“Any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement. He is utterly stupid”, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said on August 31.
The burgeoning movements against coal and gas projects, to defend the Great Barrier Reef and to conserve precious water resources were boosted by the Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland over May 31 to June 3.
More than 350 activists from around Australia joined international guests from the Pacific, the US and India at the fourth Beyond Coal and Gas gathering.
South Australians headed to the polls on March 17 to decide whether they would return the incumbent Labor Party to power after 16 years or hand government to Steve Marshall’s Liberals, with Nick Xenophon’s SA Best as a significant political force.
The results saw the Liberals win, overcoming their recent history of factionalism and disunity marked by ongoing leadership battles. Optional above the line preferential voting was introduced this election, but a redistribution of seats proved more detrimental to Labor.
Another United Nations climate conference (COP23) is over — though many people would have barely noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Paris Climate Agreement is locked in and, contrary to the Coalition’s inetrpretation, Australia needs to ratchet up its emissions reduction.
This is a useful time to reflect on where Australia sits globally on climate action and what areas are of concern.
A new report has found it would cost $1.3 billion more to keep the Liddell coal-fired power plant in New South Wales open beyond its use-by date, than to replace it with a mix of renewables and other sustainable energy solutions.
Renewable energy projects currently under construction in Queensland are set to create a comparable number of jobs to those of the controversial Adani new coal project, if it proceeds. The growth of renewable power generation will create more jobs than have been lost in coalmining.
Victoria became the first state to have a Renewable Energy Target (RET) written into law on October 20. The Victorian RET has been set at 25% renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.
Power and gas prices are set to rise by a huge 16–19% on July 1, bringing a profit bonanza to the big three electricity companies — AGL, Origin and Energy Australia.
This unpopular price hike comes in the context of record low wage growth, record high housing prices and record levels of household debt.
The federal government is covering for the price hikes by blaming state governments for ruling out unconventional gas (Victoria), or moving too fast to renewables and not planning ahead (South Australia).
Community campaigners rallied in Port Augusta on April 30 to make a final call for the South Australian government to build a new solar thermal power plant in the town.
Readers may have noticed that Australia is in the midst of an energy war. On one side are right-wing commentators attacking renewable energy at every turn. On the other side are renewables advocates, quick to retaliate, sometimes without considering the whole story.
The Victorian government announced on March 14 a $20 million tender, to install up to 80MW of grid-scale energy storage by 2018.
It invited proposals from batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel, and solar thermal technologies.
But its deadlines, of 30MW expected to be installed by next summer and 50MW by the following summer, are impossible for two of those technologies to meet.
Pumped hydro facilities take several years to build, because dams, tunnels and pipelines would need to be built.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should hang her head in shame. She has proven once again that the word “Labor” in “Australian Labor Party” has no connection with the interests of working people in Australia — or anywhere else.
Palaszczuk headed a delegation to India on March 17 to underscore her government’s support for the Adani company’s proposed Carmichael thermal coalmine. If it is given the go ahead, it will be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It would be the first for the Galilee Basin, and it would open the door to more.
According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), electricity supply will be threatened as early as next year by “shortfalls in gas”, or failing that, households may face cuts to their gas supply.
Generating electricity using renewable energy is now cheaper than using fossil fuels, but mining companies, banks and governments in Australia continue to invest significantly more in coal, oil and gas than wind and solar.
The list of things renewable energy can be blamed for received a creative contribution from little-known Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly on November 7 when he linked renewable energy with child drownings.
His argument went like this: environmentalists promote renewable energy policies; renewable energy will drive up the cost of electricity; public swimming pools require electricity to filter and heat; higher electricity prices mean pools will have to either cut swimming lessons or charge more for them; fewer children will learn to swim; therefore, more children will drown.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.