Scotty’s Road to Damascus?

He may not see the light, but no doubt he’ll feel the heat at COP26 in Glasgow next month.

Incoherent yabbering about plans and pathways, vague thoughts on targets. “Technology not taxes”, or is it “Technology not targets”? Hard to pin him down on a revised concrete emissions reduction target, much less a date.

Australia’s ambitions haven’t budged from its Paris Agreement Commitments made in 2015 (26-28% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030), apart from a vague proposal to reach net zero “as soon as possible and preferably by 2050”, although exactly how is unclear, and a pledge to support the production and export of coal “well beyond 2030”.

With the imminent climate talks in Glasgow, Australia is being cast as a climate pariah, a villain, as it stubbornly continues to produce and export more fossil fuel.  We are regarded as one of the worst climate performers among developed countries. Under the Paris Agreement countries are to submit National Adaptation Plans. Over 100 countries have done so; Australia has not. Our flimsy National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy (https://www.awe.gov.au/science-research/climate-change/adaptation/strategy) has been rated last among 54 comparable strategies.

The Morrison Government’s unspoken plan for Australia is very clear. We will keep the fossil fuel industries alive and well, even if we have to use taxpayers’ money to do so.

We should all be alarmed by the UN Environment Program 2021 Production Gap Report that finds projected government planned fossil fuel production to be inconsistent with achieving a 1.5C or 2C cap on global warming; by 2030 this ‘production gap’ translates to 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C (more than twice the amount required to close the gap). The graph below illustrates the fossil fuel production gap.  

Inger Andersen, UN Environment Program executive director, puts the global problem in a nutshell.
“At COP26 and beyond, the world’s governments must take immediate steps to address the production gap, while ensuring that this transition occurs in a just and equitable manner.”

Australia is a major source of the fossil fuel production gap, being the world’s second largest exporter of coal and third largest exporter of CO2 emissions embodied in fossil fuels.

The Australian Government does not have a climate policy that addresses global warming. While Governments of other developed countries are designing green solutions to move their economies forward from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the inevitable employment gains associated with the new technologies, our government is promoting gas as a go-between fuel while renewable energies get established, willfully ignorant of the powerful warming effects of methane, a key component of natural gas and, according to the IPCC, more than 80 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time frame. As the second-largest driver of global warming, anthropogenic methane emissions are responsible for around 30% of the temperature increase from preindustrial levels. The welfare of the planet is clearly not a top priority of the Morrison Government.

The true cost of fossil fuels has never been paid in Australia. A series of Coalition Governments has refused to countenance carbon pricing. Private profits of fossil fuel companies are possible only at the expense of the rest of us. The enormous external costs of fossil fuel production are nowhere on the industry’s balance sheets. They use their ill-gotten wealth to shamefully and loudly lobby the Australian Government to steer climate policy for their benefit.

Fortunately, in the yawning vacuum left by the Morrison government, Australian States and Business leaders are already a long way down the renewable energy pathway. Despite the neanderthal think tank operating in federal government, dragging on us like an anchor, Australia has seen the renewable energies wave coming, has got on board and is riding it to a sustainable future. A very current and exciting example is the green hydrogen energy project happening in Central Queensland.

Mining billionaire, Andrew Forrest (Twiggy), known for his successful Fortesque iron ore company, is investing in green iron ore and steel. He knows the risks are real, but he wants Fortesque to be a first mover to test green hydrogen at a global, industrial scale. Green hydrogen can be fed into a fuel cell to make electricity or burnt to produce heat.

This month Mr Forrest announced that Fortesque Future Industries (FFI) will build the world’s largest hydrogen manufacturing facility in Central Queensland.  There are 6 steps planned for this $1 billion-plus operation; the first stage, expected to be completed in 2022, will build the infrastructure and equipment and manufacture electrolysers required to split hydrogen from water to produce emission-free energy. Employment projections for this first stage include 120 construction jobs and 53 operational jobs.

The FFI hydrogen-equipment manufacturing facility will be built on Queensland government-owned land in Aldoga, near Gladstone. One of the draw cards for locating here is that Queensland Premier Ms Annastacia Palaszczuk had already been steering her state toward a green hydrogen future by establishing a $25 million hydrogen investment fund (last year $10 million was added to an earlier pledge of $15 million).

