Archive for the ‘Express 84’ Category

Farm Emissions Don’t Count, But Credits Do

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

Farm Emissions Don’t Count, But Credits Do

The Federal Government has agreed to exempt farmers from an emissions cap in its carbon trading scheme, in a backflip aimed at winning the support of the Opposition, but farmers will be allowed to generate carbon credits.

It has agreed to exclude agriculture from the costs of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to try to get the legislation passed in the next fortnight.

A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says farmers will be allowed to generate carbon credits.

Negotiations are continuing between the Government and Coalition for amendments to the legislation as Parliament resumes on Monday and the Government pushes for a vote in late November.

Both sides say the talks are progressing but Senator Wong says an agreement will be “difficult”.

The Opposition are pushing for several changes but are likely to have some knocked back due to budget restraints.

“What I’ve made clear is we’re not able to accept the entirety of what they’ve put forward – it would be fiscally unsustainable,” Senator Wong said.

The Government had wanted to include farmers in the scheme from 2015.

But the National Farmers Federation lobbied for the amendments, putting it in conflict with the National Party and climate change sceptics within the Liberal Party.

The Opposition also wants more free permits for heavy polluters and more compensation for electricity generators.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and emissions trading spokesman Ian Macfarlane will also struggle to get any agreed changes through the party room, which has to approve them before the Coalition decides on its final position.

Mr Turnbull has said that if the majority of amendments are accepted he would recommend the scheme be passed, but others such as Senator Nick Minchin say an agreement does not guarantee support for the scheme.

Mr Turnbull has staked his leadership on the issue after declaring he could not lead a party that would not act on climate change.


Traveston About More Than Water

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

Traveston About More Than Water

Peter Garrett must have felt confident the range of biodiversity protection measures built into the dam design would not achieve their objective of protecting the lungfish and the turtles. But ultimately, water – as much as climate change – will put a limit on the number of people the planet can support. Tor Hundloe provides the bigger picture.

Tor Hundloe in the Courier Mail (12 November 2009):

BEFORE we rush to condemn or congratulate Peter Garrett for his decision to reject the Traveston Dam, we should try to imagine ourselves in his place.

I wonder how many of us would relish being given the responsibility he had.

The first thing we have to do is fully understand his charter – which matters are in his court and which rest elsewhere?

As federal Environment Minister, his focus has to be the big picture. His job was not to make decisions on issues such as the amount of land that had to be inundated, the number of farmers and residents to be relocated, or alternatives to the dam such as water recycling.

Rather, he is charged with protecting and promoting the national interest when it comes to this country’s natural assets.

And that means maintaining the ecological integrity of World Heritage areas such as Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics.

And it means protecting biodiversity.

One of the most obvious threats to biodiversity is the loss of threatened and endangered animals and plants, which is where the Mary River turtle and the lungfish came into play. Garrett had to satisfy himself the threatened animals would survive the building of the dam. His decision points to the fact that he and his large staff of public servants, assisted by the assessment of scientists, came to the conclusion the animals would not be safe.

Garrett and his advisers must have felt confident the range of biodiversity protection measures built into the dam design would not achieve their objective of protecting the lungfish and the turtles.

I understand that most of us, on whatever side we fall, have not had the same access to all the data and analysis as the Minister.

This means we will probably continue to argue among ourselves about the dam based on our emotions, on our ideals of fairness and our vision for the future of southeast Queensland.

On this basis, reasonable people will disagree unless they are able to put aside personal interests and immerse themselves in some science. This is a very difficult task.

I have seen the Mary Valley community conflict over the dam first-hand.

My great-grandparents were among the first settlers in the area. Great-grandmother Lucy Salmon wrote in the New Idea in the 1930s of the trials, tribulations and adventure of moving her large family from northern NSW into the Gympie area by horse-drawn wagon.

Those of my relatives who have felt uneasy with my work and advocacy as an environmental scientist, particularly in my assessment some years ago of the damage forestry was doing on Fraser Island, came to welcome me as an ally against the dam.

This was notwithstanding the fact it has not been an issue on which I have researched and hence offered an opinion. Presumably as a “green” person I simply had to be on their side.

My relatives have not been united on the dam. Some see it as a necessity if water is to be provided to the rapidly growing population from Gympie south to the border.

Both schools of thought, if I can call them such, canvass the relative merits of alternatives to the dam, such as desalination, recycling or piping water from northern New South Wales.

They, and I, find most other people interested in the issue seek to comprehend what is driving the current demand for more fresh water.

The rapid population growth is the near-universal answer.

You don’t have to be a hydrologist to know that whoever made the water on the earth stopped making it millions and millions of years ago.

The water allocation problem is having sufficient supplies where people live.

