Friday 11 May 2007

Parent power pushed the environmental message

Lithgow Mercury
Thursday 10/5/2007 Page: 8

More than 45 mothers, fathers and children from the Blue Mountains/Lithgow area gathered in the Springwood Civic Square last week to raise awareness about global warming. The group gathered to publicly sign and deliver a letter to Federal Member for Macquarie, Kerry Bartlett.

The letter called on Mr Bartlett to commit to personally contacting the Prime Minister, John Howard, and asking him to:
  • Help Australia move away from coal, the primary cause of climate change, to clean affordable renewable energy such as wind and solar by supporting a 30 per cent cut in greenhouse pollution by 2020; and
  • Join with the rest of the international community in dealing with climate change, and, as a first step, ratify the Kyoto Agreement.
"In 2006 when a bunch of mothers started talking and realised how seriously climate change will affect our future, we decided we need to do all we can to help," concerned mother Stephanie Chrismas said. "We were like any mothers group, but as well as talking about nappies and how to get our kids to sleep through the night, we were concerned about what kind of world they will be living in.

"We were all doing all we could as individuals, but just changing our light globes isn't enough to solve this problem. "We need our government to take immediate and decisive action. so our kids can have some sort of a future," she said.

Climate change-global warming is caused by rising carbon dioxide levels from burning fossil fuels, according to scientists. If no action is taken, Australia can expect rising sea levels, more frequent and extreme droughts with food shortages, the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef, and more extreme weather events. In the Blue Mountains, climate change could result in more frequent and intense bushfires, hotter temperatures, severe water shortages and serious impacts to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

The group is calling on other parents to contact local politicians, and express their concerns. "We know people are really worried about this issue, particularly parents, and the news is so bad that we have no time to waste. "The good news is that we already have the clean technology we need to fix this problem," another Hartley mother, Sharnie Wu, said. "The next election will be crucial in formulating our national response to the threat of climate change. "If we act now we can still make a difference".

You can contact local concerned parents, find out more about local community green activities and download a letter to Mr Bartlett from

Wind is go!

Warrnambool Standard
Friday 11/5/2007 Page: 14

A $49 MILLION wind farm proposal on a property located on Mortons Lane, near Caramut, has been given the green light by local councils. The proposed site for the small-scale wind farm project consists of 1100ha of cleared farmland about 11 kilometres north-west of Caramut. The site crosses both Moyne and Southern Grampians shire boundaries and the proposal required the approval of both parties.

Moyne councillors voted in favour of the wind farm on Tuesday night at a council meeting in Port Fairy and Southern Grampians councillors followed suit on Wednesday night in Hamilton. Up to 15 wind turbines producing 29.9 megawatts of power will be installed by NewEn Australia. The project falls marginally below the State Government's jurisdiction which applies to any project producing 30 megawatts.

The turbine towers are more than 100 metres tall and consist of three rotor blades 45 metres in length. A Southern Grampians Shire spokesman said the recommendation put forward last night was adopted. Mayor Michael Leeming said all seven councillors were in favour of the proposal at last night's meeting. "Nobody spoke against the motion and it received council approval. Objectors can now appeal to VCAT," he said. Work is expected to start within the next 12 months if there are no objections.

Call for industry to help fund research

Friday 11/5/2007 Page: 9

THE Carpenter Government will establish an office of climate change and ask industry to match its contributions to research into new technology for large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A $36.5 million Low Emission Energy Development Fund, part of yesterday's West Australian budget, will support research towards technology breakthroughs and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Labor Government's seventh budget included an announcement that it would seek matching contributions to the fund from industry and the commonwealth Government. A panel of government appointees will call for expressions of interest from proponents of initiatives including hot rocks, geosequestration and clean coal. Premier Alan Carpenter hopes the fund will help reduce Western Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in keeping with federal Labor's plan to cut emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050.

Mr Carpenter has already announced plans to compel new home builders to install solar or five-star gas hot water systems, water-efficient shower heads and tap fittings in all sinks and basins, water efficient dual-flush toilets and pool blankets for new pools to reduce evaporation rates.

From next year, new home owners must install plumbing for a future alternative water supply and drainage for grey water. The Department of Environment's new climate change office was part of a $100 million commitment over five years to sustainability. Householders will be rewarded with rebates for using water-wise products in a $9 million scheme.

The Government will also spend $19.5 million over the next five years to secure 20 per cent of its departmental and ministerial electricity requirements from accredited renewable energy sources.

CarbonShift chief executive Michael Molitor, a consultant on the reduction of carbon emissions, said the Five Star Plus building initiative being adopted by the Carpenter Government for new housing was excellent. But Dr Molitor said the amount of the Government's research fund seemed small. However, he said industry contributions could make a difference and companies were now more motivated to address the issue.

"Climate change is a business risk like any other business risk," Dr Molitor said. "Companies are getting hit by their customers on this issue, and investors are saying: 'We see risk around your greenhouse gas emissions'. "

Windfarms success

Friday 11/5/2007 Page: 4

SHARES in New Zealand Windfarms rose after the company said it would raise $NZ75 million ($A66 million) in a share sale to help fund new projects. Windfarms would offer about 68 million shares at $NZ1.10 each, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange.

Vector, the nation's biggest electricity distributor, will buy 15.5 million shares, giving it a 19.9 per cent stake in the power generator. Windfarms would sell a further 5 million shares to existing investors and the remaining stock had been allocated to institutional investors that had bid for 40 per cent more stock than was available, the company said.

Shares in Windfarms rose 190 to $NZ2.14.

Spanish acquisition

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 11/5/2007 Page: 79

Babcock and Brown Wind Partners has bought two wind farms in north-west Spain for about $180 million from Electric Power Development and Marubeni. The Monte Siexo and Serra do Cando acquisitions, which BBW expects to complete before June 29, are at Pontevedra in Galicia.

The acquisitions will be funded through debt and the equity raised through a recent institutional placement. BBW said it expected the farms to "be immediately accretive to the preacquisition expected net operating cash flow. "The acquisitions are expected to contribute $8.0 million to net operating cash flow from fiscal year 2008," the company said.

Thursday 10 May 2007

Officially a generator

Port Lincoln Times
Tuesday 8/5/2007 Page: 5

THE Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm near Sleaford was officially opened by State Government Minister Paul Holloway on Friday.

Mr Holloway, leader of the government in the Legislative Council representing the State Government said the wind farm, located 26 kilometres southwest of Port Lincoln, was integral in battling the effects of climate change.. He said the emission-free farm was a leading project for South Australia and the country.

"Now half of the country's wind energy is generated in South Australia," he said. "It will put South Australia at the forefront for wind energy. He said the farm was helping South Australia meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing up to a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by generating electricity from a world-class wind resource.

Tasmanian Energy Minister David Llewellyn said it was disappointing the Federal Government had ignored the findings of its own expert report on renewable energy targets, and was not following suit with South Australia's commitment to reducing reliance on fossil fuels. At maximum capacity the Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm, with 33 turbines, generates 66 megawatts of green energy, enough to power 35,000 households. The wind farm is a joint venture between Spanish company Acciona Energy and Roaring 40s, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and CLP Power Asia.

Roaring 40s chairman Richard Mclndoe said the wind farm highlighted the State's involvement in renewable energy, including geothermal energy currently being developed. Acciona Energy managing director Brett Thomas said Cathedral Rocks was an important milestone for Acciona's global wind energy portfolio, being the company's first wind farm development in Australia.

"Cathedral Rocks adds to the continuing growth of renewable energy in Australia." Venture partners have been testing and commissioning turbines since the end of construction and wanted to wait until the majority of the wind turbines were through this phase before an opening ceremony was held.

An open day for the public was held on Saturday.

Climate change a deal maker

Business News
Thursday 10/5/2007 Page: 16

THIS year's $US32 billion ($A40 billion) takeover of US power utility TXU was famous for being the world's biggest private equity deal, but it has also become renowned for the role of environmental activists. Private equity investors Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Texas Pacific Group won support for their takeover after promising environmental groups they would scrap plans for eight coal-fired power stations TXU had planned to build. They also agreed to reduce TXU's carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and link executive remuneration to its handling of climate change issues.

Speaking at a business briefing last week, Freehills senior solicitor Paul Branston, who recently returned from studying in the US, believes the TXU case is a sign of what could be more common across industry. The blurring of traditional lines was highlighted by activist group Environmental Defence's decision to hire an investment bank to provide advice on the deal.

Freehills partner John Taberner said there was a growing expectation the federal government would introduce an emissions trading scheme in Australia, following the Business Council's support for the concept. This would most likely involve putting a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, thereby creating a price for excess emissions.

Mr Branston said this would have most impact on sectors that were large emitters of greenhouse gases, such as power generators, big users of electricity, car manufacturers and transport companies. It meant that project developers in these sectors would need to create emissions offsets. Mr Branston said listed companies would need to review their disclosure practices, and may need to start reporting their carbon liabilities.

This would be particularly important in prospectuses and takeover battles, and in extreme cases could result in legal action by investors if they believed a company had not fully disclosed its risks. Ratings agencies and financial analysts would start to build carbon liabilities into their analysis, while fund managers would evaluate the exposure of companies to climate change.

While carbon emitters were likely to face increased risks, Mr Branston said the introduction of an emissions trading scheme would create many opportunities. He anticipated increased demand for carbon-related services, such as measuring emissions and facilitating trade in carbon credits. Other opportunities included providing clean or renewable energy, providing sequestration schemes, such as planting trees, and developing technology to reduce emissions.

Minter Ellison partner Glen McLeod, who heads the firm's recently established climate change taskforce, urged companies to take early action. "Companies that are seen to be at the forefront of responding to climate change will be favoured by customers and investors as awareness of this issue continues to grow," Mr McLeod said.

Murdoch turning his empire green

Thursday 10/5/2007 Page: 3

Rupert Murdoch has got the message, and he wants the rest of us to get it, too. He has become a convert to concerns about global warming and climate change, even recently buying a hybrid car for himself. He also announced that his worldwide media company, News Corp, intends to reduce its own net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2010. "We're not a manufacturer, or an airline, but we do use energy; printing and publishing newspapers, producing films and television programs, operating 24-hour newsrooms. It all adds carbon to the atmosphere," he said.

Mr Murdoch said an independent audit had found the company's global operations produced 641,150 tonnes of carbon. Although some of his newspapers were once sceptical about global warming, he said that although he was no scientist, he knew how to assess a risk. "This one is clear. Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction," he said.

"When all of News Corp becomes carbon neutral it will have the same impact as turning off the electricity in the city of London for five full days." He said the company would install energy efficient light bulbs, buy energy from renewable sources and purchase hybrid cars.

The carbon emissions it could not avoid would be offset by investing in projects that avoid releasing greenhouse gases. He said the company had already invested in wind energy in India. But Mr Murdoch made it clear the company's goal was much larger - to reach out to its vast audience and influence them to change their behaviour. "Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours. That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer," he said. "Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 per cent.

That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months. And imagine if we were able to take on the carbon footprint of our audience in Asia - in India alone, we reach 100 million people." News Corp's MySpace has started a channel devoted to climate change issues, the TV series 24 will be produced using biodiesel generators, and National Geographic Channel will launch an effort called Preserve Our Planet. But Mr Murdoch signalled that News Corp would not be reporting climate change as "the end of the world".

"The challenge is to revolutionise the message," he said. "For too long, the threats of climate change have been presented as doom and gloom - because the consequences are so serious. "We need to do what our company does best: make this issue exciting. Tell the story in a new way. "There are limits to how far we can push this issue in our content. Not every hero on television can drive a hybrid car. Often times it just won't fit. We must avoid preaching. And there has to be substance behind the Blitz. "But if we are genuine, we can change the way the public thinks about these issues."

Wind farms turn into cash cows

Hamilton Spectator
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 6

WIND farms are turning into nice little earners for local government. It has been estimated the Moyne Shire - the most intensive location for wind farms in Victoria with a planned 379 wind towers so far - might reap up to $1 million if all these projects go ahead.

Glenelg Shire Council will receive $180,000 from Pacific Hydro for the electricity generated by its wind farms in lieu of rates. The State Government has initiated a formula which sees a base payment of $40,000 plus $900 per megawatt capacity indexed by CPI annually. Glenelg Shire Mayor, Cr Gilbert Wilson said this will mean Pacific Hydro will initially pay the shire $180,400. However, if the company's Portland Wind Energy Project is built in stages over more than one year, then the amount will be calculated on a pro rata basis based on actual installed megawatt capacity.

"Unlike the rate agreements for other large industries, the proposed rate agreement with Pacific Hydro is a procedural document as the financial formula is prescribed by legislation and cannot be negotiated," Cr Wilson said. Cr Wilson said the Portland Wind Energy Project had resulted in the establishment of the Vestas manufacturing facility in Portland and a number of local contractors would be employed during the construction phase.

Woorndoo wind farm approved

Warrnambool Standard
Wednesday 9/5/2007 Page: 9

WIND farms belong in the "never-never" and not on the coast, according to Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas. Cr Doukas' comments were made yesterday during debate before Moyne Shire councillors granted planning approvals for two small-scale wind farms worth a total of $98 million in the northern area of the shire.

The projects, located at the Salt Creek Merino Stud, Woorndoo, and Mortons Lane, Caramut, proposed by NewEn Australia are for 13 to 15 turbines and are expected to produce 29.9 megawatts of power. The projects fall into the local government's planning jurisdiction and not the Victorian Government which decides the merits of projects of 30 megawatts or more.

Moyne councillors approved plans for a wind farm on Mortons Lane but the project needs to be signed off by the Southern Grampians Shire. The 13 to 15-turbine farm crosses Moyne Shire's boundaries and spills into the Southern Grampians boundaries. Cr Stan Cook moved the motion to approve the Morton's Lane project and said councillors from both Moyne and Southern Grampians had inspected the site.

During debate about the Mortons Lane project Cr Doukas said the turbines were going to be built where they belonged the never-never... not down near the coast or at Hawkesdale. Moyne Mayor Gerald Madden voted in favour of the Morton's Lane project saying the site was suitable for a wind farm. He said the farm spanned more land but had less turbines than the Woolsthorpe project which had been discussed at council previously.

Cr Brenda Hampson said she looked forward to the Woorndoo wind farm flourishing and said the northern part of the shire would "at long last have some tourist attraction to boast about". Councillors voted unanimously in favour of both wind farm projects and Southern Grampians councillors will consider the Mortons Lane project at tonight's meeting in Hamilton.

NZ plans to start caps on emissions next year

Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 9/5/2007 Page: 12

New Zealand Energy Minister David Parker yesterday announced a system to limit greenhouse gas emissions and enable trading of surplus entitlements would be developed in the next three months, with the possibility the country's power producers and major industries could have emissions capped by next year.

New Zealand is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand's emissions rose 24.7 per cent from 1990 to 2005 as economic growth increased energy and transport use and tree-planting decreased due to a fall in forestry earnings. About 80 per cent of NZ's emissions come from about 15 companies, including dairy exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group and Rio Tinto's Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. Mr Parker said emissions trading would probably involve fewer than 100 companies.

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Public purse props up fossil fuel industries

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 8/5/2007 Page: 7

GOVERNMENT subsidies to some of Australia's electricity generation companies are so big they exceed the profits made by those companies, a report on energy and transport subsidies says.

Government support for the coal industry and coal-fired electricity is so generous that in some cases it has led to the construction of coal-fired power plants when other types of electricity generation would have been cheaper, the report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney has found.

Subsidies to fossil fuel energies, worth close to $10 billion, result in a serious market distortion, create an unfair disadvantage to renewable energy, and help increase greenhouse gas pollution, says the report, written by the institute's research principal, Chris Riedy, and commissioned by Greenpeace. The report identified energy and transport subsidies in Australia during 2005-06 of between $9.3 billion and $10.1 billion. More than 96 per cent of that money flowed to fossil fuel production and consumption, with the remainder going to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"This effectively creates an uneven playing field for renewable energy, making it much more difficult to respond to climate change in the energy and transport sectors," the report says. "Fossil fuel subsidies can increase greenhouse gas emissions because they reduce the price of fossil fuel energy, which encourages greater use of fossil fuels and higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions." The report notes some fossil fuel subsidies can help cut emissions, such as subsidising a coal-fired power plant to improve efficiency.

However, over 90 per cent of the subsidies identified in the report would increase greenhouse gas emissions, it says. Government subsidies appear to be creating profits for coal-fired electricity generators. "Macquarie Generation, which operates the Liddell and Bayswater coal-fired power stations, earned a before tax profit of $267.1 million in 2005-06. .. the annual fuel subsidy to Macquarie Generation is between $122 million and $304 million," the report says. Road users benefit most from the subsidies, with about 74 per cent of taxpayer funds supporting fossil fuel industries flowing to the transport sector. Another 18 per cent goes to electricity generation and 8 per cent to other kinds of stationary energy.

"Motorists do not pay as much to access and use the road network as they should," the report says. "In 2005-06 the cost of providing the road network was $4.7 billion more than the revenue received from road users." The aluminium smelting industry, which has lobbied aggressively against putting a price on greenhouse gas pollution, has also benefited from subsidies. It is estimated to use almost 15 per cent of Australia's electricity, making it responsible for almost 6 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

"The annual subsidy for electricity use at the six existing Australian aluminium smelters is at least $210 million, and is likely over $250 million," the report says. "This removes the incentive to reduce electricity usage and hence cut emissions."

China's biggest fan: Success in the air for Hunter firm

Newcastle Herald
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 17

HUNTER company Aerogenesis Australia is set to crack the billion-dollar Chinese wind turbine market with a prototype developed at the University of Newcastle that promises to help tackle climate change. The prototype is the result of 20 years of research and development, headed by the university's conjoint associate professor of engineering, David Wood. Dr Wood, who founded Aerogenesis, said the climate change debate had come at the right time for his product.

"We're looking at village electrification projects in China," he said. "China is obviously the cheapest place to manufacture, but it's also the biggest market." He said several Hunter businesses were providing various components for the project. Final-year university students are working on the product's research and development.

"People in various engineering disciplines at the university are providing advice on structural design, computer modelling of blades and manufacture of moulds to make them in," Dr Wood said. "One of the reasons wee been able to get this far is high-level people at the university are involved." Dr Wood said the five kilowatt turbines had five metre- diameter blades, built to sit on an 18-metre-high tower. "The turbines are not suitable for the city, they're for farms and remote locations," he said.

Dr Wood said the company would develop the prototype for at least another few months before signing a licence agreement with Chinese company Jiangsu Changdong Machinery. "They'll pay a licence fee for the technology and we'll teach them how to make the blades and controllers - then they'll start production," he said.

Research and development will remain in Newcastle. The company has applied to the Federal Government to help fund demonstration turbines in China and Australia. Competitors were selling small wind turbines for $30,000, but Aerogenesis aims to go to market at half that price. "We're planning to get them cheap enough to be economically viable to directly connect into the electricity grid and feed power back in," Dr Wood said.

Kept in the dark on alternative power

Central Western Daily
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 16

IT concerns me that, while most people are aware of solar and wind, the potential and uses of many other low emission and renewable technologies seem to pass them by. For instance, no-one appears to challenge John Howard when he states categorically that none of the alternatives are able to carry the base load of our power, ie: the 24 hour, all day, all night demand.

The wind, he points out, blows only sometimes, while solar energy is produced only during the day. These things are true, but they both need to be understood; wind farms are placed in varying locations, that frequently have patterns of strong winds at different times, while solar energy is collectable during peak periods, ie: during the day, when the demand for power is at its highest - it's peak. This makes it an ideal complement for a relatively low, continuous 24 hour flow. The continuous ramping up and decreasing of output increases substantially the wear and tear on the mechanisms of the coal fired power stations.

But are coal and nuclear the only ways to produce a 24 hour flow of power, as John Howard continuously declares? Indeed, no. Both geothermal power, eg: the hot dry rocks at Innamincka, or wave power will give us this 24 hour supply, if we care to use them.

Not only is there an Australian made wave machine, 'Energetec', now known as Oceanlinx, already in operation at Port Kembla, but a completely different form of wave power technology, the Polamis, has just been launched in Scotland, as the world's largest wave farm in Orkney. (Max Carcas, business development director, Ocean Power Delivery, Edinburgh Scotland

The approach there has been to develop a machine that harvests the maximum day to day power of the waves, while avoiding destruction by the occasional wild storms that occur. This explains its shape: it looks like a thin set of windowless train carriages. They are designed to always point into the predominant swell.

This means that the waves pass in sequence down the length of the machine and it never presents a wide cross sectional area to their force. The hinged joints of the carriages move up and down and side to side in response to the movement of the waves. That movement is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high pressure hydraulic fluid through hydraulic motors which turn generators.

The ocean is active day and night, so that this is yet another way that base-load, 234 hour power can be available for use. Calculations indicate that less than 0.1 per cent of the power that can be harvested from the oceans would supply the planet's entire energy needs. So why doesn't somebody tell the prime minister?

Much of this information was presented in the Science Show, ABC RN 28/04/07.

Greenhouse gasbags

Canberra Times
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 7

PROPAGANDA often works through fabrications so audacious that opponents are shell-shocked and unable to respond. This technique has been adopted by Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his frequent claim that Australia is "leading the world" in the response to the climate crisis.

To counter the widespread view at home and abroad that Australia is a pariah nation in global efforts to tackle global warming, the Federal Government has relentlessly campaigned to persuade voters that the opposite is the case. To succeed it must somehow undo the hold of the facts, and for every fact it has developed a counter-position.

The first fact that had to be countered was that Australia did extraordinarily well out of the Kyoto negotiations in 1997. After playing diplomatic hard-ball, Australia was conceded a very generous deal at the Kyoto conference. Then environment minister Robert Hill, who led our delegation, was feted by his colleagues; indeed, he received a standing ovation at the first cabinet meeting after his return.

Yet the Howard Government soon began to transform an agreement that it hailed as a great victory into a bad deal that would wreck the Australian economy. This repudiation of a gift from the rest of the world created widespread resentment, and a deep unease among an Australian public proud of its progressive international reputation.

The desire to counter the lingering smell left by its repudiation of Kyoto Protocol led to the formation in 2005 of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, known as AP6. Although pushed by the United States and Australia as an alternative to Kyoto, AP6 was soon seen as a smokescreen to obscure our withdrawal from global citizenship.

The deception was exposed from the outset by US Republican Senator John McCain, tipped by many to be the next Republican presidential candidate, who described it as "nothing more than a nice little public-relations ploy".

The Australian Government's various voluntary greenhouse programs with industry also fit the criteria of publicity stunts with no real effect. When, early in its term, the Government commissioned a review of its flagship Greenhouse Challenge Program, the results showed that only a sixth of the emission cuts claimed for the program were real. Now the Government refuses to allow any independent scrutiny of its programs. But it has continued to proclaim that it has "world-leading" greenhouse programs.

The only policy that has had a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions - the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which led to an investment boom in wind energy - has been scrapped, with a senior minister privately describing it as "too successful".

The comprehensive failure of the Howard Government to take effective measures to cut Australia's emissions is well understood by experts and policymakers abroad. When a team of German researchers asked hundreds of experts around the world to score industrialised countries according to their commitment to tackle climate change, Australia ranked second last, with only the US doing worse. But we need not rely on expert testimony to disprove the level of Howard Government fabrication.

There's a simple and incontrovertible test of whether Australia is a world leader or a world laggard - are we reducing, or at least slowing the growth, of our greenhouse gas emissions? Since the Howard Government came to power, Australia's emissions have increased by 19 per cent, a growth rate more than double the average of all other industrialised countries. And the Government expects them to grow by another 25 per cent by 2020. This is at a time when the world's climate scientists say we must reduce our emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Among industrialised countries we have the 10th highest level of emissions, higher than the total emissions of Italy and France, each of which have three times the population of Australia. Nor can we avoid the fact that we have the highest levels of greenhouse pollution per person in the industrialised world. In the propaganda technique of the big lie there are rules that are inevitably followed: be audacious, never admit fault or wrong, never accept the possibility of alternatives, and repeat the fabrication so often that people end up accepting it as truth.

This is how the Howard Government has approached climate change over the last decade, an approach now articulated with renewed vigour by Turnbull. Its strategy to avoid responsibility has two prongs - displace and defer. It has repeatedly displaced responsibility from itself, first by fingering developing countries as being "exempted" from the Kyoto Protocol (itself a lie as almost all developing counties have ratified the treaty). "We won't act until they do," the Government has insisted. More recently it has shifted the blame specifically on to China - there is no point us acting if China "pollutes the environment to its heart's content", in the words of Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

The Europeans have been blamed also; they are just pretending to cut their emissions to impose a cost on Australia, goes the argument. Most recently, the bizarre policy of allocating $200 million to reduce logging in the Third World is another attempt to shift responsibility from the need to reduce fossil-fuel emissions at home.

At the 2005 Montreal climate negotiations the Australian delegation helped close down discussion of limiting deforestation, saying that it was premature to address incentives for reduced deforestation. The second prong of the strategy is to defer action. While imposing no effective measures to cut our emissions now, the Government has put its faith in the development of "clean coal" technologies and nuclear power, the most important features of which are that neither would have a significant effect on our greenhouse emissions for at least 15-20 years. While the urgency of the problem demands that Australia begins to cut its emissions now, the Government's response is to shift responsibility to other countries or to future generations.

With no basis in fact, Turnbull's claim that Australia is a world leader should be seen as an epic lie of the kind that becomes possible only for those who hold a fervent belief in a greater cause that justifies a falsehood of this magnitude. In this case, the belief is that Australia's future is tied inescapably to exploiting our coal reserves, an objective that has been set out in a number of official papers.

The burning question is whether Turnbull can succeed in his grand deception - whether, by repeating it often enough, people will begin to believe it. Expert liars, whether con-men, psychopaths or unscrupulous politicians, know that in the public mind the facts are often a weak defence in the face of persistent and passionate fabrications by figures of authority, particularly when they know that the lies they are telling are one's that the listener wants to hear.

It is worth remembering that in the 1930s the leaders of Europe, still traumatised by the Great War, wanted to believe that the rise of fascists did not mean war, that it was possible to appease an expansionist dictator and live in peace. Winston Churchill was one of the few with a clear-eyed understanding of Nazi aggression, yet his warnings were ignored.

For much of his two-decade campaign, former US vice-president Al Gore has been presenting the scientific facts on global warming while most have wanted to cling to more comforting beliefs. But the accumulation of evidence has finally penetrated the public's preference to look the other way and has even overwhelmed the climate sceptics.

The story of Churchill shows that the truth frequently gains a momentum of its own. The question then is how much damage will be done before it prevails. In the case of climate change the answer is "a great deal". The 10 years lost will translate into enormous additional human misery later this century. If Turnbull perseveres with the lies the misery will only accumulate, and add to the imbalance on his karmic ledger.

Since coining to power, so many lies have been told by the Howard Government about climate change that the rational stance now is to assume that everything it says is untrue. The Government's systematic falsehoods on climate change have recently ceased to seduce the public. Why? Perhaps it is because the stakes are now seen to be too high. Perhaps it is because the consequences of continuing to accept them are too awful. In the end there is a limit to the gullibility of the public. Over climate change the limit has now been reached.

Clive Hamilton is executive director of The Australia Institute

Wind farm ingenuity

Burnie Advocate
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 5

ENERGY Minister David Llewellyn yesterday opened a new wind farm in South Australia built by Tasmanian "success story" Roaring 40s. The Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm is located 30km from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. Mr Llewellyn said there needed to be a Federal Government commitment to reduce fossil fuels and shift towards alternate energy sources such as wind farms. He said in recent times the Federal Government's "lack of commitment" on the issue had seen jobs lost at the Vestas nacelle factory at Wynyard and wind farm sites with important energy resources laying waste due to the lack of incentive for development.

Eyre gets wind power

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 21

WIND turbines which generate enough power for up to 25,000 homes have been connected to the electricity network on Eyre Peninsula. The $200 million Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm, 30km west of Port Lincoln, is now producing 66 megawatts of electricity.

Construction of the 33 turbines began in late 2004 and the switch to the network was officially flicked yesterday. The wind farm, developed by Roaring 40s and Chilean firm Acciona Energy, will save 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Power will be supplied through TRUEnergy.

Stabilising emissions is affordable'

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 5/5/2007 Page: 10

AUSTRALIA has been urged to speed up its response to climate change after a major report found tackling global warming is affordable and achievable. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change yesterday recommended countries adopt improved energy-efficiency measures, greater use of renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power, and invest in public transport.

The IPCC's third report said if the global temperature rise was kept between 2C and 2.4C it would affect the world economy by anywhere from a 3 per cent reduction to a 1.2 per cent gain in gross domestic product by 2030. Stabilising atmospheric carbon levels at a moderate amount of 550 parts per million would cost just 0.6 per cent of world GDP. "There is substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades, that could offset the projected growth of global emissions or reduce emissions below current levels." it said.

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the IPCC findings supported the Government's push for a new global agreement on reducing emissions to supersede the Kyoto Protocol. "What this report highlights is the importance of a global response," Mr Turnbull said. "Simply imposing unilateral and savage cuts to Australian emissions will just export our emissions and jobs to other countries in a gesture that is as destructive as it is futile." Climate Institute Australia chief executive John Connor said binding emission reduction targets were crucial.

Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett said effective measures would be "vastly less than the costs of continued inaction".

"Green" skyscraper

Sunday Times
Sunday 6/5/2007 Page: 3

Dubai plans to build the world's first "green" skyscraper that will produce more electricity than it uses as part of the emirate's efforts to remain an international trendsetter in building technology.

The 312m skyscraper would feature revolving floors with the entire building equipped, with wind turbines and solar energy panels that would make it independent of outside energy sources, architect David Fisher said.

Wind farms go-ahead tipped: Moyne councillors to vote tomorrow

Warrnambool Standard
Monday 7/5/2007 Page: 3

TWO more wind farms valued at $98 million are expected to be approved by Moyne Shire Council. Several wind energy companies have mooted plans to build turbines in south-west Victoria to produce clean energy to meet the State Government's alternative energy targets.

Moyne Shire planning officers are recommending that councillors approve wind projects proposed for land near Caramut and Woorndoo. The small-scale projects - proposed by New En Australia - include up to 15 turbines on each site.

Council documents show the Mortons Lane facility is set on about 1100ha of cleared agricultural land about 11km north-west of Caramut. The farm crosses Moyne and Southern Grampians shire boundaries. Moyne is set to collect $35,000 annually from the Morton Lane project in rates.

The second project on the Salt Creek Merino Stud will span across 750 hectares. This project on the Hexham-Woorndoo Road is expected to generate about $72,000 in rate revenue for Moyne Shire.

Both projects plan to connect into the Victorian electricity grid via existing overhead power lines. The projects, each 29.9 megawatts, fall below the State Government's jurisdiction and are the responsibility of Moyne Shire. Councillors will vote on the projects' future at a planning meeting tomorrow. The meeting will be held in the Port Fairy Yacht Club from 4.30pm.

WA sets green energy target

Australian Financial Review
Monday 7/5/2007 Page: 8

Yesterday, as part of climate change initiatives, the West Australian government has announced a renewable energy target of 20 per cent for the state's electricity supply by 2025 and will require all energy-saving devices. Premier Alan Carpenter said that all new houses built after September 1 would be required to incorporate minimum Building Code of Australia five-star-plus energy and water-efficiency measures.

The spending of a further $1.5 million would allow a free audit for WA households on how they could cut emissions and energy costs and a $36.5 million low-emission energy development fund would be set up to promote the development of emission-reduction technology.

A report last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said renewable energy could have a 30 to 35 per cent share of the total electricity supply in 2030, at prices up to US$50 a tonne for carbon dioxide.

Opponents aim for emissions targets at 20 paces

Australian Financial Review
Monday 7/5/2007 Page: 5

According to figures set to be released by the Labor Party ahead of tomorrow's budget, Treasurer Peter Costello has spent twice as much money on federal government advertising in the past decade than he has on climate change programs. According to the office of shadow environment spokesperson Peter Garrett, the Australian Greenhouse Office has received around $1 billion in budget commitments from the government over the past decade, although only around 65 per cent of this has been spent.

Labor has asked the Australian National Audit Office to assess the effectiveness of climate change programs implemented by the Howard government over the past ten years. ANAO has indicated it would support such an audit, although the results would not be know for at least two years. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released on Friday, confirming that it would be cheaper to take action now to prevent global warning. According to the report, a temperature rise of between two and three degrees would cost 0.12 per cent of global GDP each year until 2050.

Turnbull's hypocrisy on climate

May 4, 2007

ARGUABLY the greatest casualty in the sagas of Iraq and David Hicks has been the truth. We all have our views on the rights and wrongs of each case, but political chicanery has ensured that the facts will never emerge.

So it is of great concern to see misrepresentation and obfuscation growing in the climate-change debate. An article in The Sydney Morning Herald (6/4) by Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released on Good Friday, has to be the most blatant piece of hypocrisy in decades.

He said: "The IPCC report should serve as a reminder that the world must move beyond the Kyoto Protocol to find real global solutions to climate change." Just so, which is in stark contrast to the action of the Australian Government in fighting tooth and nail for years to water down the Kyoto obligations and frustrate any global agreement. Having finally negotiated an 8 per cent increase in Australian emissions rather than a reduction, in a final act of perfidy it then refused to ratify the protocol.

"We cannot solve a global problem unless all of the world's emitters are part of the solution." Why, therefore, has Australia spent the past 10 years doing everything possible to subvert any global initiatives, particularly anything that might involve the binding emissions reductions so essential to a meaningful global solution?

"While very important, the science in the IPCC report is not new. That is why for years now Australia has been forming its environmental and water policies on the basis that climate change is a fact not a theory …" This claim must be something of a surprise to the rest of federal cabinet, most of whom are on record expressing diametrically opposite views, ranging from "extremism" and "scaremongering" (John Howard) to "entertainment" (Ian McFarlane), that is until the community issued a wake-up call last year.

"We play an active role within the United Nations building an effective successor to Kyoto." So far that role seems to have comprised little more than the empty rhetoric of the "New Kyoto" that Ian Campbell was to propose to the Nairobi climate conference last November. In reality it turned out to be little more than a gleam in the minister's eye.

"Australia is leading the world on a new Global Initiative on Forests and Climate, which has already received strong international support." The international forestry initiative announced in early April by Malcolm Turnbull is commendable, but it diverts attention from the real issue, namely Australia's responsibility to reduce its own emissions. Further, it is not a unique Australian initiative, but part of a global effort to halt deforestation that the Government chose to announce unilaterally to gain domestic political advantage.

We are now embroiled in debate over whether we will meet our Kyoto emission targets, as if that is the ultimate climate change test. The Kyoto targets were only ever a starting point, and emission cuts will have to go far deeper, far more rapidly than either Government or Opposition acknowledge.

The real issue lost in the political furore, is the need for urgent action to turn down emissions growth. The most recent science suggests that the danger level for atmospheric carbon concentrations is 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent. Current atmospheric carbon concentrations are 430 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent, increasing at two parts per million a year and accelerating fast, both here and overseas, particularly in China. In theory that leaves 10 years before we reach the danger point of 450 parts per million.

In reality, given accelerating emissions and the non-linear climatic response that is increasingly evident, we probably have no more than five years. As there is a considerable lag before any reduction in emissions has an impact, action is required in the next 6 to 12 months, not in the 3 to 5 years favoured in political debate.

We do not have the luxury of waiting until September 2008 for the findings of the Garnaut Review before acting, any more than we can wait for the Prime Minister to recognise that this is no longer a conventional economic problem, but an exercise in catastrophic risk management. We need a bipartisan approach to initiate action now, independent of the electoral process.

Climate change is the most serious issue to confront humanity in centuries, of an entirely different dimension to the typical political agenda. As such, it must be addressed truthfully and transparently, not with denial and misrepresentation. The community must be fully informed and committed to the solutions.

As the Prime Minister likes to remind us: "Trust me, our economy is doing splendidly." It may continue to do so for a while. But on any sustainable basis, without rapid corrective action, we are heading for a fall, the like of which we have never seen before. Particularly in an economy so dependent on unsustainable energy consumption and exports, on the driest continent on Earth.

As Herman Daly put it: "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse." No environment, no economy. We know what to do — it is hard, but we need to get on with it and not waste another 10 years. The first test will be the Government's reaction to the third IPCC climate change report, to be released today — more guff or some honesty?

Ian Dunlop was formerly a senior international oil, gas and coal industry executive. He chaired the Australian Coal Association in 1987-88, and the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from 1998-2000.

The hot spot: Geothermal drilling could solve water woes

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 1

A $30 million investment could see South Gippsland become a major producer of clean energy for Victoria. Sydney company Granite Power is set to start drilling geothermal bores in the region after being granted exploration rights for "hot rocks" that lie beneath South Gippsland. And the technology could also provide a solution to the region's water woes, with any energy production expected to fuel waste-water treatment plants for thirsty towns.

Geothermal technology sees water pumped into sub-surface granite, where 200C temperatures superheat the water before forcing it back to the surface. The heated water is then used to spin turbines for electricity production. The clean method of electricity production has been attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment funds as the worldwide search intensifies for an alternative to greenhouse-gas producing coal power.

Granite Power managing director Stephen de Belle said the region had massive potential because of its geology and proximity to Melbourne. The company will now use computer modelling to locate South Gippsland's "hot spots", with drilling possible before the end of the year.

The first test holes will be sunk from the south-east fringe of Melbourne to Cape Liptrap, north to Warragul and across to Warburton. "It's an area that has potential for hot rocks at an appropriate depth," Mr de Belle said. "We saw it as having the right combination of location and geology to make it worthwhile."

The first stage of testing would involve a small-scale commercial power plant producing up to 10 megawatts of electricity - enough to power a town like Leongatha. Investment in the mobile plant would top $30 million, with hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent if a full-scale, 120 megawatt plant was built. "A fair bit of that money flows locally, a lot of support and services are required," Mr de Belle said.

The company said South Gippsland geology lent itself to geothermal technology, which is already being successfully trialled in outback South Australia. Hot granite is believed to lie about three to four kilometres below the surface, offering an accessible heat source for the power generation.

"We think there is good potential, we are looking for a combination of hot granite, not too deep and a good insulating layer to keep the heat in over the eons;' Mr de Belle said. "There is evidence that there are heat sources in that area." Mr de Belle said hot rock sites close to major cities had a massive advantage over more remote plants like those in South Australia's Cooper Basin.

"If you compare the cost of delivering a megawatt of power to a town, we could do it at between a third and two thirds of the cost than if it was coming from South Australia" Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor said geothermal energy had the potential to provide clean, reliable and renewable energy to the power grid and help reduce the state's carbon dioxide emissions. "It is vital we explore all means of producing electricity in a more sustainable way and geothermal offers that potential," he said.

"Geothermal energy sources in Victoria have scarcely been explored, but there is a growing awareness of their potential. Victoria has a real advantage over other Australian states in the development of this energy source because of the compact nature of the State and the proximity of potential energy sources to the power grid and prospective markets" A geothermal power station could have the added benefit of providing clean water for the surrounding district.

Mr de Belle said new technology being developed by his company would allow sewage or other unusable water to be processed into clean drinking water. Waste heat from the plant would be used to drive a treatment facility, offering an almost endless supply of usable water.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard hasn't endeared himself to the federal member for McMillan Russell Broadbent. Receiving the news that Mr Howard had given nuclear power the green light, Mr Broadbent put his body on the line for South Gippsland. "Over my dead body will there be a nuclear reactor in McMillan," Mr Broadbent declared.

Mr Howard said only fossil fuels and nuclear energy were sufficient for running base power stations in the future. Clean coal technology was needed to tackle greenhouse issues, while nuclear power was "cleaner than clean coal".

Lake Bolac communique urges politicians to look into renewable energy

Hamilton Spectator
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 3

MEMBERS of the Lake Bolac community have urged local, state and federal politicians to look at renewable energy solutions to help with global warming issues.

The Lake Bolac Eel Festival committee has sent a communique to the Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, outlining their concerns and stating they did not believe the current policies on energy generation effectively address global warming. This move was prompted after a green energy activist, Howard Morrison, spoke at festival about renewable energy and helped develop the communique with people from the forum.

It has been sent to Australian of the Year and environmentalist, Tim Flannery, Shadow Minister for climate change and environment, Peter Garrett, as well as international sustainability leaders like the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Canadian environmental scientist, David Suzuki, and former US Vice President, Al Gore.

The communique, directed to Mr Turnbull, said: "We seek that you articulate an energy generation policy for the Federal election that clearly shows how you will effect change from combustion based power generation to renewables being the primary source of electricity for Australia. "We further seek that you commit funding to effect this transition." Festival committee chairman, David Allen, said the event was basically a music festival with a strong environmental influence.

As a farmer he has seen the effects of the drought and global warming first hand and he said upmost in his mind were the decrease in rain and the increase in temperatures they'd seen recently. "The lake's empty and the eels are dead," Mr Allen said. "That's the most visual affect for us that something's wrong with the drought and it may also be global warming."

He said there were many benefits to adopting renewable energy solutions, including that they were more regionalised, with such technologies as solar panels, geothermal and wind turbines able to be adopted. "One of the things is wave energy. This is new and proven and could be used right around Australia," Mr Allen said.

He said in the short term they wanted to get people talking about renewable energy so they would know about it, as there were some technologies he didn't know about until recently. "There's a number of options (out) there and getting people talking about it, especially the Government, (is their aim)," Mr Allen said. "Hopefully the Government can develop strategies ahead of the election to help slow down the process of global warming."

Mr Allen said they had received a letter stating that Governor Schwarzenegger had gotten the communique but there was no response yet. They forwarded it to him because he's leading America in renewable energy projects and a lot of Australian technologists, especially in the solar field, were going over there.

Some of the aims of the Lake Bolac Eel Festival include promoting the restoration of Lake Bolac and surrounding streams to an ecologically sustainable state, to promote ecologically sustainable rural practices, provide a gathering place for people who care about the environment and respect Aboriginal cultural heritage and to provide a low cost public event.

Carbon credits market trebles

Friday 4/5/2007 Page: 24

THE market in carbon credits grew faster than expected last year, tripling to $US30 billion ($36.6 billion) from $US1O billion in 2005, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

But the fledgling carbon credit industry is struggling to keep up with demand, the Financial Times has found, as there is now a shortage of skilled technicians to monitor carbon reduction projects and verify that the claimed emissions cuts are taking place. Nearly $US25 billion came from transactions under the European Union's emissions trading scheme, while $US5 billion was from the sale of carbon credits by developing countries. China was the biggest beneficiary, selling 61 per cent of last year's carbon credits, while India took 12 per cent and Brazil 4 per cent. Credits normally sell for between $US5 and $USIO. Britain was the biggest buyer of credits, purchasing 50 per cent of the supply.

The World Bank said carbon markets had resulted in capital flows from rich to poor countries of about $US8 billion since 2002, and estimated $US14 billion of further gains to developing countries through investment in "clean" energy technology. Warren Evans, director of environment at the World Bank, said: "The carbon market has become a valuable catalyst for leveraging substantial financial flows for clean energy in developing countries." However, several market analysts and experts told the FT there was a shortage of verifiers, which might hold up the development of carbon reduction projects.

Abyd Karmali, managing director for Europe at ICF International, a consultancy, said: "This is a bottleneck. It's just a matter of time before there is a capacity crunch and we find additional delays to projects." The FT also found that many projects in the unregulated part of the carbon market were not professionally verified, though this was not a problem in transactions overseen by the UN and the EU.

The market in carbon credits was brought into being by the Kyoto Protocol, under which rich countries can meet their targets to reduce emissions by about 5 per cent by 2012 by investing in projects such as wind farms that reduce emissions in developing countries. As well as the market under the protocol and the EU scheme, there is a large unregulated market in carbon credits, set to be worth $US4 billion by 2010. This is known as the voluntary market, as companies buying credits are not obliged to do so.

The World Bank said in its report that problems in the unregulated market could tarnish the main carbon markets: "This high-potential voluntary segment lacks a generally acceptable standard, which remains a significant reputation risk not only to its own prospects but also to the rest of the market, including the segments of regulated emissions trading and carbon offsets."