The climate this week – 18 May 2021

The climate this week – 18 May 2021

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: The City of Sydney is showing its climate ambition by anticipating the target to reach net-zero emissions to 2035. Credit: Ben Lieu Song (cc).

Another disappointing federal budget

It was, of course, Budget week with the Federal Government offering very little on the environment or climate. There was certainly no commitment to zero net emissions. Interestingly, there was no money allocated to the proposed gas-fired power station at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley. The National Gas Infrastructure Plan released on 7 May had recommended a number of measures to prevent a shortfall in gas supplies to meet residential, commercial and industrial demands in 2024. The government may have reconsidered the case for a new power station, given that it has been revealed that it would only be used 2% of the time and employ only 10 workers.

While there were no cuts to fossil-fuel subsidies, at least the Morrison government imposed a levy on the entire off-shore gas and oil industry to fund a potential $1bn remediation of a floating rig (formerly operated by Woodside Petroleum) in the Timor Sea. The industry is protesting loudly, unsurprisingly.

The government’s concern about climate change may be measured by how much money it is prepared to give to mitigate it. Spoiler alert: it’s not much. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) found that for every $100 spent in last year’s budget, just 16 cents were spent on addressing the climate crisis. For comparison, this value was 25 cents in the 2013-14 Budget, when the Coalition took back control of the Federal Government.

Gas explorations in the NT

There was more money allocated to the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), administered by Resources Minister Keith Pitt. Mr Pitt might be happy to facilitate further fossil-fuel investment (read: fracking for gas, particularly in the Beetaloo sub-basin (NT)) in the northern part of the continent.  If you want to know why gas fracking is bad, read this great explanation published on the New Yorker magazine. During a remarkable interview on Sky News this week, Mr Pitt refused to admit that wind and solar energy could be made dispatchable via the use of batteries.

Labor’s reply

Labor’s Budget reply, on the other hand, was much better on climate. Significant funds were promised for 10,000 apprenticeships in the renewables sector. This was on top of the earlier promise to back electric vehicles.

More trees for the Brits

Meanwhile, in Britain the government’s climate change advisory committee insists that tree cover must rise to 20%. This is required so that the country can hit its legal pledge to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This means that 143 million trees will be planted by 2035. Every new street will be designed to be tree-lined.

Other news

  • Some news to cheer us up: the City of Sydney has anticipated its net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions target from 2040 to 2035!
  • Don’t forget the School Strike 4 Climate rallies around the country.
  • On Tuesday May 18 at 1pm is a Beyond Zero Emissions webinar on The Hunter: ‘The electric motor of the Australian economy’. Register here.
  • And on Thursday May 20 at 6pm there is one with Martin Parkinson on “A Decade of Drift” (i.e. inaction on climate change). Register here.
  • Australian Parents for Climate Action are seeking a new CEO. The job ad is here.
  • The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has launched a new guide, Real, Urgent and Now: Communicating the Health Impacts of Climate Change, a communication guide aimed at health professionals to empower them to talk publicly about climate change and health.

Further resources

The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.

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