1. Obama rejects the Keystone pipeline
Obama has rejected the proposal to build a pipeline to bring tar sands oil south from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast.
- Obama said Friday that the State Department, in its final Environmental Impact Statement, found that the pipeline would not be in the country’s national interest. “I agree with that decision,” he said.
Three reasons were given – it wouldn’t create the promised jobs (only 35 permanent jobs were on offer), it wouldn’t lower gas prices, and would not increase America’s energy security.
John Abraham says the decision cements Obama’s climate legacy. Under him the US has gone from a laggard to a leader.
But killing Keystone may not kill the tar sands industry. Natasha Geiling discusses its prospects.
The CSIRO has surveyed 18,000 Australians over five years, finding that 78 per cent believed in climate change. Dr Zoe Leviston from the CSIRO stresses that opinions on climate change are more closely related to deep-seated world views rather than political allegiances.
Nevertheless the differences by voting intention are striking – 59% of Labor voters believed climate change was caused by humans, compared to 28% of Liberals, 22% of Nationals, and 76% of Greens.
It seems that deep-seated world views, voting patterns and beliefs on climate change tend to line up. What the CSIRO found is that income, age and gender don’t seem to make much difference.
- When asked on what best described their thoughts, 45.9 per cent of people said they believed in climate change and that humans were largely causing it, while 38.6 per cent believed in climate change, but that it was a natural fluctuation in the Earth’s temperature.
So only about 46% accept scientific orthodoxy.
3. Turnbull cautiously engages in climate change
Every December there is a fortnight-long Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN body (UNFCCC) which has the carriage of climate change. In Warsaw in 2013 no Australian minister attended. The Australian delegation of 20 was actively disruptive and negative.
In Lima in 2014, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attended but much to her chagrin was “chaperoned” by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who, according to Sue Phillips at the ABC, “while not an outright denier, is a little less convinced by climate science than many.”
It looked as though Abbott might not attend Paris in December 2015. Turnbull has indicated that he will attend, as will Julie Bishop. So will Greg Hunt, who for the first time is trusted to represent Australia externally. So far so good.
When Turnbull gained the leadership Graham Readfearn noted the change in Turnbull’s language from the Turnbull of five years ago.
Personally I find no difference in Turnbull’s delivery when he is advocating what he believes, when he is being political and when he is telling outright porkies, all of which he does at times. He’s invariably smooth, articulate and plausible. We’ll have to judge him by what he does, and that is a work in progress.
- Two stunning auction results in India and Chile in the last week have underscored the extraordinary gains that large-scale solar has made against its fossil fuel competitors.
In both countries, solar is now clearly the cheapest option compared to new coal-fired power stations. In Chile, where the auction was open to all technologies, fossil fuel projects did not win a single megawatt of capacity. And the auction produced the lowest ever price for unsubsidised solar – US6.5c/kWh.
In India, US firm SunEdison won the entire 500MW of solar capacity on auction in the state of Andhra Pradesh, quoting a record low tariff for India of INR 4.63/kWh (US7.1c/kWh). Again, this was unsubsidised. And again, it beats new coal generation, particularly generation using imported coal.
These bids follow an auction in the US last month by the Texas city of Austin, which contracted to build 300MW of large-scale solar PV at a price of less than US4c/kWh. Even after backing out a tax credit, this is still less than US6c/kWh, and still beats gas and new coal plants, if anyone was planning to build one.
Deutsche Bank predicted that the India solar market was “ready to take off.”
- The energy offshoot of US asset management giant Brookfield has signed a deal with property group LWP to build a new suburb near Newcastle that will not connect to the grid, in a move that could be a blueprint for more such development and shapes as one of the biggest challenges to the incumbent energy industry yet.
Brookfield Energy and its “multi-utility” offshoot Flow Systems are planning to build a micro-grid based around renewable energy and battery storage that will mean the new housing development of Huntlee will not need to connect to the grid. It will be entirely self-sustaining.