The climate this week – 20 Jul 2021

The climate this week – 20 Jul 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: 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.

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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