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: Flooded street in the town on Valkenburg, Netherlands. Heavy rains and flooding have devastated a wide region in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Scientists indicate this as another sign of the changing climate.
Liberals sink Zali’s Climate Change Bill
Former Liberal leader John Hewson took Prime Minister Scott Morrison to task in an Opinion column this week. Mr Hewson attacked Liberals on the Parliamentary Energy and Environment Committee for voting down Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill, because the proposed Independent Climate Change Commission would be “an unelected body”. Never mind that the government allows decisions to be made by the unelected ATAGI on matters relating to Covid-19, or to the Reserve Bank on matters concerning monetary policy. The Steggall Bill will now die on the floor of Parliament. It would be nice if the Labor Party drafted a similar one that provides a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
After the fire, the rain
As if the heatwave and fires of the Pacific northwest US and Canada were not bad enough, there have been dreadful floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. These dramatic events have so far caused more than 150 victims. Scientists suggest that these extreme events constitute one more piece of evidence of the changing climate.
A future-proof electricity grid
On a brighter note, the new AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) boss, Daniel Westerman, said in a speech this week: “Under my leadership, AEMO will work closely and collaboratively with governments, industry and communities to design the affordable, reliable energy system that Australia needs. An energy system that’s capable of handling 100% renewable energy, at any moment of the day, by 2025.” He also wants more transmission lines and green hydrogen to stabilise the grid. Unfortunately, he’s still hanging on to gas and supports the Kurri Kurri plant.
Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) outlined new measures to cut red tape. The goal of these changes is to increase the financial return for people who install small batteries in the house. Under the same measures, large batteries will give rise to fewer cost and logistics hurdles to participating in the electricity market.
Fighting the science, again
Environment Minister Sussan Ley claimed she was ‘blindsided’ when UNESCO declared the Great Barrier Reef to be “endangered”. She called it a “political” decision. Sky News inevitably took up the fight in defence of the government. As Paul Barry on Media Watch pointed out, however, Australia was warned back in 2015. And three weeks ago, UNESCO’s Dr Fanny Douvere insisted in UNESCO’s defence: “This draft decision is a technical, objective evaluation of the state of the reef, it’s based on the best available science. That science has been very clear for many years, just with three consecutive bleachings in less than five years, water quality targets that have not been met, it’s just simply irrevocably clear.”
Governments need to act
Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney says Governments must regulate businesses to tackle the climate crisis. According to Mr Carney, the financial free markets will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions alone. Carney is now working on COP26, the UN climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November. He is a UN envoy on climate change and Boris Johnson’s finance adviser on the climate.
- Why a killer US heatwave points to a stifling future for our cities. Urban heat experts say the record-breaking heatwave in North America should set off alarm bells in Australia. But decision-makers are not listening.
- ‘Moon wobble’ to worsen flooding and sea level rises, NASA warns. A lunar cycle first detected centuries ago is forecast to significantly exacerbate the effects of climate change on sea level rises, driving major tidal flooding events within about 15 years.
- Climate scientists shocked by scale of floods in Germany. Deluge raises fears human-caused disruption is making extreme weather even worse than predicted.
- Brighte to deliver first phase of ACT’s interest free loans for solar, storage and EVs. “Buy now pay later” pioneer Brighte to administer first phase of ACT interest free loans for rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles.
- International team of scientists turns methane into methanol at room temperature. A “tantalizing” principle borrowed from nature turns harmful methane into useful methanol at room temperature. With their latest study, U.S. and Belgian scientists have brought this process an important step closer to realization.
- Angus Taylor appoints founding chair of major gas and oil producer to clean energy regulator. Environment minister Angus Taylor names former Quadrant Energy boss Katherine Vidgen a member of the body supporting Australia’s emissions reduction goals.
- Environment Minister slammed for ‘embarrassing’ appeal decision. Teenagers behind a landmark Federal Court ruling have criticised the Environment Minister and the Morrison government for the “embarrassing” decision to appeal against having a duty of care to protect young Australians from potential harm.
- AMA: Climate emergency must not be ignored. The AMA said today the federal government can no longer afford to ignore the climate emergency.
- Two Liberal MPs urge Morrison to set 2050 net zero target before UN climate conference. Trent Zimmerman and Bridget Archer said net zero was not only the right thing to do but would create opportunities for Australia
- Just 25 big cities, mostly in China, driving majority of urban greenhouse gas emissions. Just 25 big cities — almost all of them in China — account for more than half of the climate-warming gases pumped out by a sample of 167 urban hubs around the world, an analysis of emissions trends shows.