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#ClimateChange “All Hell will break loose!” #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

When will we listen to the scientists?

To invest in new coal mines and ignore science is Criminal Negligence.

It is putting our children and future generations at extreme risk.

People all over the planet are demanding change.

We must declare a CLIMATE EMERGENCY


Coal is history #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

A future without coal-fired power stations is inevitable

January 10 2018 – 11:45PM

Worried the electricity system won’t keep up over summer?

Worry about coal. Seriously.

One of the four giant units at Victoria’s ageing Loy Yang A power station broke down on Tuesday night at 11.05, taking out 230 megawatts, and then at 1.10 on Wednesday morning after being partially restarted, taking out what by then was 161 megawatts.

Turnbull labels coal opponents ‘delusional’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has mounted a defence of coal-powered electricity, saying those who think the resource doesn’t have a future are ‘delusional’.

When demand soared during Sunday’s heatwave, the Eraring plant on Lake Macquarie in NSW lost 275 megawatts.

A few minutes later, Loy Yang A lost 264 megawatts.

On New Year’s Day, unit 1 of Millmerran in Queensland stalled, taking out 156 megawatts.

On December 28, unit 2 of Tarong in Queensland stalled, taking out 314 megawatts.

On Boxing Day, unit 4 at Loy Yang stalled, taking out 528 megawatts.

On Christmas Day, unit 1 at Gladstone stalled, taking out 230 megawatts, then unit 1 at Tallawarra in NSW, taking out 187 megawatts.

And so on, back to the start of summer.

When unit 3 at Loy Yang shut down without warning on December 14 taking out 560 megawatts and imperilling the entire system, the new Tesla battery 1000 kilometres away in South Australia sprung into action ahead of the coal-fired power station that was contracted to restore stability.

It proved to be “dispatchable” in a way coal-fired power stations are not.

Age, heat and the steady encroachment of renewables are destroying the only advantages coal-fired power stations ever had.

When Treasurer Scott Morrison stood up in Federal Parliament and waved around a lump of coal in a stunt unworthy of his office, he said coal was an important part of ensuring a “more certain” energy future.

But he was speaking about the past.

Illustration: Dionne Gain

Coal-fired power stations didn’t used to get critically hot as often as they do now.

The February 2017 heatwave that took out 2438 megawatts in one day in NSW might have once been a once-in-500-year event.

Now it’s a once-in-50-year event and perhaps soon a once-in-five-year event.

The calculations are by the Australia Institute’s Mark Ogge and Hannah Aulby in a study of the risks to energy security entitled Can’t Stand the Heat.

Ogge is the person who has been keeping a record of power station outages.

When temperatures in control rooms get as high as 50 or 60 degrees the electronic control systems buckle and the boilers leak.

Failures are inevitable, although unfortunately not predictable.

One of the four giant units at Victoria’s ageing Loy Yang A power station broke down on Tuesday night and early on Wednesday morning. Photo: Bloomberg

Wind power and solar power are in large part predictable.

Yes, they are intermittent, but it is usually possible to tell a day or two ahead of time when and where the wind will blow and the sun will shine.

There’s time to put batteries, hydro and gas on standby.

But in summer it’s becoming impossible to know when and where coal-fired power stations will blow.

They are becoming unpredictably intermittent, all the more so each year they age.

When Treasurer Scott Morrison stood up in Parliament and waved around a lump of coal in a stunt unworthy of his office, he said coal was an important part of ensuring a “more certain” energy future. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

And standby power is costly.

Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute helped run Origin Energy for 14 years.

He says the industry standard is to have as much back-up as the biggest independent unit, so that if it drops out it can be instantly replaced. But the biggest independent coal units are huge.

They require big back-up.

The biggest wind and solar farms are much smaller.

While they require storage and gas peaking plants to fill in overnight and when the wind’s not blowing, they don’t need anything like as much back-up for when mechanical problems knock them out of service.

Output of Loy Yang A Power Station, December 26, 2017 Photo: Australia Institute

There are caveats. Independent turbines can stop blowing at once, and sometimes unpredictably. That’s because most are located together in South Australia and Victoria, where the wind systems are synchronised. It would be better to have more wind farms in NSW, where the weather cycle is different. At times cloud cover is also unpredictable.

A future without coal-fired power stations is inevitable, and entirely manageable.

Wind accounts for 40 per cent of South Australia’s electricity supply, 8.5 per cent of Victoria’s supply, and 2.8 per cent of the NSW supply.

One of the many reasons no new coal-fired power stations will be financed or built is they are not well-suited to filling in gaps.

Output of Tarong Power Station, December 28, 2017 Photo: Australia Institute

They are good at providing always-on baseload power, but that’s not needed in the middle of the night when the wind is blowing a gale and providing all of a system’s need for virtually nothing.

They are not as good at turning on or ramping up quickly when the wind stops blowing.

If they are used repeatedly to do that, they break down sooner.

The Turnbull government’s proposed national energy guarantee would require retailers to ensure that a certain amount of the electricity they line up is dispatchable. Critics took this to be a code word for coal, but it can’t be, not unless Turnbull wants to misuse the word.

Battery storage, pumped hydro, molten salt solar plants that can fire up overnight, and gas peaking plants are far more dispatchable.

And they are more reliable.

The more we move away from coal the more secure our power system becomes.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

Follow Peter Martin on Twitter and Facebook

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU

Meet the Lawyer Trying to Make Big Oil Pay for #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #CriminalNegligence

When you want to sue the largest, most powerful companies on the planet, Steve Berman is the guy you call. He forced Jack-in-the-Box to pay $12 million for causing an E. coli outbreak that killed four children. He won a $215 million settlement against Enron for defrauding investors and wiping out employee retirement accounts. He represented auto dealers in a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Volkswagen for cheating on diesel emissions.

