Archive for the ‘Express 84’ Category

Profile: Baroness Valerie Amos

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Profile: Baroness Valerie Amos


Critical of the negative reporting she is seeing on a daily basis, Britain’s new High Commissioner says Australia was well positioned to lead the international community on climate change but the public debate should move beyond scepticism and negativity to finding solutions.


Jonathan Pearlman in The Age (13 November 2009):


BRITAIN’S new high commissioner in Canberra, Baroness Valerie Amos, has expressed surprise that Australians are still debating whether humans cause climate change and says other nations such as her own have long since ”moved on”.


In her first public comments since arriving in Canberra three weeks ago, Baroness Amos (pictured right), a former leader of the House of Lords and Britain’s first black female cabinet member, said Australia was well positioned to lead the international community on climate change but the public debate should move beyond scepticism and negativity to finding solutions.


Her comments come days after a senior Liberal, Nick Minchin, said he and most of his party colleagues believed man-made climate change was a myth. ”I have been surprised that the science itself is being questioned,” Baroness Amos told The Age. ”These are things where there have been debates over a long period of time in other countries and where we have reached conclusions and moved on … In the UK, there is a degree of political consensus about what in broad terms needs to be done. There is a lot of debate about how we do it. You would certainly not see on a daily basis … the kind of negative reporting that you have here.”


British envoys tend to be among the most influential of the foreign diplomats in Canberra and usually have a direct line to senior political and business leaders.


When she first met Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on her third day in the country, Baroness Amos presented him with a world map showing the potentially horrific consequences of rising temperatures, including the risk of more dangerous bushfires across Australia.


”Australia as a country has seen the impact of some of this, in terms of drought and what is happening with annual fires,” she said.


”I was a bit surprised at the negativity of some of the debate … It would be great for Australia to be out there and leading the way. Being a resource-rich country does not mean that, in putting in place measures that lead to clean coal technology and lower emissions, economically you need to fall behind.”


Relations between Britain and Australia were evolving, she said, and should focus on future common goals – such as promoting human rights – rather than dwelling on their shared past.


A decision on whether to become a republic was ”definitely an issue for Australia” and would not affect relations with Britain, she said. ”It is not an issue for Britain at all. It is an issue for Australia and Australians to decide what they want their constitutional arrangements to be.”






Baroness Amos is one of three black peers that sit in the House of Lords. She was created a life peer in 1997. She is what is referred as ‘a working peer’, and before her current appointment was  the Secretary of State for International Development


Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Amos was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs in June 2001 with responsibility for Africa, the Commonwealth, the Caribbean, Overseas Territories, Consular Issues and FCO Personnel.


Previously she was the Government Whip from 1998 to 2001 and a co-opted member, European Union Sub-committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) from 1997-98.


She was spokesperson for social security 1998-2001, international development since 1998, women’s issues 1998-2001, and foreign and commonwealth office 2001


Born in March 1954 in Guyana, Valerie Ann Amos began her career in local government, working in various London boroughs from 1981 to 1989. She was educated at Townley Grammar School for Girls before completing a degree in sociology at Warwick University in 1976, a master’s degree in cultural studies from Birmingham University in 1977 and doctoral research at University of East Anglia.


She was chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission from 1989 to 1994, and then director of Amos Fraser Bernard from 1995 to 1998.


She was deputy chair of the Runnymede Trust, a trustee of Institute of Public Policy Research and involved in Project Hope, an NGO which promotes healthcare.


Her charity works involved being the chair of the board of governors at Royal College of Nursing Institute from 1994 to 1998 and one of the directors of Hampstead Theatre.


From Act on Copenhagen:


The UK is one of five European Union countries to have already met their targets for reducing emissions below the levels required to be met by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol.


The European Environment Agency said that the European Union as a whole and all Member States bar one are on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitments to limit and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


In a report issued on 12 November, the EEA said that the five countries would not need to rely on buying extra carbon offsets from abroad assuming that they manage to keep their emissions below their burden-sharing targets or further reduce them.


The Kyoto Protocol, established in 1997, commits a number of industrialised nations to bring down their emissions from a 1990 baseline. The 15 European countries that were EU members in 1997 jointly committed to an 8% reduction.


The graphs shows how the 15 EU members have performed relative to their targets (in percentage points) where negative numbers are emissions below target and positive numbers show emissions above target.


The COP15 Copenhagen website hailed the five countries as ‘carbon heroes. ‘Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Sweden can all claim the title of climate’s heroes,’ it said. Only Austria expects to fall short of its commitment under current conditions and will have to intensify its efforts to reduce emissions.


Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA’s Executive Director, said: ‘It is encouraging that Europe’s climate-changing emissions are expected to continue decreasing, outperforming the objectives set by the Kyoto Protocol.’


‘Such an accomplishment should encourage all countries to agree on much larger reductions of global emissions, sealing a global deal in Copenhagen this December.’


These projections have started to factor in the recent economic downturn, but even so, emissions of greenhouse gases ‘may still be overstated in the short term,’ the agency said. ‘As such, the recession could bring about further cuts in emissions.’


The EEA said that reductions between 2008 and 2012 will be achieved through a combination of existing and additional policies; the purchase by governments of credits from emission-reducing projects outside the EU; the trading of emission allowances by participants in the EU emission trading scheme (EU ETS); and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere.



Global Deal To Cut Oil & Coal

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Global Deal To Cut Oil & Coal

The world faces a surge in energy costs, as well as in planet-warming carbon emissions, unless it can swiftly agree a climate change deal. This from a surprising source – the International Energy Agency. IEA also says that for global warming to be restrained to a two degree temperature increase, coal use must decline.

Two reports on the release of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook released this past week.

Muriel Boselli and Barbara Lewis in Reuters World Environment News (11 November 2009):


PARIS/LONDON – The world faces a surge in energy costs, as well as in planet-warming carbon emissions, unless it can swiftly agree a climate change deal, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.


Arguing strongly for a global deal at the U.N. Climate Change summit in Copenhagen in December, the IEA said use of fossil fuels would increase quickly if policies remained unchanged.


Without an international agreement on climate change, the ratio of energy spending to gross domestic product for the largest consumer countries would double by 2030.


The world would have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delayed implementing a deal on global warming, the IEA said in its annual World Energy Outlook.


“As the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions, energy is at the heart of the problem and so must be integral to the solution. The time to act has arrived,” it said.


IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told Reuters in an interview the world needed to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent.


“The world needs to go to the 450 part per million (ppm) target, not only because of climate change but because of growing problems within our energy system and its possible implications again on the economy,” Birol said.


Global energy demand would rise by an average of 2.5 percent per year over the next five years if governments made no changes to their existing policies and measures.




Under these circumstances, which the IEA called its reference scenario, world primary energy demand would rise by an average of 1.5 percent per year over the next two decades.


Oil demand, excluding biofuels, would increase by 1 percent per year to 105 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030 from 85 million bpd in 2008. This was a slight decrease in its demand forecast, reflecting the impact of the global economic downturn.


Last year the agency, which advises 28 industrialized nations, forecast oil use would reach 106 million bpd by 2030.


But the IEA stressed the trend toward heavier use of hydrocarbons would be unabated without a climate change deal.


“Fossil fuels remain the dominant sources of primary energy worldwide in the reference scenario, accounting for more than three-quarters of the overall increase in energy use,” it said.


A key driver of energy demand would be inexorable growth in power generation, it said, forecasting in its reference scenario world electricity demand would grow 2.5 percent a year to 2030.


Stressing the need to move away from dependence on fossil fuels, Birol said that without a climate change deal, the European Union’s annual energy bill would more than double to $500 billion by 2030, up from $160 billion in the last 30 years.


Oil prices soared to a record of nearly $150 a barrel in July last year. They then collapsed to less than $33 last December, but have since recovered to around $80.


The price collapse, combined with the credit crisis, choked off investment and the Paris-based IEA has warned the oil market could surge back, damaging still fragile economic growth.


Birol said the oil price was likely to reach $100 per barrel by 2015 and $190 by 2030: “This means that if we don’t do anything to our energy system, we will be in difficulty.”


Bank of Ireland analyst Paul Harris said the IEA had taken a “rather cautious approach” in the report.


“There’s an emerging consensus that the demand and supply balance is really going to start to tighten by 2015 which should sound the death knell for cheap oil.”





Cathy Alexander in Sydney Morning Herald (12 November 2009):


One of the world’s top energy experts says that despite climate change, there is a strong future for the backbone of the Australian economy – coal.


Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), gave an upbeat assessment of the prospects for new technologies to make coal more climate-friendly.


He said Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – which captures the carbon emissions from burning coal and buries those emissions underground – was “advancing”.


“I think now the momentum is there … it’s moving,” Mr Tanaka told AAP at a media event in Copenhagen.


“Technological innovation is happening, the cost is coming much lower, so, I think, the future is there.


“We still think that coal has a long-term future, because technology is coming.”


CCS is not yet available on a commercial scale, and critics say it won’t work.


Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and coal is one of the nation’s biggest earners, reaping tens of billions of dollars a year. The economy is built on cheap coal-fired electricity.


But coal is one of the dirtiest ways of producing energy, and some environmentalists believe it should no longer be used.


The IEA, which is an energy advisory body for rich countries like Australia, says that for global warming to be restrained to a two degree temperature increase, coal use must decline.


But it would still be used.


Mr Tanaka said the technology to capture carbon emissions was already quite good – using chemicals or algae for example – but more work was needed on carbon storage.


The public was concerned about emissions leaking back into the atmosphere, he said.


More work was also needed on the legal framework behind CCS, and on how to transfer the technology to major emerging economies like China and India.


Installing CCS technology, if and when it becomes commercially available, would cost more than running a conventional coal-fired power station.


Mr Tanaka said that for CCS to become commercially viable, a carbon price – the cost of pollution to be levied under an emissions trading schemes (ETS) – of $US50 ($A53.79) a tonne was needed by 2020.


That would need to rise to $US110 ($A118.34) towards 2030.


There was growing awareness among governments of the importance of the carbon price to CCS, Mr Tanaka said.


He praised the Australian-led Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which aims to accelerate the deployment of CCS.


The institute was launched this year and receives $A100 million a year from the government.



Leaders For Global Breakthrough

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Leaders For Global Breakthrough

Denmark has officially invited 191 heads of state and government to the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen next month, while US officials are urgently considering an interim climate change pact before tackling a more ambitious plan next year. Sky’s Eco Report focuses on Copenhagen hopes.

Sky News special on Copenhagen – Eco Report

Special edition focussing on Copenhagen featured on Sky Business Eco Report on 13 November 2009, repeated over the weekend. It included Andrew Petersen from PriceWaterhouse Coopers; Dominque La Fountaine from Pitt & Sherry, and Ralph Hillman from the Australian Coal Association. WWF CEO Greg Bourne made an appearance, as did ABC Carbon’s Ken Hickson. You can hear a podcast on

An AFP report in Sydney Morning Herald (13 November 2009):

Denmark has officially invited 191 heads of state and government to the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen next month.

The office of the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen on Thursday confirmed the invitations to the December gathering were made via Denmark’s diplomatic missions.

“Your personal attendance is a pivotal contribution to a successful outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference,” Rasmussen wrote in the invitation.

The official invite marks an additional push on global leaders to attend the much anticipated conference.

“Our joint efforts will be judged by the citizens of the world on December 18 when we close the conference,” the letter said.

During preparatory talks held in Barcelona last week, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer urged world leaders to attend the summit.

“I have never before witnessed a moment in time when this issue has been so high on the agenda of world leaders,” he told reporters.

“We must capitalise on that in Copenhagen by inviting world leaders to give the Copenhagen outcome the final push and get us to a result.”

Despite the fact the formal invitation was only made on Thursday, de Boer said 40 heads of state and government were already tipped to attend.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on that list, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva.

UN climate conferences are usually attended by environment ministers rather than heads of state and government, but the stakes in Copenhagen are such that world leaders have been urged to attend.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly encouraged all heads of state and government to attend the key talks in Copenhagen.

Ban “believes that direct head of state and government involvement is essential for governments to reach agreement on the core issues at the heart of a global climate change deal,” a UN statement said.

Environmental group Greenpeace also lauded the official invitation.

“Some heads of state have been ducking the question about going to the Copenhagen Climate Summit by saying no formal invitation has come from Denmark,” said Greenpeace Denmark spokesperson Tove Ryding.

“That excuse is now gone.”

The Copenhagen marathon is designed to climax a two-year process of negotiations leading to a worldwide agreement for tackling climate change beyond 2012.




WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) — US officials are considering an interim climate change pact before next month’s summit in Denmark, tackling a more ambitious plan next year, officials said.


The two-pronged, scaled-back strategy is being driven by lack of action on climate legislation in Congress, hampering the Obama administration’s efforts to strike an international deal this year, The Washington Post reported Friday


Backing an interim agreement would be an attempt to keep the U.N.-sponsored talks in Copenhagen and before from being seen as a failure, administration and congressional officials told the Post. At the U.N.-backed climate change summit, world leaders will consider a successor to the Kyoto protocol on climate change.


“An interim, operational deal is not meant to be seen as a substitute for a real agreement,” Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy on climate change. “It’s meant to be seen as substantive building blocks to a full, legal agreement, and perhaps the best chance of getting such an agreement.”


At the core of the interim agreement are “political commitments” from key nations outlining targets to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and includes the amount of money wealthy countries would contribute to help developing nations address global warming and reduce emissions, the Post said. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen outlined the interim deal last month.


Leaders of the European Union, U.S. environmental groups and developing nations pushed for a binding treaty specifying how much nations would cut their greenhouse gas emissions during the next decade and the method for distributing money to developing countries.


“To the extent we can build a framework and even some of the elements that lead us to a final treaty in six months or less, that’s essential,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the Washington.



Risk of Coastal Inundation

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Risk of Coastal Inundation

Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to A$63 billion, will be “at risk of inundation” by the end of the century, under “worst-case but plausible” predictions of rising sea levels. Minister Penny Wong also announced the creation of a seven-member Coasts and Climate Change Council to be chaired by Professor Tim Flannery.

Lenore Taylor, National Correspondent in The Australian (14 November 2009):

Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to A$63 billion, will be “at risk of inundation” by the end of the century, under “worst-case but plausible” predictions of rising sea levels.

The study — released ahead of the crucial Senate vote on Labor’s emissions trading scheme — modelled the effect of a 1.1m sea-level rise on cities and towns around Australia.

This is a higher level than the 79cm end-of-century rise predicted by the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but in the mid-range of some subsequently published research.

It found between 157,000 and 247,000 homes “at risk of inundation” — meaning they would be permanently flooded or frequently flooded by storm surges or king tides — with hospitals, water-treatment plants and other public buildings also found to be at risk.

Even Sydney airport would be at “increased risk” of inundation, according to the study, written by the Department of Climate Change with input from CSIRO, Geosciences Australia and scores of academics.

The study — which models possible risks down to township and local government areas complete with aerial photographs of towns showing the possible inundation — appears timed to give the public a sharp reminder of the possible dangers of climate change.

It also increases pressure on the opposition as the government’s ETS bill is brought back to parliament next week.

It found NSW had “the greatest exposure”, with between 40,800 and 62,400 homes at risk, followed by Queensland (35,900 to 56,900), Victoria (27,600 to 44,600), South Australia (25,200 to 43,000) and Western Australia (18,700 to 28,000).

Within each state, it identified the local government areas where property was most “at risk” — for NSW, Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Rockdale; for Queensland, Moreton Bay, Mackay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast; and for Victoria, Kingston, Geelong, Wellington and Port Phillip.

The study says that “based on the recent science 1.1m was selected as a plausible value for sea-level rise for this risk assessment. It is important to note that the purpose of a risk assessment is to identify areas of risk and therefore plausible worse-case scenarios need to be considered.”

Andrew Ash, director of the CSIRO climate-change adaption flagship, said the 1.1m sea-level rise was “certainly plausible”.

“As things stand, the only variation will be exactly when we reach that level,” Dr Ash said.

Given the study was meant to help government planning decisions, it was therefore “both plausible and appropriate” to model a 1.1m rise.

As well as the threat of inundation, the study calculates how many buildings are under threat from “soft” erodable shorelines.



Government report:


New report finds coastal communities

at risk from climate change


A new report mapping the impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastal communities has been released today by the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong.


The report – Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – is the first continental scale mapping of residential buildings at risk from climate change. It also details the risks to coastal infrastructure, services and industry in Australia as a result of climate change.


Senator Wong said many coastal communities were vulnerable to impacts such as sea inundation and erosion. The report shows between 157,000 to 247,600 existing residential buildings will be at risk from sea inundation by 2100, under a sea-level rise scenario of 1.1m.


