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  1. #226
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BLD View Post
    Stop it.
    No

    Part 3.25 of 4 parts




    Australia’s largest representative body for GPs has thrown its support behind a duty of care bill requiring the Federal Government to protect young people from climate change harms in decision-making.

    It comes in the lead up to the first-ever Health Day at the COP28 UN Climate Conference, on Sunday 3 December, which will highlight the health impacts of climate change and the health case for climate action.

    Independent ACT Senator David Pocock introduced the bill which proposes government must consider the wellbeing of young people and future generations when making decisions that facilitate or fund projects that could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

    The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President Dr Nicole Higgins said climate change is already impacting the health and wellbeing of Australians.

    “GPs are on the frontline of the climate crisis when it comes to the impacts on human health and wellbeing,” she said.

    “Climate change has widespread impacts on human health. Bushfires, heatwaves, floods, storms, and cyclones kill, cause injuries, spread disease and cause long-term mental health issues.

    “And the health impacts of climate change on our population, and particularly our children and future generations, should be considered in all government decisions that could substantially contribute to climate change.”

    RACGP Specific Interests Climate and Environmental Medicine Chair Dr Catherine Pendrey said climate change is a global public health emergency.

    “Climate change is a public health emergency, and our leaders need to act urgently,” she said.

    “The fact that this summer is predicted to be one of the worst bushfire seasons since Black Saturday is a stark reminder that climate change is already impacting our health. Bushfires and other extreme weather events, such as cyclones and droughts, are more frequent and severe because of climate change.

    “Our government has a responsibility to safeguard the health of Australia’s population and global populations from the climate crisis. The potential harms from climate change, including to human health and wellbeing, should be considered in any decisions that could cause substantial greenhouse gas emissions. This is in the best interests of our children, and future generations."

    _________




    Planned gas developments on Western Australia’s Burrup Hub led by Woodside Energy could result in twice as much greenhouse gas being emitted as any other Australian fossil fuel development up for approval, according to an analysis by environment groups.

    The analysis led by Greenpeace estimated the Burrup Hub expansion could lead to 6.1bn tonnes of CO2 across the decades ahead if fully developed – roughly 13 times what Australia emits annually. Most of the emissions would be released when the gas was sold and burned overseas.

    The scale of the development plans – including opening the proposed Scarborough and Browse gas fields and extending the life of Woodside Energy’s North West Shelf liquified natural gas (LNG) processing plant until 2070 – was the focus of a Monday meeting in Canberra between independent, Labor and Greens MPs and WA climate campaigners.

    The roundtable discussion in federal parliament follows the WA government substantially increasing its rhetorical support for gas industry expansion.

    The premier, Roger Cook, told an energy transition summit earlier this month more WA gas could lead to emissions increasing in the state in the short-term but that would be good for the planet as it would lead to a “dramatic reduction” in global emissions by displacing coal overseas. The claim has not been backed by evidence.

    The proposed expansion has also been publicly backed by the federal government. The resources minister, Madeleine King, said the Browse gas field was “important to the future gas supply of Western Australia and our regional partners”.

    Federal independent WA MP Kate Chaney, who co-hosted the roundtable with Labor backbencher Josh Wilson, said politicians should understand the “sheer scale” of what was planned on the Burrup Hub and what it meant for emissions.

    “It really is pretty extraordinary,” she said. “It dwarfs anything else in this space and I struggle to see how we can reach our federal emissions reduction targets if it keeps expanding gas like this.”
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

  2. #227
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Part 3.5 of 4 parts




    More than 50 doctors and other health professionals have rallied outside West Australia's parliament, urging the Cook government to do more to combat climate change.

    General practitioners, emergency doctors and surgeons were among those calling for fossil fuels to be phased out to protect the community from the negative effects of global warming.

    Doctors for the Environment Australia said hospitals were already seeing the impacts of climate change and the government needed to prioritise the health and wellbeing of the community over the fossil fuel industry.

    "The WA government must stop adding fuel to the fire, stop new gas projects and contain the escalating health crisis," GP Tim Leahy said on Friday.

    The group also wants subsidies for fossil fuel companies to be axed and more investment in renewable energy.

    Doctors and health professionals representing the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Public Health Association Australia were also involved in the rally.

    The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA said climate change was a public health emergency.

    "GPs in WA and across Australia are already seeing the impacts of climate change on our patients, including from more extreme bushfires, heatwaves, droughts, and storms, which affect both physical and mental health," a spokesman said.

    The groups said evidence showed the number of ambulance callouts were greater on high-heat days, with emergency departments experiencing increased patient presentations for heat-related illnesses and other associated diseases.

    They said the burden this placed on the state's "ailing" health system would increase as the climate warmed.


    _______



    The Climate Authority has warned that Australia is going too slow on emission cuts, and says that “time is running out” on its ability to reach its already modest 2030 targets, which it must meet to stay on track for net zero by 2030.

    In its first report since being reconstituted by the Labor government – after years of being defenestrated and ignored by the previous Coalition government – the CCA gives a blunt warning about the state of the climate and Australia’s own attempts to cut emissions.

    The CCA, now chaired by former Origin boss and carbon price critic Grant King, says Australia has to boost its efforts by nearly half – from an average annual cut of 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to 17mt – if it is to meet its 2030 and its 2050 targets.

    “This a significant challenge that is getting harder as time runs out,” the CCA says. “Australia needs a big upwards shift in momentum.”

    The key to that, it says, will be in cutting emissions in the electricity grid, and meeting the federal government target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

    In a plain rebuttal of the pro-nuclear nonsense of the federal Coalition parties and conservative media, the CCA says that the technologies to meet that renewables target exist, the only question is about the pace and rollout.

    The report comes on the same day as the start of what will be the biggest UN climate conference – controversially hosted in the UAE by one of the biggest fossil fuel exporters in the world, and chaired by the head of one of the world’s biggest gas companies.




    Australia will come under close scrutiny over its role in the global trade of fossil fuels, despite the ambitious renewables targets at home, and will come under pressure to ramp up its short term targets.

    The CCA will advise next year on what it thinks the 2035 target should be. And climate scientists insist that if the world is to have any chance of capping global temperatures at 1.5°C – they hit a peak of more than 2.0°C above pre industrial levels for a day earlier this month – net zero will be to be reached by 2040.

    Climate minister Chris Bowen responded to the CCA report, and his own department’s state of the climate report, by documenting Labor’s achievements and intentions, but conceded that much more needed to be done.

    “While I am pleased with our progress, I am not yet satisfied,” Bowen told parliament on Thursday. “The job is far from done.”

    His department’s own assessment suggested that Australia is only on track to reach a 37 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, but could narrow the gap to 42 per cent with the “additional measures” such as the newly announced Capacity Investment Scheme expansion, and the yet to be announced fuel efficiency standards.

    That may explain Bowen’s announcement last week that the CIS would be significantly expanded, not just on storage but also to include 23GW of new wind and solar capacity – an announcement that has caught the industry a little off-guard.

    However, the federal government says it has rejected the CCA call for a national ban on new gas connections – a call made all the more remarkable by King’s own position as one of the gas industry’s strongest believers – and to aim for “meet zero” emissions for cars by 2040.

    The federal government’s rejection comes as the ACT introduced its own legislation that will make new gas connections in the capital territory illegal from the start of next month. Victoria is also imposing a ban.

    Bowen leaves for the UAE next week to be involved in what will be the usual frantic series of meetings and negotiations that will try and keep the UN climate talks – and the Paris target of 1.5°C – on track.

    However, scientists, and the likes of the UN and the IEA, say these targets mean no new coal, gas or oil projects, something that the world’s biggest fossil fuel nations, including Australia, are willing to sign up to.

    _______




    The Albanese government and Greens have reached a “breakthrough” deal on legislation to amend the Murray Darling Basin plan and ensure an additional 450 gigalitres of environmental flows.

    The environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek, said in a joint press conference with the Greens environment spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, that agreed amendments would strengthen the bill which is to be debated in the senate this week.

    They include a commitment in law that an extra 450GL of environmental water for the southern basin, to bolster flows to South Australia, will be recovered by 2027.

    “We know that as we go into another hot, dry spell, it is more critical than ever, that we deliver fully on the Murray Darling Basin Plan,” Plibersek said.

    She said the deal would improve the transparency of the plan and introduce greater accountability for the government for on meeting water targets. It will also give the government the power to withdraw state infrastructure projects if they are found to be unviable.

    The legislation extends the timeline in which water recovery targets should be reached after it became clear a 2024 deadline would be missed. It also removes a cap on buybacks that was introduced by the previous government.

    An audit of the Murray Darling Basin Plan found it would fall about 750 gigalitres short of its total of 3,200GL by the deadline of June 2024.

    About 315GL of the 750 is due to major water saving projects either running late or failing to materialise. The government is setting a deadline of 2026 for water associated with infrastructure projects.

    Among the amendments negotiated with the Greens, the government has agreed to publish information about the status of projects and provision of the 450GL of water for the environment.

    The inspector general of water compliance will undertake an independent audit of the water allocated to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and a “long overdue” amendment will ensure the plan acknowledges and adequately outlines First Nations people’s connection, history and water needs.

    The government has also committed to boosting funding for the Aboriginal Water Entitlement Program to $100m.

    Hanson-Young said the deal was a breakthrough that would secure water for the environment in legislation and “ensure the river is there for the future”.

    “For over a decade, South Australia has been fighting for the 450 GL of water to be in law to be guaranteed to be delivered,” she said.

    “Because it’s what science says is needed to save that the lower reaches of the Murray, the Coorong and the Lower Lakes.”

    To pass the bill, one more crossbench senator would need to vote in favour of the legislation.

    Plibersek said she remained determined to implement the plan and with much of Australia under El Niño conditions, passage of the legislation was critical.

    “We want to see the bill delivered so that we can deliver water for communities and for the environment,” she said.

  3. #228
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Part 3.75 of 4 parts




    The Albanese government will head to a major UN climate summit in Dubai furnishing evidence claiming that Australia is all but on track to meet its 2030 emissions target, but facing calls that it must do more to limit the country’s fossil fuel exports.

    A snapshot of an upcoming emissions projections report released by the climate change minister, Chris Bowen, suggests Australia will likely cut its CO2 pollution to 42% below 2005 levels by 2030 – nearly in line with the government’s 43% reduction target.

    The projections are based on an assessment of introduced and announced policies, including a revamped safeguard mechanism applied to industrial emissions, an expanded underwriting scheme to help reach 82% renewable energy and a still-in-development electric vehicle strategy.

    A year ago the same analysis suggested the country was headed for a 40% cut. The improving position is likely to fuel arguments that the government could increase its 2030 target, and set a substantially more ambitious goal for 2035 next year.

    Scientists say wealthy countries such as Australia should be cutting emissions by at least 50%, and up to 75%, by 2030 to play their part in meeting the goals of the landmark Paris climate agreement.

    Bowen said the government was “getting on with the job, reducing emissions and reaping the economic opportunities of the clean energy transformation”.

    “The latest emissions projections show what we’ve always said – our 43% target is ambitious but achievable,” he said.

    The full emissions projections will be published this week as Bowen makes an annual climate change statement to parliament and releases an assessment by the Climate Change Authority of Australia’s progress before travelling to the Cop28 summit in the United Arab Emirates.

    The government will also release emissions data for the year to June, covering its first full year in office. It is expected to show pollution increased last financial year, in part due to transport pollution rebounding after Covid-related restrictions and rising agricultural activity.

    The latest emissions inventory, for the year to March, said Australia’s emissions were 24.4% below 2005 levels. That drop was nearly entirely due to a reduction in agricultural land clearing and native forest logging, mostly for reasons not related to climate policy. Emissions from fossil fuels and other polluting parts of the economy were down only fractionally – 0.9% – since 2005.

    The emissions projection snapshot released by Bowen includes two scenarios. The baseline scenario, including policies that are already operational, suggests Australia will make a 37% cut by 2030. The “with additional measures” scenario, including policies that have been announced but are still being designed and implemented, gets to 42%.

    In a quirk of international climate accounting, the emissions projections report will suggest Australia is on track to meet its climate pledge for 2030 outright despite it not quite being on track to hit the 43% target. The international commitment is based on an “emissions budget” between 2021 and 2030, not just the level of pollution in the final year. It projects Australia can beat its budget of 4,353m tonnes of CO2 by 31m tonnes.

    ________




    Industry super funds have warned the Albanese government that Australia’s energy transition risks falling behind as big funds chase more compelling investment opportunities in the US, UK and Europe.

    AustralianSuper, cbus, HostPlus, CareSuper, HESTA and UniSuper have co-authored a new report with Australian fund IFM Investors calling for more favourable investment conditions underwritten by taxpayers to unlock private capital for the domestic transition to net zero emissions.

    Ahead of a roundtable on climate finance with the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, on Monday, the funds argue that $12bn a year on average between now and 2050 will be required to transition to renewable energy in Australia and a further $40bn a year to build new export industries and decarbonise the rest of the economy.

    The independent Climate Change Authority warned this week that Australia risks falling short of its 2030 climate target, and time was running out for it to make a prosperous transition to net zero emissions on its own terms.

    The new report from industry super says “capital is flowing to places with more attractive investment opportunities, strong climate and energy policies and growing demand for clean energy and low-carbon goods and services”.

    The funds note the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act has seen eight years’ worth of clean energy investment worth more than US$270bn (A$406bn) pulled in to the United States. “Australia can’t afford to be left behind,” the new report says.

