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An Inconvenient Sequel – the science, history, and politics of climate change | John Abraham

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 11:00

Al Gore’s new film is worth watching

Al Gore’s new movie ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ is, in some ways, similar to his groundbreaking Inconvenient Truth project, but different in other ways. Those key differences are why I recommend you watch it.

This movie successfully accomplishes a number of interweaving tasks. First, it gives some of the science of climate change. Gore gets his science right. I remember his first movie, which I thought was more steeped in science and data than this one, so based on my recollection this new picture is somewhat abbreviated. That’s a good thing because the science is settled on climate change. That is, the science is settled that humans are causing current climatic changes and the science is settled that we are observing these changes throughout the natural world.

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It’s true, wind turbines are monstrous. But I have learned to love them | Alice O’Keeffe

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 06:00
At first I resented the way they blocked the view. But now the towers look like part of a brighter future

Over the last few months I have been watching with mixed feelings as the Rampion wind farm emerges like a great monster from the sea off Brighton beach. It has happened so quickly: one morning in the early summer a few small grey stumps appeared on the previously flat horizon. Only weeks later, the first turbines were up, instantly giving the familiar sea view a new, industrial edge. Since then more and more have appeared, row upon row of them. Though they are eight miles offshore, they dominate the view from the beach now, and create strange optical illusions; in some weathers they look close, and in others very far away. Occasionally, on a seemingly clear day, they inexplicably disappear from view.

Over the summer I mourned the glorious, uninterrupted horizons that used to beckon

Related: Wild is the wind: the resource that could power the world

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US switches focus of its Bonn event from clean energy to fossil fuels

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 16:41

One of US’s only public events, originally billed as promoting clean energy, has since been changed to favour coal and nuclear power

The US has changed the focus of one of its few public events at the Bonn climate talks to emphasise coal and nuclear power, in a sign of the Trump administration’s goals at the talks.

An event next Monday, opening the second week of the ongoing UN negotiations, was originally billed as promoting clean energy. However, it has since been changed to emphasise coal and nuclear power.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

UK's biggest solar farm planned for Kent coast

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 15:55

Subsidy-free plant would cover 900 acres of farmland near Great Expectations marshes at Faversham, dwarfing output of UK’s current largest solar site

An enormous solar power station is planned for the north Kent coast that would be the UK’s biggest and dwarf existing solar farms, providing a significant boost to an industry that has stalled since ministers halted subsidies 18 months ago.

Cleve Hill, a mile from the historic town of Faversham, would have five times the capacity of the UK’s current largest solar farm and provide enough power for around 110,000 households if it comes online in 2020 as proposed.

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The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: 'There is reason for hope'

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 07:00

Until recently the battle to avert catastrophic climate change – floods, droughts, famine, mass migrations – seemed to be lost. But with the tipping point just years away, the tide is finally turning, thanks to innovations ranging from cheap renewables to lab-grown meat and electric airplanes

‘Everybody gets paralysed by bad news because they feel helpless,” says Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who delivered the landmark Paris climate change agreement. “It is so in our personal lives, in our national lives and in our planetary life.”

But it is becoming increasingly clear that it does not need to be all bad news: a series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming. From trends already at full steam, including renewable energy, to those just now hitting the big time, such as mass-market electric cars, to those just emerging, such as plant-based alternatives to meat, these trends show that greenhouse gas emissions can be halted.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

South Australia experiences dramatic fall in energy costs after gas deal

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 06:49

Expert says analysis shows need for more orderly transition from fossil fuels, with more notice of closure of coal plants

South Australia’s renewables-heavy electricity market has been turned upside down, moving from importing power to exporting it, and from having some the most expensive wholesale prices in the country to having some of the cheapest.

And all that appears to be a result of one gas deal secured by a generator that was blamed by many as a major cause of a blackout in South Australia in February.

Related: Whyalla steelworks to be powered by $700m solar, battery and pumped hydro project

Related: Back to square one in energy policy: we now have a plan to produce a plan | Simon Holmes à Court

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New Fed chair Jerome Powell was the best choice … for Trump

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:41

The lawyer’s main qualification for leading the world’s most powerful central bank seems to be his lack of strong views

Jerome Powell was Wall Street’s choice to run the Federal Reserve. Given Donald Trump’s record on doing the unexpected, there was always the chance the president would pick another candidate, but for once he did not make waves.