“This report paints a picture of the widespread impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastlines, and the risks posed to buildings located in coastal areas,’’ Senator Wong said.


“The science tells us our climate is changing faster than first projected and the impacts are likely to be more severe as sea-level rises and extreme storms and floods become more frequent.


“These changes are already happening and we cannot afford to ignore the findings of this report.’’


Major coastal infrastructure that underpins our economy, such as airports and ports, will also be at risk from climate change, the report shows.


“Sea-level rise, more intense cyclones and ocean acidification will potentially increase the capital and operating costs of ports quite significantly by mid century,’’ Senator Wong said.


“A number of airports are also located in low-lying areas in the coastal zone, and are at risk of inundation in the coming century.’’


Senator Wong said the report showed the need to address and start planning for the impacts of climate change.


“Every day we delay action on climate change, we increase the cost,’’ Senator Wong said.


“This report shows the need to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change, which is why we are determined to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.


“It also shows that Australia must plan to adapt to the climate change we can’t avoid.’’


Senator Wong announced the creation of a seven-member Coasts and Climate Change Council (membership list attached), to be chaired by Professor Tim Flannery.


The Council will engage with the community and stakeholders and advise the Government in the lead up to a Coastal Climate Change Forum, to be held in early 2010. This Forum will bring together all levels of government to develop a strategy for coastal adaptation.

Professor Flannery said the report showed the extent of the climate change challenge facing Australia, and the need for all levels of government to take action now.

“Our coasts are already being impacted by climate change,” Professor Flannery said.

“We can no longer ignore the need to reduce emissions and manage the challenges that climate change poses to our way of life.”

 “This report highlights the need for planned, coordinated action to help manage the risks,’’ Senator Wong said.


“State and local governments, business and communities will all need to play a major part to prepare for unavoidable climate change impacts.’’


Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – A First Pass Assessment is available from the Department of Climate Change web site.







Chairman, Professor Tim Flannery – Faculty of Science, Macquarie University


Ms Sam Mostyn – expert in sustainability and risk management


Mr Ron Clarke – Mayor of Gold Coast


Ms Paddi Creevey – Mayor of Mandurah


Professor Barbara Norman – Foundation Chair, Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Business and Government, University of Canberra


Professor Bruce Thom – President, Australian Coastal Society


Geoff Lake – President, Australian Local Government Association



Is Australia Plugged In?

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Is Australia Plugged In?


Electric cars could help countries reduce their oil dependency but governments must provide incentives to make the shift, as automakers are planning to bring over 30 new electric vehicles – more than a million units – onto the global market within three years. Where is Australia placed to capitalise on this? Reports from Australia’s first Electric Vehicle Conference.


For more information on the EV Conference, including plans for future events and copies of papers, go to



Ken Hickson’s presentation to the Electric Vehicle Conference was on “What Policies were being developed around the world” for the introduction of electric vehicles. He posed and answered these questions: Where is the leadership coming from, as the world moves in the direction of low or zero emission transport. What’s happening in Europe? Is France taking the lead? What about Japan with its hybrid superiority? What about the US & China? And where is Australia in all this?


To read and see the complete presentation, go to:




Dr Andrew Simpson, Research Fellow at Curtin University’s Sustainable Policy Institute and an acknowledged expert on the development of electric vehicles was a key note speaker at the conference. He set the scene as to the global picture of electric vehicle developments and infrastructure. This paper by Andrew Simpson is an expansion of his presentation to the conference:


The electric revolution is on track


The race to bring electric vehicles (EVs) to market has begun and many believe the impact of this technology will be profound.


Automakers are planning to bring over 30 new EVs to the global market within three years and

cumulative production is planned to exceed 1 million units in that time. Recent market research

shows that over one third of Australian car buyers will consider an EV for their next purchase.

While they may have to wait a few years to access the new products, Australians should at least

expect to see plug-in cars from Mitsubishi, Toyota, Holden, Nissan, Smart and Tesla on our roads

by 2013.


Meanwhile, a local cottage industry is building to fill the looming supply gap and provide

consumers with early exposure to the technology through retrofitting.


The new breed of lithium-ion battery EVs promises full highway capability with the expected set of

features and accessories. Driving ranges from 100km up to 400km per charge are sufficient for a

large segment of the market considering that 90 per cent of Australians drive less than 100km

each day.


A typical 40km commute can be recharged in 3 hours from a standard power outlet, and

considerably faster using the higher-power chargers or battery-exchange offered by commercial

infrastructure providers such as Better Place and Charge Point.


Software vendors such as Google and GridPoint are also providing off-the-shelf intelligence to network the charging stations and manage the scheduling of charging loads.


International standards are being evaluated by Standards Australia to guarantee safety in the

batteries and high-voltage systems and ensure accessibility to charging infrastructure.


Battery lifetime expectations have improved to meet industry requirements although, given the

limited on-road experience, automakers might only provide limited warranties on their early

products. What is also clear is that Australia will need new workforce skills to support all this new



Motoring with electricity at $0.20 per kilowatt-hour achieves one-third the cost of petrol at $1.30

per litre, with the powerful incentive of it being home-grown power, not imported oil – plus there’s

the option of using renewable power.


The industry also expects EV maintenance to cost about half that of petrol vehicles, and the

combined low-cost of motoring can outweigh the amortised incremental cost of electric

powertrains and battery degradation. Nonetheless, consumers may not recognise the total cost

benefits if they get sticker-shock from predicted vehicle prices of $40,000 or more.


Therefore new business models such as battery leasing and fleet EV subscriptions will provide commercial opportunities to shield consumers from upfront costs and realise the overall savings.


Meanwhile, over $4 billion of global automotive stimulus funds will foster innovation and

economies of scale to drive costs down further but, unlike other markets, Australia still lacks

consumer incentives to promote demand.


Policymakers argue that consumer incentives cannot succeed without adequate EV supply, yet those same incentives provide the investment signal for automakers to confidently bring products to Australia.


To avoid being on the tail end of the EV revolution, those policy makers should also consider the

societal benefits of EVs, because they are compelling – far more than converting your car to

LPG, which does get a subsidy.


Each EV will avoid over 8 barrels of imported oil annually, saving $700 per vehicle in our trade

deficit at current prices (and let’s not forget military expenditures in the Middle East either).


The same EV will further avoid 150kg of toxic urban pollution each year, with a public health value

of $400 per vehicle according to the Australian Transport Council. Even with the coal-fired

Australian grid, our studies show an EV on average will reduce net transport greenhouse gas

emissions by 1 tonne each year, increasing to 4 tonnes with 100 per cent green power.


Though the CPRS permit price is $10 per tonne, the estimated societal cost of GHG emissions is

closer to $50 per tonne – leading to benefits from the EV of up to $200 per year. Over five years,

these externalities all add up to over $6,000 per vehicle.


For the grid, numerous studies have shown that there is excess off-peak capacity to recharge an

EV fleet. Smart charging functionality in EVs can build upon the national smart meter, smart grid

and broadband rollouts to shift the majority of charging loads to off-peak and mitigate coincidental

loads during the peak.


For electric utilities, that means more power sold at opportune times – increasing asset utilisation

without a need for network expansion – equalling more profit. Utilities in the US such as PG&E

and SCE already offer discounted EV tariffs to attract EV customers.


Turning cities into energy reservoirs


Additionally, a networked fleet of smart-charging batteries can potentially provide utilities with

low-cost grid ancillary support services and the holy grail of grid energy storage. Using vehicle

batteries to store and return power to the grid – known as ‘vehicle to grid’ or V2G technology –

would perform a traditionally costly function and would do much to support a high penetration of

intermittent renewable energy such as wind and solar in the grid.


To get to 20 per cent renewable by 2020, we’ll need much more of this grid support and it would

be quite a coup for EVs to enable green power in excess of their own requirements for



While there are presently significant regulatory barriers to such a scheme, our studies estimate

that a networked EV providing grid services could enable up to 43 megawatt-hours of renewable

energy each year, compared to the 3 megawatt-hours required to power the EV alone. This

would produce further savings of 37 tonnes of GHG emissions from the stationary energy sector

with a societal value of almost $2,000 per year per vehicle.


When you look at the total potential benefits, you can see why the US provides a consumer tax

credit of $US7,500 for every EV sold, drawing products into that market and away from ours.

EVs also fit well into the reshaping of cities for sustainability. Buses and light rail can also be EVs,

with the potential to be 100 per cent renewable.


Yet despite the need for more public transit, cycling and walking, private motor vehicles will still

be present. EVs make increasing sense in dense urban environments with reduced kilometres

travelled in smaller vehicles. They’re quieter and cleaner too, and the economics of EVs make

sense for community car-sharing.


For transit infrastructure planning, there are potential synergies in clusters of EV recharging

around electrified public transport nodes. Putting it all together may even lead green developers

to offer packaged communities that include eco-friendly house and land with clean energy and

plug-in car.


EVs could completely reshape the way we fuel our lifestyle and redefine the place of vehicles in

our society. Cars are evolving to become “smart electric mobility appliances” in tandem with the

greening of the grid and the concept is riding a wave of tens of billions of green industry and

government dollars invested in electric powertrains, smart grids and renewable energy. This

revolution will unfold rapidly – businesses that are not planning for these changes risk missing

major opportunities.


Andrew Simpson is a senior research fellow at Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute.

He has over 10 years experience in the hybrid/electric vehicle, electric power and renewable

energy industries in Australia and North America, including two years most-recently at Tesla

Motors in California.






Sydney Morning Herald report (13 November 2009):


Electric cars could help China and other countries reduce their dependency on oil but the government must provide incentive to make the shift, Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said Thursday.


Car makers need backing as they respond to the growing consensus among consumers that zero-emission vehicles are necessary to cope with the environmental crisis, Ghosn told an auto forum in Shanghai.


“With electric power, countries would no longer have to rely on one single commodity — crude oil — to supply all their transportation needs,” he said.


“For many countries that are net importers of crude oil, such as China, that is a strategic consideration.”


Ghosn, who is also president of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, said all major makers were investing in hybrid, clean diesel, electric cars and not one felt “they could stay on the sidelines.”


Japan’s Nissan Motor and its partner Renault SA of France plan to release their Leaf electric car, which runs on a reusable lithium-ion battery, in the United States and Japan next year and globally in 2012, he said.


Ghosn added that the alliance was in talks with officials in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and the southern province of Guangdong for pilot projects involving the Leaf.


He pointed out that the US, French and Japanese governments were already offering about 7,500 US dollars to consumers who bought zero-emission cars.


“The Chinese government is conscious of the fact that in order to promote electric cars they have to give something to the consumer, because there’s no way electric cars are going to become mass marketed products unless you give something to the consumer,” Ghosn said.


Chen Qingtai, a researcher for China’s State Council Development Research Centre, said electric car development should be a priority for China, which was last year the world’s second largest importer of oil.


“The cheap oil era has come to an end,” Chen told auto industry executives, academics and reporters attending the forum at the China Europe International Business School.


He said China’s conventional car market was growing exponentially — outpacing the US, with a record 10 million units sold in the first 10 months of 2009.


“For the electric car industry it’s opposite, currently we don’t have economies of scale,” Chen said. “If we increase the size of production, then the cost per unit will drop tremendously.”


Chen said Beijing should present a comprehensive package of incentives to promote the electric car industry.


These could include measures such as rebates, requiring government agencies to buy more electric cars, tougher compulsory fuel efficiency standards and carbon dioxide consumption taxes.



Climate Change Discrimination Case

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Climate Change Discrimination Case


A United Kingdom court has ruled that a man can take his employer to court on the grounds that he was discriminated against because of his views on climate change. The decision could open the door for employees to sue their companies for failing to account for their green lifestyles such as providing recycling facilities or offering low carbon travel.


By ABC’s Europe correspondent Emma Alberici for AM (4 November 2009):


A United Kingdom court has ruled that a man can take his employer to court on the grounds that he was discriminated against because of his views on climate change.


Tim Nicholson was made redundant last year as head of sustainability for a property company Grainger Plc, the UK’s biggest residential landlord.


Mr Nicholson successfully argued that his moral values about the environment should be recognised under the same laws that protect religious beliefs.


In the landmark ruling, Justice Michael Burton said that a belief in man-made climate change is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the religion and belief regulations.


The decision could open the door for employees to sue their companies for failing to account for their green lifestyles such as providing recycling facilities or offering low carbon travel.


“What the judge has said today is that a belief, a philosophical belief in climate change, is capable of being afforded that same protection,” Mr Nicholson said.


“Now my belief is underpinned by moral and ethical values which are comparable to those promoted by many of the religions around the world.”


Strong belief

Mr Nicholson does strongly believe that temperatures are rising and the environment is suffering for it.


“I believe passionately in the need to protect the environment and particularly from the catastrophe that runaway climate change will be, and to do that we need to cut carbon emissions urgently and on a massive scale,” he said.


But it is those beliefs that Mr Nicholson says lost him his job. He told the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London that he had tried to set up a carbon management system for the company but that he could not work out its carbon footprint because staff had refused to give him the necessary data.


Mr Nicholson also accused the company’s chief executive of showing contempt for his concerns and claimed he once flew a member of staff to Ireland – with all the carbon emissions that entails – to deliver his phone which he had left in London.


“I was employed as head of sustainability, I felt that I was frustrated from fulfilling that role properly and that my dismissal was a response to my philosophical belief in climate change,” Mr Nicholson said.


Green views

The 42-year-old was given permission to make his claim under the Employment Equality Regulations 2003; that covers any religion, religious belief, or philosophical belief.


The ruling was challenged by Grainger Plc on the grounds that green views were not the same as religious or philosophical beliefs.


It was a view supported by Andrea Williams – the director of the Christian Legal Centre.


“Every philosophy will have a place to compete in the public legal social square and that lends itself to then there being chaotic laws being created with no consistency in law-making,” she said.


The company maintains that Mr Nicholson’s redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.



The Big Green Idea

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

The Big Green Idea


A new funding initiative from the British Council is designed to help put eco-visionary ideas into action. For the first time, in 2009, it is offering five project grants of AU$10,000 each to people who will make a real contribution to Australia’s environmental future.


The British Council launches The Big Green Idea:  An innovative funding scheme for eco-visionary



Got a big green idea? Need money to help it grow? Then the British Council wants to hear from you.

The Big Green Idea is a new funding initiative from the British Council designed to help put eco-visionary ideas into action. For the first time, in 2009 we’re offering five project grants of AU$10,000 each to people who will make a real contribution to Australia’s environmental future.

The Big Green Idea is designed to assist in initiating new projects that motivate people to minimise their own climate change impacts. We’re looking for eco-entrepreneurs with savvy ideas to address some of the biggest sustainability challenges faced by urban communities.

British Council Director Rebecca Matthews said: “More than half the world’s population now lives in cities and in East Asia alone, millions of people are moving to urban areas every month in search of better opportunities and lifestyles – and putting more strain on all elements of these environments.

“The Big Green Idea is seeking ambitious community based initiatives that not only educate, but provide people with tools and opportunities to make positive changes to the sustainability of their own community.”

Specifically, grants will be provided to projects that help urban communities become more sustainable by:

- Reducing waste

- Coming-up with better ways of travelling and using transport

- Reducing energy use

- Becoming more efficient with water or,

- Through sustainable design.


The Big Green Idea is a part of the British Council’s International Climate Champions programme that works in sixty countries across the globe, with people who are passionate and committed to action on climate change.


International Climate Champions have the opportunity to meet with local and national leaders to share their experiences, and on occasion have the opportunity to express their views to world leaders at international meetings, such as the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009.


Successful Big Green Idea applicants will have the opportunity to take part in this global network, with opportunities for training and networking at global events announced throughout the year.


Applications are now open at and will close on Friday 4 December 2009.


For more information please contact or call (02) 9362 2022.



Rescue Reef from Rotten Run-off

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Rescue Reef from Rotten Run-off

For years now, we have been hearing that Australia’s World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is under threat, not only from climate change impacts, which are serious enough, but from run-off from the land and over fishing. Is enough action being taken to stop the rot for the reef?

Ken Hickson reports:

For years now, we have been hearing that Australia’s World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is under threat, not only from climate change impacts, which are serious enough, but from run-off from the land and over fishing. Is enough action being taken to stop the rot for the reef?

Millions of dollars have already been poured into research, which is continuing to emphasise the problems and point to the solutions. Governments, with considerable push from organisations like WWF, are finally doing something on the land to stop the run-off of toxic farm chemicals.

At a day-long session in Brisbane last week, involving business, community groups, scientists and interested observers, WWF brought together the best and latest to tell what is happening to the Reef today.

From the Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Dr Russel Reichelt and the Managing Director of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Sheridan Morris, attendees heard from the land mark Outlook Report as well as latest observations.

