Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Coalition parties have heads in the sand on Victorian climate and energy policy



The Victorian opposition released a statement on energy security on Tuesday. It was tweeted out by Shadow Minister for Innovation, Energy and Resources, and Renewables David Southwick MP.

The first thing to note is that it doesn't mention climate change, not even once. Even though climate change contributes to extreme heat events and severe storm events that imperils the safety of Victorians, with the threat increasing over time as temperatures rise.

The second thing to note is it doesn't include energy security in the context of an energy transition already taking place. Energy security, reliability and affordability are all important considerations, but need to be discussed in the context of broad energy transition to a zero carbon economy driven by the imperative of addressing climate change. The statement patently fails Victorians in this regard.

With the threat of protected industrial action against AGL Energy at Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B Power Stations and a counter threat by AGL Energy to lock out workers, the Victorian energy minister Lily D'Ambrosio made the right call with an application to the Fair Work Commission to seek a termination of the industrial action at AGL Loy Yang.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reports Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal exceeded pollution limits 8 fold



Remember that story on Adani's Abbot Point export coal terminal contaminating the Caley Valley wetlands next door? And the ruckus of denial from Adani, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian MacFarlane?


The latest update is a news report on the ABC that reveals that at one monitoring point the contaminated liquids and sediment from Abbot Point were at 8 times the legal limit.

Adani had applied and was issued an authority to release contaminated water, but with a limit of total suspended solids up to 100 milligrams per litre. The report provided by Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal on the water release advised that the water discharged on 30 March from a licensed point on the northern side of the terminal contained 806mg/L of sediment.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mark Butler endorses Westpac's policy assessment that excludes Adani Project while ALP policy remains mute on export coal



Shadow minister for Energy and Climate Mark Butler was on ABC Insiders program on Sunday and was critical of the Government criticising Westpac over a business policy decision, when the Government has refused to implement a Banking Royal Commission to look at financial practices that hurt lots of ordinary Australians and small businesses.

It was a very competent interview and attack on the Government, while adroitly not answering the question of opposing the mine if Adani does manage to get the financial investment required sorted. (19 international banks have now ruled out financing the mine)

All Butler's points were valid and important facts: that the demand for thermal coal imports from Australia is in decline, that the Adani project would hurt coal jobs in both Queensland and New South Wales, and that the economics of the mine simply don't stack up.

Then there is the climate risk which Butler did not emphasise but is at the heart of Westpac Bank's business climate policy and future investments in coal.

I don't fully agree with Westpac's policy, but it is a nuanced approach to supporting only new investment in metallurgical coal or high quality Newcastle benchmark thermal coal from existing basins. The Adani coal from the Carmichael mine fails the energy benchmark, and has a high ash content. It is a low to medium quality thermal coal.

I read the ALP's climate policy it took to the last election in 2016. It was a positive policy overall, but one of it's huge failings was the silence on coal and fossil fuel export, particularly the low grade Adani coal in the Galilee Basin, unconventional gas, and offshore oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

The ALP are happy to play both sides of the coal equation and leave the outcome as a commercial decision as they think this resolves them from responsibility of good policy.

It may be good politics, but it is bad policy when the science says we need to keep 95 percent of Australia's coal unexploited.

The fact is Westpac's climate business policy (PDF) on export coal is now more aligned to the Paris Agreement climate targets, and superior to both the Government and opposition parties policies on export coal.

That is a sad state of affairs. Here are the interview snippets from Insiders between Barry Cassidy and Mark Butler.









Saturday, April 29, 2017

Resources minister Matt Canavan's Jobs, jobs, jobs Adani coal mantra is bullshit



Jobs, jobs, and more jobs, that's the mantra by both the Liberal National Coalition Federal Government and the Queensland State Labor Government, and bugger the reef and the rising temperatures of climate change.

On Friday Westpac Bank released their climate change Position statement and 2020 action Plan. This effectively rules out any funding of Adani for the Carmichael coal project.

Matt Canavan, and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce on Lateline, continue this mantra, to peddle the myth that 10,000 or more jobs will be generated, when in court Adani admitted only 1464 jobs would be created. In fact, Adani hope to fully automate much of the mining and transport, so jobs could be even less than stated in court.

If the Adani Carmichael coal mine proceeds, it is also likely to hurt existing coal jobs in Queensland and New South Wales.

Friday, April 28, 2017

New Westpac climate policy rules out financing Adani Carmichael coal mine



Westpac have released their climate change Position statement and 2020 action Plan. This effectively rules out any funding of Adani for the Carmichael coal project.

Westpac becomes the 4th and last of the big 4 Australian banks to rule out financing the Adani project, and makes it the 19th bank globally to have either ruled out funding Galilee Basin coal export projects directly, or through the introduction of a new policy.

