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An extraordinary opportunity to make a difference on Climate Change

Julia Mayo-Ramsay with Al Gore
Julia Mayo-Ramsay with Al Gore

Last weekend local CEFE member Julia Mayo-Ramsay was invited to attend a three day climate project training session in Melbourne with the Honorable Al Gore. The 170 chosen few were picked from thousands of applications by the Australian Conservation Foundation as part of Mr Gore’s Climate Project.

All states were represented with attendees coming from a wide cross section of the community including scientists, lawyers, university lectures and others. There were a number of celebrities with Garden show host Jamie Durie, Climate Change spokesperson Sarah Bishop and Waratahs player Alex Kanaar taking up the challenge. The indigenous community were represented as was the younger generation with five high school students attending the workshop.

Throughout the sessions Mr Gore spoke on the implications of climate change and the importance of tackling the issues at a grass roots level. The idea behind the climate project is to train people throughout the world to give his slide show, thereby ensuring the climate message reaches more people in a shorter period time.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to make a difference in this monumental battle to eliminate the threat of global warming.” Said Al Gore.

Australia is already suffering under the threat of global warming and it is imperative that we act now. With climate change high on the agenda for the Federal election it is crucial that everyone be fully versed in the implications of climate change and how we can make a difference.

Julia Mayo-Ramsay is available to deliver a Climate Project presentation to any group or organization free of charge. If your group would like to book a presentation please contact Australian Conservation Foundation HYPERLINK “http://www.acfonline.org.au” www.acfonline.org.au or phone 1800 332 510 or contact Julia Mayo-Ramsay direct on HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected] .

Julia Mayo-Ramsay

The Owen Report; A missed opportunity

It is extremely disappointing that the State Government, who acknowledges the seriousness of climate change, has supported the outcomes of the Owen report. The suggestion that we need another greenhouse gas intensive coal-fired power station at a time when the effects of climate change are becoming ever more apparent is unacceptable. We know how burning fossil fuels, particularly coal, affect our atmosphere. To continue down this greenhouse gas-emitting path, when we have other clean alternatives, is short sighted and unfair to future generations. We should suspend building more coal-fired power stations until the intensity of their emissions can be drastically reduced. In the meantime, a combination of reduction in energy consumption (which can be achieved through education, incentives and regulation) and an increased use of renewable energy can achieve the shortfalls in electricity identified in the Owen report.

Call yourself green but keep burning the black stuff.
Call yourself green but keep burning the black stuff.

At a time when renewable energy is booming overseas, where it does supply base load power in some countries, we cling to more traditional methods. The irony is, we have 3 times better renewable resources than some of those nations and have also developed much of the technology used in their prosperous renewable industries, yet we ignore our own potential. So while the rest of the world moves on, our potential is stifled by a lack of vision. Why is it that they can successfully create base load power using renewables? Could it be a matter of mindset and will? What happened to the clever country?

Cartoon by Michael Badman

Renewable Energy

A study published by the American Solar Energy Society (Jan 2007) shows that a combination of efficiency measures and existing renewable technologies can reduce greenhouse gases by up to 80% by 2050. The reassuring findings are that “clean coal” and nuclear power are not necessary and that efficiency gains account for 57% of the final emissions savings.

Efficiency involves making new and existing buildings more energy efficient, using insulation, efficient lighting and electrical appliances and a range of other measures such as solar hot water that will allow us to maintain our standard of living but at a much lower cost to the environment.

This report is very encouraging as the renewable technologies – wind, solar, concentrated solar, biomass and geothermal – have already been developed and are ready to be brought up to scale, whereas nuclear power is dangerous and inherently unsustainable, and “clean coal” has not been proven, is decades away and will not be ready in time to solve the problem of global warming.

The good news for renewable energy is that the costs are falling while the costs of fossil fuel energy are rising. In Australia the wholesale price for power from coal plants has doubled in price due to water shortages, and will increase further when there are realistic charges for CO2 emissions and for the huge volumes of cooling water they use. Renewable technologies, on the other hand, are becoming cheaper due to economies of scale and because of technological improvements. Solar power is growing at more than 30% annually and the price is falling by 18% for every doubling of global installations. Renewables will be cost competitive by 2020 or sooner but until then they will require subsidies.

Wind and solar power do not produce power if the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. There is a lot of research effort going into finding ways to store power. Meanwhile most baseload power will come from existing coal plants until solar and wind energy can be stored and geothermal and biomass energy come on line. Wind can supply baseload power if wind farms are dispersed as the wind is always blowing somewhere.

Unlike energy from fossil fuels – oil, coal or gas – renewable energy is a never-ending and abundant resource that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. Generating power from renewables will not deplete the energy resources that will be needed by future generations.

There are now other independent studies that have produced findings that show that renewables can solve the global warming threat without nuclear or new “clean coal” technologies. It is time to get on with our new renewable energy future.
CEFE calendar due out soon

Clean Energy For Eternity has managed to create 11 great images for a calendar for 2008. We need a 12th shot. We had hoped that the final shot would be the Bermagui water tower, painted with 50/50 by 2020. It was due to be painted on 17/9/07, but plans have changed. No water towers in the Bega Valley will be painted with 50/50 by 2020.

Council has decided that they cannot approve the signs, as they are classed as advertising. Personally, I feel that an advertisement for a sustainable future, run by a volunteer group that has no vested financial interest, is not such a bad thing. Having said that, the Bega Valley Shire has always been extremely supportive of the 50/50 by 2020 campaign, and has shown genuine leadership in tackling climate change. We accept council’s decision with good grace. CEFE would once again like to thank Taubmans for donating the paint, AllSigns for doing the paintwork, and Adam Lindgray for donating the cherry picker. Country Energy also pitched in with a donation of some time with their cherry picker.

Matthew Nott

Bermagui gets tanked? What a town.

The coastal village of Bermagui is taking a great step forward in tackling climate change in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes on the town water tank, its concrete façade will host the first 50/50 by 2020 tank sign by the end of September.

Artists impression of what the Bermi water tower will look like
Artists impression of what the Bermi water tower will look like

Earlier this year, Bermagui hosted a presentation by Clean Energy For Eternity, a meeting that highlighted the enormous opportunity that presents itself to regional communities that are proactive about tackling climate change. At the end of the presentation, which was well attended by 350 residents, CEFE proposed Bermagui have its water tank painted with the 50/50 by 2020 message. After deliberation the crowd overwhelmingly supported the notion and was then given the choice of colours. The photoshop composite was provided by EarthHappy and represents an image of the final voting result.

Bermagui is going to be the first township to put in place a constant public reminder of our community targets of 50/50 by 2020. This bold move will help our whole community keep up the leadership role that SE NSW is taking on climate change. Clean Energy For Eternity hope to duplicate this project across all the 50/50 by 2020 shires (Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro).

The Bega Valley Council has been extremely supportive of the Water Tower project. They have given approval for all water towers in the Bega Valley to be painted with 50/50 by 2020 depending on 3 criteria. We must have community approval, the job must be done professionally, and we must pay for it. Bermagui is the first town to meet the requirements, and hopefully other towns across SE NSW will follow the Bermi lead.

Prue Kelly and the Bermagui arm of Clean Energy For Eternity has been very busy in the last few weeks putting together quotes and achieving council approvals etc for the sign. They have secured sponsorship from Taubmans for all the paint, have arranged for the sign to be painted by AllSigns with their artists aloft courtesy of Adam Lindgray who has provided the cherry picker at low cost. Thanks Bermagui CEFE for putting all this together.

50/50 by 2020

Are the 50/50 by 2020 targets achievable, or are they a toothless tiger?

From time to time the question of targets comes up – should we set any, are they achievable, are they even necessary?

Today 98% of the world’s climate change scientists, Australia’s CSIRO, the British Royal Society, President Bush, Prime Minister Howard and even Mr Rupert Murdoch have come to the view that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are contributing to significant and potentially devastating global warming. Something must be, and can be, done.

From my point of view, we need to be setting the sort of targets that will save the planet, and do whatever it takes to meet them. This is where the 50/50 by 2020 target comes from – a 50% reduction in energy use, and 50% of what we do use from renewable sources by the year 2020. Without a doubt, it will cost money to achieve the targets but, on the other side of the coin, meeting the target will allow us as a community to tap into enormous opportunity. Don’t forget that unmitigated climate change will bear a huge cost to us all.

There are many things we can do as individuals that make a difference. Some of them cost money and effort, many of them don’t. Here are some examples.

NOW (the next 60 minutes)

> Put a 50/50 by 2020 bumper sticker on your car and, when you get home, put one on your second car. This demonstrates that you are a part of the community that is willing to tackle climate change and endorse 50/50 by 2020. If you want a bumper sticker, give me a call. If you want a stack of them, I’ll send them to you.
>Make sure your tyres are pumped up on the way home, this will save you fuel. Drive a bit slower this will save you even more fuel.
>When you get home change your electricity over to 100% Green Power which will send a message to government and industry that you are willing to support a clean energy future. Enjoy opening your next electricity bill, turn it over and see that you produced no CO2 from your electricity use.
>Make sure you turn off lights you do not need and switch off all stand by appliances at the power point. Have a shorter shower and use cold water for that load of washing.
>These simple things will reduce your carbon footprint by several tonnes a year. Tell someone what you have just done.