The message was quite stark and quite clear. Climate change impact on the reef is not some distant possibility. It is very real and the evidence is there now.

Greg Bourne, WWF CEO summed it up dramatically:

  • Coral growth rates are at 400 year lows
  • 700 reefs are threatened by toxic farm chemical run-off
  • Overfishing by trawlers means by-catch is killing countless marine animals
  • Inappropriate coastal development is jeopardising turtle, dolphin and dugong populations.

Of course things cannot change over-night. We know it will take us many years to see any benefit from CO2 emissions reductions. But there are some things we can do straight away.

We can stop the run off of dangerous chemicals which are giving the corals such a hard time. That’s achieveable.  Farmers must be forced to stop the rot for the sake of the reef.

The fishing industry must also be forced to control itself – or the Government must step in to catch and penalise the offenders. They are taking too many fish and they are trawling indiscriminately. Far too many marine animals – dolphins among them – are being caught in nets.

James Turner from Fumunda ( attended the Brisbane gathering with news of his unique “pinger” which can save dolphins from being caught. It is attached to nets and sends out warning signals to the marine animals.

We have to invest more effort to get the right message to the right people. We have to do more to tackle the preventable, even if we cannot stop the tide of climate change impact on the reef.

WWF and all the reef research agencies say Federal, State and Local Government know what the reef problems are and have the money set aside to fix them.

The tourist industry of Queensland and Australia relies on the Great Barrier Reef. It is a major money spinner for business and the Governments.

But this iconic destination – along with thousands of jobs – will be lost unless action is taken sooner than later.

With the release of the Outlook Report – which first saw the light of day in September this year – here’s what AFP reported:

The World Heritage-listed reef was already showing the impacts of climate change, with two episodes of mass coral bleaching in the past 10 years, the Marine Park Authority’s inaugural reef outlook report said.

“While populations of almost all marine species are intact and there are no records of extinctions, some ecologically important species, such as dugongs, marine turtles, seabirds, black teatfish and some sharks, have declined significantly,” the authority wrote.

Coral disease, outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae and infestation by pestilent species such as the crown-of-thorns starfish appeared to be becoming more frequent and more serious, it added.

The 345,000-square-kilometre (133,000-square-mile) attraction had deteriorated significantly since European settlement in 1788 and was at a “crossroads”, the report warned.

“Almost all the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef will be affected by climate change, with coral reef habitats the most vulnerable,” the report said.

“Coral bleaching resulting from increasing sea temperature and lower rates of calcification in skeleton-building organisms such as corals because of ocean acidification, are the effects of most concern and are already evident.”

The runoff of nitrogen-based pesticides from local farming areas was a particular concern, the report said, adding that their impact remained “largely unknown”.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the report showed strong decisive action needed to be taken, and pledged to halve agricultural runoff by 2013 and to reduce sediment loads by 20 percent by 2020.

“Improving the quality of water flowing into the reef is one of the most important things we can do to help the reef withstand the impacts of climate change,” Garrett said.

Australia’s centre-left government has already pledged 52 million dollars (42 million US) to improve water quality on the reef.

It has also agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent of 2000 levels by 2020 if world leaders sign up to an ambitious reduction goal in Copenhagen in December.

Without an agreement, Australia’s target will remain unchanged at five percent.

For a full copy of the Outlook Report visit:

Also visit the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre –

Another source of current information on Reef research and action is Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland. Visit his website


Brazil’s Blackout Boost for Wind

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Brazil’s Blackout Boost for Wind

The Brazilian Wind Energy Association is amazed that 441 proposals for over 13.3 gigawatts of wind power have come in already from companies all over the world in advance the 14 December wind energy auction date. That more than doubles what government and local industry officials anticipated!

The Brazilian Blackout Fortune Maker

By Sam Hopkins For Green Chip Review (13 November 2009):

Thousands of middle-class Brazilians slept on subway station floors Tuesday night.

This wasn’t a solidarity project to see what life is like for the homeless. . . It was the result of a blackout that hit 60 million Brazilians in 800 cities.

The trigger? Three — yes THREE! — transmission lines. Officials say torrential rain and thunderstorm conditions caused the trio of high-voltage lines to simply collapse and in turn Itaipu, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, totally broke down.

Three is the magic number that can evidently bring one of the world’s top emerging markets, enshrined in the BRIC pantheon with Russia, India, and China, into primitive darkness. Three downed lines plunged the proud hosts of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics into literal obscurity.

This is a problem whose solution requires urgent investment.

I spent two weeks in Brazil this spring, chatting with folks in corner cafes, speaking with businesspeople, and learning about the country’s ProInfa clean energy infrastructure expansion plan where international companies are set to play a major role.

First, I have to tell you that I’ve spent the past two days talking to friends of mine in Brazil, and reading the accounts of others who e-mailed the local Portuguese-language press about their individual ordeals. Each story is heart-rending, and I tell you sadly that they are more reminiscent of terror attacks than of major power outages.

Stories from the Great Brazilian Blackout of 2009

In Rio, Alessandra told the newspaper O Globo how she and her brother set out for a night on the town. Instead, they walked in complete darkness down a subway tunnel alongside the soccer stadium that will host the Cup final in four years. On arriving at the station, they waited hours longer without water, food, and the worst thing to lack during a disaster. . . news.

Jose, who lives in the world famous Copacabana beach district, experienced both the psychological and technological reality of a sudden blackout. He started to hear “the shouts of people asking for help because they were trapped in elevators, and cries of children who were afraid of the dark.”

Fortunately, Jose had just turned off his computer when the lights started to flicker.