    IFM Investors confirmed earlier this week it will sink £10bn (A$19bn) into infrastructure and energy transition projects in the UK by 2027 as part of a new memorandum of understanding with the Sunak government.

    The warning from the funds – directed at the commonwealth and the states – has been echoed by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Clean Energy Council.

    Industry super funds manage about $1.2tn and are expected to more than double in size to about $3tn by 2030. The funds are calling on the government to fast-track planning approvals for transmission infrastructure while making domestic investment opportunities more competitive to help keep clean energy capital in the country.

    The new report argues that distribution network service providers – the organisations that own grid hardware, like power poles, cables and substations – should be allowed to provide greenfield transmission projects if they have the “right delivery, safety and workforce record”. At the moment, transmission network providers have exclusive access to potential greenfield projects.

    It calls for a national plan for the rollout of transmission infrastructure. The elements should include streamlined approvals, early consultation with affected communities, fair compensation for landholders, new opportunities for local communities to benefit from the infrastructure and a skills development agenda.

    Noting that the cost of building new transmission is ultimately passed on to energy users, the funds say that impact can be reduced through concessional finance or “availability payments” – a form of public-private partnership – for new projects.

    The funds welcome the Albanese government’s recent decision to radically expand a taxpayer-underwritten scheme to support new clean power generation and storage capacity. But they say extending the capacity investment scheme should be completed by power purchase agreements “to provide long-term stable revenue streams for renewable electricity”.

    _________




    Australia is only "guessing" how much greenhouse gas it produces and the federal government should invest $60 million in new infrastructure to measure its real environmental impact, according to a renewable energy think tank.

    The Superpower Institute chairman Rod Sims launched research into the issue at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday, warning the nation was failing to measure the impact of different gases and could not accurately gauge whether carbon offsets were effective.

    But Mr Sims, who previously led the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said investments in better emissions monitoring would not only solve the problem but could open new export opportunities.

    The report comes days before the federal government is expected to release data showing its progress in cutting emissions.

    The Superpower Institute's National Emissions Monitoring Roadmap found Australia did not have enough infrastructure to accurately measure its greenhouse gas pollution, with only four ground sites used to monitor emissions.

    Mr Sims said the current system also failed to accurately monitor individual gases, such as methane, even though the International Energy Agency warned Australia's annual methane production could be 60 per cent higher than currently recorded.

    "Australia is lacking the core scientific infrastructure to accurately measure its greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

    "We are effectively poking around in the dark, guessing what our emissions are and whether our actions are, in fact, reducing emissions."

    The report recommended the government spend $40 million to establish a larger emissions-measuring network, including a central calibration laboratory and 12 new monitoring sites across Australia, four of which would monitor carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide levels.

    The CSIRO could co-ordinate the network and manage data, and staffing the network would cost about $6 million annually, the report said.

    The Superpower Institute chief scientist Professor Peter Rayner said the proposal would also use "existing technology and monitoring" capabilities at other scientific organisations such as The University of Melbourne and UNSW, and employ new ways to monitor pollution.

    "Satellite technology has improved considerably in its ability to measure emissions in quite precise locations and the (institute) intends to utilise these advances, combining the broad coverage and increasing capability for narrow geographic focus," he said.

    Mr Sims said the investment could also deliver business opportunities for Australia in places including Europe.

    "Australia's economic prosperity and productivity can be centred on being a green export superpower where Australia has the potential to reduce global emissions by six to nine per cent," he said.

    "To achieve this, we need to get our measurement to the same standard as our trading partners."

    The federal government is expected to release data before the United Nations Climate Change Conference this week showing it is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

    The projections would see Australia miss its target by one per cent.

  4. #229
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    Part 4 of 4 parts




    Australia has backed a pledge at Cop28 climate summit to triple global renewable energy capacity and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

    The climate change minister, Chris Bowen, said the Albanese government had joined 117 other countries in making the pledge, reiterating an agreement reached by G20 countries in September.

    The renewable energy agreement was one of a series of headline declarations made as more than 100 global leaders arrived in the United Arab Emirates for the opening days of the two-week conference.

    Anthony Albanese is not attending, and Bowen is not due to fly to Dubai later this week for the event’s final week, when ministers’ representatives will attempt to wrangle a consensus position on how to lift action to tackle the climate crisis in the face of rising geopolitical tensions. Australia was represented at the opening plenary by its climate change ambassador, Kristin Tilley.

    Bowen said Australia had joined other major energy exporters, including the US, Canada and Norway, in supporting the renewables and energy efficiency push.

    “We know that renewables are the cleanest and cheapest form of energy, and that energy efficiency can also help drive down bills and emissions,” he said in a statement. “For emissions to go down around the world, we need a big international push. Australia has the resources and the smarts to help supply the world with clean energy technologies to drive down those emissions while spurring new Australian industry.”

    The renewable energy pledge was welcomed by climate campaigners and analysts. Tim Buckley, director of the independent think tank Clean Energy Finance, said it was excellent to see Australia backing the commitment. He said falling costs had made the transition to renewables “an entirely economically sensible and viable commitment”.

    “Two years ago this would have been seen as next to impossible, but with China having transformed the world’s capability to deliver on decarbonisation this goal will collectively bend the climate trajectory towards what the science clearly dictates. Propelled by China, the doubling of global solar module, battery and electric vehicle manufacturing capacity every two years is driving costs down dramatically,” he said.

    “It is now time for the world and Australia to kick the fossil fuel habit. [Australia] can’t continue to approve, dig and ship coal and gas if it is to honour its climate commitments and help keep warming to the critical 1.5C threshold.”

    ________




    There is a growing gulf between the climate policies of Australia’s big banks, with some pledging to severely limit future financing for fossil fuel projects, while others have left the door open, according to an analysis of updated lending policies.

    Part of the discrepancy lies in the banks’ approach to arranging bonds, which are used by companies to access financing along with, and sometimes instead of, a direct loan.

    When companies issue bonds, they receive money from investors in exchange for periodic interest payments and the return of the initial capital at a later date. In short, investors become lenders.

    Updated policies show that Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have restrictions on facilitating bonds for fossil fuel clients in line with their hurdles imposed for direct finance.

    Their fossil fuel clients will need credible plans to cut all emissions, including from the end-use of their coal, oil and gas, from different dates in 2025 to have the banks provide loans or be involved in facilitating bonds.

    The other two major retail banks, NAB and ANZ, have less developed bond policies, according to climate groups.

    Kyle Robertson, a banks campaigner at the environmental activist group Market Forces, said coal companies had turned to bonds to raise money after direct funding avenues started to dry up.

    “We’ve seen a pivot towards bonds, and coal companies actually get two-and-a-half times more money from bonds than from traditional lending, so to have no policy on that is just a massive gap,” Robertson said.

    NAB will not offer traditional lending to fossil fuel companies without credible plans to cut all emissions, in line with the landmark Paris agreement, from late 2025, according to its climate policies.

    Connie Sokaris, NAB’s executive for corporate finance, said the bank’s climate policies would inform its bond facilitation decisions. “The most significant impact NAB can have on emissions reduction is through the finance we provide,” Sokaris said.

    “NAB reviews all applications for finance from corporate and institutional customers on a case-by case basis and that includes (for the fossil fuel sector) considering climate-related matters for lending and capital markets activity – including bond facilitation – to ensure the finance we provide or facilitate aligns with our policy commitments.”

    ANZ is reducing its overall exposure to oil and gas companies, although its climate policies don’t require fossil fuel companies to take into account emissions generated from the use of their coal, oil and gas, according to Market Forces and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

    Jonathan Moylan, corporate campaigner at the ACF, said ANZ’s policies lag behind its banking peers.

    “ANZ stands out as the laggard bank because it is ignoring the climate impacts of oil and gas after it is exported and burnt overseas, despite the fact that fossil fuels damage Australia’s climate regardless of where they are burnt,” said Moylan.

    Some resources and energy companies have shied away from tackling the emissions generated by their customers – known as scope 3 emissions – even though the bulk of emissions are produced when the fossil fuels are used, rather than extracted.

    The four big banks have all added fossil fuel restrictions to their policies over the past several weeks, as 2023 shapes up to be the hottest year on record.

    _______




    Ending native forest logging in Tasmania and valuing the state’s centuries-old trees as carbon storage could save the state at least $72m, according to a report by a pro-market thinktank.

    The analysis by the Blueprint Institute, to be launched on Wednesday, recommends the state government immediately stop subsidising its forestry arm, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, and announce logging will end in mid-2025.

    The institute said the Tasmanian government and opposition should work with the federal government to introduce a “robust carbon methodology” that allowed the state to generate carbon credits by stopping logging and introducing conservation measures.

    It estimated CO2 sequestration in Tasmania’s forests could be worth $345m and provide a net benefit to the state of $72m after the cost of a transitional package for the timber industry was factored in.

    The institute’s chief executive, David Cross, said the economic potential of using native forests for carbon sequestration and tourism far exceeded the value of logging.

    “The taxpayer should not be subsidising environmental degradation to indulge the anti-competitive, protectionist fantasies of a small number of individuals with outdated and romanticised views of an industry,” he said.

  5. #230
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    A bit of good news recently released




    The Australian automotive market continues to break all-time sales records as more Australians take delivery of new vehicles than ever before.

    Sales in November exceeded previous records with 112,141 delivered to Australians in the month, with more than 1.1 million new vehicles purchased year-to-date. The result highlights the continued strength of new vehicle sales with six of the past seven months the highest on record.

    FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber, acknowledges the strong demand for a variety of vehicle options across various price brackets, that meet the needs of Australians.

    “This is an extraordinary result in what is now likely to be an extraordinary record-breaking year. Another record-breaking month underscores the dynamic and competitive nature of Australia's automotive landscape, showcasing the wide array of choices available to consumers,” Mr Weber said.

    “As the challenges of the past year's supply chain disruptions recede, consumers have greater access to a broad range of choices and increased accessibility in the market.

    “The automotive sector remains a testament to the resilience and adaptability of both industry players and consumers alike. However, as cost-of-living pressures hit we may see a market cooling in the coming months, and we anticipate a more challenging 2024.”

    Year-to-date sales of battery electric vehicles have reached 80,446. The growth in EV sales from the same time last year (28,326) underscores the increasing interest in low emission alternatives among Australian consumers. EV’s represented 7.7 per cent of the monthly sales and 7.2 per cent of sales year to date.

    Sales across every State and Territory increased this month compared with November 2022. Sales in the Australian Capital Territory were up by 13.0 per cent (1,628); New South Wales 17.5 per cent (34,728); Queensland 17.7 per cent (24,262); South Australia 28.3 per cent (7,281); Tasmania 13.4 per cent (2,022); Victoria 16.0 per cent (29,618); Western Australia 20.8 per cent (11,679) and Northern Territory 13.0 per cent (921).

    Toyota was the highest selling marque with 21,002 sales. Mazda followed with 8,707 then Ford (8,165), Hyundai (6,718) and Mitsubishi (6,268).

    The Ford Ranger was the top selling vehicle recording 6,301 sales. It was followed by Toyota HiLux (5,901), Isuzu Ute D-Max (3,692) Tesla Model Y (3,151) and Toyota Prado (3,090).

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    Jim Chalmers has signalled the Albanese government is open to considering sweeping reforms being championed by industry superannuation funds to unlock billions in private capital to fund Australia’s clean energy transition.

    After meeting on Tuesday with banks, venture capital firms, super funds and investor groups in Canberra, the treasurer told journalists he had committed to consider specific measures proposed by AustralianSuper, cbus, HostPlus, CareSuper, Hesta, UniSuper and the behemoth Australian fund IFM Investors.

    The government also announced on Tuesday that it had joined a global partnership at the Cop28 climate summit committed to stopping national governments spending billions of dollars on fossil fuels overseas, saying it had heeded calls from Pacific leaders.

    The climate change minister, Chris Bowen, and the assistant climate minister, Jenny McAllister, fly to the summit in the United Arab Emirates later this week.

    The industry funds, which manage about $1.2tn, are seeking specific commitments including concessional finance or “availability payments” to bankroll the new transmission infrastructure required to link renewable power generation to the grid and production tax credits to help develop a sustainable Australian aviation fuel industry.

    The chair of IFM, Cath Bowtell, gave a presentation to Tuesday’s investor round table convened by Chalmers and Bowen. IFM is owned by 17 Australian industry super funds and had approximately $217bn under management last financial year.

    Chalmers said IFM and super funds outlining potential reforms to supercharge the transition was “a really good development because there are vast industrial opportunities here in the clean energy transformation”.

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    Chris Bowen has indicated Australia may be willing to back a global commitment at the Cop28 climate summit to phase out fossil fuels.

    The Australian climate change minister has also flagged that position may be unlikely to be adopted at the meeting in the United Arab Emirates unless it was attached to the word “unabated” – a controversial and undefined term usually taken to mean fossil fuels can continue if they are cutting their pollution through the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

    Bowen gave two separate statements on the future of fossil fuels on his first day at the summit, which is entering an intense final five days as negotiators from nearly 200 countries attempt to agree on how to respond to the climate crisis.

    In his first statement, at a press conference with Samoa’s natural environment minister, Cedric Schuster, Bowen said his government wanted to see “a big step forward on the language on phasing out of fossil fuels”.

    “Whether we get there or not, the coming days will tell. But it is important, and it sends an important symbol,” he said.

    He said he would not go into details of what Australia argued in one-on-one negotiations, but the discussion at the summit about phasing out fossil fuels – a line supported by a growing list of countries – went “hand-in-glove” with the Albanese government’s target of having Australia running on 82% renewable energy by 2030.

    “Everyone sensible accepts [fossil fuels] are leaving the grid and need to be replaced to ensure energy reliability. So I see all these things as hand‑in‑glove, and that’s what this international conversation’s all about,” Bowen said.

    Schuster said the science on what was required to limit global heating to 1.5C was clear. “We have to look at phase‑outs of fossil fuels and other emissions, but this needs to be coupled with tripling of our renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency,” he said.

    Bowen’s second statement on Friday was on the main conference stage as the chair of the umbrella group, representing a negotiating bloc that includes the US, UK, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Ukraine and Norway.

    In that role, he said the group wanted Cop28 to back urgent action in line with what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had found was necessary to keep global heating of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels within reach.

    That included global emissions peaking by 2025, and the world escalating emissions targets to make a 43% cut in pollution compared with 2019 levels by 2030, and a 60% cut by 2035. It also included “a rapid scaling up of clean energy coupled with a global phase out of unabated fossil fuels”.

    Bowen’s statement for the umbrella group did not explain what unabated meant, but work is under way at the conference to properly define it if it is to be included in the global deal.

    Critics of its potential inclusion fear it is being supported by some countries to justify continued fossil fuel development on the expectation that CCS – a technology that has not proven commercially viable despite billions of dollars in support – will one day become widely available.

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    The Albanese government should urgently embark on a decade-long $100 billion response to the US government’s Inflation Reduction Act by slugging fossil fuel companies to fund direct public spending on the clean energy transition, say the Greens.

    In what amounts to an ambit claim on the government, which would probably need the Greens’ support in the Senate for any potential mega wave of transitional taxpayer-funded industry policy, the party will also call on Saturday for greater focus on affected communities.

    Since May, Labor has been working on a response to the Biden administration’s tax-credit driven $US1 trillion-plus ($1.5 trillion) green energy investment scheme, which local industry groups fear will crowd out Australian-based projects.

    In November, The Australian Financial Review reported that the Albanese government had dumped plans to release a comprehensive industrial policy before the end of the year.

    Instead, Labor’s new target is to develop a plan in sync with the May budget.

    The Greens call has come before the mid-year budget update, likely to be next week, which Greens leader Adam Bandt said could be used to kick off “a bold response to the IRA”.

    “Australia can become a renewable superpower, but if we don’t act soon to transition our industries away from dirty fossil fuels, we risk getting left behind as the rest of the world moves on,” Mr Bandt said.

    “The Inflation Reduction Act shows what’s possible when a country seeks to let loose investment in clean energy. Yet Labor is spending much of its efforts backing gas expansion – a dirty, polluting industry of the past that is fuelling the climate crisis and will leave workers stranded.”

    Delays to an Australian response include the growing economic challenge of ensuring supply chains can cope with a surge of investment, as well as access to sufficient skilled workers. Fears of stoking inflation are also weighing on the government’s deliberations.

    The Greens say the US package has already unleashed $110 billion in private investment, 51 new or expanded plants for producing solar panels, 91 battery factories and about 170,000 clean energy jobs.

    “The Greens are in balance of power in the Senate, so any response will likely need our support,” Mr Bandt said.

    “Public investment must include direct spending, not just tax credits.”

    __________




    Australia is missing a significant opportunity to cut its transport emissions, with legal delays, missing infrastructure and a lack of financial support holding back the transition to electric delivery trucks, an expert has warned.

    But Adiona chief executive Richard Savoie said launching transport policies now could deliver major changes by 2030 and encouraging the adoption of zero-emission trucks would make an even bigger impact than moving to electric cars.

    The warning from the transport technology provider comes days after the federal government invited ideas on how to cut Australia's transport emissions.

    It also comes after supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles committed to using electric trucks in their delivery and supply networks.

    Mr Savoie said it was gratifying to see both major supermarket chains going electric but the move was happening too slowly even though it could significantly cut transport pollution.

    Transport is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, making up 19 per cent.

    "Commercial vehicles are a big opportunity to decarbonise fast," Mr Savoie said.

    "Delivery trucks and commercial vehicles generally have a disproportionate effect on emissions - they are on the roads longer and they're utilised every day."

    Adiona research showed replacing 10 delivery trucks with electric models would be equivalent to replacing 56 petrol cars, but Mr Savoia said their impact did not win enough recognition from policymakers.

    A Woolworths spokeswoman confirmed the company had added 29 electric delivery trucks to its Sydney fleet, and three heavy trucks transporting goods between Sydney and Melbourne.

    The company has pledged to use only electric delivery trucks by 2030, replacing more than 1000 diesel vehicles.

    Coles also added one electric delivery truck to its Queensland operations in August, and has trialled a larger electric truck with Linfox and an electric yard tractor.

    Mr Savoia said several factors were delaying the wider adoption of low-emission trucks in Australia, including a lack of financial rebates, a scarcity of charging infrastructure for large vehicles, and delays to the delivery of a fuel-efficiency standard.

    The national standard, which would set an emissions limit on each automaker's fleet, was expected before the end of the year but has been delayed.

    "California has had fuel-efficiency standards for years and it absolutely has put them in a leadership role because they're looking at phasing out diesel trucks across the state by the end of the decade," Mr Savoia said.

    "The fact that Australia doesn't have emissions limitations means it's going to continue to be a dumping ground for inefficient, cheaper vehicles."

    The call for greater support came two days after the federal transport department launched consultation into a Net-Zero Roadmap looking at barriers and opportunities to cut transport emissions.

    The consultation, which will investigate active, road, aviation, maritime, rail and freight transport, will be open until December 22 and a draft plan is expected early in 2024.

    _________




    The Northern Territory government walked away from a proposal to set net zero emissions requirements for new onshore gas developments after the industry objected, government documents show.

    Letters and emails released to Guardian Australia under freedom of information laws show the Fyles government quietly consulted the gas industry in late 2022 about a plan to meet the key climate recommendation from a scientific inquiry into fracking. Other key stakeholders and the public do not appear to have been consulted about the proposal.

    “It isn’t every day that we obtain this level of insight into the direct influence that the fossil fuel sector has on the climate policies of Australian governments,” said Harriet Kater, special adviser at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

    “Unfortunately this has a strong sense of being the tip of the iceberg.

    “The unchecked influence of the fossil fuel sector on policymakers is a primary reason that emissions continue to rise on a trajectory that is catastrophic for human safety.”

    Territory on the frontline

    Communities in the NT are on the frontline of a proposed massive expansion of the gas industry. That expansion is advancing despite science and energy agencies, including the International Energy Agency, warning there can be no more exploitation of new oil, gas and coalfields if the world is to limit global heating to 1.5C.

    By the middle of the century, the number of days above 35C is projected to at least double in many places across the territory. Research published this year projected Darwin could become too hot to live in within 50 years if the planet keeps warming at current rates.

    In May this year, the NT government gave the greenlight for companies to apply for approval to commence gas production in the Beetaloo basin between Katherine and Tennant Creek. The government said it was satisfied it had met a commitment to deliver on all 135 recommendations of a territory-wide scientific inquiry into fracking.

    That included the key climate commitment – recommendation 9.8 – that the NT and federal governments would “seek to ensure” that new onshore gas projects in the NT did not cause a net increase in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Guardian Australia has previously revealed that the NT government knew it could not meet this recommendation and sought the federal government’s help in September 2022.

    New documents show that during that same month it was also contacting gas companies with a proposal to partially meet this commitment by regulating the upstream – or direct – emissions from production activities for gas projects.

    Strong objections raised by industry – In the link above

    _________




    After years of gridlock there was a breakthrough this week for the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

    The parliament passed legislation that extends the timeframe for delivering the plan by three years and removes a cap on water buy-backs that was introduced by the previous Coalition government.

    The passage of the “restoring our rivers” legislation followed months of negotiations by the environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek, and was hailed by supporters as delivering critical safeguards to support the health of the river system.

    What is the legislation?

    The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia’s largest river system covering more than 1m sq km. The Murray-Darling Basin plan was introduced by the Gillard government in 2012. It aims to bring the basin back to a healthy and sustainable level by limiting how much water can be extracted and by restoring environmental water flows by 3,200 gigalitres a year.

    Under the former Coalition government, the plan had gone off track.

    Plibersek’s legislation was introduced after an audit found the plan would probably fall about 750GL – about 1.5 times the volume of Sydney Harbour – short of its total of 3,200GL by the deadline of June 2024.

    About 315GL of the shortfall is due to major water saving projects either running late or failing to materialise. The legislation says states responsible for this infrastructure should deliver the infrastructure by 2026.

    The legislation extends a deadline for the recovery of 450GL a year of environmental water to ensure flows to South Australia to 2027. It also lifts a cap on buy-backs to allow the government to purchase more water for the environment.

    What did the government agree to?

    To secure passage of the bill, Plibersek negotiated a series of amendments with the Greens and independent senators David Pocock, Lidia Thorpe and David Van to strengthen it.

    The deal with the Greens gives an assurance in the legislation that the 450GL a year of water for the southern basin will be recovered by 2027. It gives the government the power to cancel water projects that are found to be unviable. It also creates more flexibility in how the government can recover water for the northern parts of the basin.

    Plibersek also agreed to include an option to allow irrigators to lease their water entitlements to the government, rather than selling their licence outright. Plibersek has committed to an additional $50.5m for the health of the Upper Murrumbidgee and to boost funding for the Aboriginal Water Entitlement Program to $100m. She also agreed to make an annual statement about the ways she has considered social and economic impacts for communities in decisions about water buy-backs.

    How did people respond?

    This is the largest and most challenging piece of legislation Plibersek has negotiated in her portfolio. After the bill passed on Thursday she described it as “a historic day for the Murray-Darling Basin and the communities, industries, farmers, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it”.

    The Greens called it a “breakthrough” for the environment and more than 2.3 million Australians who depend on the Murray-Darling for drinking water and food.

    The Murray-Darling Conservation Alliance, which represents close to half a million supporters across all basin states, hailed the legislation as a lifeline for the river system on the brink of the next drought.

    “For the last decade it’s been incredibly frustrating having to justify and defend the inclusion of the 450 gigalitre component of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” said Craig Wilkins, the chief executive of the Conservation Council of South Australia.

    “We always knew it was essential, and it’s exciting to see this bill finally guarantee its delivery.”

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    The Australian government has pledged A$150m climate finance for Pacific countries but has not contributed to a newly created global loss and damage fund.

    Nearly 200 countries reached an historic consensus agreement on the first day of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai to set up the loss and damage fund to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries pay for the irreversible impacts of climate disaster.

    The Albanese government supported its creation but has not financially backed it.

    Instead, it said it would contribute a foundational $100m to the Pacific Resilience Facility, a trust fund to invest in small-scale climate and disaster resilience projects, and $50m for the Green Climate Fund, the world’s largest climate financing mechanism. The commitments, but not the sums, were announced at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands last month.

    The support for the Green Climate Fund formalises Australia’s return to the UN body after the Morrison government withdrew from it in 2018. Scott Morrison announced Australia was pulling out of what he called “some global climate fund” in an interview with Alan Jones, blindsiding the government officials who were working on it.

    Labor’s commitment to the fund is significantly smaller than the $200m over four years that then foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop announced when it was established in 2014. The Albanese government had signalled last month when it rejoined the fund that its contribution would be “modest”.

    The funding announcements coincided with the climate change and assistant climate ministers, Chris Bowen and Jenny McAllister, arriving in the United Arab Emirates for the final week of negotiations over how the global community should escalate its respond to the climate crisis.

    In a statement, the government said it was “responding to Pacific needs by delivering climate finance directly to the region to deal with the climate crisis and protect people, housing and infrastructure”.

    The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said: “We call on other donor countries to follow Australia’s lead and pledge serious funding towards the US$500m target for the Pacific Resilience Facility.”

    The government said its commitments built on $75m it had dedicated to renewable energy programs in the remote and rural Pacific, and support for more than 50 Pacific delegates to attend Cop28.

    ___________


    • Water Trigger will Protect Precious Water Resources from Fracking


    Dr Sophie Scamps, Independent MP for Mackellar

    Australia will now have more comprehensive protection of its water resources when companies are exploring and extracting gas using fracking. This follows the federal government’s adoption of an expanded “water trigger” that Dr Scamps has been advocating for.

    “I am delighted that the Albanese Government has adopted the thrust of my bill and included it in environmental legislation now before parliament. It was desperately needed, particularly because the several gas fracking projects in the Beetaloo basin were set to be appraised by the NT government in the near future,” Dr Scamps said.

    “Without my and others’ advocacy it may never have happened. Action to close this gap in legislation was recommended by a Senate committee last April but there had been no movement from the government until I moved my private members bill in October.

    The Senate last night passed new water trigger laws modelled on Dr Scamps Private Member’s Bill which she introduced to Parliament in October. It is expected to pass the House of Representatives today.

    The new laws strengthen the water trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) to ensure all unconventional gas fracking projects are assessed by the Federal Environment Minister for their impact on local water resources.

    https://assets.nationbuilder.com/ima...pdf?1701826477

    __________




    The $20 billion (enterprise value) bid for Australia's Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) has been defeated, leaving the company to chart its own path once again.

    Shareholders failed to approve the deal, despite approximately 69% of the shares being cast in favor of the year-long attempt to buy the country's largest power retailer from Brookfield of Canada and US investors EIG.

