26 June, 2019

Industry super urges Australia to consider the nuclear power optio

Nuclear reactors should be considered as a realistic option to confront Australia's deepening energy crisis, according to a study from industry superannuation's chief lobby group.
Steam rises from the stacks of a nuclear power plant
"Failure to exclude nuclear does not mean we are
pro-nuclear", said Industry Super Australia.
In a report that raises concerns about the ability of battery technology to maintain the baseload power, Industry Super Australia (ISA) argued that investment in nuclear energy should not be sidelined simply because of its controversial nature.
"If you look at the output of the nuclear industry, and if you consider its future relative to other technologies, it looks awfully good relative to some of the other potential technologies and therefore it shouldn't be excluded from consideration," ISA's chief economist Stephen Anthony told The World Today.

Read the ABC News story by Peter Ryan - “Industry super urges Australia to consider the nuclear power option.”

Yallourn coal-fired power plant due to shut down from 2029

Yallourn coal-fired power plant is due to start shutting down from 2029, progressively switching off its four units one by one until its full closure in 2032.
Energy Australia plans to progressively wind down operations at Yallourn between 2029 and 2032, but has conceded it could close the plant even earlier.
Energy Australia plans to progressively wind down operations
 at Yallourn between 2029 and 2032, but has conceded it
could close the plant even earlier.
Energy Australia has warned household electricity prices could be pushed to record highs if the shutdown is poorly planned, creating energy capacity shortfalls.
But it has also conceded that substantial changes to the energy market could lead it to close its Latrobe Valley power plant even earlier.
"Australia’s shrinking capacity to generate reliable energy has been a major cause of rising household power prices," Energy Australia said.

Read the story from The Age by Adam Carey and Nick Toscano - “Yallourn coal-fired power plant due to shut down from 2029.”

25 June, 2019

Democrats Will Debate in a City Under Siege by Climate Change

MIAMI — New water pumps and tidal valves worth millions of dollars are needed to keep the streets from flooding even on sunny days. Septic tanks compromised by rising groundwater leak unfiltered waste that threatens the water supply. Developers are often buying out residents of established communities, hoping to acquire buildable property on higher ground.
Climate change became a daily reality long ago in Miami, where both rich and poor have been forced to grapple with the compounding effects of warmer temperatures and higher sea levels. The evidence is everywhere of a city under siege by the rising sea.
“Climate change is really the issue that sits on all other issues,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper, an environmental research and activist group. “It affects security. It affects drinking water. It affects tourism. It affects public health. Property values. It’s a part of the discussion of almost any topic that might come up.”

Read the story from The New York Times by Patricia Mazzei - “Democrats Will Debate in a City Under Siege by Climate Change.”

‘No faith in coal': religious leaders urge Scott Morrison to take climate action

More than 150 religious leaders have called on Scott Morrison to acknowledge the world faces a climate emergency and block all new coal and gas projects, including Adani’s Carmichael mine.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black uses a rabbinical horn (shofar) to sound the end of the era of coal
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black uses a rabbinical horn
(shofar) to sound the end of the era of coal.
In an open letter headed “no faith in coal”, the leaders say the climate crisis is a profoundly moral problem and Australia’s response will be crucial in addressing it.
“Simply put, opening up new coal reserves for mining is not compatible with any global response to avoid catastrophe. We call on you to show true moral leadership,” the letter says.

Read the story from The Guardian by Adam Morton - “‘No faith in coal': religious leaders urge Scott Morrison to take climate action.”

Sydney's response to the climate emergency

Our Response to the Climate Emergency - a minute from Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Cr Clover Moore

To Council: 

Successive Federal Governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster, and now we are at a critical juncture – we face a climate emergency. 
Image result for clover moore
Sydney's Lord Mayor, Cr Clover Moore.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated that global emissions need to be cut in half by 2030, and at net zero by 2050 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 2018 was the forty-second consecutive year with global temperatures above the twentieth-century average, with 224 locations around the world set all-time heat records. 

Extreme heat is now the deadliest natural disaster in the United States, killing more people on average than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined. Globally, floods and extreme rainfall events now occur four times more often than four decades ago. 

On January 24 2019, 91 of the hottest 100 places on earth were in Australia. Heat waves on our continent are now five times more likely. But it is not just their frequency that is alarming – they start earlier, become hotter, and last longer. 

This emergency is not just about the numbers, it is about our communities, and its impacts are felt by us all, particularly the poorest amongst us – the vulnerable, the marginalised and those that live in remote communities. 

With 96 per cent of NSW still drought affected, our farmers and rural communities are being decimated by drought, suffering from water shortages and extended bush fire seasons, witnessing unprecedented fish kills and the death of once mighty river systems. 

Our Pacific Ocean neighbours face displacement as sea levels rise, and soaring temperatures also impact on the increasing number of us that live in cities. 

The lack of leadership by Federal and some State Governments to transition to a green economy has had devastating impacts beyond the environment, causing fear in our communities. Thousands face unemployment, denied potential jobs in a burgeoning renewable energy sector, and the sovereignty and self-determination of First Australians continues to be undermined to make way for massive new coal mines. 

Inaction also comes with an economic cost. The University of Melbourne estimates the potential damage from climate change to Australia – excluding the costs from floods, fires, pollution and biodiversity loss – will equate to $585 billion by 2030, and $760 billion by 2050. These costs will be disproportionately shouldered by those that can least afford it. 

The community understands that the situation is urgent. When the City of Sydney consulted for our long term strategic plan - Sustainable Sydney 2030 - 97 per cent of people said they wanted strong climate action, so we made it our top priority. 

Council 24 June 2019 

We set a goal to reduce the City’s emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, and – following the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 – we set a more ambitious goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Between 2012 and 2016, we developed master plans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste and climate adaptation, and we regularly monitor progress. 

We became Australia’s first carbon neutral council in 2007, and as of June 2017, we’d reduced the emissions of our own operations by 25 per cent through actions such as the installation of solar panels, LED lights, tri-generation and a Tesla battery trial. In 2020, we will transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, allowing us to meet our 2030 target in 2024 - six years early. 

Image result for city of sydney logoWe’ve also committed to reduce emissions beyond our own operations across our local government area to zero by 2050. We cannot mandate this so we established partnerships with companies and institutions in the city. In June 2017, these partnerships with business had contributed to a reduction of emissions across the City of Sydney of 20 per cent. 

Despite this work, and the combined action of other City Governments, some State Governments, the community and business, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased for four consecutive years. In comparison, the previous carbon pricing scheme effectively reduced emissions. It is clear that the current Federal Government’s policies are simply not working. 

The Federal Government must act urgently to address this emergency, by working with other levels of government and the business community to reach its Paris Agreement commitments and to deliver a just transition. 

All Federal and State politicians must rise above fear-based politics to unite the community behind a vision of a low carbon economy that provides opportunities for all of us, including workers who currently rely on fossil fuel industries for employment. We know the transition to renewables and a low carbon economy can be achieved because countries all across the world are doing it successfully. It just takes leadership. 

Nations like Germany and Spain are investing heavily to support their people. Germany's ‘coal exit commission’ brought together industry, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society and policymakers to agree on a pathway to phase out coal. They are committing billions of euros in support to affected areas. This is the kind of leadership Federal Government must provide to achieve its Paris Agreement commitments and to support our communities in the transition away from fossil fuels. 

In an emergency, it is incumbent on all of us to act. As the City of Sydney develops its strategic plan for 2050, we have an opportunity to speak with the community about new ways to accelerate our action on climate even further, working in partnership with our residents and business community. 

In consultations to date, our community has told us they are proud of the action the City has taken on climate change, and that they want us do even more. Just last week, over 300 leaders from our business community, community organisations, government and cultural institutions gathered in Town Hall for our 2050 stakeholder consultation. Of those asked whether the City should declare a climate emergency, 85 per cent answered yes. They join over 50 climate action groups that support the Climate Emergency Declaration campaign, the 3,000 people who have signed a change.org petition, and activists from Extinction Rebellion and the International Climate Emergency Forum calling on the City of Sydney to join the declaration. 

Council 24 June 2019 

I believe this Council should declare a climate emergency, step up our efforts to hold the Federal Government to account and explore new strategies for making the city more sustainable into the future, and fostering our green economy. 


It is resolved that: 

  • (H)  the Chief Executive Officer be requested to investigate a screening of the documentary ‘2040’ at the Town Hall as part of the Sustainable Sydney 2050 consultation

    • (A)  Council declare that climate change poses a serious risk to the people of Sydney, and it should be treated as a national emergency;
    • (B)  Council call on the Federal Government to respond to this emergency by: 
      • (i)  taking urgent action to meet the emissions reduction targets contained in the Paris Agreement by reintroducing a price on carbon; and
      • (ii)  establishing a Just Transition Authority, with enough funding to ensure that Australians employed in the fossil fuel industries have viable and appropriate opportunities for alternate employment;
    • (C)  Council note that the City has an excellent record on reducing emissions, and preparing for the impacts of climate change;
    • (D)  Council note that the City will be holding the C40 Women for Climate conference in April 2020, bringing together leaders from across the world to exchange ideas and work together on climate change solutions;
    • (E)  Council note the importance of getting beyond the politics of fear, and the success of ‘2040’, an inspiring and refreshing documentary that explores what could be achieved by implementing technologies and other climate change solutions that already exist;
    • (F)  Council note that Alex Greenwich MP, Greg Piper MP and Joe McGirr MP have written to the Premier of NSW, asking her to protect coal communities from serious economic disruption as a result of an expected decline in the coal export market;
    • (G)  the Chief Executive Officer be requested to note this emergency declaration and ensure the 2050 plan addresses the community’s desire for climate action; and

    Australia still doing bare minimum on new-build home energy efficiency

    New housing in Australia must meet minimum energy performance requirements. We wondered how many buildings exceeded the minimum standard. What our analysis found is that four in five new houses are being built to the minimum standard and a negligible proportion to an optimal performance standard.
    NatHERS star ratings across total data set for new housing approvals, May 2016–December 2018. 
    Before these standards were introduced the average performance of housing was found to be around 1.5 stars. The current minimum across most of Australia is six stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).
    This six-star minimum falls short of what is optimal in terms of environmental, economic and social outcomes. It’s also below the minimum set by many other countries.
    There have been calls for these minimum standards to be raised. However, many policymakers and building industry stakeholders believe the market will lift performance beyond minimum standards and so there is no need to raise these.

    Read the story from One Step Off the Grid by The Conversation -  “Australia still doing bare minimum on new-build home energy efficiency.”

    ‘Hell is coming': week-long heatwave begins across Europe

    Authorities have urged children and older people to stay indoors and issued severe warnings against dehydration and heatstroke as an unprecedented week-long heatwave begins its advance across continental Europe.
    Tourists in Rome drink from a public fountain during the unusually early summer heatwave.
    Tourists in Rome drink from a public fountain
     during the unusually early summer heatwave.
    Meteorologists said temperatures would reach or even exceed 40C from Spain to Switzerland as hot air was sucked up from the Sahara by the combination of a storm stalling over the Atlantic and high pressure over central Europe.High humidity meant it would feel like 47C, experts warned. “El infierno [hell] is coming,” tweeted the TV meteorologist Silvia Laplana in Spain, where the AEMET weather service forecast temperatures of 42C by Thursday in the Ebro, Tagus, Guadiana and Guadalquivir valleys and warned of an “extreme risk” of forest fires.

    Read the story from The Guardian by Jon Henley - “‘Hell is coming': week-long heatwave begins across Europe.”