The government is right to fund energy storage: a 100% renewable grid is within reach

In a speech to the National Press Club, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the key requirements for Australia’s electricity system are that it should be affordable, reliable, and able to help meet national emissions-reduction targets. He also stressed that efforts to pursue these goals should be “technology agnostic” – that is, the best solutions should be chosen on merit, regardless of whether they are based on fossil fuels, renewable energy or other technologies.

As it happens, modern wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and off-river pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) can meet these requirements without heroic assumptions, at a cost that is competitive with fossil fuel power stations.

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FactCheck: What are the facts on Australia’s foreign aid spending?

Robin Davies, Australian National University

Aid was at its highest under Menzies, at 0.5% … when per capita income was much lower. – World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello, quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, December 28, 2016.

A news report highlighting the fall in Australia’s foreign aid spending quoted World Vision Australia Chief Advocate Tim Costello as saying aid was at its highest under Prime Minister Robert Menzies, at 0.5% of gross national income – at a time when per capita income was much lower.

Is that right?
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COP21 – updates from parliamentarians and interfaith groups in Paris

Leaving at a more civilized hour from the youth hostel led to a slightly less civilized trip in the shuttle bus from the RER station. Queuing to get past security gave me an idea of the sheer numbers that the organisers are dealing with at the COP21 site at Le Bourget.

Hard to imagine so many meetings, conversations, information and people can fit into a single day. I guess stalwarts who’ve attended numerous COPs take it in their stride.

Today began with a short briefing for our Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) team, before we walked in to meet Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten in one of the formal meetings room available for delegations and side meetings.

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A global deal that drives good decisions: what success at the Paris summit should look like

This is the final part of a three-part essay on the prospects for a global climate deal at the Paris 2015 talks. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Much like the internet, climate change is here, and as each day passes, it only gets bigger. This is true not only of the science – another year passes, greenhouse gas concentrations rise, and the warming and severe weather events intensify – but also of the human, political and policy response to the problem. There is always another international meeting to prepare for, a new report to digest, a new policy to consider.

It is the relentlessness of the problem that can drive fatigue. People feel they have heard it before. Policies have been tried, their success has been mixed, and the debate – certainly in Australia – is either nasty, or tired, or both. Continue reading

Why the Paris climate talks won’t be another Copenhagen

This is part 2 of a three-part essay on the prospects for a global climate deal at the Paris 2015 talks. You can read part 1 here.

For three years leading up to the last significant United Nations climate summit, at Copenhagen in 2009, I was the strategic director of the Copenhagen Climate Council. The purpose of this group – which included chief executives of major global businesses headquartered in China, Europe, and the United States, as well as policy experts, scientists and other leading academics – was to shed light on the importance of reaching a global climate agreement, and to define what that agreement should include. Continue reading

The Road to Paris: three myths about international climate talks

With only nine months to go before the most important international meeting on climate change since Copenhagen in 2009, what are the chances of success at this year’s Paris talks? What might “success” mean? And can the mistakes and challenges that have befallen previous meetings be avoided and tackled?

To help address these questions, let’s first dispense with three pervasive myths that continue to make the task of achieving an adequate global response to climate change harder. Continue reading

Nuclear energy: dirty, unsafe and uneconomic

Should the nuclear industry be expanded?

A surprising development in the intermittent nuclear debate has been the announcement by the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, that the state will hold a Royal Commission into the possible expansion of the state’s uranium mining industry to include nuclear enrichment, storage and energy.

It’s surprising because we don’t need a long and expensive inquiry to see that the nuclear industry offers little potential for future growth in jobs or export income.

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Vandana Shiva – seed freedom

At WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks, Vandana Shiva, Paul Sutton and Tim Jarvis will be challenging the values that we place on our land, food and water, and what these values mean for the health of our planet and ourselves.

I spoke to Dr Vandana Shiva about seeds and freedom.

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G20, growth, degrowth, GDP, magical thinking and climate

The assumption that the G20 goal of 2% growth in GDP is good per se has received little challenge. But what about quality of life, climate and sustainability?

Could it be that there is magical thinking even in the title of the G20 policy note “A G20 agenda for growth and resilience”?

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India’s food security vs the World Trade Organization

India has come under heavy criticism for blocking the implementation of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached at Bali in December 2013.

Proponents celebrated the Bali “package” as a long-awaited achievement by the WTO, which had failed to reach a significant agreement since 1995. However, critics lamented that the Bali deal was skewed in the favour of developed nations.

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