THIS WEEK

>Ring a business that provides you with free compact fluorescent lights and water saving devices. These guys will come to your home and install them for free! You will use less water and hardly notice the change, and you will use up to 80% less electrical energy in your lighting. This simple step will save you money for the cost of a phone call.
>Hang out the washing, reduce the use of your clothes dryer if you have one.
>Make sure that the dishwasher is full before you set it running.
>Only boil the water you are going to use, one cup of water for one coffee. Using gas to boil water produces a fraction of the CO2 that an electric kettle does. Put the lid on the saucepan and save all that heat energy from escaping.
>Recycle all you can.
>Buy locally produced foods, which will save on the energy embedded in transport and distribution, as well as supporting local employment. Don’t buy strawberries grown in California. Buy food that has less packaging. Food is responsible for 30% of a household’s energy consumption. Use re-useable shopping bags.
>Drive less, walk more, take a bus or ride your bike. Save energy and money – and feel fitter.
>Support businesses that are actively engaged in reducing your and their energy consumption, and rise to the challenge of climate change.
>Turn off that beer fridge you almost never use.
>Look into buying carbon offsets to reduce your own carbon footprint. You can purchase these and cancel out the CO2 emissions you cause when driving the car or flying. If you are organising an event such as a concert or school sports day, see if you can make it carbon neutral by including credits in the ticket price. The money is used to reduce CO2 emissions through efficiency programs, carbon sequestration and renewable energy projects.
>Put a jumper on instead of using the heater.

THIS YEAR

>Set in place a long term plan to replace appliances, when they pass their use-by date, with the most energy and water efficient ones on the market.
>Check your electricity bills and see that your carbon debt is shrinking.
>Plan to Insulate roof, floor and walls which will reduce heating and cooling energy bills. This will save money.> Solar Hot Water can cut your energy use by 30%, and good rebates are available
>Install Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, generate your own electrical power, and qualify for rebates of up to $8,000 for domestic and $12,000 for community groups. Invest in renewable generation. After investing in solar panels for my rooftop, my quarterly electricity bill is in CREDIT.
>Installing skylights in those dark rooms and hallways will save energy in the long term
>Use Curtains and Blinds with pelmets to save on heating and cooling.
>Install Water tank(s) to collect that precious rain water
>Plant deciduous shade trees that protect your home from the summer heat and lose their leaves in the winter to allow the winter sun to warm your home.
? Vote for a political party that offers a comprehensive strategy on climate change and demonstrates their commitment on acting on climate change.
>Buy a smaller more efficient car, use E10 petrol, buy a hybrid vehicle, get a bus pass, check out if a moped or electric scooter would suit your needs, ride a bike and keep fit as well, walk.
>Grow your own veges and fruit at home or in a community garden.
>Join a climate change organization or Landcare. Talk about it with your friends, write to your political representatives, start a group, join Clean Energy for Eternity
.> Use energy efficient design if you are renovating your home. Employ a Green Architect and save energy dollars for the long term. Use low energy materials. Build an energy efficient home and save long term on the running costs.

If most of us did a few of these things, we would be well on the way towards a 50% reduction in the consumption of energy. What about a 50% production of energy from renewable sources? That is more difficult for an unfunded community campaign. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

Clean Energy For Eternity has had discussions with three renewable energy companies that want to bring their business to our region. They want to come to us because of our targets. We are putting our hand up to say we want to be proactive in dealing with climate change. Exciting prospects include a solar farm, funded by community investment. 30 acres of solar photovoltaic cells could provide 2 megawatts of power, and would be a tourist attraction. A French bioenergy company wants to set up in Australia, and they are looking to start with a pilot project in our region. They feel that our targets can be easily achieved. A wind company wants to start some wind monitoring in our region to determine whether or not a community owned wind farm would be feasible.

Business is coming to us, but making the much-needed change through community investment alone is going to be hard yards. What we would love is some government assistance in reaching our targets, and we will be talking to all candidates before the election about what they can offer us.

Reduce your energy consumption by 50% by 2020.

The Shoalhaven branch of Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) are committed to helping you reduce your energy consumption by 50% by 2020. Energy efficient appliances are an important part of reducing our consumption. As consumers, we are able to determine the energy efficiency of some appliances before we buy them. Appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines etc (white goods) have had the Energy Rating label for some time now. Air conditioners now have mandatory energy standards that are continually being reviewed. But what about other electrical appliances that are not rated under the Energy Rating label scheme? How can we tell which televisions, DVD players, CD players, digital boxes, computers, printers etc are the most energy efficient? Currently in Australia there is no mandatory standard for the operating energy use or standby energy use of these electrical appliances. As many of these appliances are designed to be left in standby mode it is important that they are efficient in this mode as well as when they are being operated. Standby mode energy consumption does contribute to your energy costs. Using a Powermate, an invention designed to calculate energy use of appliances, one member of our group discovered that five home entertainment appliances in standby mode (TV, DVD, Digital Box, CD Player, VCR) were using as much energy as a standard sized fridge that was switched on but without its motor running. So what can we do? Until some standards are set, the best thing we can do is turn our current appliances off at the powerpoint. This is especially important when you are on holidays. Choosing the most efficient new appliances is not as easy. There are some voluntary labels (such as Energy Star) that are available to manufacturers but the local electrical stores rarely see them. You can check out the Energy Star website at www.energystar.gov. This is a US website that has rated the standby energy usage of these types of appliances. This site may have enough information to be useful for some comparison of products available here. It also gives tips and hints on what to look for. If you want to contact the Shoalhaven CEFE you can call Kim on 4454 3696 or Julie on 4455 7194.
Your personal 50/50 by 2020 commitment this week is: Turn off your electrical appliances at the powerpoint.