Berman is best known, though, for suing big tobacco in the 1990s. At the end of that fight, he helped negotiate a $206 billion settlement from cigarette makers like Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Brown & Williamson for causing cancer. It remains the largest legal settlement of its kind in history.

But Berman is now working on a lawsuit that could be even bigger: He is suing five of the world’s most powerful oil companies for causing climate change. He represents Oakland and San Francisco in a lawsuit filed last September demanding that Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP pay billions for sea walls and other defenses against ocean rise.

Just like with tobacco, the case could hinge on whether these companies lied to the public about the dangers of their business model. Berman has evidence that companies like Exxon knew burning oil causes climate change as early as the 1950s. Internally, oil companies took steps to protect their offshore oil rigs and Arctic pipelines from global warming while publicly they denied the science—the same way cigarette makers did research into cancer while denying their product was harmful. “Defendants stole a page from the Big Tobacco playbook,” the lawsuit alleges.

Legally speaking, that argument might not be such a stretch. “The parallels to tobacco are quite clear,” Carroll Muffett, the president of the Washington, DC–based Center for International Environmental Law, told me.

Still, nobody has won a lawsuit like this and the oil companies I contacted didn’t seem to think Berman’s would be any different. “Should this litigation proceed,” a spokesperson for Chevron wrote in an email, “it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities.” Other, less biased observers also have doubts. “I’m not that sure actually,” said Martin Olszynski, a University of Calgary law professor who has researched the parallels between oil and tobacco. “It seems obvious that at some point the defendants will say, ‘But look, there was demand for our product.’”

Berman himself failed to win a similar lawsuit in 2012, when a court dismissed his attempt to hold Exxon and about two dozen other fossil fuel producers responsible for the sea rise swallowing an Alaskan village. But a lot has changed since then. Science linking individual corporations to climate change is more sophisticated. Incriminating oil company documents are surfacing. New court decisions—especially a recent ruling against lead paint companies—are removing legal barriers. Suing big oil could be one way to win real environmental gains in the Trump era. “We have the federal government claiming there’s no climate change, we have the EPA rolling back,” Berman told me in an interview from his office on the 33rd floor of a Seattle high-rise. “[We can] use the law to accomplish what politicians won’t do.”

The reason not to dismiss Berman is that he has a history of proving doubters wrong. When he entered the legal fight against tobacco companies in the 1990s, mainstream opinion was that he would be unsuccessful. The owners of brands like Marlboro and Camel had crushed hundreds of lawsuits attempting to link cigarettes to cancer and emphysema. “No one had ever won a tobacco case,” Berman said. His own law partner was wary of getting involved. But in late 1998, the industry surrendered and agreed to pay out hundreds of billions of dollars. The People Vs. Big Tobacco, a book about the case, described Berman as one of the “crucial players.”

The stakes are even higher in his big oil lawsuit. Berman is not just trying to get oil companies to pay for seawalls in the Bay Area. In a broader sense he’s attempting to hold them responsible for endangering all human life on earth. “This is different in kind from anything else,” Timothy Crosland, the director of a UK-based climate law group called Plan B, told me. “Once you get started, you get one case that goes through, this is an avalanche. It’s got the potential really to bring down the fossil fuel companies.”

For insight into Berman’s worldview it helps to go back to his 1960s upbringing in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. “It was a really evolutionary time,” he said. “I grew up with a mother who was one of the first women to burn her bra.” His dad wanted to be a career Army officer but grew disillusioned by the Vietnam War and ended up running an insurance company. “He kind of became liberal himself,” Berman said.

Others he knew evolved from progressive to militant. They set off bombs and ran from the law. “They were elder brothers of some of my close friends and I’ve never seen them again,” Berman said. Though he’s not sure if they officially belonged to the Weather Underground, the left-wing organization that bombed US government buildings and banks in the 1970s and broke Timothy Leary out of jail, “they were in that genre of people out there doing radical stuff.” Berman chose to embrace the law. “The way to make change is to get trained in what the establishment does and make change through the process,” he later told the publication Super Lawyers.

Berman went to law school and moved out to Seattle, where he got hired by a firm that mostly did defense work for companies in industries like insurance. Berman was part of a smaller team at the firm that sued companies instead. In 1993, he met with a parent whose child had lost a kidney after eating at Jack in the Box and getting food poisoning. “I remember sitting in the room thinking, ‘This could have been my kid,’” he said. “I was so choked up I could barely talk.” His superiors at the firm didn’t want to take the case. “So I said, ‘I’m out of here.”

Berman and a colleague Carl Hagens formed their own firm, Hagens Berman. He’d wanted to set out on his own for some time and here was the perfect excuse. Two years later they settled with Jack in the Box for $12 million.

That case was tiny compared to what came next. In 1996, Washington’s attorney general hired Berman’s new firm to represent the state in a wave of public health lawsuits against tobacco companies. Soon Berman represented 13 states. “The quiet youthful [lawyer] worked brutal hours to make up for his firm’s small size, arriving at his office at six AM and staying until nine or ten PM six days a week,” reads the book Civil Warriors: The Legal Siege on the Tobacco Industry. His law partner was skeptical, according to Berman. “He was afraid we would lose the case,” he said. “If we devoted all our time to a losing effort and we didn’t have any income we could go under.”

It was a legitimate concern. By then hundreds of tobacco lawsuits had failed. Cigarette makers argued smoking was a personal choice. They pointed to research—often funded by the tobacco industry —casting doubt on the link between cigarettes and cancer. But several factors aligned to make the industry vulnerable to litigation. A series of whistleblowers revealed that tobacco companies knew smoking is addictive and causes cancer. Secret corporate documents showed companies did market research on how to target children with ads and branding. Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore filed a lawsuit demanding tobacco companies pay the healthcare costs of smokers who’d become sick. And by 1998, 46 states were demanding the same.