Westpac came under intense pressure from community organisations to rule out funding for Adani, with numerous protests outside bank branches, questions at AGMs, and a campaign urging customers to divest. Without this community social pressure Westpac's climate change position may have been much less rigorous.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stop Adani climate protest occupies Downer EDI office: Don't get into bed with Adani



About 20 Activists this morning occupied the Melbourne offices of Downer, an infrastructure company, to protest participation in developing the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland, widely seen as a climate carbon bomb with no social license.

The Adani Carmichael coal mine is a climate carbon bomb that would push temperatures well past the 2 degrees C limit that countries set in Paris UN climate Conference in 2015 at COP21. Research shows that Australia needs to leave 95 percent of it's coal in the ground unexploited and unburnt to stand a reasonable chance of not exceeding the 2C target.

In January 2015 it was announced that Downer EDI had won a $2 billion contract for works at Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, according to Australian Mining.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Great White shark, climate change and ocean carbon cycles


The latest media 'hysteria' about shark attack arises from a tragic fatal bite incident when WA teenager Laeticia Brouwer was mauled by a shark at the popular surf break - Kelp Beds - near Esperance (south coast of Western Australia) just before 4pm on Easter Monday (2017).

The paramedic who was first on the scene said the teenager suffered tremendous blood loss and couldn’t be saved despite quickly receiving first aid.

While sharks are relatively common in coastal waters, attacks are exceptional given the overwhelming presence and numbers of people in the surf zone. You are more likely to be killed in a road accident, riding a horse or a vending machine, than by a shark.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg says WA isn’t doing enough to protect people from sharks urging shark culls and drum lines, according to the West Australian. "In light of the recent shark attack, the Commonwealth would welcome any proposal to protect human life first and foremost,” he said. “This could include the newest drum-line technology, shark exclusion nets, culling or other measures which WA sees fit.”

WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has ruled out the idea of a shark cull in response, according to the ABC. "We're not going down the path of a cull because there's no evidence that it actually makes our beaches safer," he said, "...no evidence that that actually reduces the likelihood of future attacks," Kelly said.

Like on climate change, we are seeing the issue of shark conservation or culling being politicised rather than public education and options for shark incident mitigation. Our Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister should know better. The oceans are the domain of sharks and they have an important role to play as apex predators as part of the ocean carbon cycle. When we swim in the oceans we need to be mindful of the risks involved, including utilising the latest in public shark warning and repellent devices.

Mindless culling of sharks will not actually reduce the risk of shark attack without doing great harm to the ocean ecosystem trophic structure. It is as apex ocean predators that sharks do us the greatest service in maintaining the ocean carbon cycle and help keep carbon sequestered in coastal sea areas (Blue Carbon) to help us mitigate climate change.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Adani's Abbot Point coal contamination of Caley Valley wetlands and marine environment


Article First published at nofibs.com.au

Adani's coal export terminal at Abbot Point was in the direct path of Category 4 Cyclone Debbie. There was reason to expect a large storm surge, but this did not occurr, but the destructive winds and torrential rain caused Adani to release a large amount of contaminated water into the adjacent wetlands and ocean.

On Sunday April 9 the Mackay Conservation Group published on their facebook page a before and after photo of the Abbot Point export coal terminal owned by Adani, and part of the Caley Valley wetlands adjacent to it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ambitious plan to bend global emissions curve by 2020, while Australia continues Adani coal push



At Google HQ in London an ambitious plan was launched by former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres to accelerate climate action and bend the global emissions curve down by 2020.

Figueres outlined six areas where action was needed to make 2020 a real turning point in the global emissions trend. For the last 3 years global emissions have been flat despite rising global GDP, a sign that economies are increasingly becoming disengaged from processes of carbon pollution.

While in Australia the Liberal National Party Federal Government lead by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is keenly supporting the Adani Carmichael coal mine development, supported by the Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Greens dare criticize coal and climate policies during #CycloneDebbie


Original article published at nofibs.com.au

Those uppity Greens are daring to speak about climate change while severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie beat the shit out of the Whitsunday Islands (Read this report of Hamilton Island), Proserpine and Bowen, and now threatens extensive flooding from torrential rainfall for central and SE coastal Queensland.

The accusatory tone from Malcolm Turnbull and other Liberal government ministers is 'How dare you try to politicise an extreme weather event, when we should all be pulling together.', while they conveniently forget the South Australian storms in September 2016 which resulted in a system black which they conveniently and erroneously immediately blamed on the fault of the wind turbines in South Australia.

They have continued to prosecute an attack on wind energy and South Australia, despite a BOM report blaming the primary cause as the cyclonic storm with 260km per hour wind gusts. AEMO also put the primary cause as the destructive winds destroying transmission towers, but also identified in the final report that automatic wind generator protection settings (since updated) contributed to the System Black event.

No pulling together for South Australia, Queensland, or in fact all of Australia, in it's time of need to resolve the lack of coherence in energy and climate policies.

Is there the taint of hypocrisy here? You bet.