Friday 17 April 2009

Emissions scheme `designed to fail'

Canberra Times
Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 6

The Rudd Government should "tear up" its flawed emissions trading scheme and replace it with a carbon tax administered by an independent agency, a leading economist says.

The director of the Australian National University's business college, economist Professor Warwick McKibbin told a climate forum in Canberra yesterday he believed the Government's cap-and-trade scheme was "designed to fail on purpose" as a way to defer policy action on climate change. "I think the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme is designed on purpose not to make it through the Senate," Professor McKibbin said.

The public forum was organised by ANU researchers taking part in last month's world climate science conference in Copenhagen, to report on global developments in climate research and policy. ANU's climate change institute director Professor Will Steffen was key speaker at Copenhagen and is currently drafting policy to be negotiated at the United Nations climate change conference in Denmark later this year.

One of the key messages from the conference was the need for political leaders to "stop fiddling at the edges" with climate policy and get on with the job, Professor Steffen said. "We are well beyond thinking about making marginal changes. The science shows we are already moving beyond patterns of climate variability and facing a risk of abrupt and irreversible climate shifts."

Professor McKibbin said opinion was shifting away from "the old European style emissions trading system" because it had proved to be "not particularly useful or reliable". He warned one of the biggest challenges facing climate change policy was "continual reneging on promises by backsliding politicians".

Professor McKibbin suggested a possible solution was to take policy out of "the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, and put it in the hands of an independent agency, modelled along similar lines to the Reserve Bank, whose job is to control the carbon price and create a stable long-term carbon market".

Australia could move quickly to introduce a carbon tax to cut emissions by "tearing up about 380 pages" of the Rudd Government's emissions trading blueprint and replacing it with a hybrid system combining a carbon tax and fixed price carbon permits. "We don't need to go back to the drawing board. We can go from the [carbon pollution reduction scheme] to the equivalent of a carbon tax just by changing five characteristics of the existing system."

These included creating a carbon market with clear, long-term property rights that would operate beyond the control "of vested political interests" by allowing everyone to trade carbon assets. "You want people to be able to make money out of reducing greenhouse emissions, but the systems that make it possible to do this must be designed to be very transparent ...

Norwegian fund proposes $3 billion green investments
London, 9 April:

Norway's finance minister had proposed that the government's $39 billion pension fund allocates $3 billion to sustainable investments - potentially the largest such allocation ever made. In a report last Friday to the Storting, Norway's parliament, the finance ministry also proposed a major study on the effects of climate change on the financial markets, and the greater integration of social and environmental considerations in the fund's management.

"We take climate change seriously" said Kristin Halvorsen, Norway's finance minister. "These measures we are proposing will ensure that the Government Pension Fund - Global will be among the leading funds internationally in this area." The ministry provides no details as to what investments the fund might make. The report said that "infrastructure and unlisted equities, environmental bonds and placement of parts of the listed equities portfolio based on an environmental index are most relevant".

"The investments must be aimed at eco-friendly assets or eco-friendly technology that is expected to yield indisputable environmental benefits, such as climate-friendly energy, improving energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, water technology, and management of waste and pollution," it said. The report also said that work is to continue to assess whether to set up an investment programme aimed at "sustainable investment opportunities" in emerging markets.

Rather than earmarking money for a particular fund, the ministry intends that the investment programme will run across asset classes, with the scope of the investment varying according to opportunities at any given time. The ministry argues that capacity constraints on investments in green technologies and unlisted companies means that around NOK 20 billion ($3 billion) should be invested over a five-year period.

However, Norges Bank - Norway's central bank, which is responsible for managing the fund's assets - is understood to be opposed to the move. In a circular written late last year, the bank expressed a view that any such allocation to sustainable investments such be made via the national budget, rather than from the pension fund. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the ministry's proposal.

Elsewhere, the ministry called for the fund to adopt "a broader perspective: consideration of environmental and social aspects and good corporate governance are going to be integrated to a greater extent as relevant factors in all aspects of the management of the fund." The ministry of finance has become a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, which aim to integrate environmental and social issues in investment management.

It is unclear when any investments might be made, although the ministry is to present the Storting with a "concrete plan for future work in this area" ahead of the 2010 national budget.

$250m funding pledge signed

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 52

Carnegie Corporation has signed an agreement worth up to $250 million with international banking group Investec to fund the development of its Australian wave power project. The agreement is non binding, until formal agreements have been negotiated. It involves Investec securing the first right of refusal to fund the development of Carnegie Corporation's CETO wave energy technology.

The technology aims to generate electricity by using an array of submerged buoys, tethered to seabed pump units. Wave motion moves the buoys, driving the pumps and delivering pressurised water to the shore to generate electricity. Carnegie Corporation was last month licensed by the South Australian Government to do a feasibility on setting up the technology in SA's South - East, near Port MacDonnell.

The company has said it would spend up to $2 million on the assessment and is also conducting trials at Albany and Garden Island in Western Australia. The company aims to complete a small-scale (5-6MW) plant by 2011, with a view to linking up a $400 million, 50MW plant to the national grid by 2013. Carnegie Corporation last month was also awarded a $12.5 million grant from the WA Government's Low Energy Emissions Development Fund.