    Origin’s largest shareholder, AustralianSuper, led the rejection of the $9.39 per share offer (the small rise in the value of the Aussie dollar in recent weeks trimmed the price from the original $9.52 a share).

    AustralianSuper owned just over 17% of Origin, which was enough to block the bid that requires at least 75% support from the votes cast at Monday’s investor meeting in Sydney.

    Origin had stated on November 23, when the vote was adjourned after the bidders lodged a revised proposal, that proxy votes showed the bid would have failed to win had the meeting gone ahead.

    Origin shares closed at $8.19 on Friday, the lowest in about nine months, and fell further on Monday, losing another 3.9% before trading was halted just before the meeting was due to start when the shares were at $7.86.

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    Chris Bowen tells Cop28 to ‘end the use of fossil fuels’ in energy systems as talks try to break deadlock

    The Australian climate change minister, Chris Bowen, has told nearly 200 countries at the Cop28 summit that the use of fossil fuels in energy systems must end.

    This came as the president of the Cop, Sultan Al Jaber, convened a majlis – a meeting in the traditional form of an elders’ conference in the United Arab Emirates – between all countries late on Sunday in an attempt to reach consensus on points of deadlock, including whether fossil fuels should be phased out or phased down.

    The two-week conference has just a day and a half of official negotiating time left before it is scheduled to end on Tuesday morning.

    Bowen told the majlis that a global stocktake for the summit had found the world was not on track to stay within 1.5C of heating, and the response “must be anchored in keeping 1.5 alive”.

    He said global emissions must peak by 2025 and be cut by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 compared with 2019 levels, and that renewable energy should be tripled by 2030. “I think that should be reflected in the outcome,” he said.

    “We also must face this fact head on: if we are to keep 1.5C alive, fossil fuels have no ongoing role to play in our energy systems – and I speak as the climate and energy minister of one of the world’s largest fossil fuel exporters. And we embrace that fact and acknowledge it because we also live in the Pacific, and we are not going to see our brothers and sisters inundated and their countries swallowed by the seas.”

    Bowen said there were “many ways” the language adopted at the talks could reflect that fossil fuels did not have a future, and told the president: “We’ll be flexible with you to find the pathway to give you the chance you need to write that into history.”

    He signalled that could include attaching the word “unabated” to any decision about phasing out fossil fuels. Unabated is a controversial and undefined term at climate talks that is usually taken to mean fossil fuels can continue if their emissions are being reduced through the use of carbon capture and storage, a technology that has not proven commercially viable.

    Bowen said talking about abatement of fossil fuels in a deal should not be seen as a justification for countries to just keep using them. “We don’t need to phase out fossil fuel emissions, we need to end the use of fossil fuels in our energy systems, with abatement as a backstop and goalkeeper, not as an excuse for delay or inaction,” he said.

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    Good news........




    New Queensland Premier Steven Miles will increase the Sunshine State’s climate change targets, vowing to slash emissions by 75 per cent by 2035 as part of a “fresh approach” after Labor MPs unanimously backed him into the state’s top job.

    Following a deal between the Left and Right factions, Labor caucus rubber-stamped Mr Miles’ elevation along with Treasurer Cameron Dick’s selection as deputy premier following long-serving premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s retirement.

    “I promise to work day and night to earn the trust of Queenslanders,” Mr Miles said in a speech after being sworn in by Governor Jeannette Young.

    In one of his first announcements, Mr Miles said he wanted to unite Queensland around the decarbonisation challenge, unveiling the 75 per cent emissions reduction target that he said would strengthen the economy.

    Queensland’s current targets call for a 30 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero by 2050.

    “The things we make in our regions and sell to the world must be made with an eye to how the world wants them,” he said.

    “That’s why responsible emissions targets are essential for jobs in our existing industries like mining, agriculture and manufacturing, and is the key to creating more jobs in industries of the future like hydrogen, critical minerals and sustainable fuel.”

    Green groups welcomed Mr Miles’ higher climate targets.

    ________

    The World Wildlife Fund for Nature has welcomed the Queensland government’s more ambitious 2035 emission reduction target of 75% below 2005 levels.

    Here’s a statement from Rachel Lowry, the acting chief executive of WWF-Australia:

    In one of his first acts, [new premier] Steven Miles has moved Queensland from the outhouse to the penthouse on its emissions reduction target.

    Increasing temperatures will challenge Queensland’s way of life and threaten the existence of our amazing natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.

    But a strong emissions target will help protect our natural treasures and way of life, lower climate-related costs, and give a fighting chance to efforts to regenerate nature by 2030.

    It is major progress for Queensland and a step towards helping Australia fulfill our legal obligations to hold warming to 1.5 degrees under the Paris agreement and the world heritage convention.

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    Preview…..


    • STATEMENT: Zali Steggall welcomes COP28 announcement. Now Albanese Government needs to match it with action!


    I welcome COP28’s historic announcement to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels by 2050 and to accelerate climate action, including a goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency globally by 2030.

    This global agreement is a death knell for coal, oil and gas and a rallying call for governments, organisations, and communities to fast track the transition to renewable energy.

    As the third largest exporter of fossil fuels, Australia must develop renewable export industries and stop approving new coal and gas that undo any reduction efforts.

    Great to see recognition of the impact of methane and need to curb methane emissions by 2030. Curbing fugitive methane emissions is one of the most effective actions Australia can take and the opportunity is coming up for the Albanese Government to put their words into action with the review into the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act due by 31 December 2023 and a commitment by Minister Bowen to legislate recommendations in early 2024.

    It cannot be forgotten that this diplomatic agreement is voluntary, and the real success of the COP 28 announcement will be measured in how these words are translated into action. Full scale, global mobilisation at pace is crucial, and each country's ability to contribute will vary. Safeguarding our planet demands the unlocking of trillions in climate finance to support the transition.

    Substantial allocations for mitigation, preparation and resilience-building will be required and developed nations must step up to help underwrite the loss and damage experienced by some of the world’s most vulnerable communities on the frontline of climate change.

    Australia can play a major role in both mitigation and preparation. Each country must look to its natural advantage in this transition and for Australia, it is undisputedly abundant wind and solar capacity. Now it’s a race to harness it and become a renewable energy superpower.

    ________




    In response to the news the Queensland government has refused the Clive Palmer-owned Waratah Coal's application for a new coal-fired power station at Barcaldine, the Australian Conservation Foundation's climate and energy program manager Gavan McFadzean said:

    "We commend the Queensland government for this decision and congratulate the community that has campaigned to stop this misguided proposal because of the damage it would do to the local environment and the global climate we all share.

    "We could have just witnessed Queensland's last coal-fired power station proposal.

    "The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan states that 'by 2035 … we will have no regular reliance on coal.'

    "The International Energy Agency has made it clear there can be no new coal and gas projects if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating.

    "As the Queensland government department's original rejection of Waratah Coal's application put it, the proposal had 'the potential to contribute to serious and irreversible environmental harm through its contribution to climate change.'

    "Incoming Premier Steven Miles has backed that decision today, effectively confirming that coal-burning is on the way out in Queensland.

    "Coal-fired power is losing out to better, more reliable renewable energy technologies that can create and protect jobs and enhance quality of life.

    "In contrast, Clive Palmer's proposal would promote further intergenerational injustice, with future generations forced to manage, mitigate and mop up the mess caused by coal-burning.

    "Queenslanders want clean, safe communities and steady sustainable jobs that are powered by reliable, non-polluting, low-cost energy that can keep our heavy industry competitive in the global market.

    "There is no place for a private company trying to interfere with Queensland's energy plan which has laid out a pathway to a safer, sustainable future."

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    Greenpeace Australia said on Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against the country's largest oil and gas company Woodside Energy (WDS.AX) alleging it deceived the public over its green credentials.

    Woodside said it would defend itself against the claims, which a spokesperson said were without merit.

    The suit filed in the Federal Court of Australia alleged the company's statement that it cut direct emissions by 11% was deceptive because the reduction was due to the "heavy use" of carbon offsets. Actual emissions rose 3%, Greenpeace said.

    Greenpeace also alleges Woodside misrepresented its net zero-by-2050 plan by excluding emissions produced when customers burn its fuels.

    "Woodside is treating the Australian public and its shareholders like mugs," Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said in a statement.

    "We’re now asking the Federal Court to rule that Woodside's claims are misleading. These should be corrected and the fossil fuel giant should be prevented from making these claims."

    Woodside said in its 2022 climate report that it cut its scope 1 and 2 emissions, which refer to those produced in the company's operation and power use, by 11% with the help of retiring 754,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent credits.

    The climate page of its website mentions the 11% reduction without explaining how that was achieved, but provides a link to the climate report.

    Greenpeace wants the court to rule Woodside engaged in greenwashing and require it to amend its claims, desist from similar ones in the future and pay legal costs, according to a spokesperson.

    This is the latest lawsuit by an environmental group against Woodside amid a series of legal and direct action campaigns also involving indigenous groups, mainly focused on stopping its proposed $12 billion Scarborough gas project in northwestern Australia.

    Last week, Woodside announced talks for a merger with smaller rival Santos (STO.AX), itself the target of legal action from environmental and indigenous groups.

    __________




    Two years ago, when the former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison gave in to diplomatic pressure and turned up at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, the story of Australia’s response to the climate crisis was straightforward. There wasn’t one.

    Morrison mustered a bit of half-hearted rhetoric and re-heated climate funding, and suffered through the fallout of French president Emmanuel Macron accusing him of lying, but did nothing to dispel the view that Australia had no meaningful climate policies and was a roadblock at the talks not far removed from the Russians and Saudis.

    Things are more complicated now. Australia has competing climate stories, each with an element of truth.

    The positive version is that Labor under prime minister Anthony Albanese has made significant strides in the 18 months since it was elected, having introduced policies, landed two pieces of climate legislation, and proven itself a non-disruptive contributor on the global stage.

    That’s visible on the ground at the vast, sweaty former World Expo site on the outskirts of Dubai that is hosting Cop28. Australia’s climate change minister, Chris Bowen, chairs the umbrella group of countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Japan. The assistant climate minister, Jenny McAllister, was picked to co-lead a stream on how to deal with climate adaptation.

    Delivering the national statement to the conference on Saturday, Bowen argued Australia had made more progress on climate in the past 12 months than in nearly a decade under the rightwing Coalition.

    He listed successes: an underwriting policy to help reach a target of 82% renewable electricity by 2030; a limit on total pollution from the country’s biggest 215 industrial sites; offering residency to climate refugees from the tiny, low-lying Pacific island nation of Tuvalu; projections suggesting the 2030 emissions target – a 43% cut compared with 2005 – is within reach.

    While he was pleased with what his government had achieved, he said he was not satisfied. “We have all come so far, yet we find ourselves at the beginning, not the end,” Bowen said.

    On the question of whether Cop28 can reach agreement on the need to phase out fossil fuels – one of the major issues at the heart of the fortnight-long conference – the minister has offered a strong line. “We need to end the use of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” he said.

    The country is already moving away from coal in its electricity grid – cheap solar panels are making old and increasingly faulty fossil generator economically unviable – but it is so far doing little to reduce its production of coal and gas for global markets.

    This is Australia’s second story: it remains the world’s third biggest fossil fuel exporter, and allows energy companies to reap tens of billions of dollars each year selling coal and liquified natural gas (LNG), mainly to north Asia.

    Greenpeace has estimated 30 coal and gas developments that have been submitted to the government for approval could lead to more than 20bn tonnes of emissions across their lifetimes. It is highly unlikely all will go ahead but if they did to their full extent that’s roughly equivalent to 40% of annual global CO2.

    The biggest proposed development is a massive expansion of LNG exports from the Burrup Peninsula, in the country’s remote north-west. The development, led by the oil and gas giant Woodside, includes two new gas fields and a near 50-year extension of the life of an existing processing facility so it can run until 2070.

    The Australian government’s position on this is the country alone cannot end the global fossil fuel trade because its customers would just get gas from somewhere else. It claims if the relationship is maintained they can work together on a clean transition.

    Critics say this argument – sometimes known as the drug dealer’s defence – would carry more weight if there was a clearer plan to help these countries kick their dirty habit.

    Some initial steps are being taken in this direction but Australian policymakers give wildly varying messages on the path ahead. The Labor premier of gas-rich Western Australia, Roger Cook, recently said his state should keep exploiting its gas reservoirs because otherwise people could run out of energy and die.

    There are also questions over how effective Labor’s domestic policies are at cutting pollution. A new analysis by the Climate Action Tracker released during Cop28 finds the improvement in the country’s future emissions trajectory is mostly due to an upward revision of how much CO2 will be absorbed by the country’s land and forests.

    This expected rise in natural sequestration means industrial greenhouse gases would only have to be cut by 24% between 2005 and 2030 for Australia to meet its 43% pledge.

    A boost in the amount of carbon stored in the land would obviously be welcome but scientists stress it is not necessarily permanent – particularly on a continent as bushfire and drought prone as Australia – and it will only be truly meaningful if it leads to a decrease in the total CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Otherwise it could just allow Australia’s industrial sectors to pollute at a higher level than they would otherwise have to, safe in the knowledge the country can claim it is meeting its emissions target.

    The Climate Action Tracker calls this “creating an illusion of progress, while the atmosphere suffers”.

    As Bowen says, this can’t be the end point. Next year the government has promised plans to cut emissions from sectors it has so far barely touched, including transport, industry, buildings and farming.

