Saturday, July 19, 2014

Politician statements on Australia abolishing the carbon price

On 17th July the Australian Carbon price was repealed on the third attempt through the Australian Senate with the amendments of the Palmer United Party adopted by the Government to ensure it's success.

Australia now has the dubious honour of being the only country in the world to abolish a price on carbon. Just as global action to price carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is ramping up, Australia goes backwards.


So lets have a review of what the party leaders said in this debate:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Opinion Surveys: Climate leadership demanded of Australian Government


Climate change action continues to be an issue of concern in national politics and debate with federal politicians being way more conservative than the general public according to several recent public opinion polls. The polls say that nearly 70 per cent of people want companies to pay for their carbon pollution through some sort of carbon pricing and that the Australian Government should take a leadership role in climate mitigation solutions.

It is perhaps one reason why conservative populist politician Clive Palmer had an inconvenient truth moment with Al Gore this week.

Even last year during the 2013 election campaign a substantial majority of people supported action on climate change with 49.2 per cent supporting to some degree the carbon pricing scheme presently in operation according to the ABC Votecompass survey. Read my analysis: Australian Public opinion on carbon pricing and climate change

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Al Gore persuades Clive Palmer in an Inconvenient truth moment on climate policy


At a press conference Clive Palmer, Leader of the Palmer United Party, along with climate campaigner former US Vice President Al Gore, announced his party's policies in response to the Government's changes to carbon pricing and clean energy laws. Walking onstage with former US Vice President Al Gore, you could feel this was a momentus occasion for Clive Palmer.

"I'd like to thank him for the productive discussions today. My discussions allowed me to reconsider important considerations for all Australians and the rest of the world." Palmer announced transforming himself into the contradictory personas of both coal baron and climate warrior.

The big announcement was that the block of Palmer United Party senators would vote to abolish the present carbon price and move an amendment for the establishment of a conditional Emissions Trading Scheme with a carbon price rated as zero at the start. The carbon tax repeal is conditional on all energy price savings being passed on to consumers. The Government's Direct Action Plan and Emmissions Reduction Fund was labelled as a waste of money and would not be supported.

Palmer outlined that the PUP voting block would vote against abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established to loan $10 billion over 5 years to companies and organisations to help transition to clean energy through renewable and energy efficiency projects. The Climate Change Authority would also be saved, as well as support for continuing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) until at least 2016, after the next election.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Double dissolution trigger: Greens and Labor challenge Abbott on climate, clean energy

The Labor Party and Greens have defeated for a second time in the Senate a bill by Tony Abbott's Government to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This gives a first trigger for the Government to call a double dissolution election.

"Prime Minister Abbott if you really believe that this is absolute crap and that the Clean Energy Act is going to wipe Whyalla off the map, how’s that working out?" he told the Senate.

"If you really believe that renewable energy can't deliver, then here is the double dissolution election trigger you’ve been waiting for."

"The world is starting to move, in fact parts of the world are well ahead of Australia, we’re lagging and the hour is late, so if its an election you want then bring it on." explained Senator Ludlum.

Watch Western Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlum challenge the Abbott Government to bring on a 'globalwarming' double dissolution election.



The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was established by the Gillard Labor party in consultation with the Greens and Independant MPs in 2011 to help fund renewable energy projects through assisting private funding. As an investment catalyst, it has actually proved a successful business generating about $200million annually to aid the budget, while also helping establish clean technologies in existing businesses.

Open letter to Origin Energy on the Renewable Energy Target

Dear @originenergy, as a customer I have just contributed to put this ad on air in support of the RET in opposition to the submissions your company and of AGL Energy and Energy Australia.



I have been a good customer of Origin energy for several years buying 100% greenpower, and the purchase of my solar PV system through your solar division. In the past you have been an innovative market leader with your green electricity plans.

However, I am particularly distressed with your submission to the current Federal Government Renewable Energy Target review.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target was the proper job for the Climate Change Authority as contained in its legislative authority. This Government has chosen to ignore this legislative detail with their intention to abolish this authority through repeal of the legislation. This has still not been done and there is some doubt whether this legislative change will be made in the Senate. The government has instead chosen to setup their own review with handpicked people, like Dick Warburton, with strong biases against climate change and the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as part of Australia's commitment to reducing carbon emissions to mitigate global climate change under the UNFCCC process.

I disagree with your submission (PDF) that the LRET and SRET should be rolled back into one scheme and remove deeming. I also disagree with resetting the target to a "true 20%". This would effectively mean cutting the target from 41,000GWh (plus uncapped rooftop solar), to 23,000GWh (including rooftop solar).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mitigating Climate Change: Kangaroos, conservation management and sustainable harvesting at NMIT?



Could NMIT provide a model of kangaroo conservation management and sustainable harvesting? Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) is in financial trouble and needs to innovate and focus on it's educational strengths. I outline one modest innovative proposal which utilises the expertise from several academic and vocational disciplines and could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for climate mitigation through conservation management, while utilising our unique Australian food resources for a more healthy lifestyle.
The issue of how we deal with our native fauna, particularly kangaroos, has been raised by the announcement on 19 March 2014 by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh that kangaroos culled under Wildlife control permits in certain areas of the state will now be supplied to the commercial pet food market. Formerly, kangaroos shot had to be buried by landowners.

Some animal welfare activists and conservationists have criticised the measure, and queried the ethical necessity for animal culls, even raising that this may impinge on the income of traditional beef and sheep farming.(Barber 2014) Over recent decades animal welfare and prevention of cruelty to animals have become important public debates. Standards for ethical treatment of animals - both wild and domesticated - have increased due to this debate, as exemplified in the public sentiment expressed over the live animal export trade.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Indian Ocean Dipole set to triple frequency of floods, bushfires and droughts


Climate change and extreme weather is likely to hit the Indian Ocean rim countries much harder over the coming century. That is the conclusion of a new study lead by CSIRO climate scientist Wenju Cai.