Nevertheless, countless computers were fried that night, destroying school work, music, and millions of dollars worth of business information. I can tell you first-hand that even in the hillside favelas (as the slums in Rio are called), there is a computer in nearly every home. Computers are a gateway to the world for a rising middle class around the world, and the demise of a PC can mean the death of a dream for students, artists, and others who saw a picture of a better future on their monitors.

Things won’t be normal for a while. Traffic signals were still sending people at the wrong time on Wednesday morning in Rio, causing car crashes and pointing to just one lingering cost of the blackout.

Despite this nationwide infrastructure calamity, with all the money lost and Brazilians now terrified of what might happen during the World Cup and Olympics, international investors haven’t lost confidence in Brazil.

Why the Lights Are Still Bright for Brazilian Stocks

The broadest indicator that I follow is the iShares MSCI Brazil Index, which is listed as an exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the New York Stock Exchange. NYSE: EWZ has gained nearly 10% since Monday, and the ETF barely dipped on the day after the power outage. EWZ rose by over 26% from mid-August to mid-November, nearly tripling the S&P 500 rally over the same period.

And this brings us to a major point you must understand if you want to outperform U.S. stock averages like the Dow and S&P. . .

Investors aren’t bullish on China, Brazil, and other emerging markets despite their problems; they’re bullish because solutions require money. You get your car repaired when something goes wrong, right? You only put in the money up to a point, of course, because the benefit of keeping the thing running has to outweigh the cost in the long run.

Brazil is in urgent need of investment from both domestic and international sources, and Brazil will get the money it needs. At the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in Rio this spring, I met plenty of suits who were licking their chops at the chance to put money into Brazil’s energy infrastructure upgrades. . . and that was well before the Olympics were awarded to Rio!

Most appetizing to everyone there was Brazil’s upcoming auction of national wind energy permits. I told you about it back in April, but it seemed far off.

Now, the December 14 Brazilian wind energy auction date is rapidly approaching, and dependence on hydroelectric generation has just caused an emergency that has scarred citizens and leaders alike (7 million Sao Paulo residents also lost water service Tuesday night due to the dam failure). Brazilians shudder to think about what would happen should a blackout of any size repeat in 2014 or 2016 when the sporting world gathers in Brazil.

Brazil’s Upcoming Wind Energy Auction

ProInfa, the national renewable energy incentive campaign, will help integrate 2 GW of wind energy capacity at a cost of about $6 billion by 2012. The companies that get ahead in the December auction will have to move fast to get capacity up by 2014, which means more production, higher profile, and higher share price.

The New York Times cites Pedro Perreli of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association’s amazement that overall, 441 proposals for over 13.3 gigawatts in Brazilian wind power have come in already from companies all over the world. That more than doubles what government and local industry officials anticipated!


Sustainable Pathways & Car Sharing

Posted by admin on November 15, 2009
Posted under Express 84

Sustainable Pathways & Car Sharing

“Engineering the Sustainable Pathway – Challenges and Opportunities for Australian Engineers in the Sustainability Era” is the subject of a seminar in Brisbane 17 November and GoGet will be hosting “Car Share Australia: Update and Opportunities for sustainable cities” in Sydney on 1 December. 


A message from David A Hood FIEAust CPEng, Chairman, College of Environmental Engineers:

“Engineering the Sustainable Pathway – Challenges and Opportunities for Australian Engineers in the Sustainability Era

Tuesday 17 November 2009  5:30 for a 6:00 pm start 7:00pm close followed by a light supper and networking.

Hawken Auditorium, Engineering House, 447 Upper Edward St, Brisbane


Speaker: Hugh Grant, GHD


This seminar will provide an overview of global sustainability challenges and the key international and Australian responses. Hugh will identify the implications of the global sustainability agenda for Australia’s key industry sectors, including:

• Power                                     • Water

• Gas                                        • Transport

• Buildings                                • Manufacturing

• Infrastructure

His talk will outline the current and emerging responses for each sector, identifying the key challenges and opportunities for Australian Engineers to “Engineer the Sustainable Pathway”.



News from GoGet:

GoGet is continuing to work with councils and state governments to better integrate car sharing services into new communities, as a viable sustainable transport alternative for our growing cities.

 We will be hosting a best practice seminar and planning workshop – “Car Share Australia: Update and Opportunities for sustainable cities” in Sydney on 1 December 2009.

 The event, designed for transport and sustainability planners, policy makers and traffic engineers, will include:

•           Local and international case studies of and latest trends including electric technologies.

•           Showcase of recent carshare trials launched in partnership with councils, and the benefits to local communities

•           Exploring opportunities to better integrate carsharing schemes in new developments and existing communities.

•           Also on show will be our newly converted fully electric Toyota Prius, for an inspection under the bonnet and a test drive.


Six hundred plus cities across Europe have developed car-sharing schemes involving 50,000 people. Prototype examples are found such as Liselec in La Rochelle, and in northern California, Berlin and Japan. In Deptford there is an on-site car pooling service organized by Avis attached to a new housing development, while in Jersey electric hire cars have been introduced by Toyota.

Car sharing, not to be confused with ‘ride sharing’ or ‘car pooling,’ involves a number of people using cars that are parked centrally in dedicated car bays around the inner city. After becoming a member (much like a 6 or 12 monthly gym membership), the cars can be booked (and extended) by the hour via the web or phone. They can then be accessed via a smart card.

In Sydney there are 3 car sharing organisations operating: Flexicar (, CharterDrive ( and GoGet ([1] The largest of these, GoGet, has been operating for 6 years and has over 5000 members and 200 cars located predominantly in the inner city suburbs.

Catherine Marie Simpson wrote this article – Cars, Climates and Subjectivity: Car Sharing and Resisting Hegemonic Automobile Culture? – for the M/C Journal, Vol. 12, No. 4 (2009)