“In an ideal world, we would not have had the torturous year and a half of debate over the Renewable Energy Target. In years to come, observers will wonder what the fuss was all about,” cried Peter Hannam, the environment reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald. Well, yes, and so wrapped up the renewal of the target for the renewable energy target. It took a lot of energy. The deal reduces, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's renewable energy target to 33,000 gigawatt hours after the government agreed to drop regular reviews of the scheme. The Government originally proposed cutting the target to 26,000 gigawatt hours, while Labor initially said they would not go below a figure of 35,000 to 39,000 gigawatt hours. Summing up the mood, it was much like a divorce - no one is happy and people just want to get on with life. Life in this case is short to mid-term surety for the renewables industry.
Here’s a summary of the reaction:
• ACF: “Today’s backdown represents a surrender to the electricity sector’s big polluters.”
• Clean Energy Council: “We remain concerned about the impact of this lower target on the opportunity for emerging technologies like large-scale solar.”
• Climate Institute: “… a short-term move and no solution for the challenges facing Australia’s ageing and inefficient power sector, at best a band aid.”
• Greenpeace: “… bad news for Australian households and a backwards step for vital action on climate change.”
• Solar Council: “… act of political bastardry. At every juncture [the Coalition] will seek to build in booby traps and other mechanisms to delay.”
• WWF: “one step forward for the industry, but two steps back for the Australian people and the places we love.”
There was some good news this week. First, Renew Economy reported the new Labor government in Queensland has confirmed its commitment to generating 50 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and to ensure that one million of its homes had rooftop solar by 2020. Mark Bailey, the new energy minister, told the website that the government is determined to reach those targets, and is establishing a state-based Productivity Commission to provide a policy pathway to get there. While it was all happening at the top of the country, the Tasmanians were keen to get in on the action too. Renew Economy reports Tasmania looks to fast-track the take-up of electric vehicles to boost its credentials as a green manufacturing hub to replace old industries, and export clean energy to the mainland. “Tasmania could end up totally renewable – a Green Apple Isle – in both electricity and transport.”
In even more good news, the Age has reported that Australian households are world leaders in solar power installation. "Germany, the US, Spain and others are held up as being at the forefront of solar power, but it is Australia, where households have taken it upon themselves to install solar PV, that easily lead the world when it comes to solar penetration," according to the Energy Supply Association of Australia.
Finally in Australia, Labor Leader Bill Shorten is facing a grassroots Labor push on ambitious climate targets. The Sydney Morning Herald reports a group within the ALP has spent months briefing local branches on its campaign to propel Labor back to the front of the climate debate.
The group, Labor Environment Action Network, known as LEAN, has signed up 150 branches across the country to support its "50/50" campaign calling for 50 per cent of electricity production from renewable sources by 2030.
Overseas, RTCC reports energy chiefs from the G7 group of industrialised countries are optimistic plans for a global climate change treaty will come together in Paris this December. “I’ve never experienced so much agreement when it comes to the targets of the G7 countries,” said Germany’s economic affairs minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. US energy secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters “we are going in the right direction” after two days of discussion in Hamburg. “The prospects are remarkably better than six or seven months ago.”
Canada has long been regarded like Australia as an outlier on addressing climate change, mainly due to the attitude of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Could this be about to change? Canada has announced it plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 level. US News reports that Canada will have to work very hard to persuade the international community that it can deliver on its 2030 target as it pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol and is not on track to meet its 2020 target.
New Zealand soon will release its targets. This week research emerged in Scoop indicating 87 per cent of New Zealanders are at least somewhat concerned about the effects of climate change on society in general. Sixty-three per cent are concerned or very concerned about the societal effects of climate change and 58 per cent are concerned or very concerned about the personal effects.
Over in the UK, there's thinking that the returned PM might have his 'green crap' back on the agenda. The UK Telegraph reports say that David Cameron is buoyed by his election triumph and is showing his green colours again.
Still on the international posturing front, Guardian reports that China and India have called on rich countries to step up climate change efforts. It was considered a rare joint statement by world’s first and third biggest carbon emitters calls on developed countries to honour pledge of $100 billion annual climate aid by 2020. The statement, issued by the two largest developing nations during Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China, asked wealthy countries to provide finance, technology and other necessary support to emerging countries to help reduce their own emissions.
Now to be the bad news. According to the International Monetary Fund, the world subsidises energy consumption to the tune of more than $200,000 per second, with about 60 per cent of that going to support coal. The Sydney Morning Herald reports about 80 per cent of the subsidies are the result of environmental damage from burning fossil fuels, with about one-quarter of that portion attributed to climate change impacts. Removing subsidies would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent.
Still on money, the World Bank says delaying climate actions by 2030 would increase costs of decarbonization by 50 per cent. “This report confirms what many others – from both the private sector and academic institutions – have said for more than a decade now: the longer we leave to take action, the more expensive it becomes,” says The Climate Group.
Finally, the Washington Post reports on more bad news for Antarctic ice shelves. “Earlier this week, we learned that the gigantic marine-based Larsen C ice shelf, which is almost as big as Scotland, has several worrisome vulnerabilities -- including a growing rift across it. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and several other research centers say this could pose an “imminent risk” to its stability. And now, NASA scientists are giving an even worse verdict for the remnants of the nearby Larsen B ice shelf, much of which already disintegrated back in 2002. Back then, the shelf lost a region larger than Rhode Island, but there are still 618 square miles left of it -- for now.
Yes, you read correctly, the size of Scotland and the size of Rhode Island. Combined both are roughly about as big as Tasmania. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, literally.
Two world leaders made positive noises in climate change.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports President Barack Obama used a commencement address Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy to cast his push for urgent action to combat climate change as a national security imperative, saying that the warming of the planet poses an "immediate risk" to the United States.
Meanwhile, François Hollande calls for 'miracle' climate agreement at Paris talks. The Guardian reports the French president says role of businesses will be key to the success of any emissions agreement reached by world’s nations at crunch climate change talks at the end of this year
Want more: Climate change news summary for business: http://climatecomm.squarespace.com/news/
Christiana Figueres: The Road to Paris - Efforts to Achieve a New Climate Change Agreement in 2015
Climate Council: The low down on Lomborg
CNN: 12 must-reads on climate change -- as submitted by you
Conversation: FactCheck: Are 95% of models linking human CO₂ emissions and global warming in error?
Conversation: There are no green shoots for sustainability in this Budget
EcoWatch: 4 Climate Surprises From Al Gore in Iowa
EcoWatch: 7 Facts That Prove the Renewable Energy Revolution Has Arrived
Guardian: One magical politician won't stop climate change. It's up to all of us Rebecca Solnit
Guardian: How conservatives lost the plot over the rejection of Bjorn Lomborg
Guardian: Australia - the new coal frontier
Guardian: How will the world react to Pope Francis's encyclical on climate change?
MTV.com: Have College Students Discovered The Key To Avoiding Climate Change Catastrophe?
New Yorker: Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
Science Blogs: Bjorn Lomborg’s WSJ Response to Nixing of Australian ProjectSlate: What If Climate Change Is Real?
David Suzuki: Signs of change are sweeping the nation
Union of Concerned Scientists: We Must Find Smart Ways to Prepare for Climate Change, or Growing Risks Could Lead to Fiscal Disasters
Washington Post: More and more conservative thinkers want to tax carbon. Will politicians and activists follow?
Vox: The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm