Sunday 12th of July 2020

seen to do something, but committed to do nothing...


If you’re committed to the Paris agreement – to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees – then at a minimum, logically, scientifically, you’re committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

So far, at least 77 countries have committed to the target, as has every state and territory in Australia. The fact that prime minister Scott Morrison is pushing back hard against the calls for such a target sends yet another strong signal that his government still denies the need to tackle climate change.

Sensing it must be seen to do something, but committed to doing nothing substantive, the government is arguing that investing in technology is the superior pathway to… to… to what? Are billions of dollars of public funds about to be allocated to a strategy that delivers on an unspoken goal?

This passion for technology is newfound and insincere. In truth, our government has a long history of undermining climate technologies.

In the three years to 2016, the government ripped just shy of $1bn from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), the body charged with helping early stage technologies through to commercial launch.

The funding of a feasibility study for a coal power station in Collinsville and the foreshadowed gift of $11m to extend the life of the 42 years old Vales Point coal power station in the Hunter, demonstrate just how reluctant the Coalition is to let go of last century’s energy technologies.

One of the most promising and critical new technologies is the rapid maturation of the electric vehicle, but who can forget the government’s pushback against EVs during last year’s election?

Last November I visited the Leilac zero carbon cement project Belgium – an exciting project given that cement is responsible for 7% of global emissions, more than twice as much as aviation. The new process captures most of the carbon dioxide that’s ordinarily released to the atmosphere during cement manufacture. The technology, which can be powered by renewable energy, was developed in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria and was lured to Europe on the back of a €12 million grant and a price on carbon.


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solar panels use light — not heat...

The pace of climate change in the Arctic and its surroundings is much greater than other parts of the world, leading to an urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and expand renewable energy options. Renewable’s four founding business partners met while working in Alaska’s oil industry. The four shared a mutual interest in renewable energy, with some of them having experimented with DIY solar projects at home. After generating power for their own homes, they wanted to find a way to expand solar within the state.

“We chose to go with a utility scale solar project, as we felt that would provide the biggest impact,” says Jenn Miller, chief executive of Renewable. “We got out and drove piles and built frames, which was great because we were able to learn a lot, figure out potential design problems and make changes to create the most efficient model possible.”


Their pilot project of two rows of 70 kW panels suggested that the farm would work on a larger scale. The first rows went in during the summer of 2018, and after eight months, the costs came in on target, says Chris Colbert, chief finance officer of Renewable. “We monitored production throughout the year, which also came in on target,” he says. That made it easier for them to get the attention of investors to allow them to expand.

“Solar viability is a function of two things: solar resource and electricity prices,” says Miller. Alaska’s electricity prices are almost double the US average, creating a great deal of interest in alternative technologies. And, perhaps surprisingly, on average Alaska is a sunny place.



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dirty coal is dirty coal...

Climate campaigners condemn 'insidious' cocktail party for MPs and coal industry

Parliament House event represents an effort to undermine climate action, environmental group 350 Australia says

Environmental campaigners say a cocktail night involving the fossil fuel industry and federal politicians represents an “insidious” lobbying effort to undermine climate action.

The pro-coal Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon will host a cocktail event at Parliament House to discuss carbon capture and storage with industry leaders on Wednesday night.

An invite seen by the Guardian was sent out by Kelly and Fitzgibbon, who chair the parliamentary friends of resources, together with representatives of Santos and the carbon capture body CO2CRC. The event is described as a “cocktail event to mark the inaugural meeting of the CO2CRC Carbon Capture and Storage Policy Forum”.

That forum features companies such as BHP, Chevron, Coal21, ENI, Exxon, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, JPower, Shell and Woodside.

The invite says the forum aims to “work with governments, industry and other stakeholders” to create “suitable policy settings and a regulatory framework to accelerate the development and deployment of CCS technology in Australia”.

“CCS has the potential to create a new wealth-creating industry for Australia, breathe new life into existing industries by reducing carbon emissions, and underpin the development of new energies such as hydrogen,” the invite said.

Environment group 350 Australia says the event shows the need to “crack down on the undue influence of lobby groups on our democracy”.

The 350 Australia chief executive, Lucy Manne, said the event was an “insidious effort by the fossil fuel lobby to undermine action on the climate crisis”.

Manne said carbon capture and storage had proven a “pipe dream of the coal and gas lobby” and diverted millions away from proven renewables.

“The climate crisis has been felt across the country this past summer, with communities suffering due to extreme bushfires, drought, floods and heatwaves,” she said.

“It’s outrageous that instead of working out how to rapidly transition to the renewable energy future the vast majority of Australians and businesses want, our elected representatives will tonight be sipping cocktails with the coal lobby and discussing how to extend the life of dirty coal-burning power stations.”


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