Berman gave the opening statement at the trial in Washington in front of hundreds of people who had crowded into a Seattle courthouse. “I had a big poster that said, ‘The Industry’s Five Big Lies,’ and I went through each one,” he recalled. By then the industry was ready to surrender. Berman, Moore and others had been holding meetings with its leaders to negotiate the terms. On November, 1998, Big tobacco officially agreed to pay $206 billion to 46 states. It received immunity from lawsuits similar to the ones led by Moore and Berman. Yet it was still a massive victory. “We were pretty damn happy,” he said.

How can you prove that oil dug out of the ground by Exxon is causing a tiny Alaskan village to disappear?

Berman now had a game plan for defeating powerful industries: Accuse them of misleading the public to protect revenues, then find plaintiffs who are suffering the consequences. In the late 2000s, he heard about a coastal village in Alaska called Kivalina that would have to be relocated because of rising oceans. The move could cost up to $400 million, according to his lawsuit, and the Army Corps of Engineers said climate change is to blame. Berman sued Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and 20 other fossil fuel producers on behalf of the villagers, arguing these companies spread doubt and confusion about climate change knowing communities such as Kivalina are in danger. Exxon, for instance, had run full-page New York Times ads about “unsettled science.”

“You’re not asking the court to evaluate the reasonableness of the conduct… You’re asking a court to evaluate if somebody conspired to lie,” Berman told The Atlantic at the time.

Berman flew to Kivalina at one point. The village is built on an island off the west coast of Alaska. Its 400 or so indigenous residents had watched helplessly as shoreline disappeared, winter storms got fiercer, and waves lapped closer to the school. There was a pervasive feeling of despair. “The island is sad, sad that it’s going away,” he said. The magnitude of climate change hit him on the flight home. “You could see acres of dying trees from the pine bark beetle,” he said. “That was really striking.” A federal court dismissed the lawsuit, deciding that who’s to blame for climate change is a job best left to entities like Congress or the White House. But the real issue was causation. How can you prove that oil dug out of the ground by Exxon is causing a tiny Alaskan village to disappear?

“There is no realistic possibility of tracing any particular alleged effect of global warming to any particular emissions by any specific person, entity, group at any particular point in time,” wrote US District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong. It’s a tough obstacle to surmount. “In climate change there’s a lot of diffuse actors,” said the University of Calgary’s Olszynski. “It’s not just the oil companies.”

But there are several reasons Berman’s new lawsuit against big oil could be more successful. Whereas Kivalina was filed in federal court, he wants to represent the cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California state court, which he thinks may be less likely to decide the case raises political questions outside of its jurisdiction. And, he added, “Some people believe that there are more conservative judges on the federal bench.” The defense team for big oil is fighting to get the suit heard federally. The case was “going to be mired down for the next three or four months in a procedural battle,” Berman predicted.

There have also been big leaps in climate science. Researchers like Richard Heede have calculated that close to two-thirds of greenhouse gases emitted over the last 150 years can be traced back to just 90 companies. Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips are in the top ten. “We have better science,” Berman argued. “We think causation will be easier to prove.”

Financial damages from climate change are also more quantifiable. San Francisco estimates sea-level rise could threaten $49 billion in property. “The major coastal cities in America and abroad have people worried about this,” he said. “That’s a big advancement since the Kivalina case.”

Incriminating oil industry documents, meanwhile, continue to surface. A report released in mid-November by the Center for International Environmental Law has new evidence that big oil was warned about the risks of global temperature rise nearly 50 years ago. “There seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe,” explains a 1969 study prepared for the American Petroleum Institute by two Stanford scientists. This wasn’t a one-off thing. “From the late 1960s onwards up into the 80s those warnings from their own scientists grew more and more urgent,” Muffett, the November report’s co-author, told me. An internal Exxon memo from 1981 states that carbon emissions could “produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic—at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population.” By then the company had calculated that reducing its carbon footprint would hurt revenues. Internally, the industry began to protect itself from climate change. Companies designed taller offshore oilrigs and pipelines able to withstand melting permafrost. “[They] had a responsibility to warn the public,” Muffett said. Instead, Exxon, BP, Chevron and Shell formed a group known as the Global Climate Coalition that argued climate science “is not well understood” into the 90s.

These are clear parallels to the cancer-denying days of big tobacco. But in recent years the comparison has become harder to make. Big oil now publicly admits the existence of climate change. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement and action,” a Chevron spokesperson wrote to me. Berman must convince a court that earlier industry denial campaigns created lasting damage. Even with better science, questions of responsibility still loom. “In the case of global climate change, a molecule of carbon is literally around the world in seven days,” Scott Segal, an attorney who defends energy companies, told the Washington Post in July. “The requisite causation needed for nuisance suits is missing and unprovable.”

That’s how the law has traditionally viewed things. Yet a recent ruling in California against lead paint companies suggests the law’s view on causation is evolving. “This may not sound like it has anything to do with climate change,” Olszynski told me, “but it does.” For 17 years, three paint companies—ConAgra, NL Industries, and Sherwin-Williams—argued in court that the lead paint they manufactured couldn’t be linked to specific houses where people got sick. But last month the California Court of Appeals ruled that their marketing “implied lead paint was safe,” even though the companies knew it was not. “That’s a really important point,” Olszynski explained. It could mean there’s a stronger case that oil companies are legally responsible for sea-rise damage in San Francisco and Oakland. They marketed and sold a product that they knew is causing climate change.

You could make the same argument about the coal industry. Or carmakers such as General Motors. “If the oil company took the barrel of oil out of the ground but it was consumed in the car, how do you apportion liability?” Olszynski asked. But he thinks that the legal fight against tobacco companies provides a case study for how these types of challenges can be beaten. “Guys like Steve were like visionaries,” he argued. “That’s an important story because it talks about the speed to which the legal system can change.”

As far as Berman is concerned the story isn’t over. On climate change he thinks it’s just getting started. If a judge decides his case can be heard—a big if, considering that no lawsuit against big oil has made it to that stage—then Berman can call on Exxon, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron to make internal reports and research into climate change available. “[I’m] dying to get to those documents,” he said. “I’m convinced they’re going to be smoking hot.”

As our interview came to a close I asked Berman to describe the best-case scenario for all this. “Imagine if I could get ten or 15 cities to all sue and put the same pressure on the oil companies that we did with tobacco companies and create some kind of massive settlement,” he said. He acted as if it was the first time he’d thought of the idea. But I got the feeling it wasn’t.

Geoff Dembicki is the author of Are We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change. Follow him on Twitter.

Press link for more: Vice.com

Towards a Clean Energy future. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Let’s make 2018 the year we turned our back on coal & demand a clean energy future.

There are more jobs in a sustainable economy based on clean energy.

Don’t let Australia fall behind.

Electric Cars














India will soon breed green energy engineers #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Why India will soon breed green energy engineers

December 21, 2017, 20:38IST

Electrical engineers or energy professionals are a sad lot today.

Besides the smart grid, which is still really in its nascent stage, they have precious little to show as ground-breaking contributions to humanity in recent years.

Barring improvements in automation technologies and the compact design of products, the energy and utility industry has been slow in deploying innovative technologies.

In contrast, the world of computing and communications technologies has stolen much of the limelight in the last century.

PCs, the Internet, smartphones, AI et al have primarily dominated the short list of significant new inventions in the last 40 to 50 years. And at the heart of it are some rather familiar names: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Unfortunately, no GE, Siemens, ABB or Shell, Schlumberger and ExxonMobil.

After al, it was the power and utilities industry that caused a paradigm-shifting disruption towards the end of the 19th century, when it gifted the world a huge productivity boost in the second industrial revolution (primarily due to Edison’s invention of electricity).

The industry seems to have taken a backseat partly because of its very utilitarian nature — it mostly serves the complex industrial/commercial (B2B) market, often distant from the sight and grasp of end consumers.

Energy or power products in their mundane forms are not cherished or consumed with relish like other gratifying personal computing gadgets and devices. After all, a transformer may hum and occasionally flash, but it fails to draw our attention like a blue-ray music system; solar panels aid better living but fall short of Robots in the glamour quotient; and EVs (Electric Vehicles), though charming, are perceived more as a disruption to the automotive sector than the electrical utility industry. And then there has been all that brain-drain in the direction of the computer software and hardware industries.

However, as the world chokes, nauseates and heats up, the energy sector is coming to be seen as a potential rescuer of mankind at the fag-end of a long and forgettable history lost in the dark soot-filled earth’s environment.

At a more macro level, the industry’s lacklustre show is also a result of the status quo stance policymakers have held for long. It is only in recent times that the clean energy push is proving to be simultaneously transformative and disruptive.

Historically, however, clean energy initiatives have been a case of short-term opportunism against continually changing goalposts.

It was only in the early ‘90s, when the “Earth Summit” produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that the world got serious about actually solving the ‘climate change’ problem.

Before that, clean energy meant as ‘little’ as addressing local air pollution (not to be confused with climate change), or improving trade imbalances by reducing oil import or indulging in efforts to improve public relations by the corporates.

However, as the world chokes, nauseates and heats up, the industry is being seen as a catalytic agent — more so, as we shift our focus on laying out a set of modified yardsticks, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), to measure economic efficiency and effectiveness.

As we start answering the perennial question ‘Kitna deti hai’ in more long-term-oriented (‘The EV mileage or Kilometres per Single Charge’) specifications; as we move away from an uncaring ‘Per capita KWhr’ consumption as a prosperity indicator to the more meaningful ‘Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI)’; and as along with unidimensional ‘Total Installed Capacity’, another metric, ‘Energy Mix’, gains importance, the energy sector is seen through different lenses and principally as a potential rescuer of mankind at the fag-end of a long and forgettable history lost in the dark soot-filled earth’s environment.

What is causing this change and how?

Are there parallels and crossovers in such transformations to what the world of computing and associated technologies have witnessed?

There seem to be quite a few commonalities and intersections.

Moore’s law for clean tech

Many of the enviable disruptions that yielded the PC revolution and today’s super-fast computing technology are attributable to the availability of fast, cheap and small microchips to form the brain of modern computers/devices.

This phenomenon of achieving exponential growth in computing efficiency is explained by what is known as Moore’s Law.

The law has held valid for a time much longer than was initially thought. It is, however, losing steam with signs of accumulated pieces of evidence, but quite interestingly, another law is being conceptualised for a parallel world of technology: clean tech.

In India, IT has attracted much of best talents in the initial days of this millennium.

No doubt, IT industries have contributed significantly to India’s GDP, but partly at the expense of the national workforce.

While it has enabled job- and wealth-creation, it has also sucked a vast pool of human resources into itself regardless of their interest and background.

A broad swathe of core engineers, art, science and business graduates could not help but respond to a whirling market-force and complicit ecosystem by lapping up designations of systems engineer, developer, data entry operator et al.

However, with the push for renewable energy or clean tech (new investment in clean energy worldwide is pegged at approximately $300-400 billion every year), this may well effect a core sector revolution — many of them may no longer have to spend endless befuddled hours attempting to decode the meaning of their professional lives.

This may sound biased, but it’s mostly the electrical engineer me taking control over the consultant me.

At the intersection of ‘Make in India’, push for clean tech and moderate IT sector growth lies an enormous and explosive amount of motivation — which let us hope is sufficient — to catapult many to explore new avenues assuming job roles equalling ‘Life Saviours’ or ‘Nation Builders’ tags.

The #CarbonLaw – A roadmap for rapid decarbonisation

It is the exponential growth part of the Moore’s Law that has motivated the experts to coin a new “carbon law”, modelled on Moore’s law in computing, as a proposed roadmap for beating climate change post the 2015 Paris Climate Change Convention.

