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.
While wind and solar power have made great strides in recent years, with renewables now accounting for 22% of electric energy generated, the issue that has held them back has been their transience. The sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow year-round – these are the mantras of all those opposed to the progress of renewables.
Now the renewable power billionaire Elon Musk has just blown away that final defence. Last Thursday in California he introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for US$3,500.
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.
Coal has played a pivotal role in modernising the global economy. But if we had a second shot at the industrial revolution, would coal be at the centre? Would we design an economy that viewed Australia – as a senior politician recently described – as “an island of coal, floating upon a sea of gas”? Or would we put human ingenuity to the test and generate a sustainable economy powered by the sun and the wind?
In October 2012 I reported for this blog on Adelaide’s Rally for Solar, a remarkable day of climate action that saw 80 activists complete a two-week, 322-kilometre walk that had begun in Port Augusta. It was, and is, hoped that the South Australian town will one day host a solar thermal power station in lieu of the ageing brown coal-fired plants which have been at the heart of Port Augusta’s electricity generation since the 1950s.
Thank you all so much for coming. I’d like to add my acknowledgement to the Kaurna people and acknowledge their sovereignty was never ceded.
Three years ago I attended the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. It was there standing alongside people from places like Fiji and Nepal – whose homes were already being impacted by climate change and hearing how they were organizing to fight for theirs and our future – that I learnt how important it is that our movement listens to the people being most impacted by climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, whether it’s rising sea levels, extreme weather events or the high rates of cancer that plague coal communities.
It was this lesson that led me to dedicate myself to working alongside the Port Augusta community to campaign for a replacement of the ageing coal stations on the edge of their town with Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal plants with storage.
The gods intervened in our plans as it snowed through the night. We woke to a black and white landscape and low cloud, so no hope of climbing to Kala Patthar. While a little sad not to rise at 4am to see the dawn break over Pumori, Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest, the day was richly rewarding in its own way.
Today’s trekking was the core of our climate journey.
We left Lobuche around 8am and made our way gradually uphill along a broad path to Gorakshep, a settlement perched on a small knoll on the glacial moraine.
We left early, climbing back up the first part of yesterday’s ridge before veering left along the undulating valley floor carved out by the Khumbu Glacier, dotted with massive boulders dropped as it passed.
Day 1 in Oslo began on foot, getting my bearings on an early morning walk past neat houses nestled into the undulating hills around the harbour.
I soon found myself pondering the human condition on a bridge over Frogner-dammen, face to face with sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) that display the full range of our capacity for love, tenderness, anger, cruelty, compassion, friendship, family loyalty.
The power of human emotions was a recurring theme that afternoon, with the first conference session on “Extreme Dialogue on Climate Extremes – Building a Bridge to the Future” in the expert hands of Nisha Pillai, former anchor of BBC World News.
To set the scene, a few selected participants shared their vision of what future “climate extremes” looked like from their perspectives: