Labor’s Kristy McBain takes Eden-Monaro by a narrow margin
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*
Labor looks like winning the Eden-Monaro by-election by a few hundred votes. A narrow margin but a win is a win and it is a victory for climate. Had the Liberals won it would have been an endorsement of its climate and energy inaction since 2013. Fiona Kotvojs rather belatedly changed her mind on climate change, acknowledging it was happening and that humans played a role. Her commitment to the issue, however, was shallow if not completely absent. Kristy McBain, on the other hand, had seen through a Climate Emergency Declaration while Mayor of Bega Shire, and clearly made the connections between last summer’s bushfires and climate change. So well done Kristy!
Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the Prime Minister and Fiona Kotvojs made sure they got the credit for the final go ahead of Snowy 2.0 through the week. I am not sure that they fully appreciate that Snowy Hydro has consistently said that the new project will underpin the renewable energy transition. Snowy 2.0 will deliver many jobs to the region, mainly in the building stage, so little wonder that it became an election ploy but whether the community appreciates its potential value with respect to the renewables transition, remains to be seen.
At the federal level, the Coalition has no target for zero net emissions. Labor commendably has one and set it for 2050, in line with many other countries. The Australian Greens, however, this week formally adopted a zero net emissions policy for 2035! They say it is the only way Australia can feasibly meet its contribution to the Paris Agreement goal to keep global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. And, in stark contrast to the Coalition government which seeks to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by a mere 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, the Greens want 75 per cent reduction. Well done Greens, though we will have to repeat the Covid-led reductions of about 7% each year for ten years to get there.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a special report this week saying that without a major acceleration in clean energy innovation, countries and companies around the world will be unable to fulfil their pledges to bring their carbon emissions down to net-zero in the coming decades. And while the future of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) remains in doubt, the IEA has also warned against a rush to cut renewables and storage research funds (such as ARENA).
Some good news! HESTA, the super fund for over 800,000 Australian health and community service workers, managing $52 billion, have announced they are divesting from thermal coal and that the industry is “in structural decline”. And, corroborating that, Australia’s fossil fuel companies have ranked as some of the worst performing share-market investments over the last decade, significantly underperforming the rest of the market. And according to a new report from the Australia Institute, coal-fired power’s contribution to large-scale electricity generation in Australia has fallen below 70 per cent for the first time in the history of the modern grid.
Cooma-Monaro Ladies’ Probus Club would have asked me to talk on climate change but Covid restrictions forbade it so I wrote an article instead. Given that some members do not accept the climate science, I had to go back to first principles, but you may find it useful :
I commend to you the top three stories below. Social scientist Rebecca Huntley says we have to get a bit emotional about climate change and not purely rational. Joelle Gergis, climate scientist and author, does just that in The Monthly article following. Then the third one is by David Spratt of Climate Code Red warns that the Australian government is totally unprepared for the climate upheavals ahead.
Clean Energy Council Ministerial Forum: Wednesday 8 July 10am – 12pm. Register here.
#Stop Adani 2020 Summit: Saturday July 18. 10am to 3pm. Register here (small cost)
NATIONAL BUSHFIRE AND CLIMATE SUMMIT 2020: RECOMMENDATIONS AND WRAP UP (Climate Council) Wednesday 29 July 6 – 7.30pm. Register here.
Reports and papers:
Clean Energy Innovation. International Energy Agency.
National Energy Emissions Audit, June 2020: The Australia Institute
How to retire early -Making Accelerated Coal Phaseout Feasible and Just. Rocky Mountains Institute.
Record warming at the south pole during the past three decades. Nature Climate Change
The Coal Curse: Resources, climate and Australia’s future. Judith Brett. The Quarterly Essay.
All the best, Jenny
CCL Aust (Eden-Monaro) & President Climate Action Monaro
Other news highlights
The science has been settled to the highest degree, so now the key to progress is understanding our psychological reactions
Witnessing the unthinkable Joëlle Gergis
It’s 3am and I’m awake – again. It’s no exaggeration to say that my work as a climate scientist now routinely keeps me up at night.
Covid-19 should teach us the value of being fully prepared for catastrophic risks. But on climate, the Australian Government is walking blindfolded off a cliff.
The world endured 2 extra heatwave days per decade since 1950 – but the worst is yet to come Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick
Heatwaves have become longer, hotter and more frequent. This trend is accelerating from climate change.
Spain ceased operations at nearly half of its coal-fired power stations on June 30, shuttering seven out of its 15 plants totalling 4,630MW.
Some coal workers have the right skills and work in the right location to get a job in renewables. But many, such as semi-skilled machine operators, cannot.
New South Wales government data shows 73% of clearing was unexplained, with sharp rises in the state’s north-west and central west
Report reveals new-build renewable energy is already cheaper than already operating coal plants across much of the planet, and sets out a plan for a just transition.
Independent MP calls for conscience vote on zero carbon bill as a pathway to stronger climate targets and to kick start green economy recovery.
Why coal remains deadly weapon of Queensland politics Dennis Atkins
Labor’s inability to fight back effectively when the LNP weaponised coal during last year’s federal election campaign underscores the role resources continue to play in federal politics.
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere:
27 Jun 2020: 416.05 ppm
This time last year: 413.50 ppm
10 years ago: 391.44 ppm
Pre-industrial base: 280
Safe level: 350