The research lead by Wenju Cai from CSIRO's Marine and Atmosphere Division outlines that an increase in greenhouse gases and climate change is likely to cause more extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events to occur and that this will likely triple the frequency of bushfires, floods and drought in Australia, Africa and India from one event every 17 years to one every 6 years.

The interaction between ENSO and IOD still needs much more research and study to understand. IOD events are often triggered by El Nino, but can also sometimes occur during La Nina years as well.

Dr Wenju Cai told the ABC:

"Most of our severe bushfires were preconditioned by the Indian Ocean Dipole... When a summer season is preceded by an [extreme positive] Indian Ocean Dipole our bushfires tend to be much more severe.

"Now this is in Australia, but it has global impact. [For example] in Indonesia, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole tends to cause drought. You may recall in 1997 we had a wild bushfire in Indonesia... emitting a lot of pollutants and smoke that caused health problems to many millions of people in the region and also cost lost economic activity because people couldn't go out because of the visibility problem.

"In the meantime, in eastern African countries, they experienced devastating floods, causing thousands to die... and displacement of many hundreds of thousands."

Development of El Niño in 2014



The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is one of the important cycles affecting global weather, particularly around the Pacific region, but also having indirect impacts on a global level. Changes to winds and precipitation causing floods and droughts depending upon the region. El Niño also results in increasing global average temperatures, on top of the long term trend associated with climate change.

Cost estimates in US$ for 1982-1983 El Niño
Extreme Event / Country Cost in $millions
Flooding  
Bolivia $300
Ecuador, Northern Peru $650
Cuba $170
U.S. Gulf States $1,270
Hurricanes  
Tahiti $50
Hawaii $230
Droughts/Fires  
Southern Africa $1,000
Southern India, Sri Lanka $150
Philippines $450
Indonesia $500
Australia $2,500
Southern Peru, Western Bolivia $240
Mexica, Central America $600
Total Costs $8,110 million
Source: NASA via University of California San Diego
The El Niño cycle is usually 3 to 7 years. And occasionally we'll get an extreme response, a super El Niño. The 1982-83 and 1997-1998 produced super El Niños spiked global temperatures to record levels, causing floods, drought and increasing bushfire conditions. The back to back La Nina of 2010 and 2011 was also quite strong producing Australia's wettest two year period on record and reducing global sea level by 5mm.

he 1982-1983 event has been estimated to have caused about $8.1 billion in damages and was largely unexpected without the warning and forecasting systems we have in place today.

The last Super El Niño event in 1997-1998 resulted in about 23,000 people killed as a result of ENSO linked extreme weather events and caused about $45-50 billion in losses to global agricultural output according to a Canberra Times report.

Predicting El Niño events and issuing alerts allows communities to prepare for the worst. It is essential for farmers to know the forecast for rain or drought so that crop plantings can be varied and livestock rates altered to minimise losses.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guest Post: Rising sea levels will be too much, too fast for Florida


Within a generation or two sea level rise is going to really start to affect most coastal nations. Alreadyit is having an affect on small island nations with coral atolls being inundated and their fresh water lenses being contaminated by salt water. But developed countries will also feel the pain such as the predicament facing Miami in Florida. This is a timely article on what the future holds for Miami:

By Harold R. Wanless, University of Miami

It is amazing for me to see the very aggressive building boom underway in south Florida; on the beaches and barrier islands, throughout downtown and in the low western areas bordering the Everglades. They are building like there is no tomorrow. Unfortunately, they are right.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its assessment of sea level rise in 2012 as part of the National Climate Assessment. Including estimates based on limited and maximum melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, it anticipated a raise of 4.1 to 6.6ft (1.25 to 2m) by 2100, reaching 2ft (0.6m) by around 2050 and 3ft (0.9m) by around 2075.

This degree of sea level rise would make nearly all the barrier islands of the world uninhabitable, inundate a major portion of the world’s deltas, upon which hundreds of millions of people live, and leave low-lying coastal zones like southeast Florida increasingly difficult to maintain infrastructure services for and increasingly vulnerable to hurricanes and storms.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Government Direct Action Climate Policy under scrutiny in Senate Estimates

During Senate estimates hearings the Abbott Government and officials of Federal Department of Environment were not able to provide even a rough estimate of how much the Direct Action climate policy would achieve of the Government's stated 5 per cent emissions reduction target on 2000 levels by 2020.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlum directed some tough questions at Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and officers of the Department.

"As a percentage, how much of that 5 per cent target will direct action deliver?" Ludlum asked.

"It is premature to be specific around that" responded Dr Gordon De Brouwer from the Department of the Environment. He waffled on about the scheme and the Emissions Reduction Fund still needing to be designed with adequate safeguards incorporated, "without those key features it is very hard to say what the abatement will be specifically from the features." But Dr De Brouwer was adamant the government would be able to achieve the target.

Ludlum replied "Yeah, I think Minister Hunt has used the word confident quite a bit. If you don't have those numbers, you don't know, you can't tell me what proportion of the 5 per cent. On what basis does the Minister go out everyday proclaiming how confident he is? You haven't even designed the policy yet and it is the middle of 2014."

"Senator, a lot of design work has been done...." replied Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment.

Another question from Ludlum: "I was going to ask if you had comprehensively mapped how you were going to reach that target? But you obviously haven't..."