Archive for the ‘Express 120’ Category

“The Fierce Urgency of Now”

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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“The Fierce Urgency of Now”

When Martin Luther King said that he could have been talking about climate change and the devastating consequences of inaction. Disasters abound around the world right now and we are forced to look beyond the ongoing Australian election campaign, which gives many of us little hope to get our teeth into. Pakistan, Russia, China and California are all having to deal with the devastating consequences of extreme weather and, as Munich Re tells us from its most  in-depth studies, this is what we have to come to expect based on climate change scenarios. Bad, but true. We cannot go past Professor Ross Garnaut to salute this week for his outspoken views on Government inaction and leadership woes.  Some big events are coming up which might help demonstrate that the community at large – and business notably – are not standing back waiting for a lead from Government. Look out for the pre-election Walk Against Warming in Brisbane, Beyond Zero Emissions plan for a 100% renewable energy future, and the Climate Change and Business Conference in Sydney. We acknowledge some innovations in transport from China, a study on car use versus air transport, and what the Northern Territory is doing for conservation and the climate. We also have some Green Deals to consider, what London is doing about wind power and what Lend Lease wants to do with solar. Food security raises its ugly head and scientists weigh up whether they are communicating effectively. We reserve the last word for a personalised revisitation to Singapore and what we managed to uncover. – Ken Hickson

Profile: Professor Ross Garnaut

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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Profile: Professor Ross Garnaut

Leaping into the political fray, Professor Ross Garnaut, author of the Government-sponsored Climate Change Review, says Australia’s position on climate change “is weak only because of an extraordinary failure of leadership”. Worst of all, he says, neither of the major political parties has committed itself to policies that can get us anywhere near even the unconditional commitment to 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020,”

Paul Kelly, Editor-at-large, The Australian (6 August 2010): 

PROMINENT adviser to the Labor government Ross Garnaut has attacked both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

He has accused them of a failure of leadership in tackling climate change.

In his 2010 Hamer Oration last night, Professor Garnaut attacked Mr Rudd for an abdication of leadership, and warned that the current Prime Minister had repeated her predecessor’s blunder with her own climate change retreat.

Professor Garnaut made a point of criticising political advisers who gave priority to “short-term politics”.

Australia’s position on climate change “is weak only because of an extraordinary failure of leadership”, he said.

Referring to Mr Rudd’s advisers, he said: “They ignored the crucial respect for and role of leadership in the democratic process. In accepting their advice, Kevin Rudd abdicated the leadership of Australia and set the scene for the destruction of his prime ministership.

“More curious, given the Rudd experience, is the acceptance of similar advice from the same advisers by the new and current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. The (Gillard) statement on climate change policy on Friday, July 23, has precipitated a collapse of political support that is reminiscent of the Rudd abdication.”

Speaking at the University of Melbourne, Professor Garnaut said these collective failures represented “the nadir of the early 21st-century political culture, in which short-term politics and accession to sectional pressures has held sway over leadership and analysis of the national interest”.

He said the paradox in these decisions was the majority public support in Australia for climate change action. This should have opened the way to effective political leadership.

The reality, however, was that Australia was conspicuous “for the weakness of its unconditional commitments” on targets.

“Worst of all, neither of the major political parties has committed itself to policies that can get us anywhere near even the unconditional commitment to 5 per cent reduction from 2000 levels by 2020,” he said.

He said the necessary policy had two elements: an adequate price on carbon and devoting much of the revenue from selling emissions permits to support new low-carbon technologies.

“Leadership is an essential missing ingredient in contemporary public policy,” he said. “Omitted, all the voyage of our lives is bound in shallows and miseries.”


Professor Ross Garnaut

Ross Garnaut is an economist whose career has been built around the analysis of and practice of policy connected to development, economic policy and international relations in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. He has held senior roles in universities, business, government and other Australian and international institutions.

He is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Professorial Fellow in Economics at The University of Melbourne. He is also Distinguished Professor of Economics at The Australian National University. In December 2009, Ross was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from the Australian National University.

Ross is Chairman of Lihir Gold Limited and Chairman of the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program Limited.

Ross was Head of the Economics Department and Division of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University for over a decade from 1989. He played leading roles from the mid-seventies until 2009 in building The Australian National University’s capacity in research and graduate education on Southeast Asia, China (including as Chairman of the China Economy and Business Programme from its foundation in 1989 to 2009), and South Asia. He is the author or editor (alone or jointly with others) of 37 books and numerous influential articles in scholarly journals and books on international economics, public finance, and economic development. He has been Chairman of the Editorial Boards of the journals Asian-Pacific Economic Literature and Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies since 1989. Ross is a founding Director of both the Lowy Institute of International Policy and of Asialink. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington DC) from 2006 to June 2010.

He has held a number of senior Government positions, including as head of the Financial and Economic Policy Division of the Papua New Guinea Department of Finance in the years straddling Independence in 1975; principal economic adviser to Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke; Australian Ambassador to China (1985-88). He has led many high-level Government Reviews and Commissions, including the preparation of the Report to the Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister ‘Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendency’ (1989); the Review of the Wool Industry (1993); the Review of Commonwealth-State Funding (2002); and the Garnaut Climate Change Review (2008). He has led Australian diplomatic missions interacting at Head of Government level to Asian countries on trade policy (1984), to Korea (1989) and the ANC in South Africa.

Ross has been consulted on trade policy and relations with Asia and the Pacific from time to time by the Prime Minister and senior Ministers of successive Australian governments since the Fraser Government (1975-1983).

He has held positions as Chairman of the boards of large Australian and international public companies continuously since 1988, including the Bank of Western Australia, the Primary Industry Bank of Australia and Aluminium Smelters of Victoria.

Ross and his wife Jayne have farming interests on the southwest slopes of New South Wales. He was Chairman of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research from 1994 to 2000.


Fires & Floods. Russia, China, Pakistan. What’s the world coming too?

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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Fires & Floods. Russia, China, Pakistan.  What’s the world coming too?

Devastation from extreme weather continues its race across the northern hemisphere. Wildfires and soaring temperatures in Russia have wreaked havoc, with the Government looking for someone to blame. In Pakistan, 1500 people are feared dead and some three million affected in the worst flooding ever experienced.  A continuing wave of disastrous flooding in  China is severely testing the Three Gorges Dam, which officials have boasted could withstand floods so severe they come only once every 10 000 years.

By Isabel Gorst and Courtney Weaver for Washington Post (4 August 2010):

MOSCOW — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday broke off his vacation and ordered an investigation into the wildfires that have swept across the country, blaming local and military authorities for mismanagement.

Medvedev rushed back to Moscow from his vacation residence in Sochi in southern Russia, and ordered a meeting of senior safety officials, including the minister of defense. He said criminal cases would be opened into officials who had not fulfilled their duties.

The Kremlin has been criticized for failing to prepare for and contain the fires, which have killed 48 people and scorched some 1,885 square kilometers of land. On Wednesday, 520 wildfires were burning around central and western Russia, nine fewer than the day before.

“The situation with forest fires in the country has on the whole stabilised but remains tense and dangerous,” said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev’s move came as swathes of forest, farmland and peat bogs continued to burn, and the Russian capital was shrouded in increasingly acrid smog.

Fires around the industrial city of Vyksa in the Nizhny Novgorod region east of Moscow, sent clouds of choking smoke billowing over farmland and forests, where expanses of charred pine and birch trees could be seen, often still smoldering.

Officials said the smoke was hindering the battle to douse the flames, preventing firefighting aircraft from entering the area.

Valery Shantsev, the governor of Nizhny Novgorod, said firefighters were winning the battle, but warned the region would remain at risk until the heat wave and drought abated.

Weather forecasters have warned that temperatures will remain abnormally high for at least 10 more days and that no respite from the drought is in sight.

 Shantsev said at least 13 of 18 wildfires in the region had been brought under control as thousands of firefighters, soldiers and volunteers joined the battle to contain the crisis.


BBC Report (4 August 2010):  

The BBC’s Orla Guerin joined a Pakistani army helicopter crew on a mission into the disaster zone:

Poor weather is bringing more misery to Pakistan as authorities battle to contain record flooding, with yet more heavy rain forecast.

Rain is falling in parts of the north and east, with villages badly damaged and crops destroyed in fertile Punjab.

Meanwhile bloated rivers are carrying the floodwaters south.

Many of the displaced are openly and angrily asking why President Asif Ali Zardari is on a visit to the UK such a time of crisis, correspondents say.

At a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told ministers to speed up relief efforts, the AFP news agency reported.

The army insists it has mounted an effective rescue operation and says aid is now reaching those hit by the floods.

But thousands of displaced living in makeshift camps are still waiting for food and water – and say they do not expect it to come from the government but private individuals from neighbouring districts.

About 1,500 people are feared to have died and aid agencies say some three million have been affected by the flooding.


By Chi-chi Zhang for AP (29 July 2010):

 BEIJING — Record-high water levels put the capacity of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam to the test Wednesday after heavy rains raged on across the country, compounding flooding problems that already have left more than 1,200 people dead or missing.

The dam’s water flow reached 56,000 cubic meters per second (1.96 million cubic feet) Wednesday morning, the biggest peak flow this year with the water level reaching 518 feet (158 meters), the official Xinhua News Agency reported, about 10 percent less than the dam’s maximum capacity.

Chinese officials for years have boasted the dam could withstand floods so severe they come only once every 10,000 years. The dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric project and was also built to end centuries of floods along the Yangtze River basin.

Floods this year have killed at least 823 people, with 437 missing, and have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the State Flood Control and Drought Prevention reported. More heavy rains are expected for the southeast, southwest and northeast parts of the country through Thursday.

Thousands of workers sandbagged riverbanks and checked reservoirs in Wuhan city in central Hubei province in preparation for potential floods expected to flow from the swollen Yangtze and Han rivers, an official with the Yangtze Water Resources Commission said Wednesday. He was surnamed Zhang but refused to give his full name as it common with Chinese officials.

“Right now, the Han river in Hubei province is on the verge breaching warning levels,” said Zhang.

The Han is expected to rise this week to its highest level in two decades, Xinhua reported.

Though China experiences heavy rains every summer, flooding this year is the worst in more than a decade, as the flood-prone Yangtze River Basin has seen 15 percent more rains than in an average year, Duan Yihong, director of the National Meteorological Center, said in a transcript of an interview Wednesday posted on the Xinhua website.


Extreme Weather Events Live Up to Climate Predictions

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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Extreme Weather Events Live Up to Climate Predictions

2010 is looking like a watershed year for extreme weather, living up to the worst climate change predictions. The first half of 2010 was the hottest on record and was way above average for the number and intensity of extreme weather events. A single weather event is not proof of climate change but the sum total of events constitutes a clear chain of evidence which is backed up by additional meteorological readings, according to Munich Re. Tourists and residents at a popular vacation resort in the French Alps have been warned that they could be drowned if a giant water pocket under a glacier on Mont Blanc bursts.

Report from NewsCore (4 August 2010):

TOURISTS and residents at a popular vacation resort in the French Alps have been warned that they could be drowned if a giant water pocket under a glacier on Mont Blanc bursts.

The pocket, under the Tete-Rousse glacier on the French Alpine slopes, contains the equivalent of 26 Olympic swimming pools and was described by the National Center for Scientific Research as a “pressure cooker.”

It would take just 15 minutes for the pocket to flood St. Gervais valley, a noted vacation spot and home to 3000 people, researchers said.

There would be “a brutal emptying of water which carries along everything in its path,” said Christian Vincent, a geophysics engineer with the center. Vincent said a torrent of mud six to eight times bigger than the original volume of water would be created if the water was released.

Although sirens were set up, the evacuation plan was greeted with skepticism.

“We’d have no chance,” a tourist said.

At least 175 valley dwellers were drowned by an estimated 80,000 cubic meters of water the last time a similar pocket burst, on July 12, 1892.

The pocket, which contains 65,000 cubic meters of water, was discovered by scientists using magnetic resonance imaging. Glaciologists will spend two months trying to pump out 25,000 cubic meters of water from one part of the pocket and hope to obtain a precise location for the remaining 40,000 cubic meters.

Vincent said that the most likely explanation for the formation of the pocket was a period of particularly cold temperatures within the glacier, freezing the water’s escape routes. This may be a result of global warming, which has reduced the snow covering on the glacier and exposed it to the cold.


From Munich Re: Analyses performed by Munich Re’s natural catastrophe database, the most comprehensive in the world, substantiate this increase (in extreme weather events): the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.

Here’s a slice from a report from Dr Sandra Schuster, a meteorologist with Munich Re, Sydney, who has just been appointed as a Lead Author (WG2) for IPCC AR5. It is based on a paper on natural catastrophes and climate change she presented at a seminar for the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.


Natural catastrophes, especially weather related events, are increasing dramatically in number and magnitude, both globally and in Australia.

• There is more and more scientific evidence for causal links between global warming and increasing frequencies and intensities of natural catastrophes.

• For Australia/Oceania the Southern Oscillation Index shows a correlation with loss frequency and severity.

• We have to mitigate global warming and adapt to the changing risks in respect to the regionally specific risk patterns.

• Mitigation and adaptation measures open up great economic chances for companies and countries being on the forefront in these processes.

• Natural catastrophes are still insurable. However we have to adapt our risk assessment, our modeling, our rates, our risk selection and accumulation control continuously.

• With our long experience we have created a unique expertise on natural catastrophe risks in the changing world and are happy to share this within our industry, with government authorities and the UNFCCC- community.

For more from this report and further information on climate change impacts, visit the Munich re website.


The Emissions Race is on Between Cars, Buses & Jets

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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The Emissions Race is on Between Cars, Buses & Jets

Driving a car increases global temperatures in the long run, more than making the same long-distance journey by air according to a new study. However, in the short run travelling by air has a larger adverse climate impact because airplanes strongly affect short-lived warming processes at high altitudes. But help is at hand. China has come up with a novel and cleaner traffic congestion buster – a straddling bus that literally overtakes cars!

By Peter Farquhar, Technology Editor (4 August 2010):  

IMAGINE one day you’re stuck in a smelly Beijing gridlock and you’re suddenly overtaken by a bus.

Not just overtaken, but overtaken. As in, over the top of your car.

This alarming, yet weirdly sensible concept was flagged at the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year.

It’s called the “3D Fast Bus”, despite the fact it’s not really very fast at all with a top speed of just 60km/h.

Still, that’s more than the 1200-1400 passengers on board could hope during rush hour, with Chinese commuters this year snapping up cars faster than their US counterparts for the first time.

Subways are disruptive and extremely expensive to build. Regular buses add to traffic jams and pollution levels.

The “straddling bus” proposed by Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment solves both these problems, and is designed to be powered by a combination of solar power and electricity.

Up to 4.5m high, it allows traffic to flow under it and can reduce traffic jams by up to 30 per cent, according to its creators.

It will cost about 10 per cent of the equivalent of building a similar 40km subway system.

Shenzhen Hashi says it would run on a track straddling both sides of existing roads and could be built within a year — a third of the time it would take to build a subway.

So far, so sensible.

However, another option, says Shenzhen Hashi is to do away with the track and simply create an autopilot system which follows two white lines painted on either side of the road. Graffiti terrorists take note.

There’s also a few other nagging problems, such as what if trucks get pushy?

One solution is using “ultrasonic waves” which emit from either end of the bus to warn the driver that something’s not quite right.

Laser rays that scan traffic will activate alarms inside the bus if there’s a danger of lopping the top off a big rig.

Drivers will also have to keep their wits about them while passing through the bus, but red flashing lights will warn drivers if its about to turn or if they’re too close to the interior walls.

Unrealistic? Not quite.

If it sounds like a good idea that just has some ironing out to do, think again.

Shenzhen Hashi says it’s already got its first order and the 3D Fast Bus has already passed “the first stage demonstration”.

Beijing’s Mentougou District has already planned out 186km for it and construction will begin by the end of the year.


Release from the American Chemical Society (4 August 2010):

Driving a car increases global temperatures in the long run more than making the same long-distance journey by air according to a new study. However, in the short run travelling by air has a larger adverse climate impact because airplanes strongly affect short-lived warming processes at high altitudes.

The study appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-weekly journal.

In the study, Jens Borken-Kleefeld and colleagues compare the impacts on global warming of different means of transport. The researchers use, for the first time, a suite of climate chemistry models to consider the climate effects of all long- and short-lived gases, aerosols and cloud effects, not just carbon dioxide, resulting from transport worldwide.

They concluded that in the long run the global temperature increase from a car trip will be on average higher than from a plane journey of the same distance. However, in the first years after the journey, air travel increases global temperatures four times more than car travel.

Passenger trains and buses cause four to five times less impact than automobile travel for every mile a passenger travels. The findings prove robust despite the scientific uncertainties in understanding the earth’s climate system.

“As planes fly at high altitudes, their impact on ozone and clouds is disproportionately high, though short lived. Although the exact magnitude is uncertain, the net effect is a strong, short-term, temperature increase,” explains Dr. Jens Borken-Kleefeld, lead author of the study.

“Car travel emits more carbon dioxide than air travel per passenger mile. As carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere longer than the other gases, cars have a more harmful impact on climate change in the long term.”

“Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport”



Business as Usual? Climate Change In the Global & National Spotlight

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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Business as Usual? Climate Change In the Global & National Spotlight

Christiana Figueres, the new Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC, will be speaking at the opening of the 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business Conference (10-12 August, Sydney), which will also have Australian politicians putting their party plans on the table.

Christiana Figueres, the new Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC, will be speaking at the opening of the 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business Conference (10-12 August, Sydney).

Ms Figueres will provide a keynote address outlining progress in international negotiations post Copenhagen and expectations for Mexico.

Ms Figureres will speak via live video-link from Bonn, Germany, as part of the official opening of the Conference. The Conference welcome will be presented by the Hon Kristina Keneally, Premier of New South Wales.

The opening session will set the context for the next two days of discussion which will focus on what business can do now to address climate change. It will also examine the likely policy settings post the Australian election and developments in New Zealand. The full program with topic and speaker details is available from the website.


The future of climate policy will be up for discussion at the 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business Conference with The Hon Penny Wong (Labor), Senator Christine Milne (Greens) and Senator Simon Birmingham (Liberals) all confirmed to address the event.

New Zealand will tell its story with the Hon Dr Nick Smith also presenting.

The Hon Penny Wong and Hon Dr Nick Smith will present in person while Senators Milne and Birmingham will speak via video.

International policy will also be in the spotlight, with presentations by Christiana Figueres, the new head of the UNFCCC and Dr Ralph Sims, formerly with the IEA, reviewing the success of complementary measures overseas.

The conference theme is “Business Taking Action” and the core discussion will be around what business is doing now to address climate change and what policy settings it needs.

The 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business is the pre-eminent climate change conference for business in this region, designed by business for business. The conference serves as the major gathering point for business leaders and chief policy makers and allows exchange of information across the Tasman. 

The 2010 conference will focus on how business is moving forward on climate change response in a time of policy uncertainty. Plenary sessions will examine:

• The potential for reduced emissions from key sectors: how and how much?
• Australian and New Zealand policy response to business requirements
• What is needed to unlock and leverage investment in low emissions technology
• Adaptation as a priority response
• The international policy framework and the potential impact on this region
• Inside China and the USA
• The power of complementary measures: what’s working internationally
• Climate change science and communicating the challenge

Additional workshops and concurrent sessions will look at practical lessons learned in specific areas, including:
• New Zealand’s implementation of an ETS,
• energy efficiency,
• NGER and Energy Efficiency reporting,
• international carbon markets,
• land use and
• cleantech


How Important is Climate Change to Australian Voters?

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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How Important is Climate Change to Australian Voters?

A new Australian poll has found climate change is a big issue in voters’ minds, as Labor hastily reassesses its climate policy before election day. A very high number – 78% – said climate change would influence their vote. Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed policy commitments from the Australian Greens to cut pollution, make clean energy cheaper and protect our oceans.

Cathy Alexander for AAP (5 August 2010):

A poll has found climate change is a big issue in voters’ minds, as Labor hastily reassesses its climate policy before election day.

The poll of 2200 people, commissioned by conservation groups, found 78 per cent said climate change would influence their vote.

Almost half said the issue would be a strong influence, with younger people, and those learning towards Labor or the Greens, most concerned.

Climate change has proved difficult for Labor after it dropped its promise to start emissions trading earlier this year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s climate policy is centred on a citizens’ assembly to look into a carbon price, which has been widely criticised and appears to have contributed to a slide in the polls.

Labor is understood to have reassessed its climate policy in recent days and may make further announcements.

Possibilities include incentives to discourage land clearing, and spending more money on climate schemes.

The Auspoll was taken in late July and was commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and WWF.

ACF executive director Don Henry said the poll showed the public was not happy that both parties were “missing on climate”.

“Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott aren’t taking climate change seriously but Australian voters think they should be,” Mr Henry said in reference to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

The Liberals plan to spend money on storing carbon in soils and trees if they win the election.


ACF Announcement( 1 August 2010):

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed policy commitments from the Australian Greens today to cut pollution, make clean energy cheaper and protect our oceans.

“ACF strongly supports the environmentally and economically responsible commitment by the Greens to protect special areas in our oceans,” said ACF Executive Director, Don Henry.

“The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster is a stark reminder of what can happen when fragile marine environments are left unprotected. Setting up a large network of marine sanctuaries will reduce the risks of devastating oil spills and protect our unique marine life for the benefit of all Australians.

“The Greens policy of cutting energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2020 would reduce power bills for households and businesses and is very welcome.

“Australians want our leaders to make clean energy cheaper and help us save energy.

“ACF welcomes the commitments by the Greens for increased investment in urban light rail systems and to investigate the feasibility of high speed rail to connect our largest cities. We urge the major parties to follow this lead by committing to re-balance the national transport budget – with two thirds being invested in cleaner, faster and affordable public transport systems – by the end of the next term of government.

ACF’s independent election scorecard places the Greens on 81 points out of 100 while Labor and the Coalition are lagging behind on 33 and 15 respectively.

“Australians want our leaders to reduce pollution and protect our environment and at the moment, the Greens are leading on ACF’s scorecard with Labor doing poorly, and the Coalition very poorly.” 


Brisbane Protests Climate Inaction & Sydney Promotes Energy Action

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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Brisbane Protests Climate Inaction & Sydney Promotes Energy Action

Thousands of Queenslanders are taking to the Brisbane streets on Sunday 15 August, to call for action on climate change echoing a call from business, economists, scientists and environmentalists dismayed at the lack of effective policy proposals during the election campaign, while in Sydney the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan will be launched at a free public forum in Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 12 August. 

Thousands are expected to join this “Walk against Warming” which will take place from 11am on Sunday 15 August, in the Brisbane CBD.

The peaceful walk will give people of all ages and backgrounds a chance to express their desire for meaningful and effective policies to reduce the effects of human-caused climate change.

“We don’t need a citizens’ assembly. The overwhelming majority of Australians want action NOW to slow climate change. We could make the transition to a clean economy totally powered by renewables by 2020. That would be a decisive step toward a sustainable future. There is no excuse for further inaction,” said Ian Lowe, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Head of Griffith University School of Science.

Latest figures from the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the world is currently experiencing its hottest period since records began in 1880.

According to NOAA, the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 16.2°C – 0.68°C above the 20th century average of 15.5°C.

Labor’s flagship policy announcement is a pledge to create a “citizens assembly” of 150 randomly selected Australians to talk about climate change and decide if and how to act.

The announcement was greeted with derision by environmental groups. Greenpeace described the move as one of “spin, cowardice and inaction” and Australian Conservation Foundation said it was a slow way to address an urgent problem.

“The single most effective action the next Government can take is to put a price on carbon. That will make pollution more expensive and encourage clean and green industries and a healthy future for Queensland” said Toby Hutcheon, Executive Director of Queensland Conservation Council

Last month, an Auspoll survey revealed that 79 per cent of Australians wanted to see a price on carbon pollution.  LNP leader Tony Abbott has said he would abolish any plans to put a price on carbon, claiming that major emerging economies such as China would never agree to one.

However, it has emerged in recent weeks that China now wants to introduce emissions trading before 2015. Europe and New Zealand have already introduced emissions trading schemes.

In the run-up to the election, the Australian Industry Group has warned that “substantial uncertainty over the timing and direction of climate policy is a serious barrier to investment in energy and other major industries across the economy”.

“We have seen hundreds of small and large companies’ line up to lose money trying to innovate in a policy vacuum.  Business is willing to produce clean tech and a healthier economy, consumers want those outcomes, and the government is just playing way too safe and is far behind its community.” said Colman Ridge, organiser of the walk and founder of Greenfest.

Organisers will also be giving away leaflets in packs of 50 to willing walkers who wish to campaign their home street in the last week of the election.  This action is expected to raise questions in over 100 000 homes in South East Queensland about the importance of a price on pollution and why our leaders are not delivering effective policy.


Media release rom Beyond Zero Emissions (5 August 2010):

Turnbull, Carr to launch 100% renewables plan for Australia

In the midst of a Federal Election and with the major party leaders equivocating on climate change, the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan will be launched at a free public forum in Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 12 August at 6.00 pm. 

Hosted by the journalist and broadcaster, Quentin Dempster, the speakers will include:

  • Malcolm Turnbull, MP for Wentworth
  • Bob Carr, former NSW State Premier
  • Scott Ludlam, Greens Senator for WA
  • Matthew Wright, Executive Director, Beyond Zero Emissions
  • Allan Jones, Sustainability Expert, City of Sydney
  • A technical panel including  Keith Lovegrove (Solar Thermal Group Leader, ANU), Lane Crockett (General Manager, Pacific Hydro), Roger Dargaville (Energy Systems Analyst, Melbourne Energy Institute), and Prof Robin Batterham (Kernot Professor of Engineering, The University of Melbourne).

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan shows that the technology required to move Australia to a 100 per cent renewable energy future within ten years is already commercially available. The only major obstacle to achieving this goal is the political will of the major parties to take us there, a point driven home by Melbourne Energy Institute Director Professor Mike Sandiford: “The technology required is already available, and the cost is not prohibitive. What is lacking is the political will and social drive to make it happen.”

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan is a research collaboration between Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne Energy Institute. The plan shows how cost and variability are not obstacles to achieving zero emissions within ten years, and that electrification of Australia’s transport system needs to be part of the whole package.

Beyond Zero Emissions Executive Director and lead author Matthew Wright says the new PM should seriously consider the Zero Carbon Australia’s findings when developing its climate policy: “Our research shows that baseload renewable energy is now available and that Australia can start building a renewable energy system right now. Australia needs a nation-building climate change project with the scale and vision of a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st century. This approach can win the hearts and minds of Australians and put us on track to restore a safe climate. It’s in the country’s interest and in all the political parties’ electoral interests to do so,” says Wright.

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan (ZCA Plan) will be made publicly available at this event and can be downloaded or purchased from the BZE and Melbourne Energy Institute websites, and

The plan will be launched at a free public forum incorporating a panel discussion from 6:00-8:00 pm on Thursday 12 August at Sydney Town Hall, 483 George St.


London Yes to Wind Turbines; Lend Lease Yes to Solar

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
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London Yes to Wind Turbines; Lend Lease Yes to Solar

Australian property developers have ruled out building towers with wind turbines, after the world’s first skyscraper with three rooftop turbines was unveiled in south London. The Strata, dubbed the Razor because of its sharp edges and slick silver tower, like a futuristic building plucked out of Blade Runner. Meanwhile,  the push by construction and property giant Lend Lease into the solar energy business is seen by Giles Parkinson in Climate Spectator as one of the most significant interventions to date in Australia’s nascent renewable energy market.

Glenda Kwek in Sydney Morning Herald (30 July 2010):

Australian property developers have ruled out building towers with wind turbines, after the world’s first skyscraper with three rooftop turbines was unveiled in south London.

The Strata, dubbed the Razor because of its sharp edges and slick silver tower, looms over Elephant and Castle in Southwark like a futuristic building plucked out of Blade Runner and dropped into 1970s Britain.

It’s a striking symbol of what eco-construction can achieve, but property developers here are looking to other technologies to boost the green credentials of their buildings.

The 148-metre apartment block, nicknamed The Lipstick by London mayor Boris Johnson, boosts eye-catching turbines with nine-metre-long blades, which are set to generate up to 8 per cent of its energy requirements.

Its developers, Brookfield, have also forgone air-conditioning for a natural ventilation system.

Strata is London’s tallest residential building, and part of the Southwark area’s billion-dollar redevelopment towards becoming a sustainable growth region, where less carbon is released than used.

Other building projects around the world are also embracing eco-construction, including the visually stunning Rotating Tower, a wind-powered building that constantly changes its shape, and Gwanggyo, a green self-sufficient city just south of Seoul in South Korea.

In Australia, developers are excited about similar projects that would cut the energy consumption of commercial and residential buildings, although wind turbines do not play a part.

“We looked very seriously at wind turbines,” says Brian Churchill, property portfolio manager for Local Government Superannuation (LGS) Scheme, one of Australia’s big property owners.

“The publicity far outweighs the actuality in that it is not nearly as successful, simply because you don’t get wind blowing all the time.

“When we did the feasibility survey in Sydney, we found that you wouldn’t be producing that sort of level of power … so the outcome didn’t justify the investment.”

Churchill’s organisation is among four other property owners that have pledged to go green by 2012.

With support from the federal government’s Green Building Fund, the LGS plans to retro-fit a 1986 office building at Berry Street in North Sydney with a tri-generation plant, using mainly Australian technology, by December 2011.

Its generators will feature the country’s first installation of engines developed by Australian company Bennett Clayton, which use natural gas but emit “virtually no greenhouse gas emissions”, Churchill says.

“They burn gas, but they are so efficient that the exhaust from that … is absolutely clean.

“It’ll not only be energy efficient but it’ll also be greenhouse gas efficient. Our emissions will be 70 per cent below what you need to achieve for a five-star rating from NABERS [the National Australian Built Environment Rating System].”

The project will use energy efficient lights from EnviroLight, another Australian company, which Churchill says are 30 per cent more efficient than the currently popular environmentally friendly T5 lighting.

The air-conditioning system will use the Shaw method, another Australian technology set to cut 25 to 30 per cent off your energy bill.

Importantly for Churchill, the Berry Street building shows “older buildings can perform in light of these new technologies coming through”, and at an affordable cost.

He says while the Property Council of Australia estimates capital costs of between $600 to $900 per square metre to get an older building up to a five-star rating, LGS has managed to achieve the same goals with only $100 to $200 per square metre.

It would take less than five years to recoup the costs through energy savings, he says.

“We have changed the paradigm that you’re probably better off pulling down an old one and putting up a new one, to saying you’ve already got a sunk carbon cost in the existing building, if you can retro-fit it efficiently, and using these technologies can get you there … pretty economically.”

Matthew Nolan of Charter Hall Group’s property services department, says that, while the Razor does serve as a symbol of what microgeneration can do, a focus on macro-generation, such as making power plants more efficient, has more lasting benefits.

For him, the development of Barangaroo at East Darling Harbour is where a whole host of green building initiatives can be tested.

“If you look at Barangaroo, that’s live scale. It’s a great opportunity to make a statement on how things are developed.

“It’s trying to make sure you are going to get something that provides more than just symbology, that you are actually going to get a decent benefit out of the money you are investing.”


Editor’s note: Australian property developers should know that the very innovative ANZ Building in Melbourne’s Docklands has roof mounted wind turbines to further supplement the electricity being generated onsite for use within the building. Solar is also incorporated in the building, as well as a tri-generation plant. Electricity is generated onsite using natural gas instead of alternatives such as brown coal which is the dominant fuel source in Victoria and which has a significantly higher carbon intensity. The heat from the process feeds the air conditioning absorption chillers in the summer and the boilers for heating in the winter.

Giles Parkinson in Climate Spectator (6 August 2010):

The push by construction and property giant Lend Lease into the solar energy business could be one of the most significant interventions to date in Australia’s nascent renewable energy market.

The move is based on a couple of simple premises. The most important of these is the belief that, within a few years, solar photovoltaic technology will match, and then displace, wind energy as the most cost-effective and efficient renewable energy source in Australia.

If that comes to pass, it could turn most forecasts for the build-out of renewable technology in this country on their head, and Lend Lease will be in a position to become a dominant player in what will rapidly become a multi-billion dollar a year solar PV market.

Lend Lease has been quietly working on its plans for the past 12 months, ever since it signed a deal with the world’s biggest solar PV maker, the US-based First Solar, to install 10MW of its panels on the roof-tops of its commercial building portfolio.

The two companies found that there was a meeting of minds, culture and ambition, and Lend Lease has now signed a deal to become the local partner for the distribution and installation of First Solar’s thin-film solar panels, whose modules are scalable from roof-top solar to commercial and industrial scale installations, and to large scale utilities.

Lend Lease, of course, has capabilities across all three markets; from its Delfin home business, to its large commercial and industrial property portfolio, and its construction business, where it has already been involved in two large-scale utility proposals that have been shortlisted for the federal government’s Solar Flagships program – one with AGL and First Solar and the other with TruEnergy and First Solar.

For good measure, Lend Lease has decided to take a completely new business approach to the solar PV market and, rather than focus on direct selling like the current incumbents, it has signed an alliance with a yet-to-be-named major bank and an energy utility (one would presume AGL or TruEnergy) to tap into their multi-million customer bases to market and distribute the product. It has also struck an alliance with the Norwegian firm REC, which will provide silicon-based solar panels.

Lend Lease notes that, even with the rapid boost in the solar PV market in the last 18 months aided by the proliferation of state-based feed-in tariffs, less than 3 per cent of Australian householders will have rooftop solar by the end of the year. The market is ripe for the picking.

“This will be a steep change in the domestic market,” says Chris Carolan, the head of Lend Lease Solar, who was the project director for Australia’s first 5 star CBD building, The Bond, the company’s headquarters. “No one saw Bond coming, no one knew what green star was,” he says. “We want to make the same impact with solar PV.”

Carolan expects the “tipping point” of the solar PV market in Australia will occur at around 2014. That will follow three years of anticipated and consecutive 20 per cent rises in local energy costs (mostly to fund grid upgrades) and declining costs in solar. First Solar is already the market leader in costs, has forecast a 20 per cent reduction in costs per year for the foreseeable future and has achieved a 6 per cent fall in the last quarter alone.

The economics of the venture will be boosted by the Brumby government’s large-scale solar target of 5 per cent by 2020, and the country’s first large-scale feed-in-tariff, an initiative Carolan expects will soon be followed by other state governments.

The 5 per cent Victorian target alone equates to around 2000MW of solar by 2020. Given that it will take a few years to roll out the first projects, that equates to a billion-dollar industry in Victoria alone.

Carolan says that quicker approval time, scalability and the wide availability of sunshine will make it a more compelling energy source than wind. And solar may have a price advantage too.

Lend Lease will also be able to bring its financial strength and its impeccable ratings to bear – something that many utilities would be unable to emulate – and its entry to the solar energy market has an even broader significance.

Firstly, it makes a nonsense of the argument that the only companies with the balance sheet and the motivation to bring such industries to life are those that are currently in the generation game, and should therefore be somehow protected because of this. Let’s strike that off the list of justifications for carbon price compensation packages.

Secondly, Lend Lease is putting itself in a prime position for what many describe as the next industrial revolution – an event marked not just by the introduction of new technologies, but also new business models.

And while Lend Lease may be the first large Australian industrial group to take such an initiative, it is in good company – GE, Siemens and a host of Asian companies such as Samsung, LG and Panasonic are taking a similarly proactive approach to the so-called green economy.

Carolan is being coy about targets for market share and financials, but he is starting the business with 30-odd staff and expects to boost this to more than 100 within six months.

Lend Lease has been working assiduously at the task, using 250 of its staff as “guinea pigs” so that Lend Lease could learn the business while installing solar PV on their rooftops. One thing it learned was that it was not satisfied with industry standards, so it is establishing a Lend Lease solar academy.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into this,” Carolan says.


Coming Clean on Energy Stocks & the Conservation Corridor

Posted by admin on August 6, 2010
Posted under Express 120

Coming Clean on Energy Stocks & the Conservation Corridor

Clean energy stocks have made up some lost ground in the past month, with the global New Energy Index up 10.3 per cent in July, according to Giles Parkinson with his Green Deals update in Climate Spectator, while CE Daily reports that the Northern Territory Government will set up a carbon fund to support conservation and carbon sequestration projects in a “conservation corridor” running from the Territory to South Australia, enabling companies to offset their emissions or their biodiversity impacts.

Green Deals in Climate Spectator Giles Parkinson (4 August 2010):

Clean energy stocks have made up some lost ground in the past month, with the global New Energy Index up 10.3 per cent in July, compared to a 5.6 per cent gain for the broader MSCI global index, and 7 per cent and 4.5 per cent gains for Wall Street and the ASX respectively.  There are some solid reasons for this change of sentiment, according to Geoff Evison, the head of clean energy fund Arkx.

First among these is data showing that the build-out of renewable energy projects has exceeded that of conventional fossil fuels for the second year in a row in Europe and the US, and is expected to do so on a global scale in 2010. The second is the extraordinary build-out of renewable energy, particularly wind, in China, which has now forecast some 600GW of renewable energy capacity by 2020, and has separately predicted clean energy investments of $US740 billion over the next decade.

Arkx’s own return in July was 4.8 per cent, taking its 12 month figure to 15.2 per cent. Its star performers in the latest period were The Arkx Clean Energy Fund, which also rose for the month, closing up 4.85 per cent. Among the fund’s standout performers were Chinese energy measurement company Wasion Group, which jumped 25.6 per cent, and German solar energy company Roth & Rau, which gained 13.7 per cent, helped by predictions that solar installations worldwide would jump 70 per cent in 2010 to more than 12GW.

PV powers on

The boom in rooftop solar photovoltaic energy systems in Australia appears to be continuing unabated, albeit at a smaller scale. Wilson HTM analyst Jenny Cosgrove has lifted her estimates for installed capacity for calendar 2010 to 68MW as at the end of July, up from a previous estimate of 48MW at the end of June. Cosgrove notes that the number of renewable energy certificates generated from small-scale solar PV jumped 27 per cent in July to 2.1 million, taking total RECS created across all technologies for the year to date to 20.3 million, well in excess of the legislated requirement of 12.5 million. 

Which explains why the RECs price remains stuck around the $40 mark, still well below the level needed to provide a financial incentive for a wind farm developer. Cosgrove also notes that the number of RECs generated from win power were down 30 per cent in July from the same month a year earlier, suggesting weaker wind conditions. Total RECs this year from wind power were little more than half for the same period last year, even though the wind capacity has risen nearly 10 per cent over that period.

Geodynamics’ search

Leading geothermal energy developer Geodynamics has launched the search for a new CEO to take over from interim boss Jack Hamilton, who assumed the mantle following the departure of Gerry Grove-White last month. Geodynamics expects to find a replacement by year-end, by which time it will have a fairly clear idea on the prospects of pursuing its dream of unlocking up to 6000MW of clean, baseload energy from the vast resources of geothermal heat locked in granite formations some 4-5 kms underground in the Cooper Basin. Work has recommenced at the Jolokia well to undertake crucial fracturing simulations which will indicate not only the extent of the resource but also the company’s ability to release the energy and to deliver energy to the grid.

New name, new power

The newly rebranded geothermal developer Earth Heat Resources has made further additions to its portfolio of global projects, announcing it would seek geothermal exploration permits in Kenya and continuing its work in Djibouti. Earth Heat, which recently changed its name from Fall River Resources as part of its transformation into a “new energy company”, believes Africa may hold immediate possibility in geothermal projects and gas fired power generation because of its lack of energy resources. It is also pursuing a coal bed methane opportunity in Botswana, and recently signed a farm-in agreement to the Copahue project in Argentina, which aims to establish a 30MW facility from the nearby volcanic resources. Geothermal projects in Argentina are awarded offtake agreements of up to $US120 per mw/h, the company says. Earth Heat also has exploration interests in the US and Australia.


CE Daily Reports:

Northern Territory to establish conservation and carbon fund

The Northern Territory Government will set up a carbon fund to support conservation and carbon sequestration projects in a “conservation corridor” running from the Territory to South Australia. 

Companies seeking to offset their emissions or their biodiversity impacts will be able to contribute to the fund. 

“The funds created could then be used to improve land management practices, leading to more carbon locked up in our soils and native vegetation and the added benefit of improving conservation outcomes,” said NT environment minister, Karl Hampton. 

A spokesman for the minister told CE Daily the carbon fund will finance conservation and sequestration projects in the ‘Trans-Australian Eco-Link’, a conservation corridor which will stretch 3,500 km from the top of the Northern Territory to the South Australian coast. 

The Territory and South Australian governments are each contributing $1.8 million to establishing Eco-Link by 2012. 

“New conservation areas have been added to the link and more are being established,” the spokesman told CE Daily

“Work will proceed as a priority to put the fund in place as soon as possible.” 

The Trans-Australian Eco-Link will be an extension of the Territory Eco-Link, a 1,600 km conservation corridor announced last year as part of the NT Climate Change Policy.