The law envisages carbon emissions halving every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years.

The carbon law’s advocates are senior climate-change scientists, and they contend that it provides a simple, broad but quantitative plan that could drive stakeholders to make urgently needed carbon cuts.

On a different dimension, researchers have watched similar dynamics of Moore’s law working in solar power technology as well.

The steady decline of solar energy costs for a unit KWhr gave rise to the exponential growth of solar PV cells all around the world. That is, in a way, a solar technology equivalent of Moore’s Law — amazingly cheap, mass distributed energy technology that’s way more effective than the enormous and centralised systems it was created from.

A new leader and radical disruptions

There are more parallels in the revolution of clean tech.

If the tech companies dominated the last few decades, much of such a tech uprising had to do with way visionary leaders like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs reshaped customer behaviours.

For the most part, other industries were not as blessed to have such leaders before Elon Musk appeared to fill the vacuum.

Today a swathe of engineering professionals and young entrepreneurs look up to Musk the way they revered Steve Jobs.

Musk is hero-worshipped, adulated and shadowed for as much of his apparent Jobs-like style of unveiling new products as his brand Tesla’s modus operandi of accepting challenges and sweeping the world off its feet with an array of disruptive products.

Tesla is far from being only a car company.

It’s an aggregation of multi-disciplinary themes, a strong vision and a realistic business model (yet to be proved) set to transform a combination of large markets.

Gene Munster has analysed why the Tesla brand of today is much like the Apple of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In the 2011 feature documentary film by Chris Paine, “Revenge of the Electric Car”, Bob Lutz, former Vice Chairman of General Motors (GM) expressed gratitude to Tesla mentioning how a California based start-up was changing the thinking pattern of a behemoth like GM’s in its approach to EVs. No wonder, modern civilisation is seeking refuge in an Edison or a ‘Tesla’ of a different kind.

Even the recent surge in clean energy initiatives (in the aftermath of 2015 convention) came to be after a plethora of decision dilemmas and late-awakening of nations. In the Paris convention, India was not only a day late to submit its plan but also the last of 140 countries to do so. If, in India, it has mostly been economic growth first and then everything else, including environmental concerns, it is somewhat understandable, what with 300 million people living without electricity and the country’s vast resources of coal.

But since then, the Modi government’s pledge to go big on renewable energy (175 GW by 2022 and only EVs on the road by 2030) has created a different wave.

If we implement appropriately, the government’s renewable energy thrust could do more than just help the climate change cause. It might help pull millions out of poverty, especially in rural communities by providing stable earnings, healthcare benefits, and skill-building opportunities to unskilled and semi-skilled workers. That the industry is at a tipping point also gives a unique opportunity to the skilled and creamy layer of the Indian workforce — not only for the electrical engineers; because of the substantially vertically integrated business models and deep cross-functional involvement, the energy and utility sector are as much for the research fellows, an array of engineers, geological surveyors and mining experts as it is for the entrepreneurs and manufacturers of new tech. All in all, we need a battalion of ‘green personnel’ to cool off and unchoke the nation before it dies an untimely death.

When I started my career in a leading power utility company, the organisation tried to instil a sense of ‘nation-building’ in us, for it understood that it could not compete with money and cushy comfort the IT and related industries offer to its employees and must sow the seed of pride instead to compensate for missed material benefits. The hard hats, fluorescent robes, sturdy gumboots and UV protective goggles though did a world of good for the embodiment of, ‘A nation builder at work’, albeit failed to retain a substantial chunk of freshly recruited employees.

Press link for more: The Hindu

To Save Climate, Stop Investing In Fossil Fuels #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Paris (AFP) – The development of oil, gas and coal energy must stop in order to avoid the worst ravages of global warming, 80 top economists said Thursday, days ahead of a climate summit in Paris.

To save climate, stop investing in fossil fuels: economists

“We call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy,” they wrote in a declaration.

The December 12 One Planet Summit organised by French President Emmanuel Macron — with 100 countries and more than 50 heads of state attending — will focus on marshalling public and private money to speed the transition toward a low-carbon economy, especially in developing countries.

But boosting renewable energy such as solar and wind is not enough, the economists warned.

“President Macron and world leaders have already spoken out about the need for an increase in finance for climate solutions,” they wrote.

“But they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production.”

Many new fossil fuel projects already in the pipeline “will need to be phased out faster than their natural decline,” they added.

Numerous studies have shown that exhausting already developed oil, gas and coal reserves is incompatible with capping global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set down in the 196-nation Paris climate treaty.

“The science is clear: if you look at the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, you simply can’t burn all that without making a different planet,” said James Hansen, long-time director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The shift from “brown” to “green” energy is further hindered by oil, gas and coal subsidies, which totalled nearly half a trillion dollars (470 billion euros) in 2014, the International Energy Agency has calculated.

In 2015, direct consumer subsidies for fossil fuels topped $333 billion (315 billion euros) worldwide, according to the International Monetary fund.

“It is time to stop wasting public money on dirty fossil fuels and invest it instead in a sustainable future,” said Tim Jackson, a professor at the University of Surrey in Britain.

Signatories of the open letter also included Jeffrey Sachs, a senior UN advisor; James Kenneth Galbraith, an economist at the Texas LBJ School; American billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer; and Australian economist Ross Garnaut.

Press link for more: Au.news.yahoo.com

1.5C Climate Change Threshold #StopAdani 

In Defense of the 1.5°C Climate Change Threshold
Loren Legarda Oct 23, 2017

 Steam and exhaust pipes Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

MANILA – The Earth today is more than 1°C hotter than it was in pre-industrial times, and the terrible symptoms of its fever are already showing. 

This year alone, back-to-back hurricanes have devastated Caribbean islands, monsoon flooding has displaced tens of millions in South Asia, and fires have raged on nearly every continent. 

Pulling the planet back from the brink could not be more urgent.

Those of us who live on the front lines of climate change – on archipelagos, small islands, coastal lowlands, and rapidly desertifying plains – can’t afford to wait and see what another degree of warming will bring. 

Already, far too many lives and livelihoods are being lost. 

People are being uprooted, and vital resources are becoming increasingly scarce, while those suffering the most severe consequences of climate change are also among those who have done the least to cause it.

That is why the Philippines used its chairmanship of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) – an alliance of the 48 countries that stand to bear the brunt of climate change – to fight to ensure that the 2015 Paris climate agreement aimed explicitly to cap global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

For us, 1.5°C isn’t merely a symbolic or “aspirational” number to be plugged into international agreements; it is an existential limit. 

If global temperatures rise above that level, the places we call home – and many other homes on this planet – will become uninhabitable or even disappear completely.

When we first introduced the 1.5°C target back in 2009, we met substantial resistance. 

Climate-change deniers – those who refuse to believe the science of human-induced global warming – continue to dismiss any such effort to stem the rise in the planet’s temperature as futile and unnecessary. 

But even well-meaning climate advocates and policymakers often opposed the 1.5°C target, arguing that, according to the science, humans had already emitted enough greenhouse gases to make meeting that goal virtually impossible.
Yet, on this front, the science is not as clear-cut as it might have seemed.

 According to a recent paper published in Nature, the world’s remaining “carbon budget” – the amount of carbon-dioxide equivalents we can emit before breaching the 1.5°C threshold – is somewhat larger than was previously thought.
This finding is no reason for complacency, as some commentators (not scientists) seem to think. 

It does not mean that previous climate models were excessively alarmist, or that we can take a more relaxed approach to reining in global warming.

 Instead, the paper should inspire – and, indeed, calls for – more immediate, deliberate, and aggressive action to ensure that greenhouse-gas emissions peak within a few years and net-zero emissions are achieved by mid-century.

What would such action look like?

 Global emissions would need to be reduced by 4-6% every year, until they reached zero. 

Meanwhile, forest and agricultural lands would have to be restored, so that they could capture and sequester greater amounts of carbon dioxide. 

Fully decarbonizing our energy and transportation systems in four decades will require a herculean effort, but it is not impossible.

Beyond their environmental consequences, such efforts would generate major economic gains, boosting the middle class in developed countries and pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty in the developing world, including by fueling job creation. 

The energy transition will lead to massive efficiency savings, while improving the resilience of infrastructure, supply chains, and urban services in developing countries, particularly those in vulnerable regions.
According to a report published last year by the United Nations Development Programme, maintaining the 1.5°C threshold and creating a low-carbon economy would add as much as $12 trillion to global GDP, compared to a scenario in which the world sticks to current policies and emissions-reduction pledges.
The paper asserting that the 1.5°C target is achievable was written by well-respected climate experts and published in a top-ranking journal after extensive peer review. 

But it is just one paper; there is still a lot more to learn about our capacity to limit global warming. 

That is why top scientists are already discussing and debating its findings; their responses will also be published in top journals. 

That is how scientific research works, and it is why we can trust climate science – and its urgent warnings.
Next year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish its own meta-analysis of all of the science related to the 1.5°C target, in what promises to be the most comprehensive summary of such research.

 But we cannot afford to wait for that analysis before taking action.
The members of the CVF have already committed to doing our part, pledging at last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech to complete the transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

 Our emissions are already among the world’s smallest, but our climate targets are the world’s most ambitious.

But whether the world manages to curb climate change ultimately will depend on the willingness of the largest current and historical emitters of greenhouse gases to fulfill their moral and ethical responsibility to take strong action.

 Keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C may not yet be a geophysical impossibility. 

But, to meet the target, we must ensure that it is not treated as a political and economic impossibility, either.

Press link for more: Project-Syndicate

Investing in the age of #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Countries who’ve signed the Paris Climate Agreement are looking for ways to curb carbon emissions
Marija Kramer is Head of Responsible Investment Business at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). 

She is responsible for all aspects of responsible investing (RI) offerings, including policy development, as well as research and data screening services covering more than 13,000 global companies for institutions seeking to fully integrate ESG into their investment decision-making.

 Kramer also oversees new product development and strategic alliances in all regions of the world where RI solutions are delivered to ISS clients.

Christopher P. Skroupa: Have we reached a tipping point for mainstream investors on the issue of climate change?
Marija Kramer: I would say so. Unprecedented votes this year on climate change resolutions at some of the largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, would suggest mainstream institutions have crossed the Rubicon on the materiality of climate change.

 So it’s not just leading climate scientists who agree that the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

What we’re seeing now is that investors are focused on how a changing climate brings two highly impactful risks: transition and physical.

 Transition risks are linked to the political commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

 For example, a government may choose to introduce a tax on greenhouse gas emissions that could leave several companies with unburned fossil fuel assets but support the emergence of renewable energy technologies. 

These policy and technology-related changes could directly affect the value of an investor’s portfolio.
Physical risks are linked to extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts or hurricanes that arise as a result of global temperature rises, with proponents of this argument pointing to recent storms that hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands as evidence of this. 

The financial losses that can be felt by these hurricanes, alongside the more obvious humanitarian and environmental devastation triggered by the events, are materially significant for global investors far more so today than ever before.

Skroupa: How does the landmark Paris Climate Accord affect investors?
Kramer: With the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December 2015, there is a global consensus to combat climate change. 

It is the world’s first legally binding commitment to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a stretch target of 1.5°C.
Part of the agreement includes ensuring that financial flows are consistent with the 2-degree target. 

Meeting this target requires a global effort to shift capital from carbon-intensive to low-carbon industries, but also heavily invest in energy-efficiency in the former. 