If Scott Morrison fails to see the light on his road to Glasgow, he risks becoming irrelevant to Australians and the world. He will be a legendary failure.  He came along at the right time to seize the opportunity and take Australia along the path to a renewable energy SUPERPOWER (the title of a recent book by Professor Ross Garnaut, consultant to the Australian Government on climate change). But Scott Morrison is the wrong leader for the challenges of our time.

(This blog post is a collaboration between Julie and Knox Lovell)

Resources

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1462901118306592

https://www.unep.org/resources/report/2021-production-gap-report

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-01-23/green-hydrogen-renewable-energy-climate-emissions-explainer/13081872 James Purtill

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-11/qld-hydrogen-capacity-explainer-hydrogen-green-twiggy/100528046 Phoebe Hosier

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-10/qld-palaszczuk-andrew-forrest-hydrogen-gladstone/100527670 Phoebe Hosier

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-22/boyer-lecture-andrew-twiggy-forrest-green-hydrogen-climate/13077070 Andrew Forrest

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-20/united-nations-fossil-fuel-gap-report-australia-data/100551662 Michael Slezak and Lori Youmshajekian



Wake up Mr Morrison

The planet is burning

Mr Morrison, how do you sleep while our planet is burning? The time has come to face the facts. You do not own the planet Earth, you are a caretaker, a very poor caretaker. When markets fail, governments are obliged to intervene and find ways to help the price mechanism find equilibrium at a more efficient quantity of the product. Surely you understand that when the price is too low, too much of that product is consumed.

The chorus from Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning says it clearly

The time has come

To say fair’s fair

To pay the rent

To pay our share

The time has come for Australians to take into account the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the production of the goods they consume and export.

The time has come for you to govern by reason, Mr Morrison. The international community is not impressed with your track record, with your lack of ambition in dealing with the reality of an overheating planet, and they will turn up the wick at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Carbon tariffs are now being considered an appropriate climate strategy in countries that are ambitiously targeting emissions reductions. Countries such as Australia that lack adequate climate policies, will soon have a tariff slapped on the price of goods they export to reflect an estimate of the greenhouse gases emitted during their production and transport.

As an example, the European Union of 27 members recently raised its 2030 emissions reduction goal from 40% to 55% from 1990 levels; and one of their key proposals to help achieve this target is a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, essentially a carbon tariff, on certain imports from countries with lax climate-protection rules.

While you sleep Mr Morrison, the EU is further proposing to extend their Emissions Trading Scheme, Europe’s Carbon Market, beyond steel, cement and energy industries to heating and fuel. To ensure a just transition they plan to create a Social Climate Fund so that the costs of decarbonisation can be shared equitably.

You bring shame on us Mr Morrison. You are the enemy of climate action, dismissing the reasoning of school students better educated than you on the facts of global warming, and being the puppet of the people responsible for your current political power.

Further reading

Steven Erlanger and Somini Sengupta, July 14, 2021, Europe Unveils Plan to Shift From Fossil Fuels, Setting Up Potential Trade Spats, New York Times

Paul Krugman, July 16, 2021, Wonking Out: Two cheers for carbon tariffs, New York Times

Uniting the world to tackle climate change, https://ukcop26.org/

Radio-controlled

It was grandparents’ day in Brisbane this week, and along with other grandparents I was invited to my granddaughter’s Prep class to chat about memorable toys from our time as children. It was a Science class event with emphasis on materials that were used in the construction of toys. I prepared a short story in three Prep-sized chapters, about a toy boat named Phantom. It begins with the childhood of my father, Winston.

Chapter One: Canoes

When my father was only 12, he began constructing canoes so he and his younger brothers could have some fun paddling on the Manning River; a mighty river that ran by their dairy farm in NSW. He used a large sheet of galvanised corrugated roofing iron which he flattened out a bit with the help of the heavy roller at the local tennis court. He shaped and folded both ends then rivetted them in a few places. To give the canoe its shape he made wooden spacing pieces and gunwales along the top edges. After the top decking was added front and rear, he soldered the ends to make them water-tight.

When Dad was 15, he won the local canoe race on the Manning River. The following year another guy won it; in one of Dad’s canoes.  His canoes were popular and his mother had persuaded him to make some for families of her special friends.

Chapter Two: Radios

Almost 100 years ago radio was the new, emerging technology. In his early years at high school Dad was fascinated with the technical details of radio, preferring to read ‘Wireless Weekly’ rather than ‘Modern Boy’, a popular magazine with stories of mystery and adventure for boys in those times.  Now to be able to tune in to radio you needed a broadcast receiver, but very few people had a receiver in these early days. It was a time of great hardship for many families and money was scarce; Australia was in the grip of the Great Economic Depression.

Dad was able to convince his parents to buy the components he would need to build their own simple one-valve receiver. It was such a success that they eventually funded him to build a more elaborate receiver. Following the instructions in “Wireless Weekly” Dad built a “New Era Three” – a three-valve receiver that allowed them to hear important news broadcasts and music programs. Dad’s mother loved tuning into the old-time dance music broadcasted all the way from Melbourne on Saturday nights.

It is no surprise that after Dad left school he moved to Sydney to study and work in the field of Radio Engineering.

Chapter Three: Remote-controlled toys

Dad and Mum had four children: boy, girl, boy girl. I was the youngest. The most memorable toy we had as children was a radio-controlled boat built by our father Winston, and named Phantom – a name inspired by the comic strip super-hero, “the ghost who walks”.

Remote-controlled toys were not available in shops when my older brother and sister were very young, so Phantom was unique. We were the only kids in Australia, that we knew of, to have a remote-controlled toy of any kind. The controls were made out of telephone parts.  A telephone dial activated the battery-operated motor which caused the rudder to turn the boat left, right or straight ahead. The control box was made out of wood and the boat itself was a smaller version of the canoes Dad perfected in his childhood. The receiver, with its valves and other components, was safely covered up inside the little tin boat. With imagination and skills developed in his childhood, Dad was able to build a wonderful toy that made us feel loved and lucky.

Today, my granddaughters have remote-controlled monster trucks that are brightly coloured with giant tyres and can do all sorts of tricky manoeuvres and stunts.  The girls can turn the wheels of the truck from a distance (remotely) using a specialised transmitter which sends radio waves to the receiver. The receiver, located inside the truck, identifies the signals and activates the motor to move the big wheels the way the girls choose.

The monster truck is a modern version of their great grandfather’s remote-controlled Phantom.

Epilogue

With Covid-19 protocols in place, grandparents were stationed on a number of work spaces and 24 children, two by two, visited each station to chat. A tinkling bell signalled them to move to the next couple of grandparents. It was much like speed dating – lots of fun and fast paced.

The kids in the Prep class were fabulous hosts. They entertained me with their inquisitiveness and their thoughtful hosting of a fruit break as a way to wrap up the morning.

I had my father’s book with me to show what we can achieve as adults when we let our interests and talents as children guide us in career choices.

The book is Australian Radio: The Technical Story 1923-1983 (ISBN 0949924822) written by my father Winston T. Muscio soon after he retired from his Radio engineering career.

Paddling on the Manning River, NSW
The control box with telephone dial to direct Phantom left, right, straight ahead
Phantom, the radio-controlled boat, on a Sydney waterway

Self-settling

At any age we can benefit by observing what distresses us and finding ways to tune out and self-settle. Even though I live on the other side of the world, following the long, drawn-out US election process has been sufficiently distressing that I was becoming agitated.

Observant and savvy parents can usually pick up on ‘tired baby cues’ (unless they are too sleep-deprived themselves) and help their baby fall to sleep in their own little cot by self-soothing (without the inducements of full-body contact or feeding).  Perfecting a bed-time routine with patting, stroking and repetitive shhh shhh sounds to help baby self-settle may take a while, but it has enormous rewards for the whole family.

My self-settling process involves finding a new, short-term project that engages my mind and challenges my creativity.  I was feeling very uneasy about the elections until I stumbled on the idea of making tiny clothes for my grand daughters’ naked Barbie dolls. And I knew exactly where to start, PINTEREST!

Pinterest ( https://www.pinterest.com.au/ ) is a marvelous resource for great patterns and many of which are FREE. After a while I was able to come up with my own designs and by the time Joe and Kamala were declared the projected winners, I had a lot to show for my foray into Barbie doll fashion:

  1. I started off with a knitted skirt, top and short dress for Barbie. I used long circular needles because I like a seamless finish. The style was inspired by designs from https://www.stickatillbarbie.se/

2. My Fair Isle knit skater dress, boat-neck top and shorts for a Barbie Halloween party. The cute crocheted shorts were inspired by a pattern from https://www.linmaryknits.com/2014/06/barbie-clothes-free-crochet-pattern-for.html

3. Crocheted Barbie summer dress featuring a pineapple motif and contrasting belt. The strapless bodice was inspired by a pattern at https://feltmagnet.com/textiles-sewing/Barbie-Doll-Crochet-Clothes-Strapless-Bodycon-Dress-A-Free-Pattern

4. Crocheted midi length dress with ruffled hem and neckline for Skipper Barbie. The neckline was inspired by a pattern from https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/barbie-giselle-dress

5. Knitted fairy dress for a small Barbie Skipper doll from the sports range. My own design built on a knitted saw-tooth edge and continued with long circular needles. My younger grand daughters like the numerous joints in these young Skipper dolls.

So, while the whole world, still gripped by Covid, held its breath in anxious anticipation of the US election outcome, I could at least enjoy the small pleasure of feeling productive as I made these small doll’s clothes for my cherished grand daughters.

Anxious Kids

I’m reading a book called ‘Anxious Kids: How children can turn their anxiety into resilience’ by Michael Grose and Jodi Richardson (2019). I bought it for guidance on helping my grandchildren navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to climate from global warming – not entirely unrelated concerns.

On the anxiety-calmness continuum I usually sit in the middle, but I can be triggered into a higher state of anxiety from time to time. My mind can be nudged or triggered to entertain negative thoughts and worst-case scenarios.

By my age most of us have had our share of anxiety-inducing circumstances and by one way or another I have managed to pull through most of them, not perfectly, but adequately. I still have a lot to learn and this book for anxious kids could be helpful, not only to my young grandchildren, but to me as well.

To help explain anxiety to young children (ages 5-12) the authors recommend a book by Karen Young, called Hey Warrior. I ordered it online and had it posted to my oldest granddaughter. The little Warrior character turns out to be our amygdala. Soon after reading it and learning how her amygdala operates to protect her, my granddaughter was inspired to create her own illustrated story to explain how anxiety feels to a 10 year old:

I especially like the image of the amygdala warrior (the anxiety friend) reduced to a puppet under our control when we remember to breathe deeply to restore our calm.

Kudzu Republic

Donald Trump was grudgingly accepted by the Republican Party in 2016 to eliminate the Democratic Party’s control on government just as the Kudzu vine was enlisted to combat soil erosion caused by relentless dust storms on the American prairies in the 1930s.

There are several similarities between Donald and Kudzu. Both outsiders, or in the ecology vernacular, exotics; Donald a notorious, unprincipled real estate baron from Manhattan, and Kudzu an ornamental creeping, twining plant from Japan.

Donald Trump has subverted traditional Republican principles and created a new party in his own image. Basically, he is a shameless outlaw with total disregard for the separation of powers of the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial). While each branch is given specific powers so as to check and balance the other branches, Trump has glued them all together with the help of his mates Mitch McConnell (legislative) and Bill Barr (judiciary). Together they have hijacked the republican party and are steering America into dangerous, lawless territory.

The damage Kudzu can do to American ecosystems is well documented. Congress listed Kudzu as a Federal Noxious Weed in 1998. Kudzu grows rapidly, 30 cms per day, with mature vines extending 30 metres. It out-competes and smothers native vegetation and tree crops by shading them from the sunlight they need to photosynthesise. Cascading effects can be observed throughout an ecosystem as insects and animals that adapted alongside these plants are also lost and biodiversity is compromised.

Trump’s reality-TV-presidency has allowed the world to witness the damage he is doing to American citizens.  His apathy, neglect, ignorance, lawlessness, dishonesty, incompetence and divisiveness are threatening America’s greatness. It’s ironic that his 2016 campaign battle cry was ‘Make America Great Again’. 

Trump’s lack of leadership throughout the global Covid-19 pandemic is endangering American lives and delaying economic recovery. He mostly focuses on stock market indices to spin his tale of how well he believes the economy is going because he has a huge personal stock market portfolio; but economy-wide indicators of economic activity show that USA is officially in recession and the unemployment rate has approximately tripled before declining recently. Any way you want to look at it, the US economy has shrunk under Trump’s “leadership”.

The rules of engagement in this Kudzu Republic of USA have been styled on the Banana Republic playbook in which the most senior government officials coerce other officials to wage personal vendettas against political enemies and to ensure their corrupt friends are given impunity.

As once magnificent trees fall prey to the relentless onslaught of the Kudzu vine and eventually become unrecognisable, the once sacred Rule of Law is becoming unrecognisable. ….

Swedish Death Cleaning

You don’t have to be dying to want to sort out the stuff that will inevitably have to be thrown out, sold off, or given away when you die. Margareta Magnusson has written a book on “the gentle art of Swedish death cleaning”, with practical lessons on how to deal with your earthly possessions. Some things of value that you no longer need can be given away now, especially if you are downsizing to a smaller living space or you are too old to wear or use the thing.

The Covid-19 lockdown is an excellent opportunity to get your house in order, to discuss with your children and grandchildren if they are interested in having any of your possessions now or in the future. Don’t be surprised if they don’t want any of it. But if there is something special they would like one day, then make a list so all members of the family know what will end up where. If there are going to be fights over who gets what then have them now, not when you are our of the picture and can’t referee. Contentious items can be sold and the proceeds can be shared equitably.

We are not burdened with the need to own lots of things, so there won’t be much of a material nature to divvi up. Still, we are collectors and our collections will have to be dispersed eventually. I don’t have to decide about my collection of knitting yarns and every manner of craft-like item and tool. They can go straight to charities and randomly find new homes. My husband’s huge Jazz collection is another matter entirely.

Along with its personal value the Jazz collection has significant market value. During the 30’s through to the 60’s, artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane delivered the best in modern jazz. Blue Note, Verve and Prestige were prominent record labels. This very special collection has become important to me if only because it is very important to him. To honour him it would have to go to the right home. He would have to choose it, not me, not the children. And so he made the call. Upon his death the entire collection will be donated to the Jazzworks Music Institute in Brisbane.

Make decisions about your possessions NOW, not on your death bed. Your family will be distraught enough when you die, don’t make it harder for them.

A heat pump solution

Showers powered by the sun are delightful and the energy cost savings are significant. Sadly, our roof-mounted solar hot water system must come down. While the body corporate has not passed a by-law to prevent the installation of solar hot water systems, our motion to ratify our installed system was unsuccessful. At an extraordinary general meeting for which we had to pay ($1445), the vote was close, 9 in favour and 9 against. With no clear majority in favour, we now have to uninstall it or embark on a dubious, long and uncertain journey of seeking support from the office of the Commissioner of Body Corporate and Community Management, arguing that the decision was unreasonable and should be vacated (overturned).

In honour of the democratic process we plan to let the decision rest.  In these uncertain times when all of our waking moments are dominated by Covid-19, we don’t wish to add further angst to any of our neighbours. We need to pull together and focus on the solutions that will end this pandemic as soon as possible.

Fortunately, the solar hot water system has found a new home. Our elder daughter and her family will soon have it installed on their roof, among their score of panels already harnessing the energy from Queensland’s super-powered sunshine.

Every other townhouse and unit in our complex has gas hot water systems and gas cookers on their stove tops. We refuse to go back to gas. We want to ride the renewable energy wave. Luckily for us there are two types of hybrid hot water systems that use the Sun’s heat source. Heat pump technology is the second type. It doesn’t deliver quite as much savings on energy bills as solar but it comes close.

Heat pumps rely on atmospheric heat. A compressor liquifies refrigerant to heat the water. The refrigerant R134a in the Hydrotherm heat pump has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1300. It belongs to the hydrofluorocarbons (HCF) family of refrigerants in contrast to the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) families known to deplete the ozone layer.  However, R134a’s relatively high GWP is concerning from a climate change perspective.

While not ideal, the heat pump is a renewable energy compromise for homeowners saddled with body corporate constraints. No common property is violated. No roof line is defiled. No body corporate approval is required. Compared to the 90% reduction to hot water bills from solar, the 70% reduction from atmospheric heat is adequate. In addition to these savings, the Queensland Government offers generous rebates on heat pumps because of their reliance on renewable energy.

So what is Australia’s Climate Policy?

We have failed the 1.5C challenge, an aspirational global warming target suggested in 2008 by vulnerable countries in the Alliance of Small Island States and subsequently adopted by the 2015 Paris agreement.  What hope do we have now? In the words of Ross Garnaut, a distinguished Australian Economist, “the best that we can hope for is holding global increases to around 1.75C” and even that will only be attainable “if the world moves decisively towards zero net emissions by the middle of the century”.  While he believes Australia is well placed to reap the rewards from immersion into a zero-carbon world it will need a different policy framework. (The Conversation, November 5, 2019)

The two key cost-effective mitigation (avoiding emissions) strategies are:
1. Carbon tax
2. Emissions trading

Both of them are a form of carbon pricing. With a carbon tax, the price is set and the market is left to determine the level of emissions. In the second one, government sets the magnitude of emissions and the market determines the price.  William Nordhaus, Yale Economist and Nobel Prize winner, introduced carbon pricing as a cost-effective tool to stabilise global climate back in 1977.

Carbon emissions have a social cost that is not reflected in the market price for energy. For an efficient allocation of resources all costs need to be considered. The social cost of carbon emissions is the marginal increase in the present value of future economic damages (such as floods, rising sea levels, heatwaves, damage to crops, poor health and altered ecosystem services) resulting from a marginal increase (usually 1 tonne) in carbon emissions.  (Tietenberg and Lewis, 2018, p.54)

The World Bank reports that today there are around 40 countries and 20 cities, states and provinces that have adopted carbon pricing mechanisms. Combined, these carbon pricing schemes cover about half of their emissions, representing 13 % of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Despite a general global consensus that carbon pricing is the single most effective mitigation instrument, Australia got rid of theirs after trying it for only two consecutive years. The Clean Energy Act 2011, introduced by the Gillard Labor Government, created an emissions trading scheme covering about 60% of Australia’s carbon emissions. It was administered by the Clean Energy Regulator for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 financial years and subsequently repealed, a victim of politics. The Abbot Liberal Government replaced it with an Emissions Reduction Fund in 2014.

Today, as bush fires ravage the eastern coastline of Australia with unprecedented fury, the inertia and confusions of the Morrison Liberal Government toward climate change do not bode well for an effective policy being introduced anytime soon. Carbon pricing remains a contentious issue in Australia. After all we are the world’s biggest exporter of coal.

So what is Australia’s Climate Policy? We are now left with a dizzying array of schemes.  

The centrepiece of Australia’s climate change policies is the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) which provides incentives for eligible emissions reduction activities. Individuals and organisations taking part can earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). For each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) stored or avoided by a project, one ACCU is earned. ACCUs can be sold to generate income, either to the Government through a carbon abatement contract, or on the secondary market.​ With more than 12 million ACCUs generated in the 2016–17 financial year, the Fund is one of the world’s largest domestic carbon offset markets.

We also have a Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and encourage electricity generation from sustainable and renewable sources. The scheme encourages investment in new large-scale renewable power stations and the installation of new small-scale systems, such as solar photovoltaic and hot water systems in households. ​

RET and ERF are administered by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) which also takes responsibility for the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units.  The CER has recently launched Australia’s inaugural Quarterly Carbon Market Report (Quarter 3, 2019) boasting the substantial contribution that RET and ERF schemes make to reducing emissions in Australia. In 2019 at least 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) abatement was delivered, compared to 12 million tonnes in 2011. In Quarter 3 of 2019 alone these carbon markets accounted for over 13 million tCO2 -e of carbon abatement.

The National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP) agreed by The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council consists of a package of measures designed to improve Australia’s energy productivity by 40% between 2015 and 2030. As an example of the types of measures, in the NEPP for businesses and transport sectors voluntary action is facilitated by providing information on websites and finance from grant programs, the ERF and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).  The NEPP 2018 annual report acknowledged that this facilitation approach has not provided sufficient incentive to reach the full potential for cost effective-energy productivity in these sectors. 

Research and development grants, demonstration and deployment for clean energy innovation are available from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) whose purpose is to accelerate the transition to renewable energy that’s affordable and reliable. Seed funding for emerging technology is provided by CEFC and ARENA.  Renewable energy storage projects to help stabilise a renewables-powered grid (such as batteries and pumped hydro) were among the technologies supported by ARENA in 2017-18.

If an organisation, product, service, event, precinct or building can meet all the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard, they can be certified as carbon neutral. Some of the benefits of certification include energy and cost savings and an enhanced image of corporate social responsibility which could give them a competitive edge as a leader in the move towards a low carbon economy.

The Solar Communities program provides funding up to $12,000 for community organisations in selected regions to install rooftop solar panels, solar hot water and solar-connected battery systems for community-owned buildings.  In consultation with the Department of Environment and Energy, the $5 million program is being delivered by AusIndustry Grants Hub

You can avail yourself of these various incentive programs (if you can find them on the websites of the relevant government departments). The choice is up to you, but you’ll have to be determined to find the one best suited to your household, business or community before the funding runs out. The Liberal Government has replaced the “stick” of carbon pricing with the “carrot” of incentives. The burden of climate policy implementation is left to the people.

Unbearable heat, vicious fires, relentless droughts and super-charged cyclones are already impacting our way of life and well-being.  While Government deliberates on its climate policy framework, adaptation strategies must now go hand in hand with mitigation.

References

Nordhaus, W.D.  (1977) Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem, American Economic Review 67 (1), 341-346.

Tietenberg, T. & Lewis, L. (2018) Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, 11th ed. New York: Routledge

Ross Garnaut, The Conversation, Nov 5, 2019
https://theconversation.com/australia-could-fall-apart-under-climate-change-but-theres-a-way-to-avoid-it-126341
Ross Garnaut conducted the 2008 and 2011 climate reviews for the Rudd and Gillard governments. His book Superpower – Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity is now published by BlackInc with La Trobe University Press.

Resources:

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Funding
https://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/grants-funding

National Energy Productivity Plan
https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-productivity-and-energy-efficiency/national-energy-productivity-plan

Quarterly Carbon Market Report
http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/DocumentAssets/Documents/Quarterly%20Carbon%20Market%20Report%20%E2%80%93%20September%20Quarter%202019.pdf

Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Annual Report
https://arena.gov.au/assets/2018/10/annual-report-17-18.pdf

ABC NEWS, 2030
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-01/is-australia-on-track-to-meet-its-paris-emissions-targets/10920500  Video by Four Corners, “Are we doing enough” can be accessed from this site.

Queensland Government initiatives
https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/climate/climate-change/response/initiatives-actions

The Right Time

Two firies died yesterday fighting bushfires as Australia suffered its second day this week of record breaking temperatures. Below is my brother David’s editorial piece.

The Right Time

The Prime Minister asserted now, in the death struggle to control devastating bushfires, was not the right time to discuss the potential impacts of climate change on weather and natural disasters. Where was the minimally adroit journalist to ask “so, when might be a good time ScoMo”? Why can’t the public, who he governs for, hear what he has to offer on the subject?

In the interests of respectful dialogue, let’s hear the story advanced by the ignorant right drones. I invite the government to produce and publish a paper clearly stating what the prevaricators believe and why they believe it. Please bring a copy to an open forum to discuss its merits in comparison to the weight of scientific opinion. (Remember how we used to respect the advances of science and empirical inquiry?)

Also bring a pencil to make draft corrections and a highlighter to mark those details that may require validation by a fact check service or reputable citations. Oh, and please bring evidence of the 10,000 hours you have invested in developing expertise in climate science.

This may not be the best time, in the heat of the moment as it were, but when might be that time? How about waiting until your pants are on fire, liar liar.

David Muscio