environmental

There is no genuine reason why Australia cannot have 100% renewable electricity in less than a decade, at sharply reduced prices.

In May a vice-president of Sempra Energy, one of the largest utility firms in the US, caused a stir by stating flatly that there was no longer any technical obstacle to powering California with 100% renewables.

As the battle for the right of Catalonia to vote on independence rages between the Spanish government in Madrid and the independence-oriented Catalan parliament in Barcelona, major developments have taken place in one of the most famous struggles for independence on the Iberian Peninsula — the Basque Country.

Much has been made of the fact that on June 23, the same day the Fair Work Commission slashed penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers, federal politicians were granted yet another pay rise.

The Victorian government announced on July 3 it had made an in-principle deal to buy the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) timber mill. The deal to save Australia's largest hardwood mill could cost taxpayers up to $50 million.

About 100 residents and supporters marched from Penrith Station to the electoral office of the Liberal Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres on July 1, to protest plans to construct "the world's largest waste incinerator" at Eastern Creek. They chanted, "No waste dump for Western Sydney," and gathered signatures on a petition calling on the NSW Parliament to cancel the waste incinerator proposal.

Children carried placards that said "Please don't poison me", "Don't make us wheeze” and “We need clean air to breathe".

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).

Ireland is poised to ban onshore hydraulic fracturing (fracking) after its Senate passed a bill on June 28 outlawing the destructive oil and gas extraction method.

Anti-fracking campaigning group Love Leitrim celebrated the development as a “victory for people power”.

The Australia Institute has warned that continued coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could lead to plummet in international visitors to the region by more than a million a year. The massive drop in visitors would result in the loss of $1 billion in tourism income and up to 10,000 jobs.

The institute surveyed 3000 Chinese, US and British visitors. The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s top tourist attraction, but more than one-third of Americans, 55% of Chinese and 27% of British visitors surveyed said they would holiday elsewhere if the reef died completely.

For Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall, a Gamilaraay man from the Gunu Gunu and Biridja clans, the outcomes of the Uluru meeting at the end of May have not changed his mind about the tokenism of Constitutional Recognition.

“Throughout the campaign, as well as at the Uluru meeting, no grassroots voices had really been listened to or given proper weight in the discussion”, he told Green Left Weekly.

“The Uluru statement was just another government voice through the mouths of Black people — Megan Davis, Pat Anderson and Noel Pearson.”

The Independent member for Cairns Rob Pyne made the following statement in the Queensland parliament on June 16, while holding up a piece of bleached coral.

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This is coral — bleached coral. Be scared. Be afraid. It will not hurt you, but the global warming that killed it will. This bleached coral is the canary in the coalmine.

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