Awareness

Spaceship Earth in Trouble

(BY: Scott Paterson)

The entire population, faced by the threat of climate change, has been flung into a state of complete panic (below right)

In 2003:

"[Critics of the pact] often say, half-jokingly and half-seriously, that Russia is a northern country and if temperatures get warmer by two or three degrees Celsius it's not that bad - we could spend less on warm coats and agricultural experts say that grain harvests would increase further," he told the conference."
 -- Vladimir Putin, President of Russia1

In 2010:

At a meeting of international sporting officials in Moscow on July 30, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that in 14 regions of the country, "practically everything is burning. The weather is anomalously hot." Then, as TV cameras zoomed in on the perspiration shining on his forehead, Medvedev announced, "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate."
 -- Dimitri Medvedev, President of Russia 2

After hurricane Sandy 2013:

Who are you going to call?

Community Energy groups who are thinking or planning to install community solar energy systems face a barrage of changing dynamics such as the latest RET status; regulatory changes; reductions in the costs of solar panels and inverters; new creative financing approaches and other matters.

Nonetheless, going by recent media reports, it seems there are new solar, or renewable energy projects being announced almost every week -- in NSW, let alone the rest of Australia, and the world.

No guts, no glory on clean energy (Tony Windsor, The Saturday Paper)

A clear analysis by Tony Windsor of the Abbott government's attempt to diminish the renewable energy industry in Australia:

The Warburton report delivers on this message for the government, but does so with little credibility and demeans the author with its inherent contradictions. Dick Warburton’s inability to defend the rationale and conclusions of the report means it will have little academic interest but no doubt will become a political document to justify irrational decisions and cruel a fledgling industry.

The existing models of centralised power generation are being questioned and arguments for a more decentralised power generation model obviously threaten vested interests. The explosion in rooftop solar is one example. The development of micro-grids, of which the Bindaree plant is but one, is an exciting concept for the nation but particularly for regional Australia. To see regional politicians arguing against these schemes, which value-add to those communities, shows how out of touch some people have become.

Read the full article (The Saturday Paper)

Mining the age of entitlement: State government assistance to the minerals and fossil fuel sector

A new report details the subsidies and financial assistance given to mining and fossil fuel industries:Mining the age of entitlement

...it might surprise taxpayers to learn that state government assistance for the mineral and fossil fuel industries consumes significant amounts of their money.
Each state provides millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to mining industries every year, with the big mining states of Queensland and Western Australia routinely spending over one billion dollars in assistance.

This paper is the first attempt to put a dollar figure on the value of state assistance to the mining industry. It shows that over a six-year period, state governments in Australia spent $17.6 billion supporting the mineral and fossil fuel industries. Queensland’s assistance was by far the largest of all states, totalling $9.5 billion, followed by Western Australia’s at $6.2 billion.

Read the full report

Another reason to keep the RET

If we had abundant solar and wind powered electricity (by keeping the RET), how many industries (and homes) could do without gas?

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that:

"... besides the upward pressure on (gas) prices arising from the shift towards export parity pricing (Gladstone LNG), the public is being hoodwinked by industry on access charges.

The reason the gas lobby wants nobody to notice the drop in demand is that – just as occurred with the gold-plating of the electricity market and the consequent doubling in electricity bills – there is a gold-plating racket afoot in the gas market too. The industry is paid according to its inflated forecasts. So there is no interest in letting on that demand is really in decline.

The magic word in all this is DORC (Depreciated Optimised Replacement Cost). David Johnstone, professor of finance at the University of Sydney, says DORC is deployed by those who own the gas distribution assets to "game the regulator" and fetch an inflated return on their assets."

The RET: The Facts

BCCAN has produced a 3-fold pamphlet explaining some of the benefits of the Renewable Energy Target.

Please download, print and distribute in the Orange/Bathurst region.

As per the front of the pamphlet:

The RET (Renewable Energy Target)

  1. does NOT cost taxpayers anything!1,2

    yet because of it the solar industry now

  2. employs more Australians than coal, oil & gas COMBINED3

    And that the Abbott Government's OWN modelling shows that

  3. keeping the RET will LOWER electricity prices 4

    and that according to the Clean Energy Council

  4. of all the RET Review submissions 99.5% favoured keeping or increasing the RET! 5

So why on Earth would anyone want to get rid of it?

 

Read the full pamphlet, including how removing the RET will help accelerate the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

Clear, unambiguous broken promise on show

The Abbott government's misinformation surrounding the RET is plain to see in this article from RenewEconomy.

RenewEconomy, In an interview with Radio 3AW on Friday, it was put to Hunt that supporting the recommendation of the RET Review panel to cut the target to 25,000GWH from around 41,000GWh would amount to a broken election promise – because the Coalition had always proclaimed that it supported a 20 per cent target.

“That’s completely false,” Hunt said. “Our promise was – and our policy was that we supported 20 per cent and we’d have a review. This report sets out two main options. One is 15 per cent and the other one is 20 per cent. Precisely in line with the long-term bipartisan commitment.”

Of course, that is not true ...

A commenter then includes the following quote, with links to the source (it will be interesting to see if this page 'disappears')

A letter by Isabel Higgins

Our technological advance across time is truly awesome. Our creativity and intelligence has taken us from walking on barefoot to flying in jet aeroplanes and projecting our ideas around the planet via satellite. But nonetheless we seem unable to realise that this is an inevitable progression. Our problem is that we can't visualise the changes about to unfold. The picture has never been painted for us. So let me do it.

I see a future Australia where full advantage is being taken of our natural assets to access electricity that is free, once the relevant technologies have been put in place. We need to harvest the energy of the sun and the wind. The tides are so reliable they can be predicted years ahead and their energy is available night and day. Geothermal (literally the heat of the earth) is present in Australia in two separate forms, one of which is in such abundance across Victoria that it could probably supply the whole continent as base load. There are other forms of baseload energy already being explored by such companies as Pacific Hydro and Infigen. Even now well over 1 million households have turned to roof top solar to help them cope with the rising cost of electricity. Business has been less forthcoming but the economics of energy is becoming such that even large consumers will need to embrace solar energy to minimise their overheads and maximise their profits. The large energy companies controlled by our governments are closely linked to the coal industry and may well be the last to transition to newer clean technologies.

Local climate group calls on council to oppose Coal Seam Gas extraction

Media Release: 19th August 2014

Bathurst Community Climate Action Network supports the call for a no coal seam gas policy for Bathurst Regional Council.

Councillors should represent the community’s concerns over the extraction of coal seam gas, said Tracey Carpenter, President of BCCAN. Farmers, environmentalists are united in their opposition to further expansion of the toxic and damaging processes used in CSG extraction throughout Australia. We do not support any expansion of the climatically endangering and polluting fossil fuel industry here or anywhere else.

4Corners report "Battle for the Reef"

Last night's 4Corners report  "Battle for the Reef" is likely to be of interest to BCCAN members.

In January, the body tasked with protecting the Great Barrier Reef approved a plan to dump three million cubic metres of dredge spoil inside the marine park to expand the Abbot Point coal port.

The decision by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has shocked and angered the scientific community. Internal documents obtained by Four Corners reveal deep divisions between the scientists and bureaucrats behind the decision. They show that the dumping was approved despite previous recommendations from senior scientists that it be rejected.

"That decision has to be a political decision. It is not supported by science at all, and I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard." - Dr Charlie Veron, marine scientist

From the transcript (now available)

[in regards to the threat to the Great Barrier Reef from greenhouse emissions].

Dr Charlie Veron: It’s incredibly serious. What we are doing now is pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate which has never happened remotely before. Now, this will acidify the oceans and that’s… that’ll be the end of it for corals. It’s very, very serious.”

Read full transcript (or watch the show)

Ethinvest - Shareholder Advocacy 2013-2014

Ethinvest's "Shareholder Advocacy 2013-2014" report.

"In 2013 and 2014 Ethinvest continued to build momentum on a range of initiatives to improve the environmental and social performance of Australian listed companies."

Includes:

BHP Billiton, Climate Change & Ian Dunlop

"In my view, the greatest challenge the world, and BHP Billiton, now faces is global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human fossil-fuel consumption. The extent and speed of warming has been badly underestimated.

Current policies are leading to an average surface temperature increase in excess of 4 degrees celsius, compared with the ‘official’ target of less than 2 degrees celcius. This (implies) a world of 1 billion people, not 7 billion, in which business as we know it is not possible. It is nothing less than suicidal to continue investment in fossil-fuel expansion.

The current board must take action by changing investment priorities far more extensively than the company has recently announced. I consider that my particular mix of experience and global perspective would complement existing board member skills in achieving what must become top priorities for BHP Billiton and its shareholders."

[Ian Dunlop]

Other companies cited

Abbott Government fighting the future by axing the carbon price

Repealing the carbon price is an act of policy vandalism, according to central west climate action group, Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN). The group says the Abbott government is being fiscally irresponsible, economically stupid and showing dreadful ignorance about what is needed for effective climate policy.

BCCAN President Tracey Carpenter says the repeal of the so-called carbon tax represents a dismal policy failure and the government should be condemned for its complete lack of wisdom and vision on this issue.

Coal Mine's Rejection on Global-Warming Grounds Has Major Implications (ICN)

Inside Climate News reports that an American federal judge "has blocked a coal project in the wilds of Colorado because federal agencies failed to consider the future global-warming damages from burning fossil fuels."

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson's decision halts exploration proposed by Arch Coal that would have bulldozed six miles of roads on 1,700 untrammeled acres of public land.

When the agencies touted the supposed economic benefits of expanded coal mining in the Sunset Roadless Area, Jackson ruled, they should also have considered any global-warming costs.

The argument is a reasonable, and sensible one, insofar as not defining the environmental costs, to any degree, implies there is zero cost, which in light of current global circumstances is clearly not the case:

In the Colorado case, the judge wrote, "by deciding not to quantify the costs at all, the agencies effectively zeroed out the cost."

That violated a key precept of the National Environmental Policy Act, the judge said, which requires a "hard look" at all the environmental costs of government decisions.

Taking care of investments and environment

"We are also seeing an increased focus on the risks of stranded fossil fuel assets, evidenced by growing divestiture trends

Thea Ormerod, president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, recently gave a presentation at Rahamim on the benefits of channeling our investments away from fossil fuel industries.

As Thea explained, "voting with our feet" when we change our banking provider sends a significant message to the banks. She believes that, while recycling is beneficial to the environment, ethical investments (changing banks, super funds) are more effective in accelerating change toward a clean-energy future.

"Investing in an ethically managed fund or super fund is one of the biggest, yet easiest, things someone can do to make a real difference on a range of environmental and social issues."   [Source: http://www.arrcc.org.au/invest-ethically]

Now comes yesterday's announcement in the Australian Financial Review (and on the Bendigo Bank website) that

"Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has become the first major bank to publicly oppose investing in coal and gas projects, joining a number of big super funds making similar moves."

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