    But the argument over Australia’s responsibility to curtail its fossil fuel exports – which last month prompted more than 100 people to get themselves arrested blockading the world’s biggest coal port – is likely to only grow, and come further into focus as Australia bids with Pacific countries to host its own Cop in 2026.

    _________




    Australia’s main power grid faces the “real” possibility ageing coal-fired power plants will drop out before sufficient generation capacity and transmission lines are in place, the Australian Energy Market Operator has said.

    The comments, contained in a draft report on Aemo’s main blueprint for the national electricity market, come a day after New South Wales faced its first grid strains of the summer. Authorities called on consumers to reduce non-essential power use as temperatures hovered in the high-30s across much of Sydney.

    Aemo’s report, known as the integrated system plan, noted that 10 big coal-fired power plants had shut in the national electricity market since 2012. The remaining coal fleet may shut as much as three times faster than companies have flagged in their own public announcements.

    Aemo said in the mostly likely scenario about 90% of the current 21 gigawatts of coal capacity would retire by 2034-35 and all by 2038. Even in its “progressive change” path, only 4GW of coal generation would remain in 2034-35.

    The scale of the replacement capacity needed is huge. Solar and windfarms will need to triple by 2030 to 57GW and expand seven-fold by 2050 to 126GW.

    To support the variable renewables, new storage, hydro- and gas-powered generation will need to increase four-fold to 74GW by 2050. Roof-top solar, already installed on a higher percentage of houses, will also need to expand four times by mid-century to 72W, Aemo said.

    “While significant progress [in the transition off fossil fuels] is being made, challenges and risks are already being experienced,” Aemo’s report said. “Planned projects are not progressing as expected, due to approval processes, investment decision uncertainty, cost pressures, social licence issues, supply chain issues and workforce shortages.”

    Under two of the three main scenarios examined, the grid will also need an extra 10,000km of transmission by 2050. The report said if Australia pursues a policy of developing so-called green energy exports, such as hydrogen, more than twice the transmission construction will be needed.

    Snip

    NSW’s energy minister, Penny Sharpe, said the government was “committed to getting as much renewable energy into our grid as quickly as possible to meet our emissions reduction targets and provide a reliable supply of clean, affordable electricity”.

    “We don’t want coal-fired power stations open a minute longer than needed,” Sharpe said. “This framework provides a back-up for the energy transition, to be used only as a last resort where we don’t have enough time to feasibly get new renewables or storage into the system.”

    _________

    Extra




    Australia's first electric excavator has been deployed in Western Australia in a development designed to cut carbon emissions from mining operations.

    Fortescue announced the Australian first on Thursday, revealing the electrically powered Liebherr R9400E was operating at its Cloudbreak mine site in the Pilbara.

    The machine, which is powered by renewable energy, is the first of three commissioned for the site over the next year and will be part of the company's plan to eliminate the use of fossil fuels from its iron ore operations by 2030.

    The electric excavator operates using two kilometres of high-voltage cable.

    Fortescue Metals chief executive Dino Otranto said the company's collaboration with other firms to reduce mining transport pollution had made it possible to convert the vehicle.

    "It's a true demonstration of industry collaboration where we've been fortunate enough to work with industry experts who have been using trailing cable for decades and then repurpose this in our own operations as part of our decarbonisation journey," he said.

    "The commissioning of this fully electric excavator is a massive achievement by the team."

    Mr Otranto said the three electric excavators would use renewable electricity "once we decarbonise our electricity grid".

    "Already our Chichester operations, which include Cloudbreak, run partially off solar, enabling this first excavator to be powered using renewable electricity," he said.

    The new model comes in addition to another retrofitted diesel excavator being tested in Fortescue operations.

    Liebherr Australia mining managing director Trent Wehr said the launch of the low-emission vehicle was a significant milestone and an extension of its decarbonisation plans with Fortescue.

    "The debut of Australia's first operational electric excavator is a big achievement for our local team who will provide ongoing service and support for these machines," he said.

    "We're excited to see what the future holds."

    One of Australia's big five mining firms, Fortescue in 2023 committed to eliminate the use of fossil fuel from its iron ore operations by the end of the decade.

    In 2021, the Minerals Council of Australia announced an industry-wide plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

    Other mining firms to invest in electric vehicles include Mineral Resources, which ordered electric Toyota HiLux utes from MEVCO, and BHP, which trialled electric Toyota LandCruisers at its Nikel West operation in Western Australia.

  14. #239
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    Part 1 of 2

    Solar and on-shore wind provide cheapest electricity and nuclear most expensive, CSIRO analysis shows

    Electricity generated by solar and on-shore wind is the cheapest in Australia, even after the significant expense of integrating them into the power grid is factored in, according to new analysis from the CSIRO.

    Estimates of costs to build small modular nuclear reactors – a technology supported by the Coalition but not expected to be commercially available until at least 2030 – have risen dramatically and would provide the most expensive power, according to the draft GenCost report.


    • Joint media release: GenCost confirms renewables remain the cheapest form of energy, as the cost of nuclear reactors skyrocket


    The consultation draft of the 2023-24 GenCost report released today confirms again that firmed renewables are the cheapest form of reliable energy in Australia now and to 2030.

    GenCost is an annual collaboration between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

    It further proves the Albanese Government’s plan to deliver a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable grid through the expanded Capacity Investment Scheme, Rewiring the Nation and the Gas Code is the lowest-cost and best path for our country as aging and increasingly unreliable coal-fired power continues to retire.

    It shows utility-scale solar and onshore wind costs including transmission and storage, are two to seven times cheaper than new coal and small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), reflecting Australia’s huge natural advantage in renewable resources.

    Quotes attributable to the Hon Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy:

    “The latest GenCost report reiterates what we already know - renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy in Australia now and in 2030, even when accounting for storage and transmission costs.

    “The Albanese Government is making sure more households and businesses have access to abundant, affordable renewables.

    “After a decade of vandalism and neglect of Australia’s energy grid by the LNP, the Albanese Government is on a unity ticket with our grid operators – to deliver a secure, reliable and affordable grid with firmed renewables."

    https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/bowen...tors-skyrocket

    __________




    Key points in the current draft are: 


    • Pre-2030 integration costs now included. 
    • Variable renewables still found to have the lowest cost range of any new-build technology. 
    • Inflation impacts easing. 
    • Large scale solar falls. 
    • Pressure remains on gas, onshore wind and nuclear SMR.


    The 2023-24 GenCost draft report has found that new build costs across the board have generally stabilised since the 20 per cent increase reported last year, albeit with some outliers.

    The cost of onshore wind generation rose by 8 per cent, while large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) fell by the same proportion. The cost of gas turbine technologies increased by 14 per cent. 

    Nuclear small modular reactors (SMRs) emerged as the highest-cost technology explored in the report. This corresponds with new data from the most advanced SMR project in the US. 






    Cost update blasts nuclear out of energy mix


    __________




    Highlights below

    Enhanced Safeguards for Queensland's Iconic Lake Eyre Basin

    JOINT STATEMENT


    • The rivers and floodplains in the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin are set to be better protected by the Miles Government.
    • The changes will better safeguard vital agriculture and tourism industries, and the region's communities who depend on the integrity of the rivers and floodplains.
    • For the critical minerals industry, this balanced package maintains settings and provides certainty for the continued growth of the North-West Minerals Province, which will play a vital role in global decarbonisation.
    • The proposed approach will also see Queensland continue to do the heavy lifting when it comes to vital gas supply into the east coast market. Existing projects can continue, and new production can be considered away from the rivers and floodplains.
    • Traditional Custodians will receive additional support to manage Country and Culture and have a greater say in the future of the region.

    The Miles Government is delivering on election commitments to assure the continued prosperity and future sustainability of the iconic Queensland Lake Eyre Basin region with key changes to the way the area is regulated.

    The changes include:


    • protecting more areas in the region by better mapping the sensitive and fragile rivers and floodplains,
    • maintaining existing conventional production in those rivers and floodplains, but preventing future oil and gas production in those areas as well as ruling out unconventional gas extraction,
    • better recognising and conserving the special ecological features that make the region a global icon, such as braided channel networks and wildlife corridors, and unique species, and
    • working with First Nations Traditional Custodians to ensure their Country and cultural values are better protected, that their priorities and aspirations are supported.


    As the changes will not be retrospective, existing approved conventional gas development can continue.

    Holders of existing petroleum exploration tenures, including potential commercial areas within the rivers and floodplains, will be able to apply for a production lease until 30 August 2024.

    _________



    The NSW Minns Government has recommended an expansion of Idemitsu's Boggabri coal mine be approved - the first coal expansion to be determined since the state election.

    An assessment document (see page viii) containing the government’s recommendation that the project be approved was quietly uploaded on the Planning Department’s website today (Friday December 22).

    Lock the Gate Alliance says the recommendation represents a broken promise to the people of NSW because the project has not and will not undergo an independent assessment process.

    The expansion will be responsible for 63 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution (see page 3).

    In the lead up to the last state election, NSW Labor said “new coal mine projects must be subject to an independent approval process(See attached election platform provided to Lock the Gate Alliance).

    However, due to an arbitrary decision by the NSW Government to classify the project as a “modification”, it will not be referred to the Independent Planning Commission.

    The Idemitsu owned coal project is the first of at least 14 new NSW coal projects expected to be determined by the State Government in the next 18 months. Together, these projects would be responsible for more than two billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - 15 times NSW annual emissions.

    Idemitsu was previously penalised for stealing more than 500 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water at its Boggabri coal mine during a drought.

    Libby Laird, who lives on a property next to the mine, said she was disgusted by the decision due to the company’s record.

    “Idemitsu has a disregard for the rules. This is not a company that should have another approval just blithely waved through," she said.

    Lock the Gate Alliance NSW coordinator Nic Clyde said the NSW Government had broken its promise to ensure independent assessments of coal projects, and was putting the citizens of NSW at risk of climate-related weather disasters.

    “The Minns Government has broken its promise of independent decisions and is continuing with the same destructive pro-coal policies as the former Coalition Government, no matter the cost. It’s little surprise this terrible recommendation was quietly made public on a Friday afternoon before Christmas.

    “This is the first of at least 14 proposed coal expansions in NSW that will blow NSW and Australian climate targets and put us all at risk.

    “The NSW Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Act 2023 became law less than two weeks ago. In passing the Act, the Parliament recognised that ‘action is urgently required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’ in NSW.

    “The expansion proposes to increase annual direct greenhouse gas emissions by about 14% from 2023 to 2036, which runs in the opposite direction to the emissions reduction trajectory required by the Act of at least a 70% reduction by 2035.

    “It’s unbelievable that the Minns Government is pushing business as usual on coal mines. Parts of NSW are experiencing extreme bushfires and heatwaves - and we haven’t even reached peak summer.

    “We’re calling on the Minns Government to protect its citizens, and stop the latest coal rush immediately, putting in place a pause until proper climate considerations are embedded into mining decisions."
    Last edited by S Landreth; 23-12-2023 at 06:04 PM.

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    Part 2 of 2




    EVs made up just 2% of new car sales in May 2022, but now 8.3% of new car sales in 2023 are battery powered

    The climate change minister, Chris Bowen, has welcomed a boom in electric vehicle sales, revealing the number of fast-charging sites has nearly doubled in the last year.

    National strategies on electric vehicles are expected to more than double the number of charger stations again within three years, as the federal government seeks to incentivise the use of cleaner cars. New fuel efficiency standards, expected to be outlined in early 2024, are likely to further discourage the sale of higher-emitting vehicles, making electric cars more attractive.

    Bowen, who also serves as energy minister, on Saturday praised new figures showing public EV charging locations had increased from 464 to about 800 between December 2022 and December 2023 – a jump of more than 70%.

    Bowen said it was a record year for installing the fast chargers and claimed more had been installed in the 18 months of Labor government than in the entirety of the former Coalition government.

    Bowen also pointed to 173,000 electric vehicles on Australian roads, saying two-thirds of those had come since Labor came to power.

    “There’s been a 70% increase in EV charging locations this year alone – helping address the needs of Aussie drivers in regional and suburban communities and reducing wait times for tens of thousands of new EV drivers,” he said.

    The National EV Strategy, with investments from federal and state governments, plans for a further 1,000 charging locations within the next three years. It also aims to instal chargers every 150 kilometres along the national highway network.

    The federal government has sought to increase the uptake of electric vehicles through tax incentives and discounts. The fuel efficiency standards, expected to be outlined within months by the transport minister, Catherine King, would create a cap for emissions across a manufacturer’s overall sales and incentivise carmakers to manufacture low and zero-emission vehicles.

    Industry groups such as the Electric Vehicle Council have warned Australia could become “the world’s dumping ground for dated, high-emission vehicles” without stricter fuel standards.

    In August, the government revealed that the introduction of a fuel efficiency standard had been “overwhelmingly” supported throughout public consultation.

    In this month’s mid-year economic update, the government tweaked the luxury car tax by tightening the definition of a fuel-efficient vehicle, reducing the maximum fuel consumption from 7 litres for every 100km, to 3.5 litres for every 100km. The measure in the Myefo documents said the change was aimed at encouraging greater take-up of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

    The government believes current standards encourage carmakers to sell less fuel efficient cars – which would struggle to be sold in some other countries with stricter standards – in Australia, and therefore discourage manufacturers from selling cheaper electric vehicles in Australia.

    Asked about fuel standards at a press conference on Friday the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said King would soon respond to the issue.

    “Our petrol standards have been way below everywhere else in the western world. When you have petrol standards that are lower, you have issues created – health issues – as a result of that,” he said.

    “We are below not just Europe, but below the United States, and that means that Australia has needed to respond.”

    Currently the government is using tax settings to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles, with discounts making leasing an EV cheaper in some circumstances than leasing a petrol vehicle.

    EVs made up 2% of new car sales in May 2022, but 8.3% of new sales in 2023.

    Bowen said the government was focused on “improving access for Australians to drive cleaner, cheaper-to-run cars”.

    “More and more households and businesses are saving thousands of dollars on the upfront and running costs of their vehicles – with our EV discount making leasing EVs and plug-in hybrids cheaper than leasing petrol vehicles in many circumstances,” he said.

    __________




    Cleaner fuel standards being introduced mean Australians will be at less at risk of developing health issues, the prime minister says.

    The safer standards bring Australia into line with emissions reductions measures in other western countries, Anthony Albanese told reporters in Cairns on Friday.

    Under the changes, the number of hydrocarbons will be reduced in 95 petrol, while 98 petrol or regular 91 unleaded fuel will be unaffected.

    All cars sold in Australia from December 2025 will need to comply with Euro 6d noxious emission standards, which limit what can be emitted from vehicles.

    The changes would lead to fewer emissions being released and also lessen the health risk, he said.

    "There are issues with regards to our petrol standards that have been way below everywhere else in the western world.

    "When you have petrol standards that are lower, you have created health issues as a result of that.

    "We are below not just Europe but below the United States, and that means Australia has needed to respond."

    Drivers can expect an increase of $8 per year for an average passenger vehicle running on 95 RON grade petrol but the cost is more than offset by the import of more fuel-efficient vehicles and health savings.

    It's estimated that transport emissions cause more than 11,000 Australians to prematurely die each year, according to a University of Melbourne study.

    Figures have shown the fuel changes will save more than $6 billion in health and fuel costs by 2040.

    Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said while cleaner fuel was needed, the cost of the measure also had to be considered.

    "It's important that we have the cleanest possible fuel standards in Australia, but we have to balance those with cost of living and the budget squeeze that families are experiencing," she told reporters in Wodonga.

    "Family budgets are under pressure and if fuel costs more, your vehicle costs more, or maintaining your vehicle costs more as a result of that, then that needs to be something the energy minister and the prime minister are conscious of."

    _________



    A group of climate protesters dressed as circus performs have disrupted the annual general meeting of one of the nation’s biggest banks, ANZ.

    As the chair, Paul O’Sullivan, was addressing the AGM held in Brisbane on Thursday, a group of activists, dressed as circus performers, disrupted the event from the audience before the livestream was cut.

    The protest lasted about 10 minutes as one activist gave a speech against the bank’s links to fossil fuel companies while others performed acrobatic tricks.

    It is understood the protesters smuggled the props and costumes in bags past metal detectors before donning them at the meeting.

    Mr O’Sullivan then requested that security remove the protesters who were continuing to disrupt the event.

    “This is a forum for all shareholders to express their views, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for any one person to prevent that from happening,” Mr O’Sullivan said, noting that the bank “invites a variety of opinions and a variety of views and we protect free speech”.

    “Thank you for expressing your views here this morning.”

    After the protesters were removed, Mr O’Sullivan added that the bank was committed to funding emissions-intensive projects but had stringent lending requirements.

    “ANZ has a relatively large oil and gas exposure, and that is certainly not something that we shy away from. In fact, we believe it makes our role in the energy transition all the more important,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

    “If we remove financial support in these companies, it may simply push them to lenders who have less stringent or no requirements on emissions reduction.”

    In recent years, ANZ has faced significant backlash from climate activists over its continued links to fossil fuel intensive energy generation.

    _________




    he chief minister of the Northern Territory, Natasha Fyles, has resigned following revelations she failed to disclose shares in a manganese mine.

    Fyles said in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon she would step down as chief minister after failing to declare a small number of shares in South32, the company at the helm of a controversial mine in the remote community of Groote Eylandt.

    Earlier this year, she said the government would not investigate air pollution levels or health impacts after community members raised concerns over potential manganese dust leaks.

    Fyles’ resignation follows an earlier scandal relating to undisclosed shareholdings in the gas company Woodside. Fyles divested those shares last month after they came under scrutiny. Fyles had also been under pressure over her employment of a political consultant who co-owned a lobbying firm that listed gas company Tamboran as one of its clients.

    Fyles told reporters on Tuesday she had always endeavoured to properly declare her shareholdings.

    “Upon further review of my personal interests, it became clear that I did not declare one of these – a small shareholding in a company called South 32, which came from a BHP demerger in 2015.

    “That was an error on my behalf and I do not have any excuse for it.

    “It was not deliberate or intentional but it is unacceptable. I can assure you that no decision I have ever made has been influenced by that small shareholding.”

    She said the “honourable course of action is to resign as Chief Minister”.

    _________




    Gina Rinehart has teamed up with a Chilean miner to take control of a prized lithium asset in the mineral-rich Pilbara, creating a path for Australia’s richest person to become a major producer of the key metal used in electric vehicle batteries.

    Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) lodged a $1.7bn bid for Azure Minerals, according to a stock exchange announcement on Tuesday.

    It marks the latest twist in the fight to take over a lithium asset that has attracted significant interest but remains largely untested.

    The deal, backed by the Azure board unless a higher offer emerges, comes amid a rush of dealmaking in Western Australia for lithium, a metal highly sought after by miners.

    Lithium prices have fallen sharply over the past 12 months, after the rate of global EV sales failed to meet expectations amid rising interest rates and cost of living pressures.

    Hancock, an iron ore miner, and SQM, a global lithium producer, are Azure’s two largest shareholders, holding almost 40% of shares before the deal. SQM had previously tried to buy the asset on its own.

    “This powerful partnership brings together the complementary skills of our respective companies across West Australian mining exploration, development, operation and processing for the long term,” said Hancock’s chief executive, Garry Korte.

    The Rinehart-led Hancock, one of Australia’s largest private companies, also has interests in other battery minerals companies such as Liontown Resources.

    The billionaire miner has been a vocal critic of any costs of net zero policies on the agricultural sector.

    Her recent dealmaking suggests she wants to partner with experienced miners to develop several lithium-producing revenue streams in Australia’s west, with EV demand widely expected to underpin future prices.

    Azure shareholders have benefited enormously from the interest in their company and its flagship Andover project, with investors set to take home $3.70 a share. One year ago, Azure shares were trading at less than 30c.

    ________




    Environmental groups and farmers have criticised proposed amendments to Queensland’s planning laws that they say will make the regulation of coal seam gas “even weaker” and “abandon responsibility” for sinking farmland.

    The Environmental Defenders Office and Lock the Gate made the comments in a joint submission in response to draft amendments to two key pieces of state legislation regulating the management of CSG-induced subsidence – when the extraction of gas underground causes the ground above to sink.

    EDO’s managing lawyer, Revel Pointon, said the draft amendments to the Regional Planning Interest (RPI) and Mineral and Energy Resources Common Provision (MERCP) 2014 acts would further water down already “weak” legislation.

    “Just after the government recognises that subsidence might pose a significant risk to our best agricultural land, they are now amending legislation to remove the requirement to actually assess that risk,” Pointon said.

    The RPI Act was established in part to provide greater protections to priority agricultural areas from industries such as CSG. But under the draft legislation, subsidence, one of the most contentious impacts of CSG extraction, will be removed from that assessment process and instead assessed under the MERCP Act.

    “They’re stripping the ability for farmers to protect their land,” Pointon said.

    In its own submission to the state government, the peak farming body Agforce Queensland said it was supportive of the proposed introduction of a new subsidence impact framework but “strongly disagrees” with the removal of CSG-induced subsidence impacts from the RPI Act.

    Liza Balmain runs a cotton and mixed grain farm 200km west of Brisbane and has been a staunch opponent to CSG expansion in the area for almost a decade, hosting the independent senator David Pocock, environmental and legal experts, and farmers at a meeting in opposition to Arrow Energy’s Surat gas project this year. She also made a submission on the proposed amendments.

    “To remove the assessment of subsidence from the RPI Act is removing that barrier to Arrow Energy’s advancements on the Darling Downs,” Balmain said.

    Some farmers who have allowed gas wells on their properties say they have experienced subsidence but it has not affected their operations. Gas wells from Arrow Energy are scattered throughout Ian Hayllor’s cotton and grain fields. He allowed them in exchange for compensation.

    Hayllor says decade-old gas wells on neighbouring properties have caused his fields to subside.

    “The surface has stayed exactly the same the whole place has just dropped 50mm,” he said. “I wouldn’t even know it happened without looking at the data.”

    A spokesperson from the Queensland department of infrastructure, local government and planning said the department was reviewing more than 370 submissions.

    “The proposed amendments aim to promote a more consistent and transparent assessment framework,” the spokesperson said.

    “In line with recommendations from the GasFields Commission Queensland, the proposed subsidence management framework identifies a pathway to assess potential subsidence impacts using a science-based risk assessment process.”

    Dr Madeline Taylor from Macquarie University said the Queensland government had a long history of “piecemeal” and “reactive” regulation of the gas industry.

    “We’ve come up with a co-existence regulatory approach of let’s regulate now and think about how we manage the impacts later,” Taylor said. “It’s a learning by doing approach.

    “What’s fundamentally missing in Queensland is an authority made up of agricultural experts and landowners themselves.”

    A spokesperson from Arrow Energy said the company was “committed to genuine coexistence with landholders” and “welcomed the opportunity to participate in the government’s consultation process”.

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    Even for an incoming state premier, Steven Miles has had a busy first week.

    Amid record flooding across northern parts of the state, Queensland’s new leader flew to Cairns twice, chaired disaster committees, announced grants, distributed beer to workers and spent time sitting with flood survivors who had lost everything.

    That last part of the job can be “awful”, he says.

    “You just hope that talking with them, and spending time with them, makes them feel just the tiniest bit better.”

    After nine years in cabinet, the new premier has accrued plenty of experience dealing with natural disasters. “A fair bit of leading Queensland involves this type of thing,” he says.

    Miles barely even sat down at Cairns airport during his first interview with Guardian Australia since taking the job; he was too busy. Still wearing one of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority polo shirts he’d been in almost all week, the new premier talked climate ambition, reconstruction and the burden of power.

    Miles had already set out to make climate change one of the themes of his first week in office, even before ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper flooded the state’s north. Two Fridays running, the student of Al Gore has rolled out major green announcements: doubling the state’s emissions reduction target to 75% by 2035 in his first announcement as premier and banning new gas developments from the state’s far western river systems, an election promise dating to 2015.

    Miles is eager to build a consensus around the economics of the transition: a link between city and bush, right and left.

    The stakes are high for the transition in Queensland, which has among the world’s most carbon-dependent economies, according to Gavan McFadzean, a program manager at the Conservation Council. The coal industry was worth more than $15bn to the state budget last financial year, partly as a result of royalties hikes legislated under the former premier Annastacia Paluszczuk.

    Queensland also has the nation’s second-highest proportion of residents living in regional areas, behind Tasmania. Federal Labor holds no seats outside south-east Queensland; state Labor repeatedly won elections by appealing to the regions, including mining communities like Gladstone.

    Miles hopes he has found the answer.

    “It’s my job to convince [people] that addressing climate change isn’t a threat to jobs, it’s actually a way to protect jobs,” Miles says.

    “If you look at the high-emitting industries in places like Gladstone and Townsville, they’re going to lose their global customers if they continue to be reliant on such high levels of fossil fuel energy.

    “So the best way we can protect those jobs is by providing them with renewable energy so that they can sell their products into markets that increasingly want green, aluminium, green steel, green products. And similarly, if we get it right, we can also attract new industries.

    “In the past, they we’re attracted to our cheap, plentiful fossil fuel-based energy. In the future we will have cheap, plentiful, firmed renewable energy.”

    ___________




    Major brands are preparing to launch electric cars in Australia for the first time, in a move experts say will cause some motorists to question their brand loyalty.

    Near-silent sports cars, a battery-powered Mustang, Toyota’s first electric SUV and a modern take on the Kombi van are expected to launch in Australia in what is said to be a breakthrough year for electric vehicles.

    The predictions come after some big-name manufacturers committed to bringing their electric models to Australia for the first time and follow the federal government’s commitment to change laws to encourage their sale.

    Industry experts say carmakers will have to work hard to impress buyers, who are likely to be less loyal to the same brands when switching from a petrol to an electric car.

    Major automakers expected to launch electric cars in Australia for the first time will include Jeep, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen, in a trend expected to shake up the market.

    The Electric Vehicle Council chief executive, Behyad Jafari, said giving motorists more options would be critical to increasing EVs’ take-up and could lead to sales jumping again over the next 12 months.

    “We’re finding that as electric cars are made available to people, as they come in different shapes and sizes, Australians are excited to get behind the wheel and save money on ever-increasing petrol prices,” he said.

    Australian drivers bought more than 80,000 electric cars between January and November, according to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures, but Jafari said some buyers were holding out for specific vehicles that were still only available overseas.

    “We’ll see a few options in electric and plug-in hybrid utes be made available in 2024 and it will be good to see the impact that can have on the market,” he said.

    Here are some of the most notable EV launches headed our way:


    • Volkswagen ID Buzz: like a Kombi but quiet, this electric reimagining of Volkswagen’s famous people mover will feature seven seats and come in two-tone colours. It’s expected to command more than $100,000 and could arrive in December


    • Polestar 4: due in Australian showrooms in August 2024, this futuristic vehicle is a mid-sized SUV with a large interior, glass roof, 39cm display and, controversially, no rear window. Its price will start at $81,500


    • Ford Mustang Mach-E: while early deliveries of this vehicle arrived in December, many more are expected in early 2024. The electric addition to the Mustang brand features an SUV body, three model choices and a range of up to 600km. It is priced from $72,990


    • BYD Seal: the sportiest electric car in BYD’s lineup, the Seal promises to reach 100km/h in as little as 3.8 seconds and travel for up to 650km on a charge. Prices for its three models range from $49,888 to $68,748


    • Toyota bZ4X: the first electric car from Australia’s most popular brand is due to launch in February after a series of delays. The battery-powered SUV will come in single and dual-motor variants, with a 30.5cm touchscreen and 51cm wheels. Its price is expected to start at about $90,000


    • Kia EV5: the third electric vehicle based on Kia’s electric platform, after the EV6 and EV9, is expected to look like a Sportage when it arrives in 2024. The SUV could also come with a price below $50,000, based on the price it commands in China


    • MG Cyberster: MG will return to its roots in 2024 with the release of the Cyberster, the brand’s first sports car in 13 years and its first under Chinese owners. The convertible with scissor doors and three screens is expected to command a price higher than $100,000


    • Audi Q4 E-Tron: three years after its European unveiling, Audi’s mid-sized SUV is due to arrive in Australia halfway through the year. Audi’s third local electric vehicle will be priced from $88,300 and will be available in four configurations


    • Jeep Avenger: the smallest vehicle from Jeep has been confirmed as a starter for Australia and is expected to arrive in the second half of 2024. The electric SUV will feature a 25.4cm touchscreen and a 400km range, though its price has yet to be confirmed


    • Tesla Model 3: the updated version of Tesla’s entry-level car, dubbed Highland, will deliver design and technology updates when it arrives early in 2024. Updates to the $61,900 vehicle include a more aerodynamic exterior, additional soundproofing and an extra display for back-seat passengers

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    The end of unsustainable commercial logging in Western Australia could save almost 20,000 square kilometres of forest, the state government says.

    Chopping down native karri, jarrah and wandoo hardwood in the state’s south-west and selling it is banned from Monday. The state’s environment minister, Reece Whitby, said it was a historic moment for WA.

    “Our state is now one of the first in Australia to end native logging, a move which will promote conservation and resilience throughout our natural environment,” he said.

    Under the new forest management plan 2024-2033, native timbers can only be felled for ecological thinning to enhance forest health and resilience from drought and bushfires.

    The government has invested $350m in WA’s softwood pine plantations to supply the construction industry with timber. It also rolled out an $80m native forest transition plan that includes payments for eligible sawmills to restructure.

    WA’s largest commercial mills have closed and timber towns have been given millions of dollars in grants for community development projects, business diversification and to attract new industries.

    The forestry minister, Jackie Jarvis, said the decision reflected the changing community attitudes.

    “This is a new era for our south-west and I am proud to be part of a government that is prioritising forest health and supporting the local industry to diversify and grow,” she said.

    _________




    The federal government is facing pressure to “stop idling” and swiftly introduce new laws that will encourage carmakers to produce cleaner vehicles as Australia eyes its 2030 emissions reduction targets.


    Automotive industry bodies and environment advocates say the European-style fuel efficiency standards would offer consumers greater choice of cleaner cars that are cheaper to run amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

    A fuel efficiency standard will place a yearly cap on the emissions output for new cars sold in the country, incentivising carmakers to supply low- and zero-emissions vehicles and penalise companies that do not.

    Australia, along with Russia, remains one of the few countries in the OECD without a standard.

    But the introduction of the new rules could still be more than a year away after the federal government failed to release its model last year in line with its original timeline.

    The energy minister, Chris Bowen, in April last year announced work to introduce a fuel efficiency standard would begin after a “wasted” decade, with plans to release the federal government’s preferred model by the end of 2023.

    The infrastructure minister, Catherine King, similarly said there would be progress over the eight months before the year’s end.

    “Our plan is to have an exposure draft of the legislation ready at least by the end of the year,” King said in April. “My preference would be to have it introduced by the end of the year but it is going to depend on how technical or how some of those technical issues are dealt with within my department, and they can take a little bit of time.”

    She added the standards would “definitely” start in 2024.

    Australia’s “circumstances”, however, have put the brakes on the release of an impact analysis ahead of any draft legislation.

    A spokesperson for King said designing the best possible model to Australia was “complex” and the government was “committed to taking the time to get it right”.

    It follows comments Bowen made on Guardian Australia’s Australian Politics podcast in September, describing the work as “complicated”.

    “We will have fuel efficiency standards,” he said. “They will be ambitious but they have been complicated to design. Our work is at an advanced stage.”

    The Climate Council’s head of advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said the delays were hurting Australians as petrol prices continued to soar across the country.

    The climate change advocacy group released polling in November showing more than half of the 1,150 Australians surveyed felt a fuel efficiency standard would save them money at the bowser.

    Almost half of the respondents – 49% – supported plans to introduce the standard while 17% said they would oppose its introduction.

    Rayner said Australia could not afford to keep “idling at the starting line”.

    “The federal government needs to put the pedal to the metal in delivering what they’ve promised – strong fuel efficiency standards to give drivers more choice of cleaner cars that are cheaper to run,” she said.

    “Every day we delay putting a fuel efficiency standard in place, Aussies are missing out on the three-in-one benefits of cheaper costs, cleaner air, and greater choice.”

    The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said it was more important that the government found the right balance rather than forging ahead.

    The FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said it was important the government considered all the complexities to avoid a buyers’ strike brought on by any potential price hikes, which would result in dirtier cars remaining on the roads for longer.

    “I think it’s really important that the government takes its time to get this right,” Weber said.

    “It’s a complex piece of legislation, and it will be a complex piece of administration, and it’s so vital that the government gets it right for the benefit of Australian consumers.”

    Weber said it was important the price and availability of utes and SUVs – vehicles with fewer low- and zero-emissions options – was considered.

    “We need something – as we’ve always said – that’s ambitious but achievable, so that all Australian consumers can come along on the journey, not just the top end of town,” he said.

    __________




    Fossil fuel company Woodside has now severed all ties with the arts company behind one of the largest fringe festivals in the world, after sustained complaints and protests over several years from performers, producers and audiences.

    A Woodside spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday a philanthropic agreement with Artrage, one of Western Australia’s largest arts companies which produces the annual Fringe World festival, had been discontinued.

    The spokesperson said it was Woodside’s decision not to renew the partnership late last year, 18 months after public pressure forced Artrage to withdraw Woodside’s naming rights for key Fringe World events. The sponsorship was quietly converted into a private philanthropic agreement with the arts company, at arm’s length from the festival, three weeks later.

    This year’s Fringe World, which opens on 19 January, and last year staged more the 550 events across more than 100 venues, will be the first time the festival will be free of fossil fuel sponsorship in more than a decade.

    The environmental activist group Fossil Free Arts said the split between Artrage and Woodside was a victory, and it would now set its sights on other major performing arts companies in Western Australia still reliant on sponsorships from oil and gas companies, including the state’s flagship ballet company and symphony orchestra.

    Fossil Free Arts’ spokesperson, Anthony Collins, said the Fringe World victory had been won after a sustained five-year campaign.

    “It is a credit to the WA arts scene that festival season is no longer promoting the destruction being caused by the state’s two biggest polluters,” Collins said in a statement.

    “It is now a matter of time before other institutions either cut ties with big polluters or face negative consequences due to their support of an LNG industry which is betting against a livable climate.”

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    Part 1 of 2




    “2023 marks the first time on record that every day within a year has exceeded 1°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level for that time of year,” the report says.

    “Close to 50% of days were more than 1.5°C warmer than the 1850-1900 level, and two days in November were, for the first time, more than 2°C warmer.”

    Snip

    Far North Queensland is picking up the pieces following a devastating cyclone and floods, while large parts of Victoria remain on flood watch after some regions experienced rainfall “higher than their 100-year rates” over 48 hours, according to the BOM. In Western Australia, a searing heatwave is on the cards.

    “It’s not surprising, unfortunately,” prime minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday from Queensland, where he announced a $50 million federal support package for people affected by the state’s most recent extreme weather events.

    “All of this is a reminder that the science told us that climate change would mean there would be more extreme weather events and they would be more intense. And unfortunately, we’re seeing that play out with the number of events that we’re having to deal with right around Australia.”

    Climate Council research director Simon Bradshaw says the most alarming thing about the news from Copernicus is that 2023 broke heat records by such a considerable margin, with 2024 projected to be even hotter.

    “We’re seeing how much more extreme our climate becomes as we approach the 1.5°C warming threshold,” he said on Wednesday.

    “This is why we must limit future warming as much as possible by getting our emissions down fast by rapidly phasing out the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. We can’t keep stoking the fire if we want the room to cool down.”

    But as the reality sinks in that 2023 shattered annual heat records and that the world looks like sailing past the safe climate zone hoped for by scientists, the federal Coalition has set to work walking back national emissions targets, railing against renewables and still – still! – banging on about nuclear.

    On Wednesday, reports emerged that a majority of Liberal and National Party MPs will oppose taking a 2035 emissions reduction target to the 2025 election, arguing it will worsen the cost-of-living crisis for regional and vulnerable Australians.

    A survey by The Australian has found most Liberal MPs are privately opposed to any sort of 2035 target and didn’t see any point in putting a number to the Australian people.

    Nationals MPs were more forthcoming with their views on the matter, with Barnaby Joyce, Colin Boyce, Keith Pitt, Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie on the record as rejecting “any target” or expressing serious reservations about adopting one, the Australian reports.

    “There is also a smaller rump within the Nationals, including Senator Canavan and Mr Boyce, who want the Coalition to drop the current policy of net zero emissions by 2050,” the paper says.

    The context to this is that the latest climate science says 2050 net zero targets are now not enough to rein in global warming at the rate required to keep the planet safe and liveable. It has also been argued that such a distant target allows governments to take their time on policy – time they do not have.

    Recent modelling by Monash University’s Climateworks Centre found Australia must move its net-zero emissions target forward by a decade to 2040 and cut national emissions by 68 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to have any hope of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

    Federal Labor – which wants to get to 82 per cent renewables by 2030 – is under pressure to adopt a 2035 emissions target of more than 70 per cent, and is in consultation on the size of the interim target it has promised to bring to the 2025 election.

    But the LNP is having none of it, preferring to believe that its constituents are unable to make the mental leap that “cost of living” might be intrinsically linked with the social, environmental and economic costs of ever increasing extreme weather events.

    “I’m not confident the Labor Party’s current targets, let alone anything more ambitious, can be achieved without significant social and economic detriment to the nine million of us that don’t live in capital cities,” said McKenzie.

    “Their slavish rejection of all technologies being put on the table makes their current position unjustifiable,” McKenzie added in a nod to the Coalition’s blinkered obsession with nuclear power.

    “The people who are paying are the ones who can least afford it. They’re our people,” said Pitt.

    Another unnamed MP told The Australian that there was another view in the party that it was better to continue putting pressure on Labor’s energy “mess” rather than shine a light on Coalition climate policy – or the space where it should be.

    Busy heading up that challenge has been Barnaby Joyce, who last year made himself commander-in-chief in charge of mobilising protests against all sorts of renewables, batteries and transmission lines, and this year continues that work.

    A National Rally Against Reckless Renewables is on the calendar for February 6 – federal parliament’s first sitting day for 2024 – with the Facebook page for the event promising “lots of great speakers,” including Joyce, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, David Gillespie MP, Senator Gerard Rennick, Senator Malcolm Roberts, and old mate Matt Canavan.

    “Not here, not there, not anywhere,” says the promotional flyer for the event.

    But not all of the Coalition’s “people,” as Pitt claims regional Australians to be, are drinking this particular brand of Kool Aid.

    “The impact of climate change on our communities is immediate and devastating,” said Major General Peter Dunn, a member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action and former Commissioner for the ACT’s Emergency Services Authority on Wednesday.

    “The urgency to stop relying on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which only worsen this crisis, has never been greater. The time has come for Australia to decisively move away from these harmful pollutants.”

    Peter Lake, a northern NSW farmer and member of Farmers for Climate Action says the ongoing drought his farm is experiencing shows how climate change is continuing to make farming “unpredictable.”

    “The sooner we get serious about reducing our burning of fossil fuels and start to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into our atmosphere the better,” he said on Wednesday.

    For federal Labor’s part, it is now imperative that they move faster and with more ambition in the opposite direction to the Coalition and hold their nerve against what is bound to be a ramping up of anti-renewables propaganda.

    “As I’ve indicated, we will be outlining our 2035 target well before the next election,” said federal energy minister Chris Bowen on Wednesday.

    “I’ve begun the process for setting it by writing to the Climate Change Authority requesting their advice. It will be one of the key inputs to the cabinet,” he said, not mentioning any particular numbers.

    “Our 2035 target will be ambitious and achievable. …There’s no point setting a target which the country can’t meet, nor is there any point setting a target which isn’t a step up in activity.”

    On the Coalition’s stance, Bowen had this to say:

    “[Either] they intend to have a 2035 target but not tell the Australian people what it is, to be dishonest. Or, secondly… they don’t intend to have a 2035 target and leave the Paris Accord and join Yemen, Libya, and Iran.