Powell was the business-as-usual candidate. Nothing he has said or done since he first joined the Fed’s board five years ago suggests he intends to make life difficult for Trump or rattle the financial markets. Well, not deliberately at least, for while Powell is the boring choice, he may not necessarily prove to be the safe choice.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

How India’s battle with climate change could determine all of our fates

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:36

India’s population and emissions are rising fast, and its ability to tackle poverty without massive fossil fuel use will decide the fate of the planet

“It’s a lucky charm,” says Rajesh, pointing to the solar-powered battery in his window that he has smeared with turmeric as a blessing. “It has changed our life.”

He lives in Rajghat, a village on the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states, and until very recently was one of the 240 million Indians who live without electricity. In the poverty that results, Rajghat has become a village of bachelors, with just two weddings in 20 years.

Related: Suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers linked to climate change, study claims

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Huge private sector investment puts Paris climate target in reach, says report

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 05:30

Global investment could hold the key to fighting climate change, with one trillion dollars already invested in solutions such as renewables and energy efficiency, says International Finance Corporation

At least one trillion dollars are being invested globally in ways to reduce the threat of climate change, including renewable power, energy efficiency, and public transport around the world.

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New data gives hope for meeting the Paris climate targets | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 10:00

Global carbon pollution appears to be close to peaking

Over the past half-century, growth in the global economy and carbon pollution have been tied together. When the global economy has been strong, we’ve consumed more energy, which has translated into burning more fossil fuels and releasing more carbon pollution. But over the past four years, economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions have been decoupled. The global economy has continued to grow, while data from the EU Joint Research Centre shows carbon pollution has held fairly steady.

As I read the agreement it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and around the country

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'Way off the planet': regional businesses use renewables to slash costs

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 23:00

From solar to running generators, some have quit the energy grid and several others are showing interest in ‘defecting’

In the heart of Queensland’s mining belt, a businessman who has grown his enterprise mostly off the back of the coal industry sees the energy sector going only one way.

“I think renewable energy is where the market’s going – what we class as the energy revolution,” says Jason Sharam.

Related: Wild is the wind: the resource that could power the world

Related: National energy guarantee is ‘innovative’, says Bloomberg analysis

Related: How green is Britain’s record on renewable energy supply?

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Back to square one in energy policy: we now have a plan to produce a plan | Simon Holmes à Court

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 00:48

Details are scant about the national energy guarantee. From what we know so far, battles are looming on several fronts

A year and a day — that’s how long it took Frydenberg to kill off “Finkel”.

On 7 October 2016, just nine days after a series of tornados took out at least 22 transmission pylons in South Australia and set off a cascading series of events resulting in a state-wide blackout, federal environment and energy minister John Frydenberg commissioned chief scientist professor Alan Finkel to review the stability of our energy system. Finkel’s expert team met with regulators around the world, considered 390 submissions, held 120 meetings and commissioned modelling from multiple experts.

Related: What is the national energy guarantee and is it really a game changer?

Related: A shift to clean energy will come but politics remain vile until the next election | Simon Holmes à Court

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Americans want a tax on carbon pollution, but how to get one? | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:00

A new study finds that Americans are willing to pay an extra $15 per month on energy bills to tackle climate change.

According to a new study published by Yale scientists in Environmental Research Letters, Americans are willing to pay a carbon tax that would increase their household energy bills by $15 per month, or about 15%, on average. This result is consistent with a survey from last year that also found Americans are willing to pay an average of $15 to $20 per month to combat climate change. Another recent Yale survey found that overall, 78% of registered American voters support taxing and/or regulating carbon pollution, including 67% of Republicans and 60% of conservative Republicans.

Policy elites sometimes have ideological stances quite different than their constituents, even of their own party (e.g., background checks on gun purchases in the US which is overwhelmingly favored by Democrats and Republicans).

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UK energy firms call on chancellor to boost carbon tax

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 05:01

SSE and Drax tell Philip Hammond they need longer-term clarity on price floor if they are to replace coal power plants

Two of Britain’s biggest energy companies have called on Philip Hammond to strengthen a carbon tax that has driven a dramatic collapse in coal power generation, arguing it is essential for the shift to cleaner energy.

SSE, the UK’s second largest energy supplier, and Drax, which runs the country’s biggest power station in North Yorkshire, urged the chancellor to use his autumn budget to shed light on the tax’s fate into the 2020s.

Related: The war on coal is over. Coal lost | Dana Nuccitelli

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Labor’s environmental lobby warns bipartisan energy deal comes with conditions

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 02:54

Any support for Coalition’s national energy guarantee needs to defend ‘50% renewable energy target by 2030’

Labor’s major environmental lobby group has endorsed the ALP reaching a bipartisan position with the Turnbull government on energy policy, but warned that a deal should not be at any price.

The Labor Environment Action Network, which exerts considerable influence over the ALP’s climate and environment policies, has written to Bill Shorten and Labor’s climate spokesman, Mark Butler, setting out its principles for any agreement with the Coalition.

Related: Labor states won't solve PM's ‘political problems’ on energy, Weatherill says

Related: 'Malcolm Turnbull intends to kill renewables' – Australian politics live podcast

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Turnbull, Frydenberg and Abbott's electorates back 50% renewables target

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 06:09

ReachTel poll finds majority in three Liberal-held seats support carbon pricing, and more ambitious renewable policy

Voters in the electorates held by Malcolm Turnbull, Josh Frydenberg and Tony Abbott would be more likely to support the government’s new energy policy if it ensured Australia had at least 50% renewable energy by 2030, according to a new opinion poll.

The ReachTel poll, commissioned by progressive thinktank the Australia Institute, shows a majority of voters in those Liberal-held seats support carbon pricing, and would support more policy ambition in driving renewable energy into the power grid.

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National energy guarantee is ‘innovative’, says Bloomberg analysis

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 21:36

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says proposed guarantee could be ‘template for policy makers worldwide’

The Turnbull government’s proposed national energy guarantee has been given enthusiastic support by the renewable energy analysis firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which has described the concept as “innovative and elegant” and said it could be “a template for policy makers worldwide”.

Earlier this week Malcolm Turnbull persuaded the Coalition to support an energy policy that includes measures intended to drive down emissions (the “emissions guarantee”) and ensure reliability of the grid (the “reliability guarantee”).

Related: What is the national energy guarantee and is it really a game changer?

Related: Labor says it will reach 50% renewable energy regardless of PM's guarantee

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Coalition's energy plan hurts renewables more than no action – Greens

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:00

Adam Bandt says sector could reach as little as 28% of the energy mix compared with 35% under business-as-usual

The Greens say the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee will be more detrimental to the renewables sector than if the Coalition did nothing.

The Greens’ climate spokesman, Adam Bandt, said a comparison of the analysis in the Finkel review of the national electricity market with the new advice provided by the Energy Security Board shows the policy the government has unveiled this week is detrimental to renewables.

Related: What is the national energy guarantee and is it really a game changer?

Related: Turnbull admits 'many impacts' on energy bills in response to Labor attack

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Turnbull admits 'many impacts' on energy bills in response to Labor attack

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 08:13

Opposition leaves itself room to move on Coalition’s national energy guarantee while zeroing in on promised price reductions

Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged there are “many impacts” on a household energy bill after being pursued by Labor about whether he could guarantee the power price reductions floated under his proposed energy policy.

Labor has zeroed in on the price impacts associated with the national energy guarantee, unveiled by the Turnbull government on Tuesday, after the policy was ticked off on by the Coalition party room.

Related: Greens vow to protect ABC from 'blatant ideological attack' – as it happened

Related: What is the national energy guarantee and is it really a game changer?

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Web of Australian Adani solar companies leads to offshore tax havens

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 01:01

Three companies are ultimately owned in the Cayman and British Virgin islands, raising questions about the tax implications of profits generated by solar assets

Adani has spread its use of offshore tax havens to its Australian solar projects, providing another avenue that could allow the wealthy Indian family behind the transnational to legally minimise tax paid on income from local operations.

Six companies linked to Adani’s renewables business, which chairman Gautam Adani wants to make the biggest in Australia by 2022, were registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on 3 August.

Related: Most Australians oppose Adani mine, poll shows, amid national protests

Related: Adani needs Carmichael mine to stave off income crash, report says

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