Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

Posts on aspects of climate science, climate action and climate policy & planning.

Questions for Mega Cities

Found this interesting article where some experts argue that Sydney train problems could be fixed by halving car registration and removing tolls. It reverses the normal mantra in favour of active and public transport. My take is that the article is asking the wrong questions.  The key question that should be asked is “Why do we continue to allow Australia’s mega cities to grow instead of creating new, properly planned cities?” This post looks at other questions that might be asked if we want to make the transport systems of Australian mega cities more workable. Continue reading Questions for Mega Cities

The energy wars continue in 2018

Josh Frydenberg has just written an opinion piece in the AFR about Why we can’t do without the power of Snowy 2.0.

Can’t do without it, that’s what he said. To impress us he said:

    With only 2 per cent of construction visible above ground, the scheme involved 16 major dams, seven power stations, a pumping station and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts.

Continue reading The energy wars continue in 2018

Climate clippings 120

1. Australia’s vast kelp forests devastated by marine heatwave, study reveals

    A hundred kilometres of kelp forests off the western coast of Australia were wiped out by a marine heatwave between 2010 and 2013, a new study has revealed.

    About 90% of the forests that make up the north-western tip of the Great Southern Reef disappeared over the period, replaced by seaweed turfs, corals, and coral fish usually found in tropical and subtropical waters. Continue reading Climate clippings 120

Paul Hawken’s Drawdown a ‘must read’

Much of the talk about climate action focusses on renewable energy and electric cars. The latest National Greenhouse inventory gives the following pie chart by sector:

Few have addressed the entire problem, not even the IPCC, until Paul Hawken, of Natural Capitalism fame, set to work.

Back in June John D sent me the link to the Vox article A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising with an exhortation Definitely a must read for anyone interested in doing something about climate change. Late, but here it is. Hawken says that if we carry on as we are in a realistically vigorous manner, we will fail. We can succeed, he says, if we adopt and optimise all the solutions available to us, with technology that already exists. Continue reading Paul Hawken’s Drawdown a ‘must read’

Corporate responsibility on climate change cuts in

BHP Billiton has thrown a significant spanner in the works of peak mining bodies lobbying on behalf of fossil fuels to the detriment of climate change. In the 26-page report BHP Industry Association Review downloadable here the company has made three decisions:

First, BHP has reached a preliminary decision to quit the World Coal Association “in light of the identified difference and the narrower activities of benefit to BHP from membership. BHP will invite responses from the WCA before making a final determination as to future membership by 31 March 2018.”

Second, similarly it will make a final determination on membership of the United States Chamber of Commerce on or before 31 March 2018, having identified material differences.

Third, BHP will remain a member of the Minerals Council of Australia, provided that it refrains from policy activity or advocacy that BHP disagrees with within 12 months. Continue reading Corporate responsibility on climate change cuts in

AGL’s $1.36 billion plan to replace Liddell

Andrew Vesey, CEO of AGL made his attitude to new coal clear:

    “It is very simple: We are overloading the atmosphere with heat-trapping gas and the rest is details,” Mr Vesey told an investor briefing in Sydney, where he again forcefully ruled out any investment in new coal-fired power.

He said there were two strategic imperatives that govern all AGL’s investments – affordability and the tenet that the future will be carbon-constrained, making new coal too risky as an investment.

AGL has confirmed its plans to close the Liddell coal generator in NSW and “replace it with 1.6GW of renewables, plus storage and other technologies – saying it was a smarter, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable option than keeping the ageing and unreliable coal plant open.” Continue reading AGL’s $1.36 billion plan to replace Liddell

Turning old mine pits to electricity gold

Miners are meant to rehabilitate old mine sites. An attractive alternative can be to turn them into money-making concerns by means of pumped hydro.

On 27 November Sophie Vorath wrote that the first phase of the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub – a world-first solar and pumped hydroelectricity hybrid – would be generating power for the grid within the next 10 days, which means it started to operate while the votes were being counted in the Queensland election.

There’s more from ARENA, which contributed funding, at Renewable, reliable energy from an old, abandoned mine site? That’s gold Continue reading Turning old mine pits to electricity gold

Wivenhoe legal sharks start to rip and tear

This year is shaping earily like 2010-2011. There was heavy rain around South East Queensland late in 2010, followed by a flood of the Brisbane River, backing up the Bremer River into Ipswich, so both cities suffered significant inundation and flood damage. A Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry was convened, and over 500 pages later came to the conclusion that the flood engineers had acted inappropriately and in breach of the Flood Manual, setting up the conditions for a class action. Three of the four engineers were recommended to be referred to Crime and Misconduct Commission.

In this post I mainly want to link to three comprehensive posts at the time at Larvatus Prodeo and summarize what I treated at length there. I think, modestly, they are essential reading if you want to understand what happened. The class action lawyers certainly have not, and are spruiking complete rubbish to the media. Continue reading Wivenhoe legal sharks start to rip and tear

Climate clippings 118

1. South Australia going for broke

Malcolm Turnbull would call it a ‘reckless, irresponsible, ideological frolic’, but South Austria has been running 63% on wind and solar during the last few months, and is going for broke.

Giles Parkinson says SA must, and will, lead world on renewables.

    The Weatherill and Koutsantonis strategy is to embrace new technologies, cheap wind and solar and storage, smart software and smarter management, and put into practice the sort of scenarios envisaged by the CSIRO, Energy Networks Australia and more recently by the storage review commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel.

All that can stop Weatherill and Koutsantonis is Nick Xenophon at the next election putting the LNP into office. Continue reading Climate clippings 118

The best kept secret: ALP electricity policy for Queensland

I came across it via Facebook around midnight on Saturday night. Not sure when it was released but there’s been nothing in the media yet about it. Surely there will be, because it is more than a little stunning. It’s called Powering Queensland’s Future: Affordable, Stable and Balanced.

From a standing start after the LNP under Campbell Newman had ‘cleansed’ the state of renewable energy projects, since February 2015 the Palaszczuk Labor government has enough runs on the board to be dubbed “a leader in Australia’s renewable energy boom” in a report by The Climate Council – Billion dollar boom: Queensland’s bright renewables future. I’ll summarise what they said, but the Palaszczuk government is running even faster and further than you would be led to believe in that report. Continue reading The best kept secret: ALP electricity policy for Queensland

Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it

James Hansen said in his book Storms for my Grandchildren that if we burnt all the available coal, tars, and oil then the ‘Venus Syndrome’ would be a dead certainty, extinguishing life as we know it on the planet. He has now thought further and says that is not going to happen, the time-scales make it impossible. It would take 100 million years to get enough carbon into the atmosphere, and by that time much of it would be back on the sea floor.

However we are on a path to make living at low latitudes impossible, plus more than half the major cities in the world cling to the coastline and are subject to sea level rise. The world, he says, would become ungovernable.

How likely is this? The short answer is that we appear to be on a path to achieve an ungovernable world within a century. Continue reading Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it