Join an Online Petition

Recent changes in how Australia generates electricity has been illustrated by the share coming from coal falling below three-quarters for the first time – a shift that has helped cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal-fired power stations supplied 74.8 per cent of national electricity last month. The share from renewable sources hit a record 12.5 per cent, whilst gas (a fossil fuel with less than half the emissions of coal) supplied 12.7 per cent, according to a monthly survey by consultants Pitt & Sherry.

Demand for power in the national market is falling. Emissions from eastern states generators has fallen by 3.5 per cent since the carbon price was introduced in July.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is there are currently proposals on the table to build a staggering nine new coal ports along Australia’s Eastern seaboard, which would double our capability to export coal.

Working to reduce our national dependance on coal, whilst increasing our export capability is a schizophrenic approach to climate change.

A couple of weeks ago, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition started talking about this issue in schools and universities across the country – and the response has been impressive. Next week they will be taking an online petition to key politicians.

A future powered by 100% renewable energy isn’t just possible – it’s becoming a reality, with renewable energy almost cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world. As the world’s biggest exporter of coal, Australia’s actions in the coming years could tip the scales and drive massive global investment in renewables.

To join the Australian Youth Climate Coalitions online petition, visit aycc.org.au/climate-game-change/
Matthew Nott

Consensus is Important

A number of surveys of the climate science community since the early 1990s have measured the level of scientific consensus that humans were causing global warming.

Over time, the percentage of climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming has steadily increased. As the body of evidence grows, the consensus is getting stronger. Two recent studies adopting different approaches have arrived at strikingly consistent results.

A survey of over 3000 Earth scientists (Peter T Doran­ and ­Maggie Kendall Zimmerman,­Earth ­and­ Environmental­ Sciences,­University­ of­ Illinois ­at­ Chicago) found that as the climate expertise increased, so did agreement about human-caused global warming. For climate scientists actively publishing climate research there was 97 per cent agreement that humans were causing our climate to change.

This result was confirmed in a separate analysis compiling a list of scientists who had made public declarations on climate change, both supporting and rejecting the consensus. Among scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate papers (908 scientists in total), the same result: 97 per cent agreement that humans are causing the Earth’s climate to change.

An analysis of peer-reviewed climate papers published from 1993 to 2003 found that out of 928 papers, none rejected the consensus.

Despite these and many other indicators of consensus, there is a gaping chasm between reality and the perceived consensus among the general public. Polls from 1997 to 2007 found that around 60 per cent of Americans believe there is significant disagreement among scientists about whether global warming was happening. A 2012 Pew poll found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed humans were causing global warming. Similar results are found in Australia.

Consequently, a key strategy of opponents of climate action has been to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on the basis that we are being held ransom by a scientific conspiracy.

The CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s Chief scientist, the chief scientists of all states in Australia, the Australian Acadamy of Science, the Scientific Acadamies of ALL G20 countries, NASA, the Met Office in Britain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association of North America, and ALL peer reviewed climate scientists must somehow have got together to deceive the world on climate change.

Matthew Nott

Direct Action

It’s a good time to talk about the Coalitions ‘Direct Action’ policy to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions. It is worth pointing out from the outset that the Coalition has the same target as Labor’s to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020 over 2000 levels, and they support the national 20% renewable energy target.

The Coalitions Direct Action policy has a number of strategies.

The Coalition says the majority of its emission reductions will come from soil carbon sequestration. Soil carbon is a promising technology being investigated by a number of countries. The coalition is basing 60% of its emission reductions on soil sequestration.

The Coalition’s policy doesn’t explain how it will measure soil carbon. The CSIRO says it is “extremely difficult” to predict whether soil carbon farming practices will work in the future. The Coalition is basing 60 per cent of its Direct Action policy on a technology that the CSIRO says it can’t predict will work, and can’t measure adequately

Another key part of the Coalitions policy is what Tony Abbott describes as a 15,000-strong standing green army. The “green army” would have the job of planting 60 million new trees in Australia. When Tony Abbott introduced Direct Action, he said the 15,000 people would be recruited at an average cost of $50,000 a year per person.

The “green army” seems to have fallen off the radar, and it is unclear to me whether or not it is still part of Direct Action policy.

Like the Gillard Government’s policy, Direct Action will spend billions on retiring dirty power plants in the La Trobe valley like Hazelwood. Like the Government’s plan, Direct Action promises to invest in clean tech and renewable energy.

Unlike the Government’s scheme, however, it will not cap Australia’s carbon emissions, it will not allow carbon pollution credits to be traded on a market, and it will not charge polluters for their emissions. Instead, the Coalition plans to tackle carbon emissions by paying industry to pollute less, through an Emissions Reduction Fund. It is envisaged that the Fund will invest around $1.2 billion in direct CO2 emissions reduction activities through to 2020.

The Coalition will also spend another billion on policies such as its $400 million “one million solar roofs” program.

That’s money that the Coalition says will come from “normal budget processes”. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have already promised that money will not come from extra taxes. That means an incoming Abbott government has committed to more than $10 billion in spending cuts in order to pay for its carbon policies.
Matthew Nott