A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

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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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New plans for solar thermal at Port Augusta

On 7th June 2016 another important step was taken towards decarbonising the South Australian economy. Solastor Australia announced detailed plans to build a solar thermal power station at Port Augusta.
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Looking forward from COP21 Paris to COP22 Marrakech

What was unthinkable is now unstoppable – Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

His quote resonated among the many speeches that followed French President Francois Hollande’s announcement that we now have a new global understanding on climate – the legally binding Paris Agreement.

Following Copenhagen 2006, it was unthinkable 196 nations would voluntarily sign up to the world’s first global agreement to work together on climate change in good faith, with 189 lodging Intended Nationally Determined Contributions INDCs before Paris.

Yet it’s important to state plainly that the net contribution of all INDCs now in hand still commit the world to 2.7-3 of warming, so we are not out of the woods yet, but at least we are starting to take it all seriously…

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COP21 – Raising ambition to bring the world back from the brink

AYCC/SEED coordinated an excellent action to support the global #1o5C degree campaign, with young people asking their countries to sign a declaration stating:

We will do what it takes to ensure the survival of all countries and peoples.

Australians Paul Gorrie, Maddie Sarre, Rachel Lynskey, Moira Cully and Jaden Harris led a well-targetted call out on countries acting as blockers to the 1.5oC target.

Greg Hunt signed the pledge for Australia, along with others such as a Senior US Advisor and representatives from China, the Maldives and the Philippines.

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COP21 – find what we can each contribute

It’s hard not to be overwhelmed (bouleversé, knocked over) by the intensity, complexity, sheer scale and fascination of a Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)…

Thousands of people milling about with one common purpose in minds: how to bring our world back from the brink of catastrophic run-away climate change and create the chance for a safer future for future generations of all species.

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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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COP21 climate change conference unfolds in Paris

An early start, walking with the AYCC/SEED crew to Gare du Nord under streetlights and a sinking moon, since we’d heard it might be difficult to get in today with all the leaders in town.

On the shuttle bus (navette), I met Yhro from Niger. We discussed deforestation, desertification and the unsustainable use of groundwater (nappe phreatique).

My entry into Le Bourget COP21 venue was slow while security officers took an inordinate interest in the Catholic Earthcare and Multifaith SA banners, but I was allowed through once they’d been closely scrutinized and deemed harmless.

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What would be an Australian symbol for climate change?

Only once before have I attended the UN Climate Summit as a community delegate. It was at COP15 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Copenhagen in 2009. I met courageous people from across the world, all clearly committed to doing whatever it takes to tackle climate change for the sake of future generations, many with far fewer resources than I.

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South Australian Climate Consultations

A formal review of South Australia’s climate change policies and a proposed Low Carbon Investment Plan is underway, with consultation papers available for comment on the YourSay website, until 18 October 2015.

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