Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

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

James Cook University sacks reef scientist with contrarian views

James Cook University has sacked academic Professor Peter Ridd, he claims because he “dared to fight the university and speak the truth about science and the Great Barrier Reef”. He rejects the scientific evidence linking human activity to degradation of the Great Barrier Reef, and takes the view that the Reef is doing fine.

James Cook deputy vice chancellor Prof Iain Gordon says:

    “We defend Peter’s right to make statements in his area of academic expertise and would continue to do that until we are blue in the face,” Gordon says.

    “The issue has never been about Peter’s right to make statements – it’s about how he has continually broken a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace.”

Continue reading James Cook University sacks reef scientist with contrarian views

Snowy Hydro and the future of renewables

Snowy Hydro 2.0 was, I thought, being justified at the political level by its capacity to back up with pumped storage some of the “reckless” development of wind and solar energy around the place. RenewEconomy now reports that Snowy Hydro is itself planning to develop 800 MW of wind and solar capacity. It has put out an expression of interest document, aiming to conclude contracts by September:

    “The initial aim is to procure 400MW of wind and 400MW of solar off takes,” the document states, although the company may change its mind on the 50/50 split between wind and solar depending on the offers made.

    “Snowy Hydro’s goal is to construct a portfolio of wind and solar offtakes such that the resulting portfolio benefits from diversification of fuel sources (wind / sun), geography (across NEM States, latitude and longitude) and supply profile (intra-day, week, month and season).”

Continue reading Snowy Hydro and the future of renewables

Climate clippings 224

1. Oil and car companies are suddenly investing in electric vehicles. Here’s why.

Joe Romm’s article was also posted at RenewEconomy.

AEMO wants ‘demand response’ as strategic reserve

You will recall that after the closing of Hazelwood Power Station at the end of March 2017 fears were held that the 2017-18 summer would see extensive blackouts. AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator, was tasked to assemble a strategic reserve to keep the lights on.

AEMO assembled a reserve of 1150 megawatts mainly “demand response” capacity with capital cost approaching zero, but the mechanism the agency had used called the Reliability and Reserve Trader or RERT, can’t be automatically rolled over for the summer of 2018-19. And perhaps it can’t be done at all, because the rule-maker, the Australian Energy Market Commission, has changed the rules governing the RERT so that the mechanism can only be used on 10 weeks notice in an emergency as a last resort, which is simply impractical.

So what is going on? Continue reading AEMO wants ‘demand response’ as strategic reserve

Climate clippings 223

1. Climate as an existential threat

Last September I half-finished a post on this topic, with a paper by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop as the centre-piece. Their 28-page report on the state of climate science, action and politics entitled What lies beneath? The scientific understatement of climate risks is introduced as a post at Climate Code Red, but I suggest you go directly to the paper itself. Read any part of it, and I can promise you will be alarmed. Continue reading Climate clippings 223

Flannery rescues the planet

Tim Flannery says A decade ago climate experts were deeply worried. Now they are terrified.

We need to perform superbly in the next 10 years, he says, but the task is doable.

Robyn Williams talked to Tim Flannery at the Planet Talks, part of Womadelaide, in April 2018. There is a transcript available at the link above. Continue reading Flannery rescues the planet

AEMO’s fast track electricity plan

The headline in the SMH was

Australia’s energy operator proposes ‘fast change’ scenario to cut emissions by 52 per cent by 2030

followed by:

    Greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector would be reduced at twice the rate proposed by the Turnbull government under a radical new plan outlined by the Australian Energy Market Operator.

    The “fast change” model puts the public operator on a collision course with policymakers after AEMO outlined a potential cut of 52 per cent to all electricity emissions by 2030, double the rate required to meet our Paris climate change commitments.

The bit I’ve highlighted was wrong. AEMO charted a doable scenario double the rate specified by the Turnbull government, but it was derived from the ENA CSIRO Low Emissions Technology Roadmap, which looked at what would be required to meet the 2°C target under the Paris Agreement. Continue reading AEMO’s fast track electricity plan

Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Back in February this year Malcolm Turnbull (acting for the Commonwealth Government, of course) stumped up $60 million to future proof the Reef. Now we have Great Barrier Reef gets funding boost as PM tells ‘doomsayers’ to be optimistic. Via the NY Times and Gizmodo There’s $500 million more now to save the Great Barrier Reef:

    including $200 million in funding to reduce agricultural pollution and $100 million for “reef restoration and adaptation,” which includes a project to grow stronger corals in laboratories. Other projects include killing off invasive species like the crown-of-thorns starfish and community engagement and enforcement

Everyone, except the ABC, is telling Turnbull, that’s fine and dandy, but won’t do much good unless we get serious about climate change. Continue reading Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Approaching crunch time on Liddell

The AFR reports that Alinta is finalising its bid for Liddell, energy minister Josh Frydenberg says by the end of April, so any day now. That was in response to the announcement by AGL the day before that it will build the 252-megawatt gas-fired plant near its Newcastle Gas Storage Facility, completing construction at the end of 2022, for the cost of $400 million:

Above is an artist impression of a similar facility in South Australia.

Frydenberg was not impressed. Continue reading Approaching crunch time on Liddell

NEG: the plan to do less than nothing

I did not get my full post on the NEG (National Energy Guarantee) finished last night, so it will have to await the COAG meeting today.

Commentators seem to think the NEG will get an amber light from the states. The main problem is that in terms of emissions reduction the NEG has been evaluated as worse than doing nothing by Reputex. To the world it will look like it is – Australia keeping up appearances while putting the mockers on renewable energy and giving coal the best chance ever to keep wrecking the planet. Continue reading NEG: the plan to do less than nothing

Saturday salon 14/4

1. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”

Two problems here. The first is that the above quotation is not found in the bible or Shakespeare, it’s a conflation of Ecclesiastes 8:15 and Isaiah 22:13, plus you could throw in Luke 12:19.

The second problem is more serious. It’s true – kind of. Comprehensive research has shown that if you drink more than five drinks a week every extra glass of wine ‘will shorten your life by 30 minutes’. Continue reading Saturday salon 14/4