Significant investments in renewable energy, smart-grids and energy-efficient storage systems will be needed as well as a fade out of fossil fuel subsides.

Some countries are considering using carbon pricing, taxes and cap and trade systems as financial mechanisms to curb emissions.

 The net effect of this is that many investors are beginning to measure the carbon exposure of their portfolios and, where needed, rebalancing portfolios to offset the presence of high carbon-emitters with companies that have lower greenhouse gas emissions or are on a path to reduce them in the future.
Skroupa: How can investors manage climate-related risks and opportunities?
Kramer: Performing a carbon footprint analysis is the first step for investors who want to understand their portfolios’ impact on the climate and vice versa. 

A carbon footprint analysis shows a portfolio’s carbon emissions based on the ownership it has of the underlying investments.
For example, if an investor owns 1% of a company, the investor also owns 1% of the company’s carbon emissions and the portfolio footprint is the total of these ‘owned’ emissions. 

The analysis shows where the largest exposures are located (specific companies and sector-wide), which can in turn trigger an internal conversation around the strengths and limitations of the current investment strategy.
The next step would be to add more information to the analysis to determine if the investments are on a 2-degree pathway. 

Innovative tools, such as Climetrics, a climate impact rating for funds, also provide investors with much needed insight on the climate change impact of funds’ portfolio holdings, as well as asset managers’ own applications of climate impact as an investment and governance factor.
Skroupa: As an ESG data, analytics, research, and advisory provider, how is ISS supporting investors in the age of climate change?
Kramer: ISS-Ethix supports investors globally with developing and integrating responsible investing policies and practices into their strategy, and execute upon these policies through engagement and voting.

 Our climate solutions enable investors to understand what climate change means for their investments by providing timely data and actionable intelligence on climate change risk and its impact on investments.
ISS-Ethix can also provide reports that enable investors to understand their carbon footprint and wider climate impact, complying with disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, the California Department of Insurance’s Coal Disclosure, Article 173 of the French Energy Transition Law, the Montreal Pledge and specific guidelines for investors in other jurisdictions.
The transition to a low-carbon economy requires a massive transformation, including transition efforts to be made by global capital markets. Faced with this new reality, investors have to start asking themselves the following questions: Will my current investments make sense in a 2-degree world, and how can I spot the largest risks and opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Press link for more: Forbes

UN Climate Chief: “Urgent requirement to cut emissions”#StopAdani #Auspol 

Mission 2020’s Christiana Figueres says a clean energy policy with bipartisan support could have prevented many difficulties. Katherine Griffiths
The former climate chief at the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, has urged the federal government to stop obsessing about the fate of individual power plants and seize the opportunity to recast its power system in line with the urgent requirement to cut carbon emissions.

Figueres, who oversaw the negotiations on the landmark Paris accord in December 2015, said Australia has wasted 10 years in “constant back-and-forth” on climate policy while individual states and cities are pushing ahead on clean energy.
“It’s 10 years that are resulting in a very difficult chaotic situation that everyone is facing with very high levels of anxiety that could have been prevented,” Figueres said while in Sydney as part of her Mission 2020 initiative aimed at “bending the curve” on the world’s trajectory on greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade.
The former Costa Rican diplomat said a clear energy policy with bipartisan support that tackled security of supply, affordability and emissions could have prevented Australia’s current difficulties.
All three of those goals are possible, with no need to choose one over the other, Figueres said.

“This is a systemic issue: it’s not about closing or opening one plant here, or one plant there.”
“It’s a systemic challenge and it’s a systemic opportunity to really understand that the power sector of the future is very different to the power sector of the past.”
Broad support
Figueres’ comments come at a crucial time in the policy debate in Canberra, where the federal government has been unable to reach a consensus within the Coalition on the centrepiece of recommendations from the Finkel Review, the introduction of a clean energy target.
But she said she is still optimistic that the Finkel work will provide a direction for energy policy that will garner broad support and so have the potential to unleash needed investment in new, lower-emissions energy supply.
“There has been no direction and the result of that is that this policy uncertainty has not attracted the level of investment that Australia deserves and needs,” Figueres said.
“If we had had that investment over the past 10 years we wouldn’t be in a crisis mode now.”
Still she believes things can rapidly turn around.
“Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Let’s see if we can get more policy clarity, more predictability so that you can attract investment which can come very quickly if there is confidence in the system.”
Quizzed on worries about soaring costs for baseload power users, Ms Figueres insists that the problem is meeting demand spikes rather than continuous demand from round-the-clock electricity consumers.
Gradual transition
And in that regard, renewables are better placed to meet peak demand, when worked up in a package with gas, demand-response measures, smart metering, energy efficiency and storage.
Critical to remember is that the transition is a gradual one: “No-one is talking about a jump to zero fossil fuels – that is absolutely irresponsible,” she said.
“What is being considered here and should be accelerated is a smooth transition.”
At the same time making a proper start on the changes is urgent to avoid locking in further increase in emissions that contribute to climate change.
“The carbon intensity of the investments we make over the next three years is basically going to fundamentally decide the carbon intensity of the energy matrix over the next 20 or 30 years,” Mr Figueres said.
“So if we are talking about being net zero by 2050, guess what, we have to make those investments now.”

Press link for more: AFR.COM

The Truth About Souring Power Prices #auspol #climatechange 

The truth about soaring power prices: wind and solar not to blame.
By ABC business editor Ian Verrender 

Between them, however, competition kahuna Rod Sims and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week demolished an old chestnut about renewable energy: it is not the cause for the recent spike in electricity prices.
In fact, according to both, it has had very little impact.
For the past decade or more, we’ve been bombarded with the message from a vocal but powerful minority within Parliament and the broader community that the switch to renewable energy has made Australia uncompetitive, crippled our industry and driven power prices higher.