"The commercial demonstration project is the subject of a federal government funding application and, as such, details of the project are commercial-inconfidence," the company said yesterday. "The agreement is also conditional upon the successful outcome of this funding application. "Carnegie Corporation continues to carry out feasibility studies at its portfolio of potential project sites across southern Australia, and the company expects to be able to announce the site of the commercial demonstration project in mid-2009."

Hot air rising to the challenge of storage

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 16/4/2009 Page: 12

Uncertainty surrounds plans for carbon capture and storage projects and solutions to the problem remain some way off, experts claim. The Rudd government's Global carbon capture and storage Institute meets today for the first time to discuss the issue but Peter Cook, chief executive of the Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, said the institute has not come up with any firm plans yet. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd held talks with Santos, the oil and gas explorer, over its carbon capture and storage plans last year. But those plans now appear to be on hold because of the collapse of oil prices and the Government's emissions trading scheme.

Curb wasteful lifestyles, Chinese urge

Thursday 16/4/2009 Page: 5

CHINESE climate experts have urged rich nations to rein in their "wasteful and luxurious" lifestyles and say Australia's carbon reduction targets are insufficient to reverse damaging climate change. Arguing that developed countries needed to take the lead in tackling climate change, the experts told an Australia-China climate conference in Canberra yesterday that any global solution should be based on per capita emissions.

Such an approach would be damaging for Australia, which has high per capita emissions. China has the highest total emissions of any country, but its per capita emissions are only about one-fifth of Australia's. The call came as economists and scientists told a Senate inquiry that the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme was badly designed and its targets were too low.

The inquiry also heard from scientists who doubted humans were responsible for global warming. The Government is facing a battle to push its scheme through the Senate, as the Greens yesterday attacked it as too weak, and the Coalition said it did not provide enough protection for trade-exposed industries. Pan Jiahua from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the planet could not afford countries such as Australia and the US having such "wasteful and luxurious" lifestyles.

Professor Pan called for a global carbon budget that allowed countries to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis and to pay for emissions above that. World leaders are due to negotiate a fresh climate pact in December at UN talks in Copenhagen, and China is seen as key to that process. Professor Pan told The Australian the Chinese Government would not push for an approach based on per capita emissions at Copenhagen, but might argue it be included in post-Copenhagen negotiations. "So far, from the feedback I have received, they seem somewhat friendly to this approach," Professor Pan said.

He said he thought the Chinese Government might agree to a voluntary cut in emissions at Copenhagen. "My early advice (to the Government) is you have been doing so much, why don't you make some sort of voluntary emissions reduction target?' " he said. Professor Pan said Australia's target of 5 to 15% reductions on 2000 levels by 2020 was "certainly insufficient", when compared with targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "This would set a very bad example for the developing countries," he said.

The Rudd Government's climate adviser Ross Garnaut, in a video message, backed the Chinese experts' calls for a global pact based on a per capita greenhouse allowance. He said this was fair. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong yesterday called for leadership to be shown "across the globe and on many fronts". "In this context, and commensurate with its role in global affairs, China will play a critical role in building a global deal on climate change," she told the conference at the Australian National University.

Eminent scientists on attack over Rudd emissions plan

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 1

THREE of CSIRO's most eminent climate scientists have told a Senate inquiry that the Prime Minister's targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions will not achieve even a "limited" level of protection against climate change and are "much weaker" than the cuts developed countries need to make. In a big embarrassment for Kevin Rudd and the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, the globally recognised scientists have made a joint submission to a new inquiry on the Government's carbon trading scheme, which begins hearings today in Canberra.

The scientists are John Church, an expert on sea level rise, Pep Canadell, who runs the global carbon project and has published on greenhouse gas releases, and Michael Raupach, the co-chairman of the same project who writes on greenhouse gas levels. They stress their submission is personal and not endorsed by CSIRO. But they say the Government's plan to cut emissions by between 5 and 15% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 60% by 2050 is "much weaker than required of developed nations".

"The Australian targets will not achieve climate protection. Even if every nation on Earth adopts and succeeds in meeting Australian targets, global emissions would still be above a pathway consistent with long-term climate protection", they say.

They say the benchmark for avoiding a big risk of climate change is keeping the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees. Even the most ambitious aim of the United Nations climate talks has only a limited chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, they say. That aim is to keep global greenhouse gas concentrations from rising above 450 parts per million. This gives only a 50% chance of protection.

Their submission says Australia needs to set higher targets. "Without such targets, Australia is at high risk of permanent, major damage from climate change," they say. The new Senate inquiry chaired by the Greens and the Coalition will examine the Government's carbon scheme, which is under attack from environmentalists and business.

The Greens senator, Christine Milne, who is co-chairing the hearings, says the submission and other scientific evidence will a big problem for the Government. The committee will also highlight the gulf between some Coalition and Greens members with several leading climate change sceptics also giving evidence.

Population growth negates efforts to halt greenhouse harm

Canberra Times
Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 17

Greenhouse gas emissions, peak oil, urban traffic congestion, air and water pollution, loss of soils and destruction of biodiversity are driven by three factors: population, consumption per person and technological impact. A doubling of any one of these factors doubles the environmental impact. To address each requires separate government policies, so it snakes sense to consider each separately.

The environment movement has strongly promoted improved technology (eg, by backing renewable energy and green buildings) and a minor part of the movement has begun to push for reduced consumption per person and to question the existing economic system in general. But, with a few exceptions, the movement has been very weak on addressing Australia's population, which has one of the highest rates of growth in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This is because many have adopted a wide range of irrational myths and obfuscations that inhibit open discussion of this issue. For example: Australia is a large country and so could absorb 100 million people.
  • The economy benefits from population growth. (Actually, it's only a narrow group of vested interests that benefits.) Australia's birth-rate is less than its death-rate.
  • Immigration keeps the population young.
  • An additional Australian has the same environmental impact as an additional person in China.
  • Therefore Australia's population growth is irrelevant and we should focus on limiting world population growth.
  • The only way to stop Australia's population growth is to interfere with human rights.
  • We cannot stop growth in immigration without cutting refugee intake and, even if we could, reducing immigration is racist and would destroy our multicultural Australia.
These myths have almost succeeded in making population issue taboo among the community. Yet they are all easily demonstrated to be false. For instance, Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the industrialised world. Every additional Australian has a greater impact than an additional person in almost any other country. Stabilising Australia's population should be an essential component of greenhouse policy.

If Australia persists with its very high rate of population growth, as recommended by the Garnaut Review of Climate Change, then why can't China, India and Brazil? Most of the other myths about population are busted in an excellent new book by Mark O'Connor and William J. Lines, Overloading Australia: How governments and media dither and deny on population (Envirobook, 2008).

Many Australians are now aware that the failure of the Howard and Rudd governments to implement strong policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions is due to a large degree to the political power of the greenhouse "mafia", the vested interests from the coal, oil, aluminium, steel, cement, motor vehicle, forestry and agricultural industries that are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

Yet most people are unaware that many of the population myths originate from vested interests in rapid population growth. These population boosters include the property and housing industry; industries seeking cheap labour for low-skilled and dangerous jobs; businesses generally seeking a large pool of labour so that wages and other working conditions can be diminished; the Roman Catholic Church; and governments seeking revenue from wealthy immigrants.

One of the peak groups of population boosters is the Australian Population Institute. It has a naive that could be confused with the Australian Population Association, the demographers' professional association, and the motto "populate and prosper". It sets out a large array of population fallacies as if they were fact.

On the other side, raising awkward questions on population growth, is Sustainable Population Australia, whose members include scientists, demographers and environmentalists. One of the few leading environmentalists to speak tip about the need to limit Australia's population is Professor Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

At the recent launch of Overloading Australia, Lowe pointed out that Australia's current population growth rate places us on course for about 100 million people by the end of the century, far more than Australia could sustain. He said that, even in the short term, population growth would make nonsense of most of our attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or prevent environmental damage.

It is time to address the issue of Australia's population issue properly Australia must terminate the baby bonus; strongly support voluntary birth-control programs in Australia and overseas; and substantially reduce immigration by cutting our large business/professional component while increasing the small refugee component.

Dr Diesendorf is deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW and author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy.

CSIRO climate experts defiant

Canberra Times
Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 1

A group of CSIRO senior climate scientists has defied a gag order by the organisation to speak out on Australia's proposed greenhouse reduction targets. The four high-profile scientists - Michael Raupach, John Church, Pep Canadell and James Risbey - have broken ranks with CSIRO to make personal submissions to a Senate inquiry into the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme.

They claim tougher targets are needed to avoid Australia being "locked in" to dangerous climate change, and list 14 recent scientific findings that support their argument. The rebel scientists cannot comment on their decision because they are public servants. But a CSIRO source said they could risk censure and possible career repercussions by taking such a public stand against the Government's controversial greenhouse reduction targets.

A CSIRO spokesman denied there was a gag on its scientists participating in the inquiry, and said the four were, "welcome to make comment as long as they are not representing CSIRO".

All four CSIRO scientists are world leaders in their various areas of climate research. Dr Rattpach co-chairs the Global Carbon Project, which oversees international research on the global carbon cycle. Dr Church chairs the scientific committee for the Geneva-based World Climate Research Program, Dr Canadell is executive director of the Global Carbon Project and Dr Risbey has been involved in global climate research for more than 20 years.

A CSIRO source told The Canberra Times the group was determined to "present new scientific findings to the Senate inquiry that it believes are crucial to shaping Australia's future greenhouse policies". The source said the scientists made their decision to go ahead with personal submissions after CSIRO management ruled out any participation in the inquiry by Australia's peak science body on the grounds that it would require comment on government policy.

A CSIRO spokesman said the inquiry's terms of reference, "went to the policy of the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme, and in line with our public comment policy, we don't comment on government policy". The scientists had been told to, "make it absolutely clear" they were not speaking on behalf of CSIRO. If asked to testify, they will be required to take formal leave and travel at their own expense.

In their submissions, the group of CSIRO climate scientists claim Australia's proposed targets are weaker than those set for developing countries, and expose Australia to, "a high risk of permanent major damage from climate change". The comments are made in two submissions to the Senate inquiry into draft legislation for the Government's emissions trading scheme. The scheme sets targets to achieve a 5% cut in greenhouse emissions - below 2000 levels - by 2020, followed by a 60% cut by 2050.

In his submission, Dr Risbey outlines an increased risk of sea level rise following the risk of, "irreversible collapse" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. He likens Australia's targets to playing, "Russian roulette with the climate system with most of the chambers loaded". CSIRO staff association president Dr Michael Borgas said it was "disappointing" that the scientists had been forced to make personal submissions, "in order to make sure relevant science is heard by the taxpayers who fund our organisation".

Investec in fund deal

Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 19

SHARES in Perth company Carnegie Corporation, which is seeking to develop wave-energy projects, rose to their highest in 10 months yesterday after it signed a funding accord with Investec for as much as $250 million. Shares rose 27% to a high of 26c before closing 14% higher at 23.5c.

The funding from the South African investment and private bank would finance a commercial demonstration wave-power project, according to Carnegie Corporation. But it was subject to milestones and conditions, including a successful application for federal government funding for the project. Carnegie Corporation's CETO technology uses a device that sits on the seabed and carries ashore high pressure seawater through a pipeline. It is used to produce either electricity or fresh water.

Carbon trading scheme to bring 'green dollars'

Wednesday 15/4/2009 Page: 6

A leading clean tech investor says Australia will reap opportunities and the "green dollar" but only once it beds down its carbon trading scheme and turns its attention to climate change-related investment.

Mark Fulton, Deutsche Asset Management's global head of climate change investment research, believes that the combination of an effective emissions trading scheme and investment in the clean tech sector will result in "green jobs, green growth and low-carbon prosperity" for Australia. "We see that Australia is ahead of the curve in establishing carbon architecture and that is great but what we need to see now is a focus on investment in green infrastructure, renewable energy and energy efficiency," lie said.

Mr Fulton said the clean tech sector was one area he believed would be among the first to climb its way out of the economic downturn. Deutsche's appetite to invest is encouraging given last month's report by New Energy Finance, which predicted the effect of the world economic crisis on clean energy meant growth was no longer on track to avert the worst impacts of climate change. New Energy Finance's report says investment needs to reach $US500 billion ($A696 billion) a year by 2020 if global emissions are to peak before 2020.


Thursday 16 April 2009

Make a quiet transition

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 14/4/2009 Page: 16

IF noise is all the unwanted stuff intruding into our lives, we live in noisy tunes. Real noise from machines and hoons and party-goers competes with the clamour of politics and promotion and the hard sell. It is enough to send you into a spin. There is a lot of noise flying around the big issues of climate and the environment and sustainability - enough to turn many people away from acting to improve the situation. In all the hubbub, action can appear a difficult prospect.

But there is a groundswell of people and communities around the world fording ways through the noise. In doing so, they are discovering some unexpected rewards and pleasures - some real harmony - that modern life had blocked out. Every day, on every continent, new "transition communities" are springing up. Groups ranging in size from whole towns down to small neighbourhoods are swelling the numbers of people involved to tens of millions.

Like other Australian states. Tasmania is part of the transition movement. In towns and suburbs, villages and neighbourhoods all over the state, people are seeking out what information they can, finding out what others are doing, and rolling up their sleeves to transform lives and communities. Take three inner suburban neighbourhoods in Hobart. People of Waterworks Valley (, West Hobart ( and South Hobart ( have formed community groups to pursue local mitigation actions.

Starting in 2007 with bulk purchases of solar hot-water systems by the Waterworks group, the community actions have extended to the bulk purchase of other green energy components such as solar electricity panels, support for home insulation, home and community vegetable gardening, produce exchange, walking school buses, and lobbying for better transport and energy options. Now they are finding they belong to a worldwide movement. Transition ( arose from a 2003 initiative in the UK town of Totnes, Devon, to deal with the threat of peak oil.

The Transition network provides a philosophy and framework for action based on real, successful initiatives around the world, within which local groups and communities can work through their own preferred actions and, if it makes sense. come together with others to make a bigger impact. My good friend Chris Harries, one of the pioneers of local action in Hobart, pointed out that the Waterworks group wasn't driven by any single person.

As has been experienced elsewhere, there was a groundswell of feeling for action: it just took a few to seed the idea, and the rest followed. The thing most appreciated by participants in these groups is not any of the various practical outcomes - satisfying though they are - but the strengthened sense of community and belonging arising from working together in a common cause against the backdrop of difficult times ahead.

In Australia. we have been brought up with the notion that a person's home is their castle. The downside of this is that castles tend to be fortified, to discourage contact with the neighbours and sharing of space and other things. But in learning to share, transition communities are fording ways around this obstacle, discovering that living sustainably can enrich lives and give real pleasure - a sharp contrast from the drab, bleak, end-of-the-world scenarios sometimes painted in mass media.

Another stereotype being challenged is that the transition process is really just for wealthier, professional neighbourhoods. On the contrary, many people in poorer neighbourhoods have more of the skills needed to live sustainable lives than people who have had the money to hand the chores over to others. The changes being sought by transitional communities aren't going to happen overnight. We have been culturally conditioned over millennia to live the way we do, and it will take time as well as physical and mental effort to shift this conditioning.

To make transition work, we have to be determined to get to the future we envisage, to set the pointers and start re-skilling. Climate change makes it essential for us to shift to a lower-carbon economy, and future shortage of oil makes such a shift inevitable. Pulling together as a community can make this transition process both viable and attractive, bringing comfort, security and real pleasure.

For information about how your local community might begin the process of transition, or about the Transition movement, contact Sustainable Living Tasmania, email or telephone 6234 5566.

Peter Boyer is a Hobart-based science writer and a presenter for Al Gore's Climate Project.

Use it or lose it' warning on solar energy - Suppliers could rake in benefits

Saturday 11/4/2009 Page: 4

HOUSEHOLDS with rooftop solar panels will lose payments for electricity they generate, critics of proposed State Government laws say. A bill before Parliament would grant households a premium subsidy for solar electricity fed back into the power grid, but the bill requires the subsidy to be paid as credit on electricity bills, not cash. If not used within a year, the credit would expire, effectively being swallowed by electricity retailers.

Clean energy groups, the Electrical Trades Union and Environment Victoria have launched a joint campaign for the proposed legislation to be changed, saying the credit clause could cost a household with solar panels $600 a year. They warn it could encourage people to use electricity to excess before the credit ran out to get their money's worth. A paper by the group proposing a series of amendments to the bill says the rule would establish "a perverse incentive for the householder to consume more energy'.

The latest attack follows broader criticism that the Government's scheme - a net feed-in tariff that pays 60 cents per kW hour for surplus energy fed into the grid - will do little to encourage people to install solar energy. Expert advice leaked to The Age said the scheme would fail to boost the solar industry significantly or cut greenhouse emissions.

The advice, by consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates, said only a gross tariff that paid a premium for all energy generated at home - a model that was rejected after heated clashes between ministers - would be effective. Brad Shone, strategy manager with the Moreland Energy Foundation. said the credit expiry issue was a "huge problem". "If you have a relatively large system, are energy conscious and are not home during the day, you will definitely be in excess at the end of the 12 months," he said.

Energy Minister Peter Batchelor has challenged the critics. Mr Batchelor recently told Parliament that modelling suggested households would average an annual credit of $600 - half the usual $1200 electricity bill. "The cash-or-credit issue is really irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of people," the minister said. He said the Government also had legal advice that suggested offering cash payments could lead to a constitutional challenge against the legislation. Mr Batchelor said the Government believed solar energy had a part to play in Victoria's future, but it would get a "better bang for its greenhouse buck" by spending on research and large-scale solar energy plants.

The energy policy manager for the Alternative Technology Association, Damien Moyse, said the Government had "missed the point" of a solar subsidy. "The key reason for having a feed-in tariff is to drive a rapid, large-scale uptake of solar systems and bring down the costs as electricity from dirty sources gets more expensive," he said. The solar bill will go before the upper house next month.

The Opposition has yet to reveal how it will vote, but the Greens have committed to introducing amendments to change the credit plan and to increase the size of solar system covered by the scheme from 3.2 to 10 kWs.

Call for carbon tax to fight warming - Governor criticised Rudd scheme

Saturday 11/4/2009 Page: 3

VICTORIAN Governor David de Kretser has called for consideration of a carbon tax, to increase the price of goods produced using energy from high pollution power stations. He has also implicitly criticised the Rudd Government's planned emissions trading scheme, saying many people suggest it will "favour polluting industries and dissuade community actions to move to more renewable energy sources".

In a speech to an environmental sustainability conference at Monash University, Professor de Kretser suggested a carbon tax might be a more effective weapon in the fight against global warming, because it would drive high polluting developing countries towards renewable energy. Under his proposal, consumers in developed nations such as Australia would pay more for many imported goods.

"Given that the production of goods takes place in developing countries, there will be a need for the developed world to subsidise then] in building more renewable sources of energy," Professor de Kretser said. The Governor was criticised by state Liberal MP Bernie Finn last week for involving himself in what Mr Finn called the "highly contentious political issue" of global warming.

In his previously unreported Monash speech, delivered last month, Professor de Kretser said Australians needed to remember that many of the greenhouse gas emissions from countries such as China, India and Indonesia were the result of "bur desire for the goods that they manufacture and sell to us". "In effect, we have moved the factories that service our needs to their land to take the benefit of the low cost of their labour."

Professor de Kretser said Australians should recognise that the emissions caused by the personal actions of most of India's 1 billion people "can be considered as 'survival' emissions, rather than ours, which can be considered 'lifestyle' emissions". He called on individual Australians to reduce their "environmental footprint", and on governments to legislate "to change people's lifestyle".

"Unlike war-time approaches, where people have tangible evidence of life threatening issues, climate change is insidious and slow to demonstrate its effects," Professor de Kretser said. "We have, therefore, been slow to take up the challenge." Professor de Kretser urged Australians to think carefully about how they spent the "economic stimulus" grants from the Federal Government. "Should it prop up rampant consumerism that takes no note of the reality that we live on a planet with finite resources?" lie said.

"Or should it be spent on building a sustainable lifestyle that emphasises the values of a society that cares for this planet, that cares for and values its biodiversity, that creates a framework where citizens respect each other, where children and adolescents are nurtured, mentored and cared for and in return who respect the older generations for their wisdom and contributions?"

Indonesian hot property

Monday 13/4/2009 Page: 21

ASPIRING geothermal producer Greenearth Energy has taken a 40% stake in a new entity that will pursue geothermal development opportunities in Indonesia. Greenearth Energy's partners in the company include a US financier and local energy developers. It is looking to develop some of the many geothermal wells that have been drilled by Indonesia's state-owned oil companies but have yet to be exploited.

Greenearth Energy CEO Mark Miller says there is already around 1100MW of geothermal power installed in Indonesia and the potential for 27,000MW. The Government is keen to aid development, particularly in light of the numerous power blackouts that plague the country. Indonesia's geothermal resources are volcanic and lie just 1km below the surface, compared with the 3km and 4km depth of many of Australia's hot rock resources.

Miller says because holes have already been drilled, much of the risk has been taken out of the project. The challenge lies in getting project finance and negotiating an offtake and pricing regime. Miller says Geothermal's interest was sparked by conversation with renewable energy investors who were looking for more immediate, and less risk-intensive, investments.

Indonesia fitted the bill. "Their resource is hotter, shallower, and there is immediate demand and projects ripe for development," he says. The projects have the potential to access credits under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism, and Miller says the venture is looking at obtaining IRRs (internal rates of return) of between 15 and 20% on its investment.

Greenearth Energy also owns several exploration permits in Victoria, near the Latrobe Valley to the east of Melbourne, and around Geelong to the southwest. Miller says Greenearth Energy is hopeful of establishing a 10.7MW demonstration plant near Geelong by 2011 or 2012. It is also expected to apply for a grant under the REDP.

Current targets won't protect planet - Call for tougher carbon reductions

Monday 13/4/2009 Page: 4

SENIOR CSIRO scientists are set to deliver a sharp rebuke to the Federal Government over its climate change policies, urging deep cuts to coal-fired electricity and tougher carbon reduction targets. Michael Raupach, John Church and Pep Canadell have made the calls in a submission, not yet public but seen by The Age, to a Senate select committee into climate change.

In the submission the three argue that developed nations must play a greater role in carbon reduction. As it stands, Australia has not committed to that. "The Australian targets will not achieve climate protection," the submission reads. It also warns the Government against making "bookkeeping" reductions through forestry carbon sinks, saying the only way to reach strong emissions reductions in 2050 will be to dramatically cut energy and transport emissions.

Australia has pledged to reduce its emissions by 5% by 2020 (15% if a global agreement is reached) and 60% by 2050. Dr Raupach, Dr Church and Dr Canadell find that to have a 50% chance of avoiding a two-degree temperature rise a global emissions targets must be at minimum 5-10% by 2020 and 70-80% by 2050 on 2000 levels.

The Bali conference in 2007 found that developed nations must reduce carbon emissions by 25-40% to compensate for the rate of growth in their emissions. Global emissions are split roughly 50-50 between developed and developing countries, but developed nations have only about 17% of the global population. Dr Raupach said yesterday he and his colleagues have entered the public climate change debate because science has been relegated to an "input".

"There is still a tendency when framing policy to negotiate with climate change - that is to treat climate change as one of the factors that have to be taken into account - and that you can trade off meeting climate change goals with meeting economic goals and meeting other sorts of goals," Dr Raupach said. "The perception of climate scientists, including me, is that over the next few decades that kind of negotiation is not possible. That it is like trying to negotiate with a speeding train."

The submission has pleased Greens senator Christine Milne, who has called for more scientists "to say publicly what they are saying privately" about the Government's climate change policies. The Senate select committee into climate change was set up by the Opposition and Greens in February and will conduct its first public hearings on Wednesday and Thursday.

Among those giving evidence will be the head of Infrastructure Australia, Sir Rod Eddington, ahead of his release of an audit into preferred infrastructure projects for the Government this month. Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said yesterday that more than 7000 submissions have been received for the inquiry. Senator Colbeck added that the committee will also hear the concerns of individual businesses, including Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum, about the Government's emissions trading scheme.

Solar energy systems pay their own way in no time

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 13/4/2009 Page: 44

A QUESTION often asked by consumers is: How long does it take for a solar energy system to pay for itself? There are many variables that will affect the pay-back time frame of a solar system, but it certainly takes a lot less time than it used to. A 1kW photovoltaic energy system can retail from anywhere around $12,000.

Many people are eligible for an $8000 government rebate, which brings the cost down to about $4000. The State Government then offers a feed-in tariff on all excess solar energy produced from your system. This is a net figure of the surplus energy produced above your consumption level and it is bought at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate you pay, providing another pay-back route for your initial investment.

There is speculation that this feed-in tariff will become based on a gross figure of energy produced. This would drastically reduce the time in which you would pay for the system and encourage more people to put in solar energy systems. One of the most important variables is the individual habits of the household. The less energy you consume, the quicker the payback period. From my experience, a system can be paid back in four to six years, a vast improvement from the 20-25 years it used to take.

Building a sustainable house adds to the capital value of the asset, and as time passes it will do more and more so. Valuers are now starting to consider the added value of sustainable design and energy-efficient technologies in homes. If two homes were side by side in a street, both three bedrooms, two bathrooms and on similar-sized blocks, yet one had 20,000 litres of rainwater, a 2kW solar energy system and a solar hot-water system, I am sure almost everyone would prefer the home with the sustainable attributes.

It would cost a great deal less to live in, while providing a comfort and satisfaction the other house could not deliver. Energy and water costs are certainly not declining, so these elements added to a home should increase the value significantly in the future. Purchasers are asking a lot more questions about sustainability and are expecting greater performance from their homes. This will either add value to homes that are energy efficient or alternatively devalue homes that are not.

Adam Wright is a director of Beyond Today.

Energy industry warns of blackout

Tuesday 14/4/2009 Page: 1

CONSUMERS face possible blackouts and power stations could go broke unless the Rudd Government offers an extra $6 billion worth of free permits under its planned emissions trading scheme, the energy sector has warned. If the extra assistance is not forthcoming, the sector, responsible for about 70% of Australia's carbon emissions, will ask the Government for a Rudd Bank-style financing facility to help raise the capital.

A survey by the Energy Supply Association of Australia has found the sector will need to find $100 billion over the next five years for refinancing, essential upgrades and new investments in low-emission generation to comply with the emissions trading scheme and new renewable energy targets.

The industry says it is facing a "perfect storm" of a credit squeeze caused by the financial crisis and the Rudd Government's bank guarantee, inadequate compensation under the carbon pollution reduction scheme, and a decision by the Australian Energy Regulator that could reduce the profitability of energy network providers.

The Government has offered the electricity industry $3.9 billion in free pollution permits to compensate for the "most probable and most extreme" write downs in power station asset values because of the carbon pollution reduction scheme an acknowledgement that the scheme will cause upheaval in the sector as it shuts down some high-polluting power plants early and invests in new low polluting generation.

The ESAA said this amount must be increased to at least $10 billion, to be delivered over the first five years of the scheme. If the Government does not increase the level of compensation, we will be have no choice but to go to them asking for another finance facility for our sector," association chief executive Clare Savage said.

"What is at stake here is the future of the energy market. If nothing is done, power stations are likely to be bankrupted, and if they closed, then there would be problems with electricity supply, or more likely governments would have to step in to take them over, and that would unravel the last 10 years' hard work to set up a national electricity market."

An ESAA survey found the energy sector would need to find $50 billion for refinancing over the next five years, $6.3 billion for planned spending on existing assets, $12 billion for new lower emission generation and $31 billion for investments in the electricity networks. The sector needs to fight for access to that capital in a market where banks and state governments have received federal government guarantees and where the carbon pollution reduction scheme means asset values are being written down.

The $40 billion energy distribution industry is facing a large reduction in its returns if the Australian Energy Regulator confirms a recent draft decision at the same time as it is being asked to fund billions of dollars in new network investments as the industry shifts to new types of generation.

According to the Energy Networks Australia, the draft decision would reduce returns to the industry by more than 10 % . "When you combine the effects of these decisions with the debt guarantees being offered to other sectors, it is tantamount to tying one hand behind the industry's back while it fights for capital in the midst of a global financial crisis," Ms Savage said.

To help ensure these assets remain in service to support the transition to lower-emission technologies and give new investors in the energy supply sector confidence that when the Government institutes major policy change that has the potential to strand long-lived infrastructure assets, the value of these assets must be adequately recognised."

The Government says the revenue it will raise from auctioning permits under the carbon pollution reduction scheme is already fully allocated in compensation to industry and households, meaning any increase in compensation to one sector would require taking something away from another.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Bligh’s solar hot water heating undermines industry

Clean Energy Council
8 April 2009

The Bligh Government's election commitment to provide 200,000 Queensland households with affordable solar hot water systems defies the very industry it says it is trying to help. Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive Matthew Warren said government bulk buying and deploying of technologies does not use the market to help drive solutions to climate change - it fights it.

"The total hot water replacement market in Queensland is at around 90,000 installations annually. This added to the Rudd Government's phase out of electric water heating in existing houses from 2010 and its new $1600 rebate was already aggressively driving the market for solar water heaters in Queensland," he said.

Mr Warren said the policy wrongly assumes that governments have full information of the cost of systems and the optimal technology to deploy. It also wrongly assumes that companies working to develop and foster the growth of this important industry in Australia are making excessive profits and have the capacity to produce their product at little or no profit margin.

"Like any other industry, the solar hot water supply chain is complex and finely balanced. Bad government policy like this unnecessarily puts Australian jobs under threat at a time when we can least afford to lose any jobs, let alone green jobs," Mr Warren said. This policy also threatens to undermine the federal government policies on which it is established.

"The Commonwealth rebates were developed to encourage individual Australian households to switch to solar hot water when their systems needed replacement - it was not intended to underwrite a state based initiative which has no supporting funding from the jurisdiction in question," Mr Warren said. "As Australia's peak representative body for clean energy we are of course supportive of measures to reduce emissions by accelerating the deployment of more efficient hot water systems in more Australian homes - but this is not the right way of going about it," he said.

ActewAGL turns the heat up on solar plans

Canberra Times
Thursday 9/4/2009 Page: 5

ActewAGL will bid to build Canberra's first solar energy plant when the ACT Government calls for expressions of interest later this month. The Government has already committed to subsidising the project - which will have the capacity to power at least 10,000 homes - by $30 million. ActewAGL managing director Michael Costello told The Canberra Times he was confident ActewAGL could deliver an economically viable solar energy plant, but expected no preferential treatment despite his company's ties to the Government.

"We are very confident, we know we can do it quickly, effectively and on a good scale," Mr Costello said. "But we are only one bidder, and if someone has a better bid than its then they should win." The successful bid is expected to cost more than $150 million, and require an area the size of up to 20 football fields." ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said yesterday the expressions of interest guidelines would require that the project be built in the ACT, and that it generate 22MW, or enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

Like all commercial power generators in Australia, the solar farm would not directly power 10,000 homes. Rather, the electricity generated would have to go into the national grid, and then the operator would have to buy back the power. Mr Corbell said ActewAGL would be considered equally with any other bidders. ActewAGL had jointly conducted the feasibility study with the Government, but the Government had then severed ties between ActewAGL and the project and opted to put it to tender.

"The Government took a very explicit decision last year that ActewAGL would no longer be involved in the development of this process or the Government's policy on it," Mr Corbell said. The $30 trillion subsidy could be in the form of land, as the Government had identified a number of ACT-owned sites for the project. However, proponents could still identify their own sites, and their submissions would be considered.

"We'll be identifying some possible sites for a facility, but we won't be constraining proponents to those particular sites. "We would envisage the cost of the land could potentially be part of the $30 million worth of assistance. It would depend on the nature of the proposal that the proponents put forward."

Although the Government had committed to building a solar farm before the election, the $30 million pledge was one of several sustainable energy initiatives the Government entered into in its parliamentary agreement with the Greens in exchange for their support to form Government after the October 18 election. Another incentive the Government might offer is to extend the recently-introduced solar feed-in tariff - which pays households with solar energy a premium price for the electricity they generated - to the solar farm.

Mr Corbell said this was one option the Government was considering as stage two of the tariff, which at the moment would not extend to a commercial solar facility. Mr Costello said ActewAGL would factor the potential application of the tariff to the solar farm in its modelling for its submission to the tender process. The company would also apply for Federal Government subsidy for the project.

Proposal to burn native forest wood for power - Green group slams plan as `archaic'

Thursday 9/4/2009 Page: 5

NATIVE forest timber could be converted into energy and fed into the power grid under a Victorian Government plan to ensure the future of the forestry industry. A draft strategy for the industry's future proposes lifting a hall on the sale of renewable energy generated by burning native forest wood. The policy paper, released yesterday by Agriculture Minister Joe Helper, said the change would apply to "lower-quality native hardwood logs", a byproduct of sawlog harvesting.

"Variable oil prices and increasing concern about levels of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels means that there is interest in bioenergy as an energy source," it said in the paper. "Renewable energy production may also be a valuable potential market for logs salvaged from bushfire-affected native forests."

If adopted, the policy shift would allow the Victorian forestry industry to capitalise on proposed federal climate change laws that will require electricity retailers to source 20% of their energy from green sources by 2020. Other proposed changes under the strategy include doubling the maximum length of timber contracts from 10 to 20 years and reviewing the role of Government-owned timber supply company VicForests.

Mr Helper said it reaffirmed the Government's long-term commitment to logging in plantations and sustainably managed state forests, and the employment it creates in regional areas. The plan was embraced by the timber industry, but criticised by environment group The Wilderness Society, which described it as archaic. Wilderness Society forest campaigner Luke Chamberlain said the strategy was counterintuitive; talking about the benefits of storing greenhouse gas emissions in forests while locking in long-term logging contracts and promoting the creation of "forest furnaces".

"This flies in the face of a previous Bracks government commitment to outright oppose the burning of native forests for power," he said. "If this industry locks in burning native forest for power and 20-year woodchip contracts it will undermine efforts to restructure the industry to become climate positive, innovative and job creating."

Victorian Association of Forest Industries chief executive Philip Dalidakis dismissed the criticisms as an ideologically driven scare campaign. He said restrictions already in place ensured only waste from native forest logging would be turned into bioenergy. The Federal Government's proposed renewable energy laws require that electricity generation must not be the primary reason for logging native forests.

"Any suggestion that this is a free-for-all is misleading," Mr Dalidakis said. "It will not require one more additional tree to be harvested than the sustainable yield figure already allowed by government." Mr Dalidakis said the industry would remain focused on producing sawlogs for high value timber products such as floors and tables. He said the Government's plan could produce a windfall for fire-devastated communities such as Marysville, where dead trees that could not be used for sawlogs or woodchips could be converted into energy.