We can speed up the recycling of water by putting it through water-cleaning infrastructure. Not everyone is happy with this.

We can desalinate – the whole of the United Arab Emirates survives by using its considerable oil revenue to convert sea water to drinking water.

We can use much less per person, as we did during the drought.

But ultimately, water – as much as climate change – will put a limit on the number of people the planet can support.

And this certainly applies to our little corner of the planet.

Garrett’s decision did not resolve the real issue we face on a rapidly crowding planet.

Until we as a society are willing to seek common outcomes for the common good, we will continue to argue needlessly, and the next decision will become even harder to make.

Finally, policy paralysis sets in.

Tor Hundloe is a Foundation Professor of Environmental Science at Bond University. His book The Planet of the Thinking Animal: How to Survive the 21st Century was released in September.


Climate Challenge for APEC Leaders

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

Climate Challenge for APEC Leaders

Dhaka, Manila and Jakarta are the most vulnerability of 11 major cities in Asia. As Heads of States gather in Singapore for the APEC summit, WWF says that all countries must cooperate to prepare for a brutal climate future, highlighting that yet another compelling reason for a fair, ambitious and binding deal at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.

WWF reports (13 November 2009):

Singapore – Leaders gathering in Singapore for the APEC summit this weekend must commit to strong and ambitious climate actions if they want to achieve sustainable growth for their region and help their countries to avoid disastrous consequences of global warming.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation – bringing together world leaders like US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama – must look beyond the group’s usual areas of interest and focus on the common challenges posed by climate change.

“Solving problems of protectionism, trade zones, banks and exchange rates is very important, but what is all of this worth if the world slips into chaos because of devastating climate change?” said Kim Carstensen, Leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

“APEC leaders must open their eyes and look into the real threats and challenges of this world and their region. We cannot talk about sustainable growth without solving the most intractable problem the planet is facing.”

UN climate talks are floundering due to attempts by some governments to lower expectations for a new treaty and efforts to delay the deal.

The production of a legally binding framework at Copenhagen together with an amended Kyoto Protocol will help secure the survival of countries, cultures and ecosystems and clear the way towards a low carbon economy.

“If APEC countries would tackle the climate crisis with the same rigor they showed in protecting their economies from the financial meltdown, the world wouldn’t have to worry about a lack of political will or insufficient levels of ambition in the UN climate talks”, said Carstensen.

“We urge APEC leaders to bring economic recovery and climate recovery in sync, so that money spent on keeping growth levels high also helps bringing emission levels down.”

In WWF’s view, the Pacific region should become a model of technology cooperation, where developed APEC countries assist their developing country partners with adaptation and mitigation, through clean technologies, financial support and capacity building.

“Many want the APEC region to become a free trade zone, but they should also exploit its potential as a clean tech zone”, said Carstensen.

“There is probably no better regional network of countries in the world for piloting smart concepts for technology cooperation like those discussed in the UN climate talks. To boost the international negotiations, we urgently need pioneers who show what’s possible and how to make it happen.”

WWF Ranking (12 November 2009):

Dhaka, Manila and Jakarta are topping a WWF ranking of the climate vulnerability of 11 major cities in Asia.

As Heads of States gather in Singapore for the APEC summit, WWF says that developed and developing countries must cooperate to prepare these cities for a brutal climate future, highlighting that their vulnerability is yet another compelling reason for a fair, ambitious and binding deal at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.

According to Mega-Stress For Mega-Cities, many of the cities analyzed are extremely exposed to threats such as storms and flooding, while huge numbers of people and assets at stake result in worrying levels of socio-economic sensitivity. At the same time, the cities often lack capacity to protect themselves from devastating impacts.

“Climate change is already shattering cities across developing Asia and will be even more brutal in the future”, said Kim Carstensen, Leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative. “These cities are vulnerable and need urgent help to adapt, in order to protect the lives of millions of citizens, a massive amount of assets, and their large contributions to the national GDP.”

“The APEC summit this week in Singapore provides an opportunity to exploit the true win-win potential offered by low carbon growth strategies for countries in the Asia Pacific region, with benefits for both the economy and the climate.”

The WWF report covers 11 urban centers across Asia, all located in coastal areas or river deltas. Following Dhaka (9 out of 10 possible vulnerability points), other cities at high risk are Manila and Jakarta (8 each), Calcutta and Phnom Penh (7 each), Ho Chi Minh City and Shanghai (6 each), Bangkok (5), and Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore (4 each).

“Asia is urbanizing rapidly, and we can be certain that urban areas will be crucial battlegrounds in the fight against climate change”, said Carstensen.

“Cities are responsible for most of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also pioneers when it comes to developing innovative solutions. We can’t afford to surrender them to climate change. Instead, we must empower them to become change agents and protect both rural and urban areas from devastating impacts.”

The report also includes rankings for sub-categories such as environmental exposure, socio- economic sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Poorer cities often lack sufficient adaptive capacity and generally rank higher in terms of their overall vulnerability.

“Leaders in hotspots of danger like Dhaka, Manila or Jakarta need urgent support from their counterparts in the industrialized world. Effective near-term and long-term adaptation will depend on financial support, technology cooperation, and capacity building”, said Carstensen.

According to WWF, this week’s APEC summit in Singapore provides leaders from developed and developing countries around the Pacific with a great opportunity to boost cooperation on adaptation to climate impacts as well as low carbon economic growth.

“Now we are only a couple of weeks away from the Copenhagen Climate Summit, but so far leaders have failed to clear the way for success next month in Denmark”, said Carstensen.

“APEC is the last chance before Copenhagen for leaders from a number of key countries to show that they really want to protect the planet from climate change.”


Has The Big Ice Thaw Begun?

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

Has The Big Ice Thaw Begun?

Greenland’s ice losses are accelerating and nudging up sea levels, according to a study showing that icebergs breaking away and melt-water runoff are equally to blame for the shrinking ice sheet. Greenland locks up enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 metres (23 feet) if it ever all thawed.


Alister Doyle for World Environment News/Reuters (13 November 2009):

OSLO – Greenland’s ice losses are accelerating and nudging up sea levels, according to a study showing that icebergs breaking away and melt-water runoff are equally to blame for the shrinking ice sheet.

The report, using computer models to confirm satellite readings, indicated that ice losses quickened in 2006-08 to the equivalent of 0.75 mm (0.03 inch) of world sea level rise per year from an average 0.46 mm a year for 2000-08.

“Mass loss has accelerated,” said Michiel van den Broeke, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who led the study, in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

“The years 2006-08, with their warm summers, have seen a huge melting,” he told Reuters of the study with colleagues in the United States, the Netherlands and Britain.

“The underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future,” Jonathan Bamber, a co-author at the University of Bristol, said in a statement.

The computer models matched satellite data for ice losses — raising confidence in the findings — and showed that losses were due equally to melt-water, caused by rising temperatures, and icebergs breaking off from glaciers.

“This helps us to understand the processes that affect Greenland. This will also help us predict what will happen,” van den Broeke said. Until now, the relative roles of snowfall, icebergs and thawing ice have been poorly understood.

Greenland locks up enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed. At the other end of the globe, far-colder Antarctica contains ice equivalent to 58 meters of sea level rise, according to U.N. estimates.

About 190 governments will meet in Copenhagen from December 7-18 to try to agree a U.N. pact to slow global warming, fearing that rising temperatures will bring more powerful storms, heatwaves, mudslides and species extinctions as well as rising sea levels.

The study said losses of ice from Greenland would have been roughly double recent rates but were masked by more snowfall and a re-freezing of some melt-water before it reached the sea.

In total, Greenland lost about 1,500 billion tons of ice from 2000-08, split between icebergs cracking into the sea from glaciers and water runoff. “The mass loss would have been twice as great,” without offsetting effects, Van den Broeke said.

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 that world sea levels could rise by 18-59 cms by 2100. A natural expansion of water as it warms would account for most of the rise, rather than melting ice.

Greenland’s current rate, of 0.75 mm a year, would be 7.5 cms if continued for 100 years. “This is…much more that previous estimates of the Greenland contribution,” van den Broeke said.


That Was The Week That Was

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

That Was The Week That Was

A week of high and lows: Listening to real people who know what they’re talking about. Speaking out on where Australia should be heading. Trouble on the ground and in the air. ABC Carbon’s Ken Hickson opens up his diary.

Without wanting to bore my readers, I do want to make sure I don’t miss mentioning some of the important things I was up to this past week (9 -13 November 2009). So here’s a rare and exclusive look into my diary:


Met up with Adam Twemlow from KPMG’s Gold Coast office, where he has a focus on climate change. We discussed, among other things, the Carbon Outlook report, a Queensland Government collaboration with KPMG that uncovered real information about the impacts of the CPRS on SMEs. It looks at profit and loss, on-the-ground carbon assessment of 50 firms from seven sectors (manufacturing, food processing, tourism, retail, building and construction, transport and aviation) across Queensland. KPMG is one professional services firm ready to help businesses of all shapes and sizes adapt to a low carbon economy, as well as meet Government regulatory requirements. Visit or

Read a good article in Australian Financial Review by Brad Orgill headlined “Market won’t fix climate change”. Find it if you can at

Then Greg Bourne gave some real up to date insight on the “Road to Copenhagen” in a talk to the Institute of Sustainable Resources at Queensland University of Technology.


Started the day by meeting up with Bret Peterson, who runs The Unfair Advantage, a marketing management advisory business. He has ideas for business but he’s also keen to do – and help other businesses – the green thing. For more see

Great Barrier Reef was the focus of most of the day. WWF joined forces with the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre to showcase the work done there and in conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. (See article above).

It was a lunch hosted by JB Were, catered for very sustainably by celebrity chef Ben O’Donaghue (best known for “The Best” series) and attended by a few notables.

Met up with Graeme Wood again, the man who founded but now puts a lot of time into  Wild Mob. This is a not-for-profit, non-political organisation, providing volunteers the opportunity to work on important environmental projects in remote, iconic destinations. For more see

Also caught up with an old friend from the Sunshine Coast, James Turner, who is doing some great work promoting the right sort of “pinger” which will stop dolphins (and whales) getting caught up in nets. Learn more on


This was the day for Electric Vehicles. The first time anyone in Australia has focused on this so intensively. It was the brilliant initiative of Brisbane-based Philippe Reboul. He brought together people from the car industry, power suppliers, researchers, councils and state Governments. Pity someone from Canberra was not there to hear what they should be doing. (See article above).

It really become very obvious during the day that Australia is going to be left behind unless it starts very soon to get its electric vehicle act together. I sense that we put a lot of time into research and test runs. But it is beyond that stage. We need to follow the example of other countries – France, Israel and Denmark are three movers and shakers – and get our infrastructure set up.

Also got together with a small bunch of enthusiastic people at the Business Eco Forum. Attention seemed to focus on waste and recycling. And what Government is now saying that industry – and all of us – must do. The fact that at least two of the attendees in the group are in the waste and recycling business shows that finally Government is putting its stamp of approval and regulation on what it should have done long ago.


It was time to get on my Virgin Blue flight for Sydney armed with a bag of books to deliver to eager book stores and others. Pity the baggage handlers didn’t read the very obvious fragile label, managing to badly damage the bag and some of the precious contents. Sir Richard Branson and Brett Godfrey will hear about this!

Managed to retrieve some books (in good condition) and deliver to Lee Stewart of Change2, who decided these make an ideal gift to give to clients at this time of the year. Also discussed how we might assist each other in the sustainability business – online and off.

Thanks to mine host (Philip Sharp) we managed to deal with the damaged goods (clothes and books) and create some semblance of order out of near total disaster.

Visited my friends at the Workplace Research Centre at University of Sydney and after discussing the recent successful Climate Change@Work conference in Brisbane last month, started exploring options for taking the show abroad. Singapore next stop!

Met up with Pax Leaders Labs’ Louise Metcalf – a fan of my book – and after “crying over spilt milk”,  got to discuss trends and developments in sustainability coaching and consulting.

In spite of Sydney getting lashed by a drenching storm, I managed to get to a workshop at WWF headquarters which focussed on climate change, involving fellow Governors and staff. Ably run by Dr Dedee Woodside, the workshop was a great opportunity to tap into the wider resources of WWF. Also met up with KPMG partner Peter Kingston, who heads WWF Australia’s Finance and Risk Management Committee.


Up early and off to Macquarie Park to the Foxtel Studies to record an interview for Sky News Eco Report. First part of it was used on their special edition focussing on Copenhagen. I had my say and it went to air on Friday night, which was repeated over the weekend. You can hear a podcast on The next instalment of my interview should see the light of day in a week or two when I sound off on plans for Green Earth Communicators.

I also made time to meet up with my old journalist friend Robin Bromley and share a few tales and ideas (newspapers, publishing, planes and trains.)

A quick trip to Canberra (my first) was primarily to catch up with some appropriate Government officials and visit a book store or two. Managed to get to Paper Chain in Manuka – on the recommendation of Carbon Planet’s Dave Sag – where the book is now on sale.

My visit was cut short by a Virgin Blue phone call. My scheduled 7pm flight to Sydney was suddenly cancelled, so would I get the airport to catch a 5pm flight!

My quickest ever city tour as severely shortened. I made it to Sydney and home to Brisbane earlier than expected to unload my tales of woe, my damaged goods and wounded pride.

Happy that I’d sold some more books, met a lot of great people, engaged in some fruitful discussion  (on and off air) and arrived home safe and sound.

Not one to carry a grudge – and I do chose to travel with Virgin Blue by choice – I have to say there is something exceedingly strange about a baggage policy that agrees to repair a damaged bag, but does nothing about damaged contents. When we say something is fragile, it means it needs some care and attention. We usually mean the contents, not the container!

To my friends at Virgin, you’ll be hearing more from me. To those at Canberra, who missed me this time, don’t worry, I’ll be back.

Ken Hickson