The real issue is that, fundamentally, they don’t believe climate change is real or that humans have adversely affected the planet.
Having spent so long denying science and rejecting the overwhelming body of evidence, they’re now being forced to ignore economics; that renewables have become a cheaper longer term power source.
Coal is the future, they argue.

Coal-fired generators have no future here

Much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage, writes Ian Verrender.

That’s simply not a view shared by the power generators, whose primary motivation is to turn a profit and stay in business, or the banks who must finance them.
Nor is it a view shared by BHP, the nation’s biggest company that built a large part of its wealth on coal exports.
Last week, it confirmed it was reviewing its membership of the Minerals Council of Australia because of “materially different positions” on issues such as a Clean Energy Target and climate change.
Technical innovation around renewable energy generation has seen costs plummet.
So much so that US investment bank Goldman Sachs — hardly a standard bearer for radical ideology — now argues that, rather than pushing power costs higher, renewable energy is the cheapest form of power generation.

 More on that later.
The truth about the power price spike
As the theatre over keeping open the creaking Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW’s Hunter Valley played an encore last week, the ACCC boss and the PM delivered a few sobering nuggets.
First, there was Rod Sims at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday: “Forty-one per cent of the increase in electricity prices over the last 10 years has been in network costs and we keep forgetting that.”
He went on: “Those poles and wires that run down your street are the main reason you are paying too much for your electricity.”
Video: Rod Sims addressed the National Press Club on “Australia’s Gas and Electricity Affordability Problem” (National Press Club)

According to Mr Sims, extra retail charges account for 24 per cent of the higher prices while higher generation costs as a result of a failure to invest make up 19 per cent of the price hikes.
Green energy initiatives contribute just 16 per cent to the recent price hikes.
On Thursday in Brisbane, responding to questions, the PM concurred, explaining that “particularly for retail customers, the largest single part of your bill is the network costs.”
“That’s the poles and wires basically,” he said.
Gas, not coal, will fix prices
The short-term fix to Australia’s soaring electricity prices is to fix the gas crisis, but long-term fix it’s greater investment in renewables and energy storage, writes Ian Verrender.

But then he elaborated on the more immediate issues, particularly around generation and the changes that have been foisted upon consumers.
“In terms of the green schemes, they do have a cost but it is a relatively small cost,” he said.
“Gas is the biggest single fact at this point in time.”
What does gas have to do with it? As the PM explained, the electricity price is set by the last generator to come into the stack.
It’s what economists call the marginal cost of production. You might be to meet half the demand at low price. But it is the expensive bit at the end that determines how much a producer will charge everyone.
When it comes to electricity, gas is that last final element.
“It is peaking power,” the PM said. “The increase in the gas price has increased the cost of electricity.”
The gas debacle

Gas prices haven’t just increased. They have quadrupled.
And the tragedy is that Australia, with one of the greatest reserves of gas on the planet, now charges its households and businesses far more to use that energy than the countries to which we export.
Gas forgotten in energy debate
As politicians continue trading barbs over the merits of renewable energy versus coal-fired power generation, missing from the debate these days has been the role of gas.

With the continued reversal of policy on carbon pricing and climate change, the unofficial industry consensus was to build solar and wind generation with gas-fired back-up to shore up reliability; a decision affirmed by the chief scientist Alan Finkel in his report on how to cope with future challenges.
But three major export terminals were built at Curtis Island just off Gladstone in Queensland, with Santos building a plant that required far more gas than to which it had access.
To fulfil its export contracts, it began sourcing gas previously destined for the domestic market.
That forced the price of domestic gas sky high just as a global glut sent international prices crashing.
It’s now cheaper to buy Australian gas in Asia. A fortnight ago, gas from West Australia’s giant Gorgon project was sold to India at $8.70 a gigajoule. East coast gas sells here for $17.50.
That’s why the Federal Government has shanghaied gas producers like Santos to direct export gas back into the local market.
If Australians could get the same deal on our gas that Indians have secured, our electricity would be much cheaper.
Renewables or coal: What is the cheapest?
 A line chart showing the price of LCOE dropping dramatically since 1983.

When it comes to cost, coal lobbyists usually refer to the subsidies doled out to the renewable sector to argue the industry wouldn’t exist if it had to stand on its own.
That’s a valid point. But it overlooks two things; the vast billions handed out to the coal industry and the increasing competitiveness of renewables.
Every coal fired generator in Australia was built, not just partially subsidised, entirely with taxpayer funds.
When they were privatised, many were given state owned coal mines with contract prices way below market, effectively a further subsidy.
Then there are the health costs.
A health study in the Latrobe Valley last year identified much higher respiratory and asthma admissions to hospital than the Victorian average while life expectancy was significantly lower than the state average.
But it is the cost of energy generation where the game really is changing.
As the Goldman Sachs graphs above show, renewable energy costs have plunged by up to 70 per cent since 2009 and will be the cheapest form of generation in Europe this year and in the US within eight years on a levelised cost basis.
When the cost of installation is taken into account, however, the story changes.

Wind and solar are much cheaper. Not only is the fuel free and faces no regulatory risk — in the form of a carbon price — but the technology is simpler and quicker to install.
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel went one step further. He factored the extra costs of adding gas or battery backup to ensure stability or baseload power in the system.
Wind still came out cheapest, with solar only marginally more expensive than black coal.

Renewable plants can be built within one to three years while coal-fired plants take between four and seven years to build.
Putting aside arguments about climate change, the main problem with coal-fired electricity is that the numbers no longer stack up.
It’s too expensive, it has much higher regulatory risks and renewable technology is rapidly advancing.
It will take more than a taxpayer subsidy to build one here. It will need a full taxpayer handout. And it will result in more expensive power bills.
Coal is simply a form of stored solar energy. New technology has delivering cleaner, more efficient and cheaper ways to directly harvest solar energy to power our lives.
Don’t expect that innovation to stop.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU