A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action
By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.
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 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.
- 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.
- Council pushes Canberra to get serious about electric vehicles. Australia’s largest local council is pushing the Morrison Government to ensure all new buildings are equipped with electric vehicle charging stations as part of the transition away from petrol-driven transport.
- Electric cars ‘will be cheaper to produce than fossil fuel vehicles by 2027’. Ask professional acquaintances about acting EPA air chief Joe Goffman, and adjectives like “smart” are accompanied by qualifiers like “careful,” “cautious” and “strategic.”
- Batteries not included: Coalition’s stunning hatred of new technology. It was bad enough when Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were railing against wind farms, but it’s now getting beyond a joke.
- As the US and EU get on with green recovery, Australia has missed a huge opportunity. The volume of funds being put forward in the federal budget is staggeringly low and can only be seen as window dressing
- The budget should have been a road to Australia’s low-emissions future. Instead, it’s a flight of fancy. The Morrison government could have backed Australia’s clean energy sector to create jobs and stimulate the post-pandemic economy. Instead, it’s sending the nation on a fool’s errand.
- Blowing in the wind: Have we missed our chance to become a renewables superpower? Just imagine what we could achieve as a nation if our federal government stepped up and led from the front on green energy.
- The 2021 federal budget was light on climate and environment measures. But here’s what you should know. The Morrison government prefers a gas-fired recovery to a green one and has offered no new support for renewable energy or electric vehicles
- Few realistic scenarios left to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Of the over 400 climate scenarios assessed in the 1.5°C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only around 50 scenarios avoid significantly overshooting 1.5°C. Of those only around 20 make realistic assumptions on mitigation options, for instance the rate and scale of carbon removal from the atmosphere or extent of tree planting, a new study shows. All 20 scenarios need to pull at least one mitigation lever at ‘challenging’ rather than ‘reasonable’ levels.
- Third of global food production at risk from climate crisis. Food-growing areas will see drastic changes to rainfall and temperatures if global heating continues at current rate
- It’s time to kick gas. And do it as quickly as possible.
The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.