Tag: Coal

Pacific Islands Forum: China’s climate pitch angers Australia, US

Illustration: Matt Golding

China might be using more coal but it’s making the greatest efforts not to. Leaving Australia out in the coal (ODT)

But his hard-line stance during negotiations angered some Pacific leaders, including Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

He said Australia’s position had weakened the Pacific’s position on the climate change, adding it was “disappointing that we could not achieve a unanimous consensus”.

“While there has been a great deal of agreement, it is clear that there are differences of opinion, emphasis and approach between the island nations and New Zealand, on the one hand, and Australia on the other,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said he would make attempts to persuade Australia to make a more rapid transition from coal to energy sources that “do not contribute to climate change” when he visits next month.

via Pacific Islands Forum: China’s climate pitch angers Australia, US

‘Our paychecks bounced’: US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close | Business | The Guardian

A mother and daughter walk past a line of miners’ cars down Highway 421 in Harlan, Kentucky. Many questions about Blackjewel’s operations have not been answered.


Blackjewel files for chapter 11 in a move critics say is increasingly used to avoid paying workers what they are owed

via ‘Our paychecks bounced’: US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close | Business | The Guardian

Old Dog Thoughts – News Corp amplifies particular events from which to generalise. A tree, however, doesn’t explain a forest as much as a forest explains the tree.

Fighting Fake News with Real; 10/7/19; The culture wars is how conservatives like to divide. However we face real material disasters which should unite us;

Coal lobbyist rises in the PM’s ranks

IN CASE THERE WAS any doubt about the ties that bind Australia’s top coal lobbyists with the Federal Coalition Government, former Minerals Council of Australia CEO Brendan Pearson has been tapped as a senior advisor to Scott Morrison.

The appointment, revealed in The Australian on Wednesday, shifts Pearson up in the Coalition pecking order from the office of the Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann, to Morrison’s inner sanctum.

via Coal lobbyist rises in the PM’s ranks

Old Dog Thoughts- The Guardians of our wealth are in the Cayman Islands

Image may contain: ocean, text, outdoor, nature and water

Fighting Fake News and con men; 19/6/19; Is this heaven? This government keeps saying deregulate Industry can save us; Australian Universities are in the world’s top 100;

EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The Coalition’s phony war over coal

What do you do when the polls are against you and you don’t have a climate change policy? Start a fake internal war over coal, that’s what.

THE MEDIA suggests the Coalition is at war with itself over coal.

via EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The Coalition’s phony war over coal

Germany Closes Last Coal Mine, Step toward Ending Era of Dirty Coal

 Germany heads to a bright clean future (ODT)

Germany bid farewell to coal as it closed its last mine Friday, thereby closing a chapter in the history of German industry. Coal was the main engine of growth for the German economy but became obsolete in recent past.

A service was held to commemorate the end of an era when seven miners climbed through the service lift of the Prosper-Haniel mine for the last time with the final block of “black-gold” which they presented to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Coal mining was a crucial part of German industry since the mid-19th century. Post-World War II, “black gold” was essential in the German economic recovery.

More than 600,000 miners were working in mines during the 1950s. But by 2017, the number of miners decreased to 4,500.

“It’s more than a block of coal, it’s a part of history. Without the coal and without those who extracted it, the History of this country would have been very different,” Steinmeier said during the ceremony of 500 guests, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“The coal allowed the industrialization of the region and prosperity throughout Germany,” said government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, quoting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 150-year-old mines dug by six generations of workers will be sealed and then gradually drowned in water.

via Germany Closes Last Coal Mine, Step toward Ending Era of Dirty Coal

Climate scientists are struggling to find the right words for very bad news

“It’s the biggest peer-review exercise there is,” says Jonathan Lynn, head of communications for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “It involves hundreds or even thousands of people looking at it.”

It must not only tell governments what we know about climate change – but how close they have brought us to the edge. And by implication, how much those governments are failing to live up to their goals for the planet, set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

via Climate scientists are struggling to find the right words for very bad news

Angus Taylor signals further taxpayer investment in existing coal and gas | Australia news | The Guardian

Why do Politicians ignore the experts and try to con the public? ( ODT)

But while there is evidence from market analysts and analysis from the government’s energy bodies that renewables has led the price drop because of a big increase in supply contracted into the market courtesy of the renewable energy target, Taylor attributed the recent reductions to the government’s intervention in the gas market, and regulatory reforms, including forcing retailers to be more transparent about their pricing.

While coal proponents in the Coalition declare new coal investment means lower prices, the Australian Energy Market Commission has predicted prices will fall over the next two years because of the entry of 5,300 MW of new generation capacity into the national electricity market – most of it renewable projects.

via Angus Taylor signals further taxpayer investment in existing coal and gas | Australia news | The Guardian

AEMO confirms that AGL’s plan for Liddell will eliminate energy shortfall – » The Australian Independent Media Network

In March 2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) sent Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg their assessment of whether AGL’s plan would meet our future energy needs.

AEMO’s analysis shows that an additional 850 MWs of resource capability are required to ensure reliability in NSW following the closure of Liddell. If all three stages of the AGL plan are completed, the resource gap will be eliminated.

In its current state, Liddell is more likely to be the cause of a power emergency because of what AEMO describes as the potential for ageing coal generators to fail in the heat – during the 2016-17 summer heatwave, Liddell was missing 1,000MW of its capacity due to problems with boiler tube leaks.

–– AD

via AEMO confirms that AGL’s plan for Liddell will eliminate energy shortfall – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The Monash Forum and energy policy: Making the most of the 30th Newspoll

ISIS wants to take over Islam The Monash Forum Monkey Pod Room want to take over the Liberal Party. What they have in common is the lack of guts to stand alone. They are fundamentally destroyers.

The coal-worshipping Monash Forum is a rearguard guerrilla action against the incumbent Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is putting the coal back into “Coal-ition”, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.

via The Monash Forum and energy policy: Making the most of the 30th Newspoll

Tony Abbott’s Latrobe Valley cycle timed for Turnbull’s Newspoll black day – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tony Abbott cycling

One Liberal moderate bluntly characterises the “Monash Forum”, which burst into the energy debate this week, as “the deplorables trying to give themselves a credible front”.

Whatever else it might be, the so-called forum is Tony Abbott’s latest weapon in baiting the Turnbull bear.

via Tony Abbott’s Latrobe Valley cycle timed for Turnbull’s Newspoll black day – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Renewables generated more electricity than brown coal over summer, report finds | Australia news | The Guardian


A solar panel array at the Windorah solar farm

Renewable energy generated more electricity than brown coal during Australia’s summer for the first time in 2017-18, according to a new report by Green Energy Markets.

via Renewables generated more electricity than brown coal over summer, report finds | Australia news | The Guardian

Big four banks slash lending to coal miners

Market Forces conducted a detailed survey of the big four banks’ project finance – lending to a specific mine or project, rather than a corporation – since the big four supported the Paris agreement to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees.

Source: Big four banks slash lending to coal miners

This self-serving bunch of boondogglers will be the death of us – literally – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Even before they could possibly have read Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s energy report, the coal cheerleaders from the backbench of the Coalition have come out swinging. Tony Abbott jumped the gun, saying two days before the report was even released that “Anything that makes it impossible for us to bank new, efficient coal-fired power stations…

Source: This self-serving bunch of boondogglers will be the death of us – literally – » The Australian Independent Media Network

A sustainable future is possible if politics gets out of the way| Even from the mouths of conservatives like Harold

We can create a modern national energy system if we let informed regulators and the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel do their work unhindered.

Source: A sustainable future is possible if politics gets out of the way

Why can’t the government understand there’s no such thing as clean coal?

Some new form of madness must surely have taken hold when we’re being asked to ponder whether or not the Clean Energy Finance Corporation should fund ‘clean coal’, or cleaner coal, power stations.

Source: Why can’t the government understand there’s no such thing as clean coal?

Neither Trump nor Turnbull can turn back the tide on renewables | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

The argument for renewable energy is now a purely economic one – and the move away from coal will only pick up speed

Source: Neither Trump nor Turnbull can turn back the tide on renewables | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Electricity from coal should be phased out in Australia – Senate report | Environment | The Guardian

Coal-fired power plants should be closed in orderly fashion to ensure energy supply is not disrupted

Source: Electricity from coal should be phased out in Australia – Senate report | Environment | The Guardian

France To Shut Down All Its Coal Power Plants By 2023 | IFLScience

The tone at the UN’s annual climate change meeting – taking place this year in Marrakech in Morocco – appears to be one of defiance, both at Trump’s electi

Source: France To Shut Down All Its Coal Power Plants By 2023 | IFLScience

Developer of $20 million Australian-first solar thermal pilot plant predicts sunny future under Turnbull – Localisation Information – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

An Australian company says its new solar thermal technology could produce power more cheaply than coal

Source: Developer of $20 million Australian-first solar thermal pilot plant predicts sunny future under Turnbull – Localisation Information – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

America’s poorest white town: abandoned by coal, swallowed by drugs | US news | The Guardian

In the first of a series of dispatches from the US’s poorest communities, we visit Beattyville, Kentucky, blighted by a lack of jobs and addiction to ‘hillbilly heroin’

Source: America’s poorest white town: abandoned by coal, swallowed by drugs | US news | The Guardian

Coal Australia,

Moments ago, Greg Hunt and Adani conceded defeat as the Federal Court overturned the approval for the Carmichael coal mine in a victory funded by thousands in the GetUp community.

It leaves Adani without an approval for the biggest coal mine in Australia, no approval for dredging in Great Barrier Reef waters, and no investors in sight.

Thank you to everyone who chipped in. And thank you to the incredible Mackay Conservation Group who ran the case.

We’ve just won a huge battle, but the war’s not over yet. The law states Minister Hunt must now reconsider the mine, and either grant a new approval or reject it forever. Can you spread the incredible news and tell Greg Hunt MP to reject the mine forever?

Fact Check: Will India stop importing coal? Is ice more addictve than other drugs? Are restaurants closing because of Sunday penalty rates?

FactCheck Q&A: Will India no longer buy Australian coal?

FactCheck: is ice more dangerous and addictive than any other illegal drug?

FactCheck Q&A: are a lot of cafes and restaurants closing because of Sunday penalty rates?

Stringent Conditions Will Minimise Risk Of Unsightly Wind Turbines At New Open Cut Mine, Greg Hunt Says

coal mine

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has reassured farmers in the Liverpool Plains region that the strictest conditions have been put in place to ensure ugly, noisy wind turbines do not blemish the new 35km2 open cut coal mine planned for the area.

“Coal mining is really important, but we know these huge, dirty eyesores can have a pretty significant impact on the landscape. So I want to reassure those of you living in the area that your new mine will not feature any of them; not a single wind turbine,” Mr Hunt said.

He said the wind turbine stipulation also meant local animals in the area would be protected. “It’s reassuring to know that any animals left after coal mining has begun won’t be at risk from these bladed death machines”.

G20 leaders slap down embarrassing Abbott and the COALition

The G20 delivered a stinging riposte to the Abbott Government, which is now seen around the world as little more than an arm of the fossil fuel industry. Lachlan Barker reports.

MUCH HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN about the gut-wrenching embarrassment that all Australians suffered watching our prime minister talking with world leaders at the G20.

My favourite was from LA Times journalist Robyn Dixon who described Tony Abbott as:

‘The shrimp of the school yard’.

This perfectly encapsulated how we all felt as we listened to Tony Abbott’s speech to, frankly, bemused world leaders, as he told them of how his Government had stopped the boats and how none of us ungrateful Australians could see why it was so important to pay $7 to go see a doctor.

It was really embarrassing stuff; I struggle to think of a way it could have been worse.

As if Angela Merkel and all the rest could care less about a $7 payment that….

Actually, I can’t even go on, it’s too hard to revisit it in written form.

Of course here in the environment section, the real issue and that is an exact description, believe me, was climate change. Australia, sorry, Tony Abbott, didn’t even want it discussed but, thankfully, U.S. President Barack Obama wasn’t having that and he made a speech ‒ direct in its nature ‒ to the Australian people, talking of the effects of climate change, warning of “drought, wildfires, flood and storm damage,” as well as saying:

“… the incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened.”

Obama added that he wished to be able to return with his daughters and see the Reef, and:

“I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit and I want that there 50 years from now.”

Of climate change’s effects he said:

“No nation is immune, and each nation must play its part.”

It was a genuinely world leading stuff from a genuine world leader, and so much at variance to the pint-sized utterings of our embarrassment of a prime minister.

Thankfully, the world leaders that were there, did get climate change discussed, and a communiqué was released, which one leader’s aide described as trench warfare to get done. Tony Abbott fought tooth and nail against world sentiment to downplay the effects of coal on the world’s climate as part of this process.

Away from climate change, one thing that was on the G20’s agenda was two per cent economic growth, and that is fair enough, as it is in essence an economic forum. However, even this modest outcome was largely shown to be pointless by Professor John Kirton, co-director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, who appeared on ABC TV’s Insiders program on Sunday, 16 November.

Professor Kirton quoted Angel Gurria, the Secretary-General of the OECD, and, said professor Kirton:

“Angel Gurria has said that if we don’t do something right here, right now, to control climate change, the economic cost if going to be a minus six per cent hit on GDP, it rather makes the plus two percent that we are struggling to get here rather small in comparison.”

He then added:

“… so simply if you want a summit that is focussed on generating on global economic growth you have to look at both sides of the balance sheet, I think every business person knows that, not just trying to get two more, but also stopping the loss of the six per cent.”

So arguing for economic growth in isolation of environmental destruction is once again shown to be a genuine waste of time.

However, one of the main proponents of this two per cent growth goal, Treasurer Joe Hockey, did show (finally) some grasp of reality in the run up to the G20.

Hockey said in an interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National:

“70 per cent of Australia’s economy is services, but it’s only 17 per cent of our exports. So what we’ve got to do is lift our export in services and then we can supplement the massive export growth that we have in resources.”

So it’s good that at least the Treasurer has finally caught up with the rest of us, who have been saying for a long time that services are indeed 70 per cent of the economy and are a damn sight less polluting thing to export than mining products.
So why is Joe saying this now?

Well it seems that he has understood that resources exporting is in severe decline and it’s time to back a more sustainable horse in this race: services. It seems from his statement that a big part of the two per cent growth he is looking for will come, not from mining, but from services — education, health and finance are three examples.

Welcome to the twenty first century Joe.

But if the Treasurer is starting to orbit sanity, our prime minister continues to delve deeper into the mire is nuttiness, as part of his lunatic backing of coal against world sentiment, the prime minister said:

“The point I made in the G20 and perhaps it wasn’t the most popular point I made, is coal is very important, it’s an important part of the Australian economy, it’s an important part of the world’s energy supply and it will be for decades to come.”

Well, Tony, one seriously questions the use of the plural (decades) in that statement.

Turns out that coal may be an important part of the world’s energy supply for a lot less time than that and here’s why.

Glencore, one of Australia’s largest miners, have recently announced that they are temporarily closing all their coal mines in Australia ‒ shuttering, it’s called ‒ for three weeks in December. This is due to the world oversupply of thermal coal, used in power generation.  This is reflected in the spot price of coal, which dropped another 3.11 per cent last month to $US68.45 a tonne, and is therefore now US$6 below the profitable line for coal production in Australia.

One bank, ANZ, has predicted that the supply overhang will clear, possibly as early as 2016 or 2017, thus making the mining of thermal coal profitable again. However, the supply overhang has to be cleared for the price to go up again, and this is hardly likely if Australia continues to bring new coal mines on line, as in the Galilee basin in Queensland, which will clearly only add to the oversupply problem.

Added to which there is a nexus of disaster for Australia’s coal exporting looming, to wit: the above mentioned supply overhang coinciding with China’s massive investment in renewable power. China has already halved its coal imports, and with its avowed goal of creating 1.3 gigawatts of power from renewable sources, a week, for the next fifteen years, it could cease importing coal altogether.
India are going the same way, RenewEconomy tells us:

‘… in a landmark announcement that has caught the global coal industry totally by surprise, India’s Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal has announced an ambitious target that could see India cease thermal coal imports within two to three years.’

This of course shows once more the insanity, the environmental and fiscal lunacy of the Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland. That mine is a massively destructive thing, with deleterious effects on the nearby agricultural land, the Great Artesian Basin, Australia’s greenhouse emissions and the Great Barrier Reef and all to dig up unprofitable coal for India, which, as RenewEconomy has now shown, India doesn’t really want.

All of the above allows us to paraphrase the great Oscar Wilde:

“Economically speaking, the only thing worse than fighting climate change, is not fighting climate change.”

And in answer to the prime minister’s assertion that coal will be important for decades to come, we can say that coal will be important for perhaps another decade — one.


Will Abbott and Newman show us their coal portfolios? Will they hold their investments until 2020?

coal is good

Standing up for coal – Abbott and Newman give investment advice

  • November 16, 2014
  • Written by:
  • Tony Abbott has told a G20 leaders’ discussion on energy he was “standing up for coal” as the Queensland government prepares to unveil new infrastructure spending to help the development of Australia’s largest coal mine.

    Abbott, who recently said coal was “good for humanity”, also endorsed the mine, proposed by the Indian company Adani, to the meeting.

    The Australian government has given all environmental and regulatory clearances for the $7.5 billion coal mining, rail and port project, said Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani Group, in an interview to The Indian Express.

    And Campbell Newman is happy to put your money where his mouth is.

    “We are prepared to invest in core, common-user infrastructure,” Mr Newman said.  “The role of government is to make targeted investments to get something going and exit in a few years’ time.”

    Despite poor market conditions, high costs and the massive outpouring of concern over the environmental impacts of their projects, Indian companies GVK and Adani remain hell-bent on opening up the Galilee Basin in Queensland. The smallest mine is as large as Australia’s biggest operating coal mine and the largest, twice the size. All of the proposals in the Galilee Basin would produce enough coal to chew up 7% of the world’s remaining carbon budget, drastically reducing our chances of keeping a lid on global warming.

    Adani and fellow Indian company GVK are pushing their projects and Adani wants to start construction early next year, but the key problem is access to funds.

    Few banks are willing to lend when coal prices are so low and the industry is facing issues with climate change.

    There are also issues with both companies.

    Adani Mining Pty Ltd borrowed $516 million from another subsidiary of the Adani Group, Adani Minerals, at an interest rate of 4.25%.  Adani Enterprises, the parent group, borrowed from the banks 2 per cent more cheaply that it charges Adani Mining the subsidiary in Australia for internal loans.

    Why would these loans be priced so far above commercial rates?  Potentially they could rack up losses in Australia and rip out equivalent profits to India. Some $10 million a year thereby transferred – 2 per cent on $516 million – tax free to the subcontinent.  Rupert would be proud.

    Adani Mining P/L had no revenue and booked a pre-tax loss of $112 million in 2013-14. It spent $75 million on exploration and evaluation of the mining area, which was capitalised, along with $41 million of interest, into the balance sheet rather than expensed against the profit and loss.

    Adani Mining’s red ink of $112 million mostly relates to currency losses. All loans are in US dollars with no hedging, giving rise to a loss every time the Australian dollar declines

    The total investment so far by the Adani group in Adani Mining is now $984 million and shareholder equity is negative to the tune of $45 million which reflects net borrowings of $1.015 billion in this Australian subsidiary alone.

    So we have a company with $1 billion in debt, negative shareholders funds, zero revenue and high cash burn with $15 billion still to spend, and the parent company, Adani Enterprises, has debts of $US12 billion.

    Tim Buckley, director at the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, puts it bluntly: “This project is not commercially viable”. Apart from the financial deficiencies of the main participants, he says thermal coal is in structural rather than cyclical decline.

    In another red flag, Linc Energy accepted $155 million from Adani a couple of months ago for its option in the project. It is worth asking why Linc boss Peter Bond would sell a royalty of $2 billion over 20 years – perhaps worth $600 million today – for just $155 million.

    And then there’s GVK.

    Despite claiming to be a “leading global infrastructure owner, manager and operator” GVKPIL has no experience operating any business outside of India. It has never successfully built and operated a coal mine – in India or otherwise. GVKPIL has not operated any business in Australia, let alone a US$10bn greenfield project in the face of massive environmental, operational, logistical and financial challenges.

    GVKPIL is currently committed to 16 greenfield infrastructure projects across six different asset classes.  Many are behind schedule and / or over budget.

    With a market equity capitalisation of only US$243m, GVKPIL is carrying on-balance sheet net debt of US$2.8bn.  It’s share price is at an all time low and has underperformed the Indian index by 80% since 2010.

    Building Australia’s largest black thermal coal mine in the untapped Galilee Basin would challenge experienced operators, but the combination of an inexperienced developer, slack demand globally for thermal coal and a deteriorating cost of production scenario in Australia moves the project beyond speculative.

    Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting sold a majority stake in two Galilee coal prospects – Kevin’s Corner and Alpha – to GVK in 2011 under a deal believed to include a $1.3 billion upfront payment and a requirement for a $1 billion payment later on. However, the latter payment is still unresolved more than three years on, with Hancock Prospecting listing the unpaid amount at $656 million in its 2013 financial accounts.  Apparently they can’t afford to pay.

    That asset was written down to nothing in Hancock Prospecting’s 2014 financial accounts, which were published by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Friday.

    “The carrying amounts of the financial assets relating to a coal transaction with GVK … is based on the ability of the purchaser, GVK, to complete the outstanding transaction conditions, which includes the payment of substantial amounts,” the company wrote. “Management believes it is increasingly unlikely that these accounts will be received from GVK.”

    According to The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, GVK‘s Alpha project appears likely to remain “stranded in the valley of death”.

    Six of the top ten and nine of the top twenty coal funding banks have now stated that they don’t plan to fund the expansion of Abbot Point.  Given the global scale and Australian focus of Galilee Basin projects, the Big Four banks in Australia (Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ Bank and National Australia Bank) will be critically important to the financing of this multi-billion work.

    So far, the banks have been coy about saying anything about the proposals to expand coal exports through the Great Barrier Reef, falling back on sustainability policies that have, in recent years, seen them lend nearly $20 billion to fossil fuels. It has created an absurd situation where banks headquartered in Paris, London, and New York are doing more to stand up and defend the Reef than Australian banks.

    It is already costing the banks. Several thousand customers have so far joined the rapidly growing divestment movement, moving to other banks in protest of the big four’s massive lending to the fossil fuel industry. And thousands more, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, sit in waiting, ready to shift their business based on whether the Australian banks will stand up and defend the Reef or fund its demise.

    Rather than taking investment advice from Abbott and Newman, it’s time for us all to let our banks know what we Australians want.

CLIMATE CHANGED:::: Coal down down prices are down!!

Responsible between them for 42 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, the United States and China on Tuesday announced a major deal, which John Quiggin calls the century’s most significant: the US will double the rate at which it reduces emissions (so that its overall emissions will be at least 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020), and China will stop its own emissions growth by 2030 and increase the non-fossil fuel share of its energy mix to 20 per cent.

Until now, the Abbott government has used what it claims has been the inaction by the world’s major polluters to justify its own unwillingness to commit to more than a 5 per cent reduction (on 2000 levels) by 2020. The US-China agreement represents what should be a game-changer for Australian policy. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government will take the agreement into account in considering higher targets. But its so-called Direct Action scheme – even if it works – doesn’t lend itself to higher targets: more ambitious targets require greater investment, but the Emissions Reduction Fund draws from the budget to pay polluters (unlike the previous carbon price, which provided market-based incentives for companies to undertake their own reduction projects).

The deal threatens to make Australia, with its “nonsense” Direct Action policy (Paul Keating’s word) look decidedly silly at this weekend’s G20 leaders’ meeting, where despite its best efforts to keep climate change off the agenda it may now be front and centre – or a very large elephant in the room. The Abbott government remains steadfastly committed to coal and gas despite the conclusion of the fifth IPCC report – and now there are real risks that China will stop importing Australia’s coal in the foreseeable future. And its stubborn commitment to slashing the Renewable Energy Target risks a real freeze in investment in renewable technologies and, ironically, higher power bills.

