Sunday, September 14, 2014

HESTA Super Fund restricts thermal coal investments


The first major Australian industry superannuation fund advised on Friday they were restricting thermal coal investment due to the growing risk of 'unburnable carbon' with the growing global push to limit global warming.

HESTA, the super fund for employees in health and community services, announced a progressive implementation of a restriction on investments in thermal coal, across all it's funds, not just it's ethical fund. HESTA has $29 billion under funds management with 785,000 members and 155,000 employers.

Anne-Marie Corboy, HESTA Chief Executive Officer, said that this was an increasing restriction as part of the Fund’s ongoing response to the increasing impact of climate change on its long-term investments. In a media statement she commented:

“This ‘unburnable carbon’ is likely to become an increasing risk in the medium to long term, especially for companies heavily invested in thermal coal, or those seeking to develop new long-term assets.

“HESTA is of the view that, new or expanded thermal coal assets face the highest risk of becoming stranded before the end of their useful life.

“It is not prudent, nor in the long-term interest of members, to invest in the expansion of these assets.

“The push to limit the impact of global warming requires economies to move to a lower-carbon intensive future and investors have an important role to play in this transition.

“HESTA believes that further investment in developing new, or expanding existing, thermal coal reserves is inconsistent with this imperative to reduce carbon emissions.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Superannuation is Destroying the Planet - John Hewson fights back on climate


Superannuation for most of us is compulsory saving that we really don't worry too much about until we start getting closer to retirement. We leave it to the investment managers and superannuation trustees to judge the benefits and risks in investment strategies they put forward.

But what if their assessments of risk and investment strategies are all short term market oriented or only consider past trends. This is the problem posed by climate risk and the carbon bubble. The carbon bubble represents a major shift in resource exploitation and energy production, and a social and technological transition required. Australia's headlong rush for coal expansion risks stranded assets. The economic risks of a carbon bubble and stranded assets have been warned by Carbon Tracker, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global pension funds control about $30 trillion in assets. It is estimated that over 55 per cent of pension contributions are invested in high-risk, high-carbon assets with less than 2 per cent being invested in low-carbon assets.

With climate change science indicating that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground to maintain a safe climate, there is an enormous carbon bubble of overvalued assets. This poses a huge problem: when this carbon bubble bursts it will substantially downgrade the value of these superannuation investments, that is, your and my future retirement income.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Labor votes with Government to dump key Energy Efficiency program


On Thursday Labor Party Senators lined up with the Government, Palmer United Party and crossbench independent senators to repeal the largescale Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program setup with bipartisan support in 2006 under the Howard Government. In a division in the Senate of 55 votes to 10, only the Greens Senators opposed the dumping of this program which had made substantial business energy savings of over $800 million dollars and 8.21 megatonnes reduction in carbon emissions.

The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program was recognised by the International Energy Agency as a world-class program helping businesses to save energy and a key element of energy efficiency policy framework and in addressing climate change.

The scheme has since been copied by the UK to drive transformation of energy consumption by large businesses. "Just as we are dumping it, they are picking it up because they realise it has been so successful in Australia and could be even more successful." observed Greens leader Christine Milne.

The Abbott Government proposed the legislative repeal of this program in the May budget papers as the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (Repeal) Bill 2014. The conditions in the repeal will apply retrospectively from 29 June 2014 for affected business.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Carbon emissions rise from electricity generation - largest 2 month increase since 2006



The latest CEDEX assessment by Pitt and Sherry shows an increase in Australian electricity demand in June and July with rising supply from coal and gas since the Abbott Government abolished the carbon tax and talked about abolishing or emasculating the Renewable Energy Target with the Warburton Review.

Emissions rose by about 1 million tonnes - about 0.8 per cent. It is the largest 2 month increase since 2006 according to Peter Hannam in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The monthly Pitt and Sherry CEDEX report tracks carbon emissions, electricity contribution from different generator types and electricity demand.

This story was originally posted to Climate Action Moreland.

Importance of Climate action motivates Greens Senator Janet Rice

The Original story was posted on Climate Action Moreland published 3 September, 2014.

New Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice, who took up office from 1st July, has emphasised the importance of climate change as one of the primary motivations for her as a Senator and legislator in Canberra.

In her first 'official' speech she outlined her first moment on her long journey to Canberra after coming out of a 1980 climatology lecture by Dr Barrie Pittock on the greenhouse effect at Melbourne University. The realisation dawned of the serious nature of climate change and its global impact.

"Learning about global warming politicised me." she said.

It set in place a career in environmental activism (See wikipedia bio) from the Tasmanian Franklin Blockade onwards including being active in East Gippsland forest campaigns, being pivotal in the formation of the Victorian Greens, as well as 6 years on Maribyrnong Council, including one year as Mayor.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wills MP Kelvin Thomson goes into bat for ARENA and renewable energy



This original article was first published at Climate Action Moreland.

Federal MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson spoke in the second reading debate for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014 on 28 August 2014 defending the need to maintain low carbon investment support and the Renewable Energy Target.

Thomson highlighted that ARENA has supported more than 190 renewable energy projects, with more than $1.5 billion in private sector investment. An equal number of renewable energy projects is in the pipeline which might draw up to $5 billion in private sector funding. Rural and regional areas of Australia have benefited through job creation with about 70 per cent of projects in rural and regional areas.

"Experience from renewable energy markets overseas has shown that stable, long-term policy support provides the renewable energy industry with the required incentives to expand the renewable energy market. A clear commitment from the federal government on the policy framework surrounding renewable energy in Australia, such as the renewable energy target, provides the long-term certainty needed to encourage the growth of Australia's renewable energy industry."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#MarchinAugust for a fairer Australia and climate action



This Original article from Climate Action Moreland.

The March in August carries on from the independently organised march in March protests which saw tens of thousands of people protesting the Abbott Government on many social, welfare, and environmental issues. The protests bring together a wide range of campaigns and individuals under one protest umbrella to demand Accountability, Transparency, Decency from the Abbott Federal Government including on climate policy and action.

The protest in Melbourne was held on Sunday 31st August 31 at 1:00pm starting from the State Library of Victoria, Swanston St, Melbourne. (See event Facebook Page).



Guardian columnist VanBadham brought a lot of intense enthusiasm and passion to her role as MC for the protest. Speakers included:
*Ursula Alquier - Lock the Gate Victorian Coordinator
*Julian Burnside - Advocacy on behalf of refugees
*David Ritter- Greenpeace re: "Protest laws" and GBR
*Jennie Hill Dir. Destroy the Joint. Women & Welfare.
*Annette Xiberras - Wurundjeri Elder and a former cultural heritage staff member with Aboriginal Affairs Victoria - Welcome to country and cuts to funding for Aboriginal services.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Warburton Review recommends slashing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

Original article posted on Climate Action Moreland website

No surprises in the Warburton Review recommendations published this week. The review panel was after all hand picked to return a result the conservative and ideologically driven Abbott Government would be happy with.

Chaired by self confessed climate denier and former chairman of Caltex Dick Warburton, the recommendations involve changing the target by either closing the scheme to new investors or by setting targets based on the growth of electricity demand. The review also called for the outright abolition of the small-scale RET scheme - the scheme that assists solar PV panels installation on domestic houses and small businesses. This change would push up the cost of panels by 50 per cent according to a Sydney Morning Herald Report.

The review was very narrow in focus and did not consider adequately the climate science imperative for rapid climate change action and need to rapidly transition to renewables in stationary energy, and the need to do this as part of the global uptake in renewables, and nor did it assess or model the substantial health benefits and reduced medical costs provided of reduced air pollution.

Link: Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anglesea community want Alcoa coal mine shut down



Originally posted to Nofibs.com.au on August 23, 2014.

Anglesea residents want to see the Alcoa owned power station and coal mine they have suffered with for the last 50 years closed down. Since Alcoa has closed the Port Henry Aluminium Smelter the last justification for the mine and power station has ended. The coal mine and power station no longer has a social licence to operate according to the Surf Coast Air Action community group. Victoria currently has a surplus of generating capacity and we don't need the power from the highly polluting Anglesea power station.

I joined several hundred people in a protest at Anglesea on Sunday 10 August, located at the skatepark. It was a big turn up to the rally organised by Anglesea based community group Surf Coast Air Action (SCAA). There were a tonne of speeches - perhaps too many for a rally. But each speech brought a different dimension. See my photos from the event.

A highlights video of the event includes excerpts of a few speakers, associated events, and visiting the coal mine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Open Letter: Respect climate science expertise, Maurice Newman

Dear Mr Maurice Newman AC,

As the head of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Business Advisory Council and a person advising the Prime Minister on business related matters I expect you to give factual, informed and considered advice. It is particularly important that you take the time, effort and responsibility to respect expertise, particularly scientific expertise, and educate yourself on areas outside of your own business and management focus that impinge on government decisions that effect the management of Australia's economy and environment and international relationships.

I would expect that on matters of science and climate change you would seek the advice and collaborate with Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, and the premier scientific organisations active in this research including the CSIRO, BOM, and the Australian Academy of Science.

Of course you have a right to your personal opinions, but not to proffer them as factual advice to Government when they are clearly inaccurate or misleading according to the people of expertise working in these specialist areas.

Your recent opinions published in the The Australian newspaper ('We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh' 14 August 2014) are contrary to the findings of every major scientific and meteorological body on the planet, and ignore the reality that the long term trend is that the Earth is getting hotter, with a more active hydrological cycle causing more extreme weather events.

Why should the Australian public have confidence in your role if you display such little regard for scientific fact and the expertise offered by our scientists, including by Australia's chief scientist?

I understand that the Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery has offered an opportunity for the Business Advisory Council to be briefed by a group of our nation's top scientists on climate change and business risk. I urge you to take this opportunity.

To assist you, I suggest you watch Professor Michael Raupach in his speech he delivered during National Science Week at the Australian Academy of Science on Tuesday 19 August 2014. Dr Raupach is Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University and has led a highly respected and exemplary career in climate research with the CSIRO. He is regarded as one of Australia's leading experts on climate change.

The speech contains a brief overview of climate science and some of Australia's important contributions to this science. It is as good as any place to start for accurate scientific information on climate change. Grab a cuppa tea or coffee and sit down and watch it for an hour. Is that too much to ask?



If you cannot accommodate and incorporate the expert advice from specialists, such as from Australian climate scientists, in your business advice to government, then I expect you to step down from your position as there is a serious conflict of interest between scientific factual information and the national interest with your personally held views.

Sincerely

John Englart