sense.

2. We all use fossil fuels everyday, so divestment is hypocritical

Again, no-one is arguing for an overnight end of all fossil fuel use. Instead, the group which is leading the divestment campaign calls for investors to commit to selling off their coal, oil and gas investments over five years. Fossil fuel burning will continue after that too, but the point is to reverse today’s upward trend of ever more carbon emissions into a downward trend of ever less carbon emissions. Furthermore, some of those backing a “divest-invest” strategy move money into the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors which have already begun driving the transition to a low-carbon world.

Press link for more: Damian Carrington |

Here’s how much faster wind and solar are growing than fossil fuels.

There’s been a lot of positive news about clean energy lately. For instance, we’ve reported that from 2008 to the present, wind and solar energy capacity in the United States has tripled.

Now, a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration makes a similar point. It finds that the electricity generated from wind and solar grew a lot faster than electricity generated by fossil fuels last year. In fact, solar more than doubled, and wind outgrew all other sources.

“I think the story that renewable generation is up from wind and solar and other sources is certainly the story to tell,” said Emily Williams, deputy director of industry data and analysis at the American Wind Energy Association, which heralded the report.

Here’s the bad news, though: Wind and solar are still only contributing a small fraction of the total electricity that we use, and far, far less than coal. They may be growing faster, but they’re very far behind.

The new data come from the EIA’s latest installment of Electric Power Monthlywhich provides stats on net electricity generation, across different energy sources, on a monthly and also annual basis. “Net generation” is defined by EIA as the gross electricity generated from a particular power source, minus the “electrical energy consumed at the generating station(s).” It should not be confused with electricity generating “capacity,” which is how much a source can potentially generate, vs. how much it actually produced.

Based on EIA’s data, there was considerably more growth in non-fossil electricity than in fossil based generation in 2014. In particular, wind and solar grew much more than coal or natural gas:

Press link for more: Chris Mooney |

Solar impulse for a cleaner sky and human conscience.

The cries of pollution of all kinds are hitting the sky. Global warming is as much a reality as the day light is. In that sense, when science and technology come together with their conscience in the right place, it sure can create miracles for the humankind and increase the longevity of this tiny ball of life called earth.

When Solar Impulse took off from Abu Dhabi and landed in Oman, the world exhaled a sigh of both relief and hope. Reason: The world’s first and only solar powered plane holds the potential to change the way we fly. On its broad shoulders that appear grey from the skies above, it carries the fruits of 13-years of research that went into building this plane.

After Muscat in Oman, the quintessential Ahmadabad in Gujarat played host to the plane. When it landed, the country was thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking technology invention that the world would greatly benefit from. Soon, the plane will leave for Varanasi, making it two stops in India for Solar Impulse 2. Indeed a rare honour, just around the time when India is all set to take on the world economically and historically.

The founder of Solar Impulse 2 Andre Borschberg has been at the controls when the single-seater took off from Al Bateen Executive Airport. Borschberg and Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard are alternating as pilots as the plane goes around the world, taking over five months to complete the spin. When it ends its journey, the world would have started on a new one, that of celebrating the triumph of sun power, the new ways to harness the solar energy and of course, a better way to maintain bilateral relations with countries that provide oil to the world.

When Solar Impulse 2 wins, the new road opens into the inner alleys of human conscience.

Press link for more: Preetam Kaushik |

Pressure is growing. A relentless climate movement is starting to win big, unprecedented victories around the world, victories which are quickly reshaping the consensus view.

The good news is, that pressure is growing. In fact, that relentless climate movement is starting to win big, unprecedented victories around the world, victories which are quickly reshaping the consensus view – including among investors – about how fast a clean energy future could come. It’s a movement grounded in the streets and reaching for the photovoltaic rooftops, and its thinking can be easily summarised in a mantra: Fossil freeze. Solar thaw. Keep it in the ground. 

Triumph is not certain – in fact, as the steadily rising toll of floods and droughts and melting glaciers makes clear, major losses are guaranteed. But for the first time in the quarter-century since global warming became a major public issue the advantage in this struggle has begun to tilt away from the Exxons and the BPs and towards the ragtag and spread-out fossil fuel resistance, which is led by indigenous people, young people, people breathing the impossible air in front-line communities. The fight won’t wait for Paris – the fight is on every day, and on every continent.

Press link for more: Bill McKibben |

Swiss pilots attempt first around-the-world solar flight.

A Swiss pilot has begun the first ever attempt to fly around the world in a plane propelled only by the sun.

André Borschberg and his compatriot Bertrand Piccard will take turns piloting the single seater Solar Impulse 2 for 21,747 miles (35,000km) over 12 legs, including gruelling five- to six-day stints across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The entire journey will take five months.

Borschberg took the controls for the takeoff at Al-Bateen executive airport in Abu Dhabi early on Monday. Its first destination is Muscat in Oman.

The pilots will endure roughly 250 hours each inside a narrow cockpit with no oxygen or temperature control. Temperatures outside will range between -40C to 40C.

“To fly with the sun, day and night, we had to build an aircraft that is extremely energy efficient. These technologies that provide energy efficiency can be used in your home, in your car, in the appliances that you buy,” he said.

The four motors that power the aircraft generate about half the power of a motorcross bike. But unlike conventional engines they lose only 3% of their energy through heat. The standard loss, says Borschberg, an engineer, is around 70%. According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is the single cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions across the world.

“With these technologies we can cope with a major part of the challenge we are facing today in terms of energy, environment, pollution, natural resources and so on,” says Borschberg.

Press link for more: Karl Mathiesen |

This isn’t a vision for a fair and prosperous society.

Australia needs a long-term economic plan which acknowledges the challenge of climate change and recognises that “debt and deficits” can’t be avoided through welfare cuts alone, writes John Hewson.

One final, major long-term challenge for our nation is finding an adequate response to the challenge of climate change, to meet our national and international responsibilities in holding emissions consistent with 2 degrees of global warming by mid-century.

The science is in, and it’s incontestable. The challenge is real, and urgent. The adjustment must be “front-end loaded” – we can’t hope to wait until the late 2040s to suddenly cut emissions to meet a sensible target. We need to change behaviour and practices, which can take considerable time.

The message from this Government, as evident again in the focus of this latest Intergenerational Report, is most disturbing.

Apparently, it is not OK to leave our children and their children with the legacy of debt and deficits. Nor is it OK to leave them with the expectation of an Age of Entitlement. But, apparently, it is just fine to leave them with a level of carbon emissions that not only threatens their standard of living, but also risks the future of our planet.

John Hewson is Professor in the Crawford School ANU and former leader of the Liberal Party and the federal opposition.

Press link for more: John Hewson |