Russell Marks

China and US agree on ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets

China US Emissions Agreement.jpg


China and the United States have agreed on a set of ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets, with Beijing setting a goal for its emissions to peak “around 2030”.

It is the first time China, the world’s biggest polluter, has set a date for its emissions to stop increasing, and the White House said China would “try to peak early”.

At the same time the US set a goal to cut its own emissions of the gases blamed for climate change by 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025.

The declaration came as president Barack Obama met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks in Beijing.

China will look to “increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20 per cent by 2030”, the White House said.

Scientists argue that drastic measures must be taken if the world is to limit global warming to the UN’s target of two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and failing to do so could have disastrous results.

China and the US, which together produce around 45 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide, will be key to ensuring that a global deal on reducing emissions after 2020 is reached in Paris next year.

Mr Obama said the deal showed that when China and the US worked together, it was good for the world.

“I believe that president Xi and I have a common understanding about how the relationship between our nations can move forward,” he said.

“We agree that we can expand our cooperation where interests overlap or align.

“When we have disagreements we will be candid about our intentions and we will work to narrow those difference where possible.”

Latest agreement fraught with challenges

China and the US have long been at loggerheads over global targets, with each saying the other should bear more responsibility for cutting emissions of gases blamed for heating up the atmosphere.

While the US, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, pledged to cut emissions in the past, goals have shifted or been missed altogether.

Announcement a nudge to Australia

By ABC environment online editor Sara Phillips

China and the USA’s combined climate announcement has been met with a chorus of approval from around the world.

The two largest greenhouse gas emitters have finally agreed to clean up their energy sources and make a symbolic joint announcement, which is just the tonic the stalled international negotiations on climate change need.

For so long, it has been easy for the US and China to duck action on climate, arguing that the other must surely go first.

Australia has joined in this game of ‘apres vous’, often using the excuse that without those heavyweights any climate action is meaningless.

The joint US-China announcement today puts paid to those excuses, nudging Australia towards adopting a stronger emissions reduction target.

Australia’s climate target is officially listed as a 5 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels), or up to 25 per cent by 2020 if other legally binding cuts are agreed.

Direct Action is the current policy designed to meet these commitments.

As yet, questions have gone unanswered as to whether Direct Action will be an effective strategy to meet the 5 per cent target.

With firmer international commitments now looking more likely by the end of the 2015 UN climate meeting, it is doubtful whether Direct Action will have the ability to meet an expanded target.

Australia’s already tarnished reputation on climate action may only deteriorate further.

Its greenhouse gas emissions increased last year, despite Washington setting emissions reduction goals during a climate summit in 2009.

The deadline for Mr Obama’s new pledge is in more than a decade’s time, but he only has two years left in his presidency and faces a Congress controlled by Republicans in both houses, which will make passing crucial environmental legislation more difficult.

Much of his action on climate change so far has been done with executive orders rather than cooperation from an often confrontational legislature.

While it was the first time China agreed to a target date for emissions to peak, the commitment was qualified, leaving considerable room for manoeuvre.

China has trumpeted its efforts to reduce dependence on coal and oil in the past, and is the world’s largest hydropower producer, with a growing nuclear sector.

But economic growth remains a vitally important priority and has seen demand for energy soar.

The European Union pledged last month to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

But efforts to make meaningful progress on climate change will by stymied unless the US sets “a concrete and ambitious” goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate commissioner, said in October.

The EU accounts for 11 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 16 per cent for the United States and 29 per cent for China.

US Republican leader criticises ‘unrealistic plan’

The US Senate’s Republican leader slammed Mr Obama’s proposed greenhouse gas reductions as an “unrealistic plan”.

“This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” Mitch McConnell said of Mr Obama’s proposal.

Mr McConnell, who is set to lead a Senate which Obama’s Democrats lost control of in mid-term elections, said the country had had enough of Mr Obama’s strategies.

“Our economy can’t take the president’s ideological war on coal that will increase the squeeze on middle-class families and struggling miners,” Mr McConnell said.

“The president said his policies were on the ballot, and the American people spoke up against them.

“It’s time for more listening, and less job-destroying red tape.

“Easing the burden already created by EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] regulations will continue to be a priority for me in the new Congress.”

Calls strengthen for Australia to act

Environment Minister Greg Hunt welcomed the deal between the US and China, but Labor warned Australia was at risk of international embarrassment.

Mr Hunt said Australia was already delivering on its own commitment to reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 and will take into account actions by other major nations when setting future targets.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Abbott Government’s views were out of step with world leaders.

“We are now irrelevant to the great economic debates of our age,” he said in a statement.

“While the United States and China show global leadership, Tony Abbott is sticking his head in the sand.

“At the G20 this week, Australia will hold the embarrassing title of being the only nation going backwards on climate change.

“Any argument for inaction, because the rest of the world isn’t acting, is clearly false.”

Greens leader Christine Milne welcomed the US-China agreement and urged Mr Abbott to tackle climate change.

“This should be a massive wake-up call to Tony Abbott. His continued climate denial and his destruction of the environment is reckless,” she said.

“Tony Abbott is so busy unwinding Australia’s climate policies that he failed to notice the global economy is changing around him.”

Mining boss lauds US-China climate deal

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said the agreement was “exciting” and Australia needed to keep in step with what was going on elsewhere in the world.

 Video: Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh speaks to 7.30 about the ambitious US-China targets (7.30)

Mr Walsh is currently in Brisbane for a meeting of top business leaders, the B20, ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit later this week.

The mining boss said China and the US were setting the pace in terms of technology development around carbon emission reduction.

“Obviously, they have a vision of what they can achieve over the next 10 years and it’s important that Australia play its part in this,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

Mr Walsh pointed to the CSIRO’s work on carbon reduction as an important Australian initiative.

Asked about recent comments by Mr Abbott that coal was “good for humanity”, Mr Walsh agreed that coal would continue to be important but said that Australia also needed to focus on other renewable avenues, such as wind and solar.

Coal is good for humanity — or fossil fuel insanity?

View image on Twitterhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4dEuyJJcv5M

Australia Institute data challenges claims coal industry drives economic growth, is a key element of alleviating worldwide ‘energy poverty’ and improves quality of life. Kieran Cooke from the Climate News Network reports.

THE COAL INDUSTRY has many friends in high places and none more so than Tony Abbott — prime minister of one of the world’s major producers of a fuel that earns the country billions from exports.

As Prime Minister Abbott said recently:

“Coal is vital for the future energy needs of the world. So let’s have no demonisation of coal coal is good for humanity.”

But a new report by researchers in Australia seeks to debunk what it considers to be myths promulgated by the powerful worldwide coal industry and its allies.

The report by the Australia Institute, an independent public policy thinktank, says claims by lobbyists that coal is a main driver of economic growth are false.

Slower growth

Data shows that coal use has grown much slower than global economic growth, says the report:

‘All Talk and No action: The Coal Industry and Energy Poverty’.

It points out that

‘…developed countries have reduced coal use while economic growth has been unaffected. Developing countries are now the major users, but with alternatives becoming cheaper, they are likely to reduce coal use much earlier in their development.’

(Click on the image above to access the report on The Australian Institute website)

The report also attacks industry claims that coal use increases life expectancy and quality of life:

‘On the contrary, coal use is often associated with lower life expectancy due to health impacts of indoor and outdoor air pollution and the global health impacts of climate change.’

The study says that, although access to electricity might initially improve quality of life, once basic electricity facilities are in place there is little correlation between increased electricity uptake and improved living conditions.

Talk in the coal industry about tackling energy poverty is just public relations spin, says the report, and it questions whether the coal industry itself believes its own claims.

It is significant, the study says, that coal concerns that choose to become involved in electricity and poverty alleviation schemes in poorer parts of the world support projects connected with solar technology or small hydro and gas-fired facilities, rather than with far more expensive coal-fired power installations.

Polluting gases

The report also takes issue with claims by the coal industry that coal is becoming cleaner. What is meant by clean coal varies widely: although many power plants and other enterprises have reduced coal-related emissions of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide, coal still releases into the atmosphere enormous amounts of CO2 — by far the most polluting of greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, progress on carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the process through which emissions from coal-powered plants and other industrial concerns are captured and stored deep below the Earth’s surface – has been slow.

There are only 13 such projects in operation and, together, they are capable of sequestering only 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year — less than one per cent of the world’s total annual emissions.

To put this in perspective, the report says, 33,376 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted worldwide in 2011, with the United States emitting 5,420 million tonnes, and Australia – which has a much smaller population − emitting 400 million tonnes.

The report concludes:

‘Addressing the challenges of energy poverty will become even more difficult if public relations campaigns are able to influence government policies away from genuine solutions towards spending that benefits the coal industry. The real solutions to energy poverty do not focus on coal.’

View image on Twitter

Bye Bye Coal and Coal-ition

Ceramic Fuel Cells indoor installation

An Australian company which invented a renewable energy electricity generator says it was forced to move its operation to Germany because of a lack of opportunities in Australia.

Germany embracing renewable energy

Power production from renewables has tripled in Germany within the past decade, mostly from wind and solar.Last year, renewables accounted for 24 per cent of the country’s electricity.The German government introduced generous subsidies to kick-start the sector, amounting to 16 billion euros last year.But the government claims the program has already saved billions in fuel costs for the heavily import-reliant country.

“We have created new businesses worth 40 billion euros per year,” Ecologic Institute analyst Andreas Kraemer said.

Germany’s energy transition

  • 80 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2050
  • Nuclear plants shut down by 2022
  • Carbon emissions cut by up to 95 per cent of 1990 figures by 2050

“We have created additional employment for up to 400,000 people. They all pay taxes, they all pay social security charges.”German households and small business pay the largest share for the renewable turnaround.They pay around 29 euro cents per kilowatt hour and much of that goes towards a renewable energy surcharge.Big industrial users are exempt from the surcharge and pay just 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour.Most of the subsidies are spent on first-generation solar and wind parks that are locked in high feed-in tariffs of over 40 cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years.But there are calls to phase them out all together.

Investors look for exposure to renewables market

The makeup of the German energy market already looks very different, with hundreds of companies and cooperatives being formed in a decentralised industry.While banks, industry, and project developers own 40 per cent of renewable installations, farmers and private investors own half.A number of new investment vehicles have formed to take advantage of the new industry.Crowd funding start up Bettervest has financed 14 projects since its inception a year ago.Company spokesman Julien Schroder-Gianoncelli said investors are attracted by the projects and the returns.”We are offering 5-10 per cent in interest, which is pretty good at the moment,” he said.

Ceramic Fuel Cells believes Germany’s regulations, incentives and market make it the place to be.Mr Obernitz said that, for the time being at least, there are no incentives available in Australia.”I’m not sure if that is going to change,” he said.”We would favour that because we have invented the technology in Australia, and it’s something that will change the world.”

ANU stands firm against furious anti-divestment attacks: Just good business. A Hockey and Abbott divestment is good politics

Despite the angry bluster from Abbott, Hockey and the mining industry, the ANU’s decision to divest from fossil fuels is not only ethical, but make makes sound economic sense. Lachlan Barker reports.

John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser blast Liberals over ANU divestment…

The decision by the Australian National University (ANU) to divest $16 million of its billion dollar plus portfolio out of fossil fuels has attracted volleys of abuse from the Federal Government, the mining industry and the conservative press.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the decisionstupid”, Treasurer Joe Hockey accused the university of being “removed from the reality” of what drives the economy and creates jobs.

Sandfire Resources, one of the companies whose stocks the ANU divested, threatened legal action.

It’s been a hell of a storm for the ANU and things aren’t over yet.

Indeed, ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young provided the university with an out, saying early last week:

‘Our consultants stand by their assessments, which we have found persuasive, but should new information come to hand, or flaws become evident in the methodology involved, we would naturally reconsider the assessments.’

But as you will see below, the players who provided the advice to the ANU have no doubts.

And unfortunately for carbon fans, it has put divestment on the front page, with other universities now coming under the spotlight to see if they too will divest.

The ANU then made their decision to make a tiny divestment — less than two per cent of its portfolio. At that, the floodgates of abuse were opened.

Among the vehement outpourings was a story in the Australian Financial Review, headlined Consultant to Rewrite ‘Flawed’ ANU Report, by Ben Potter.

Well CAER wasn’t having that, and they released a statement in response:

The Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) completely rejects today’s article by Ben Potter in the Australian Financial Review.

CAER categorically stands by the research it supplied to the Australian National University.

The AFR article is factually incorrect and Mr Potter was aware of this prior to publication, but has chosen to publish anyway. CAER will be seeking a retraction from the AFR.

I contacted the AFR and asked if they will be printing a retraction, but have had no response.

Then EIRIS (Empowering Responsible Investment) weighed in.

The current controversy regarding the Australian National University’s (ANU) decision to divest from seven stocks in their investment portfolio has involved some serious misrepresentation of the role of their research provider, CAER.

EIRIS, as a global leader in the provision of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research, stands by CAER, EIRIS’s Australian research partner, and the methodology it has used to provide research to the ANU.

The market begs to differ as well, as it looks like the investors are, at least at the moment, moving out of fossil fuels and mining in general.

Further support for the ANU’s decision to get out of fossil fuels would appear to be the languishing price of thermal coal.

From a recent peak of US$140 in December 2010, the price of this energy generation source has since dropped steadily such that, in July this year, Australia began officially mining thermal coal at a loss.

Production costs for thermal coal in Australia are presently US$74 a tonne. In July 2014 the price dipped below that mark to US$73.66, in August it held steady at $73.86, before September came and the price dropped 4.35% to US$70.65.

Hardly a good investment Tony



Professor John Mathews and Hao Tan pointed out in their research

“latest target is that renewables will have a capacity of 550 gigawatts — over half a trillion watts — by the year 2017. We calculate that this will exert a major impact in China — enhancing energy security; reducing emissions pollution; and reducing carbon emissions .… If it can reach its 2017 target of 550 GW renewables, we calculate that this would translate into a saving of 45% on current imports of coal, oil and natural gas.”

Added to this, the price of coal dropping, largely due to oversupply and import tariff  thereby lowering profit. Coal production costs will put an enormous strain on mines.

Our biggest client for coal and gas is Japan. After Fukushima, Japan has become more wary of nuclear power and, as such, will rely, in the short term, on importing coal and gas from Australia — amongst others. Abbott last week opened a Japanese/Australian partnered mine. However Japan has plans to go renewable as well 20% by 2020 All this accompanied by divestment  is  highly negative portent for the industry.

Joe and Tony, “the fossil fuel ride is over”, it’s time you recognised that.