Jenny’s jottings – the climate this week: 24 Aug 2020

A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action

By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.

Featured image: Death Valley, California. Credit: Good Free Photos.

The US presidential campaign heats up

The focus this week has been on the US with the Democratic National Convention. Joe Biden was confirmed as the Democrat presidential nominee and Kamala Harris as the VP nominee. There were a few worrying days when they seemed to have dropped the commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies, but that now seems to be back on the platform.

While we freeze in SE Australia this weekend, California burns with wildfires after unprecedented heat. On Sunday 16 August in that state, at the aptly named Furnace Creek visitors centre, Death Valley recorded what may have been the highest official recorded temperature anywhere in the world, ever: 54.4oC (129.9oF).

Meanwhile, the Greenland ice sheet lost a record amount of ice in 2019 (532b tonnes).This is double the average (255bn tonnes) since 2003, when satellite data started being collected. This makes Greenland the largest contributor to sea-level rise.

From coal to batteries

Back home, AGL – Australia’s largest energy generator – has announced the first concrete steps in shutting down its Liddell coal-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley, despite the efforts of the federal government to extend the plant’s operating life. Originally, Liddell’s closure was planned for 2022 and later extended to 2023. AGL is now planning to remove transmission lines between Liddell and its Bayswater plant, so the latter can operate on its own.

One of the federal government’s arguments for supporting gas was to even out the grid, which is increasingly powered by renewables, by providing peaking services in times of high demand. Now, however, AGL Energy’s newly appointed chief operating officer Markus Brokhof has said that there is a clear business case for big batteries, as they are starting to compete with gas peakers on commercial terms.

The NSW government seems to agree and has announced funding support for four new big battery projects in the state. Unfortunately, this good news is offset by its intent to support One Nation and its planned legislation to allow uranium mining. (See section ‘Campaigns’ below).

Australian farmers going net-zero

One of the remarkable pieces of news this week, barely reported by the media, was that the National Farmers Federation is supporting zero net emissions by 2050, in line with most states and territories, 20 overseas countries… but not our federal government. How much this will influence the Nationals and, in turn, their Coalition partners remains to be seen. However, this is very good news.

Another piece of good news, this time out of Queensland. The state Labor government, which has not restrained Adani from building its Carmichael mega-coal-mine, has nevertheless committed $145 million towards developing three Renewable Energy Corridors (as against RE Zones in NSW).

 

Appointments this week

TV

Campaigns

  • Australian Parents for Climate Action (AP4CA) are calling attention to their ‘Solar Our Schools’ campaign, helped by Craig Reucassel’s “Fight for Planet A”. The ‘Solar Our Schools’ campaign is asking the Prime Minister to fund solar and batteries for all schools and early learning centres across Australia. Add your name to their open letter at their website: www.ap4ca.org/solarourschools
  • Call the Premier! Tell her to not lift the ban on uranium mining.

Webinars

  • (past) Cities Power Partnership’s Re-energise Australia: A clean Jobs Summit, from 19 August. Recording here.
  • (past) Climate Council and its Clean Jobs Plan from 17 August. Notes from the session and a link to the recording are in this document.
  • Climate Change Institute: Progress your career with postgraduate study on climate and energy change. Monday 24 August 4pm. Register here.
  • Driving global collaboration on high performance buildings.  Wednesday 26 August  4.00pm – 5.00pm. Register here.
  • Morrison’s Cash Splash for Gas. Thu 27 Aug 2020 12pm – 1pm Join: https://zoom.us/j/6486173456

Books

  • “Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency” by Mark Lynas. You can read a review here.

Political action

  • School Strike 4 Climate. Build our Future: Climate Justice and Jobs. Join students on Friday September 25. (More information on what is happening on the Monaro coming later.)

Petition

  • Tell the Prime Minister we need an Australia-wide net zero by 2050 target! Sign the Farmers for Climate Action petition here.

 

More news & info

 

 

Creating the political will for a liveable world