Could our government warm to Zali’s Bill like Siberia has warmed!?
Jenny Goldie, CCL member from Cooma NSW, in the Eden-Monaro electorate, sums up her views and news on Australia’s week in climate change action*
It’s been quite a week with our successful webinar with Zali Steggall on Tuesday night. Then on Thursday Jo Oddie (from our committee but here representing Farmers for Climate Action) co-hosted another with Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council and John Grimes of the Smart Energy Council, as well as three by-election candidates (McBain, Griff and Porter – all good).
Thanks to Jo for organising the Zali Steggall webinar. Zali spoke about her Climate Change Bill 2020 which she tabled in February but had to defer because of Covid. For the Bill to get up it needs the government to agree (unlikely), a conscience vote (possible but unlikely), or two people to cross the floor. I mentioned the Bill in my letter about Labor’s bipartisanship on climate policy, published in the Canberra Times yesterday – see below. (There is a case to be made that bipartisanship is not a good thing, but if Labor can get the government to improve its position, then it is a good thing.) I had another letter on clean energy jobs three days before.
I have been representing CAM on the Eden-Monaro Environmental Alliance through this by-election campaign. You can read our policy positions here. We asked all candidates a number of questions on climate, bushfires and forests and their answers can be found here. An easy-to-read scorecard will be issued through the week before the election on Saturday (4 July).
While all this was happening here at home, Verkhoyanska, a town in Siberia recorded 100oF (38oC), the hottest recorded temperature above the Arctic Circle. As an article in New Scientist says, this is an alarm bell on climate change. Let’s hope it is not the ‘new normal’.
Chief Scientist Alan Finkel said last week that energy efficiency is the cheapest way to cut greenhouse emissions and achieve our climate goals. This week, in an article in the Conversation, Hugh Saddler from ANU’s Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, argues that improving energy efficiency is vital to achieving energy productivity, that is, getting more economic output for the same or less energy. Saddler has found that Australia’s national energy productivity plan, set in 2015, has gone nowhere. Its goal was for a 40% improvement in energy productivity by 2030, but in the three years to 2017-18, energy productivity increased by a mere 1.1%. (See National Summit in ‘coming events’ below).
We may be failing on energy productivity, but there is great interest in NSW government’s plan to establish Renewable Energy Zones (REZ). The first REZ in the state’s Central West – centred on Dubbo – has received a “phenomenal” response. Less than a month after putting out a call for 3000 megawatts or more worth of wind, solar and storage projects, the NSW government received 113 registrations of interest for projects totalling a massive 27 gigawatts and valued at $38 billion. (One gigawatt is 1000 megawatts.)
To all you capitalists/investors out there! Great Cell Energy which is developing perovskite solar cells is seeking seed money to keep the company in Australia. Offer closes July 31 for shares worth 20 cents. (I have no financial interest in the company – just think it is worthy of support.)
Every now and again there is a victory to celebrate. Last week the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), Total Environment Centre (TEC) and the Australia Institute won a major rule change from Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). According to the report in the Sydney Morning Herald, a new wholesale demand response system is due to come in by October 2021. It will pay smelters and other big power users for reducing their usage during periods of peak demand, such as in a heatwave. By reducing pressure on the grid when it is under most strain, the new system will make it more reliable and help pave the way for more renewable power sources to come into the grid.
- Today! Beyond Zero Emissions is releasing its post-COVID economic recovery guide ‘The Million Jobs Plan’ Monday, June 29 at 10:30 am with a public launch event featuring a panel of experts and business leaders including Christiana Figueres, Mike Cannon-Brookes and John Durie. Recording of the event will be published here.
- Wednesday 1 July 2-5pm. National Summit on Energy efficiency and Australia’s economic recovery. Free registration at eec.org.au/EfficientRecovery
Recent reports and other helpful information:
- Oxfam’s briefing on fossil fuels, development and Australia’s COVID recovery: Australia’s Energy Future and the Recovery from COVID-19.
- The Mineral Council of Australia’s Climate Action Plan, which the MCA says, “demonstrates the ongoing commitment by the Australian minerals industry to decarbonising the economy and addressing climate change”. The MCA acknowledges climate change is a problem that must be addressed, which is good, but the has been slammed as “woefully inadequate” (see item below).
- World’s busiest coal port embraces renewables: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=8HA2bx9IUSU&feature=emb_logo
- Clean Energy for Eternity Tathra: NOW or never
- Doctors for the Environment (DEA) warn gas is a health hazard: https://turnoffthegas.good.do/turnoffthegas/turnoffthegas/
All the best, Jenny
President CAM. and a Member of CCL Aust (Eden-Monaro)
Other news highlights
Almost 80 per cent of federal environmental approvals examined in a high-level review were non-compliant or contained errors, Australia’s audit office says.
The focus of public policy is now on recovery, as it must be as we seek to come out of the worst economic circumstances since the Great Depression.
Australian software billionaire reveals green details of timber, steel and solar-glass skyscraper that will serve as new Atlassian HQ in Sydney’s Tech Central Precinct.
UPC\AC Renewables Australia’s 720MW New England solar farm plus 400MWh battery cleared for connection by network provider Transgrid.
It’d be a matter of switching 20-25,000 jobs. During coronavirus, we shut down three million, and dealt with the consequences impressively.
Scientists now believe the Earth’s atmosphere may be more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought.
Australian engineers’ peak body join submissions calling for a technology roadmap based around cheap solar and wind and energy storage technologies.
Minerals Council of Australia unveils Climate Action Plan with no dates or milestones for emissions reduction and no mention of phasing out coal mining or coal-fired power.
Labor MP Josh Burns says for Australia to grow its economy and create new markets we must take advantage of future demand for cheap, clean and reliable power.
The federal government has shown during the pandemic that it is prepared to impose great financial burdens for the sake of our health. We need them to do the same for another crisis: climate change.
Labor’s bi-partisanship on climate and energy welcome
Canberra Times 27 June 2020
There is much to be welcomed in Labor’s willingness to be involved in a bipartisan climate and energy policy (Labor extends olive branch to Coalition on energy policy, canberratimes.com.au, June 24).
Better that than a policy void, as long as the bipartisan policy thrust is for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewables.
The case for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is fraught. The United Kingdom in their Climate Act is depending on CCS to help them achieve zero net emissions by 2050 (also Labor’s goal) but Britain has more sites for burying carbon dioxide than Australia, so it may be chasing a pipe dream here.
Labor’s call for continued funding of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is welcome. On the other hand, its unwillingness to adopt a new Renewable/Clean Energy Target (RET/CET) is unfortunate because, without it, investors will not commit to building large-scale renewable projects. Investment in renewable energy generation fell by 50 per cent in 2019, largely because the RET that expires in 2020 was not being replaced by a new target.
It would be simpler if both the government and Labor just adopted Independent MP Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill which she tabled in February but had to defer because of the COVID-19 crisis. It is modelled on the UK Bill that provides a long-term pathway to net-zero emissions. Steggall’s Bill would establish an independent Climate Commission to set interim targets and emissions budgets. That really would take the politics out of it.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma
Canberra Times 24 June 2020
Congratulations on your editorial “Unemployment is only going to worsen” (canberratimes.com.au, June 19).
It’s not just unemployment, of course, it’s underemployment and participation rate. So many people have simply given up looking for work.
There is a need for a post-COVID-19 economic recovery, but we cannot return to a high-carbon economy. A couple of Australian organisations, notably Beyond Zero Emissions, have come up with suggestions for a renewables-led recovery that will create up to a million jobs.
And the CEO of the prestigious International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, has warned that, if we are not to have a post-COVID-19 surge in emissions (after plunging 17 per cent in April), then the world needs a green recovery.
The IEA has provided a blueprint for such a recovery, with a focus on green jobs such as retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, installing solar panels and building wind farms. Birol says this is more effective than pouring money into the high-carbon economy.
As Sam Fankhauser, executive director of the Grantham Research Institute on climate change at the London School of Economics, says, governments must not try to “preserve existing jobs in formaldehyde”, rather they must provide retraining and other opportunities for people to “move into the jobs of the future”.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW