Climate clippings 162

1. China putting the brakes on coal

China exponentially increased its use of coal in the early part of this century, so that 64% of its energy comes from coal. Now studies suggest that coal use in China declined in 2014 and may have peaked in 2013. No new mines will be approved in the next three years.

Of course China suffers from major air pollution problems, with about 1.6 million Chinese die yearly because of air pollution. That’s equivalent to 17 percent of all deaths in China.

2. Acidification will prevent baby fish from navigating

    “More than 95 per cent of marine animals have a dispersive larval stage, where larvae drift with the currents for anywhere from a few days to a year, before returning to settle in their adult habitat near where they were spawned.”

Baby fish use sound to navigate. A study has found with expected levels of acidification sound cues will not work.

3. Take part of your home off the grid

Home batteries are worrying the bejesus out of energy utilities. For example Energex in SE Queensland is worried that homes with solar panels entitled to the 44c/kwh feed-in tariff will charge their batteries from the grid at off-peak rates and then sell it back to get the feed-in tariff.

Tom Kuiper wholesaling manager for Giant Power suggests you take part of your home off the grid.

At the same time Premier Premier Palaszczuk flicks the switch on a solar battery trial saying:

    “The future of energy usage in Queensland is about choice; providing customers with a choice as to how they consume their electricity and how much they rely on the network.

And so on.

4. Land clearing soars in Queensland and Mr Hunt plants trees

Environment minister Greg Hunt wants to plant 20 million trees around the nation to combat urban heat islands.

Meanwhile NSW and Qld appear to be declaring war on trees. Leaked figures obtained by the ABC suggest land clearing in Queensland in 2013-14 was around 278,000 hectares — triple what it was in 2009.

According to The Wilderness Society Queensland’s land-clearing emissions would have cost the Australian taxpayer about $472 million at the carbon price of the last emissions reduction auction. Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has pledged to reform controversial land clearing laws made by the former LNP government.

To be honest I don’t trust the green groups and Labor on this one. The land clearing laws introduced by Peter Beattie were a perversion of justice and quite onerous on landholders. It’s likely the LNP under Newman went too far the other way.

Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would consult all stakeholders and come up with a balanced approach. I hope she does.

5. India’s solar surge may slash coal imports

    Dramatic cost declines in solar power tenders in India have shaken up expectations on pricing for the renewable fuel and have triggered warnings that the country’s need for thermal coal imports will be much lower than some are banking on.

    Huge solar power contracts awarded by Indian states to global players in November and December have been priced at levels more than 20 per cent below 12 months ago and point to solar power rapidly overtaking thermal coal imports in competitiveness for power generation.

    The figures signal that forecasts for growth in the thermal coal trading market by the International Energy Agency are too bullish even though they were cut back in December, according to Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, which supports renewable energy.

There is still a problem with continuity of supply, however, but the risk for Adani and others has increased.

6. European summers the warmest for 2000 years

Scientists have done a careful reconstruction of Europe’s temperatures back to 138 BC. This is what they came up with:


So the hockey stick lives!


    “The past 30 summers — 1986-2015 — were warmer than any other 30-year period since at least 138 BC,”…

7. Is the recent warmth caused by humans?

Michael Mann, the hockey stick man, takes a new look at the odds that 13 of the 15 warmest years occurred by chance, without assistance human-induced climate change.

Press reports have put the odds at anywhere from 1-in-27 million to 1-in-650 million. Mann and company say this is wrong, because it’s based on each year being a statistical isolate. Natural changes tend to occur in runs of several years.

Mann and company now include 2015 and come up with:

    The odds are no greater than 1-in-300,000 that 14 of the 16 warmest years would have occurred since 2000 for the NH. The odds of back-to-back records (something we haven’t seen in several decades) as witnessed with 2014 and 2015, is roughly 1-in-1500.

They ask the question whether indeed the strength of the El Niños of 1998 and 2015-16 are caused by climate change. The short answer is no-one knows.