The climate this week – 27 Jul 2021

The climate this week – 27 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: Bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef. The Federal Government successfully lobbied UNESCO against declaring the world-heritage site as “endangered”. Needless to say, the danger persists. Credit: Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Not endangered, still endangered

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley was successful in her endeavours to put off having the Great Barrier Reef listed as ‘endangered’ by UNESCO. Unfortunately, all she has done is delay the inevitable. Australia has been requested to host a joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission to the reef and provide an updated report by February 2022.

Picking losers

The Federal Government has put a lot of faith (and public money!) in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), knowing that it will prolong the life of fossil fuel projects. This week, however, it was revealed that Chevron had not met a requirement to capture and store underground at least 80% of emissions from a gas reservoir over the first five years of the Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Western Australia. Climate campaigners argue Chevron should be fined. This was the world’s biggest CCS project.

Looming carbon tariffs

There is still no commitment from the Morrison government on Net Zero Emissions by 2050. New National’s leader Barnaby Joyce wants to know how much it will cost. Crucially, he does not ask the cost of not achieving such target. The problem does not involve just greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change: it’s the economic costs of not having an effective emissions reduction policy. The EU will introduce a Border Carbon Adjustment Mechanism (i.e. tariffs) by 2026 and now the US is suggesting as much. Carbon-intensive Australian exports will likely be hard hit.

Alan Kohler has always been entertaining on ABC News reporting on economics. This week In-Daily published a remarkable article by him that pulled no punches on the need for climate action, arguing that climate change was far worse than Covid. And that three degrees warming would be “catastrophic”. If more economists were as outspoken, we might win the day.

Gas in NSW

The NSW Government released its Future of Gas statement, in which unused gas exploration licences are canceled out, while those in Narrabri and on the Liverpool Plains were re-approved. The document prompted an enraged response from activist groups like Lock the Gate. Meanwhile, Japan has announced it will cut gas-fired electricity generation nearly in half and reduce coal power by more than a third by 2030. This will no doubt affect Australian exports of both thermal coal and LNG.

Australia’s future as a green superpower

The good news is that a report released this week by Blue Economy shows that Australia has huge potential for off-shore wind energy, all within 100km of existing sub-stations. Moreover, a new report by Beyond Zero Emissions says that Renewable Energy Precincts in the Hunter Valley and Gladstone can pump $13b into those communities. “Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts are clusters of manufacturers powered by 100% renewable energy. They connect industrial centres with the abundant and cheap renewable energy provided by Australia’s Hydrogen Hubs and Renewable Energy Zones”, says the report.

Webinars

  • Jobs, justice, climate: union webinar. Thursday 29 July, 5:30-6:30pm AEST. Registerhere
  • It’s time to talk clean air with Abigail Boyd. Wednesday 28 July 7 – 8.30pm AEST. Registerhere.

Petition

Macquarie Bank is a major shareholder and broker of Empire Energy, the fracking company that wants to drill across Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. Tell the bank to respect the rights of indigenous people opposing the fracking. Sign here.

More 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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