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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Creating hope – Simran Sethi at WOMADelaide

There could well be a serious outbreak of optimism at WOMADelaide 2015 when two of the world’s eco-heroes discuss “Creating Hope”. Simran Sethi will be in conversation with Sylvia Earle as part of WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks. Sylvia Earle was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998, and Simran Sethi was listed in The Independent’s 2007 top-10 Green List, along with the likes of Al Gore and Nicholas Stern.

I spoke to Simran Sethi this week for a preview.

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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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The tipping point on the Great Barrier Reef

There is rarely a time when both reality and written word marry seamlessly as they do when our incumbent Prime Minister and his phonetic namesake represent more than just their respective entities, but rather an important ‘fork in the road’, one that will have long and lasting consequences. The other similar pair is Joe Hockey and the hockey stick of carbon dioxideemissions. They are both occurring at the same time. A sign?

We are currently faced with a government which – against all common sense and due diligence – is willing to turn Abbot Point into a dump for three million tonnes of dredge spoil to create one of the world’s largest coal ports, without fully understanding the effects on the Great Barrier Reef.

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Leard Blockade – Maules Creek coal mine

A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.

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The hockey stick vs a sustainable economy

Australia’s Treasurer has wielded the hockey stick with great enthusiasm and inflicted many blows, but missed the goal of a stable and prosperous economy. However on an objective analysis I have to agree with him on the following: “We need to live within our means”, “We need to be sustainable”, “We don’t want to squander our children’s future” and there is a “moral dimension”.

He is not quite right about “the age of entitlement is over”. It isn’t; but it’s fair to at least head in that direction.

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The city can save the planet

The facilitator asked us to do some dream-work.  That’s normally not so hard, but there we were, standing in an awkward-shaped T-allotment strewn with bits of broken glass and featuring some derelict out-buildings.  The site had previously been a city recycling depot and in a way one of our goals was to continue that recycling heritage.  We were asked to dream of what the features would be for our ideal sustainable-living community on the site.  It all seemed pretty much pie-in-the-sky, but the suggestions rolled in.  We wanted a green community, comfortable for the residents but kind to the environment; something that would significantly cut our environmental footprint.  We wanted a working alternative to urban sprawl.  We wanted to help heal the web of life by bringing biodiversity back into the city.  And we wanted it to be a community, not just a collection of disconnected dwellings.

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