    “Which is it, Mr Dutton? Which is it? Up to him to explain.”

    _________

    • Jim Chalmers has today released the government’s draft legislation to set up a climate risk disclosure framework for businesses.


    Chalmers had touted the changes as aimed at helping “Australia maximise the economic opportunities of cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy and manage climate change risks”.

    With almost unmatched renewable energy resources, Australia is no doubt well-placed in a decarbonising world. On the other hand, as one of the world’s biggest exporters of fossil gas and coal, many firms (and communities) have “downside” risks should we get serious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

    And as the extreme weather events of the past couple of months (eg flooding from cyclone Jasper and severe storms around Brisbane) remind us, Australia has its fair share (and probably more) of disasters to deal with.

    Since the global Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was set up in 2017, firms had been voluntarily disclosing risks. The shift, though, is increasingly to mandate such reporting.

    For Australia that will mean amending the Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act 2001 and the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to “introduce standardised, internationally-aligned reporting requirements for businesses, to ensure they are making high quality climate-related financial disclosures”, the government said.

    According to the accompanying information, the option preferred by the government would cover about 1800 “entities”. On-going annual costs of compliance would initially be between $1m-$1.3m, treasury estimates, falling to about half that over time.

    The government will take submissions until 9 February.

    Climate-related financial disclosure: exposure draft legislation | Treasury.gov.au

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    Part 2 of 2



    Having called for the heads of fossil fuel bosses to be placed on spikes, Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest is ploughing ahead to avoid a similarly dramatic fate.

    As he turned the first sod on a massive wind farm in western NSW, Mr Forrest on Thursday revealed a $2.75 billion strategic alliance for wind turbine supply with General Electric subsidiary GE Vernova.

    The deal will help set his Squadron Energy on a path to becoming the nation's largest renewable energy provider, supplying 14 gigawatts or enough power for six million homes by the 2030s.

    Australia is aiming to have 82 per cent of the national electricity grid powered by renewable energy by 2030.

    "The time for talk is over, we are investing right now in Australia's green energy transition and creating jobs and economic development for regional Australia," Mr Forrest said.

    The announcement comes after the businessman in December pointed the finger for climate change-linked deaths at the chiefs of fossil fuel companies.

    Mr Forrest made his fortune at the helm of iron ore giant Fortescue.

    "It's their heads which should be put up on spikes because they wilfully ignored and they didn't care," he told the ABC from the sidelines of COP28.

    About $1 billion in turbines will be built north of Dubbo at the 414-megawatt Uungula Wind Farm, where Energy Minister Chris Bowen joined Mr Forrest to turn the first sod on what will be NSW's largest such project.

    Once completed, the 69-turbine facility will generate enough electricity to power more than 220,000 homes.

    About 250 jobs will be supported during construction with another 12 jobs ongoing.

    "These projects are further proof renewable energy investors are getting on with the job, capitalising on Australia's huge renewable energy potential and helping transform our energy grid for the 21st century," Mr Bowen said.

    A 150MW on-site battery is also planned for the Uungula site, subject to planning approval.

    Squadron Energy, which is wholly owned by Tattarang, the private investment vehicle of the Forrest family, currently operates five wind farms in NSW and Victoria, with a capacity of 1.1GW.

    ________




    Quarterly installations of new solar panels reached a record at the end of 2023, with Australian households more than three times as likely to have a photovoltaic system as a back yard swimming pool.

    Households and businesses added 921 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity in the December quarter, according to SunWiz, an industry data group.

    The tally took new rooftop solar capacity to about 3.17GW for all of last year, up 14% on 2022 and trailing only 2021’s record for annual installations of just over 3.23GW when installers were making up for Covid-related disruption.

    The final quarter or 2023 also included Australia’s two busier months for solar installations, with November clocking up 329MW and December 321MW. It also included the biggest single day when more than 26MW were added on 21 December.

    Warwick Johnston, SunWiz’s managing director, said the industry was poised to “start off strongly in 2024” as consumers raced to shield themselves from high electricity prices. In addition, a “global oversupply has driven down the price or new panels”, he said.

    Small-scale solar installations – covering systems or 100 kilowatts or narrower – have been the fastest-growing part of the renewable energy sector for some time. By contrast, large-scale solar and wind farms were not being built at the pace needed to replace ageing coal-fired power stations, the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) warned last month in a major report.

    More than 3m Australian homes had solar panels on their roofs, with annual growth of 12% over the last five years, Aemo said. That capacity meant rooftop solar was now capable of meeting almost half of underlying electricity demand across the national energy market in the middle of a sunny day.

    At the end of last year, rooftop solar was at times meeting all of South Australia’s power demand and two-thirds of Victoria’s, Aemo said.

    __________

    • Big new push for Australian made solar as Tindo pitches $100m module gigafactory


    Adelaide based PV manufacturer Tindo Solar has unveiled plans to build a solar panel “gigafactory” in Australia and believes it can get this done for just $90-100 million and within two years, with the right federal government support.

    Tindo CEO Richard Petterson says the proposed “giga-scale” factory would make up to 2.6 million panels a year and could be in production by mid-2025.

    The company – Australia’s first and, to date, only homegrown solar panel manufacturer – says it is mainly looking at potential sites in regional New South Wales and Queensland which are close to ports and has Letters of Intent from potential offtakers.

    Petterson says the budget for the ambitious project is based on recent experience, after the company opened an expanded 150MW factory in Adelaide in July, 2023. It is yet to reach full production.

    Petterson says 70 per cent of the cost of a solar panel factory is in construction and land; the trick will be doing a deal on the latter to keep costs in the realm of the initial budget.

    “Our business case for the development is based on reasonable estimates. We’ve done some early, informal work with parties that can support that and they support our estimates for the cost of a factory and land and other things,” Petterson told RenewEconomy.

    The cost of building large solar panel factories outside China varies wildly, depending on the cost of land, the technology, regulatory requirements, and construction costs.

    Carbon is planning to invest about €430 million per GW to build its first plant in the south of France, near Marseille, and Enel’s investment in an Oklahoma factory works out at about $US333 million per GW of panels produced annually.

    Government support will be critical

    Tindo is relying on government support to make the project reality.

    It is eyeing the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, which the federal government wants to use to develop more manufacturing capacity in the renewable energy sector, ARENA funding, and state initiatives.

    _________




    Tanya Plibersek has blocked plans by the Victorian government to build a plant to assemble wind turbines for offshore windfarms because of “clearly unacceptable” impacts on internationally important wetlands.

    Plans to build the terminal at the Port of Hastings – seen as critical for the state’s strategy to develop an offshore wind industry – included dredging up to 92 hectares (227 acres) of the Western Port Ramsar wetland and reclaiming 29 hectares of seabed.

    The environment minister wrote in her rejection of the proposals that “large areas of the [wetland] will be destroyed or substantially modified as a result of direct impacts of the proposed action”.

    The Victorian government set aside $27m in its last budget to progress the development, which it said would support “wind construction and delivery of up to 1GW per year” and serve multiple windfarm developments.

    But Plibersek said the plan was likely to cause “irreversible damage to the habitat of waterbirds and migratory birds and marine invertebrates and fish” that were critical to the wetland.

    The wetlands were one of Victoria’s three most important sites for wading birds, and regularly supported 20,000 or more waterbirds, the minister wrote, and the impacts of dredging and reclaiming large areas could not be mitigated or offset.

    Plibersek’s department had advised the wetlands supported at least 1% of the global population of the eastern curlew and the curlew sandpiper – both critically endangered.

    Eastern curlews migrate about 11,000km from Siberia and north-eastern China for the Australian summer.
    Western Port was listed under the Ramsar convention for internationally important wetlands in 1982.

    Sean Dooley, of BirdLife Australia, said: “Ramsar sites are not declared on a whim. This is a hugely important area for Victoria, for Australia and internationally. On principle, to destroy that amount of Ramsar wetland is not on.”

    The federal opposition environment spokesperson, Senator Jonathon Duniam, said: “Victorian and federal Labor’s net-zero targets are a mess.

    “They are clearly rushing this transition which will set Australia back and push power prices further up. Labor needs to be careful that they don’t wreck the environment in their renewables-only pursuit of net zero targets.”

    Victoria has ambitions to deliver Australia’s first offshore windfarm developments and had described the project as “critical, nation-leading, enabling infrastructure” that would receive, assemble and install offshore windfarm foundations, towers and turbines.

    The Victorian environment minister, Steve Dimopoulos, said the government was “undeterred” and would “digest the decision” before deciding what to do next.

    “These processes exist for a reason because we have to balance biodiversity impacts.”

    He said offshore wind was “critically important” for energy security in Victoria and Australia.

    A Victorian government spokesperson said: “Victoria is proud to be developing Australia’s first offshore wind industry, which will be crucial for delivering national energy security and create thousands of jobs right here in Victoria. The Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal is key to achieving this.

    “We are assessing the Commonwealth’s feedback to determine the next steps.”

    Plibersek will have to make a decision later this year on a $1.3bn proposal for homes, restaurants and a marina at Toondah Harbour in Brisbane’s Moreton Bay that critics say will cause unacceptable damage to the Ramsar-listed wetlands there.

    _________




    The boss of Australia’s most advanced offshore windfarm is confident the federal government’s rejection of a major port facility in Victoria will not delay his project delivering its first electricity by the end of this decade.

    The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, rejected a Victorian government plan to create a facility at Port of Hastings to serve the nascent industry because of “clearly unacceptable” impacts on internationally significant wetlands.

    On Tuesday Victoria’s premier, Jacinta Allan, said the state government was reviewing the decision but believed there could be “appropriate mitigations” to reduce the project’s impact on the Ramsar-listed Western Port wetlands.

    Star of the South is Australia’s most advanced offshore wind project, with plans to generate up to 2.2 gigawatts of electricity – about 20% of Victoria’s total – from between 120 and 150 turbines off the south coast of Gippsland.

    The Port of Hastings project was designed to serve multiple projects. Offshore windfarms need port facilities on land to handle and assemble turbines and foundations.

    “They’re absolutely critical for the delivery of an offshore wind industry,” said Charles Rattray, chief executive of Star of the South.

    He told Guardian Australia the company’s preferred option was a facility at Port of Hastings but contingency plans were in place.

    “We remain confident we can deliver first power around the end of this decade,” he said. “There is no doubt that a dedicated port would help but a lot of [offshore wind] projects globally are delivered through multiple ports.”

    Both Geelong’s port and Port of Bell Bay, on the north coast of Tasmania, were being considered as primary construction ports for the project. Operational bases were also being considered at Barry beach marine terminal and Port Anthony in south Gippsland.

    “These projects are really complex, big challenges and we will have good and bad news days all the way through,” Rattray said.

    Asked if he had anticipated the federal government might reject the Port of Hastings plan, Rattray said: “Environmental approvals for large-scale infrastructure projects are a critical risk that always needs to be assessed. We used multiple criteria assessments and we thought it was important, based on that, to keep multiple port options open.”

    He said the project – with an estimated $8bn capital cost – was in “constant dialogue” with the Victorian government.

    Allan said the state government would review the decision and remained confident the proposal could be approved.

    “Appropriate mitigations that manage and support environmental impacts can still see the project delivered and that’s our view on the Port of Hastings project,” she said.

    “We believe that with the right mitigations you can deliver a project like this successfully. We do it in transport projects – there’s a whole range of different projects that go through these assessment processes.”

    Speaking in flood-impacted Seymour, in central Victoria, Allan said a mix of renewable energy was vital to support climate action. “We are standing in a town that has had its second major flooding impact in 450 days,” she said. “We’ve got to take action and that is the action we have been taking for some time.

    Allan said offshore wind would help the Victorian government reach its targets to have 65% of electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and 95% by 2035.

    “It’s also part of the federal government’s priorities in terms of achieving their own federal renewable energy targets,” she said.

    Victoria has a target to generate at least 2GW of offshore wind by 2032, 4GW by 2035 and 9GW by 2040.

    The state’s current generation capacity, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator, is 19.6GW, which includes 7.4GW of coal- and gas-fired power generation.

    Star of the South, together with Flotation Energy’s 1.5 GW Seadragon project, also off the Gippsland coast, have been granted major project status by the federal government.

    Carolyn Sanders, the head of operations at Flotation Energy, said: “The assessment [of the Port of Hastings project] is a matter for State and Federal Government to work through.

    “Flotation Energy will continue to work with all levels of government as well as key stakeholders and potential ports to ensure project readiness.”

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    Electric vehicle charging sites will double in Australia again over the coming year, according to a new report, on top of record-breaking growth over the past 12 months.

    The analysis, released by consulting firm Next System, found the number of car-charging sites surged by 90% in Australia during 2023.

    It also found that even though Tesla dominated electric vehicle sales it was Chargefox that provided the greatest share of charging sites.

    The findings came after record sales of electric vehicles and despite concerns from some potential buyers that Australia’s charging network was not large enough to support the technology.

    The Public Fast Charger Network report found Australia had seen another 397 car-charging sites and 755 new charging points built during 2023.

    That represented a 90% year-on-year growth in the number of charging sites, an 83% growth in the total number of charging points and a 93% growth in charging capacity.

    The report predicted that number would rise significantly again in 2024.

    Next System founder Daniel Bleakley said his analysis showed charging stations were already planned for another 470 locations throughout Australia and a total of 870 new charging sites could be expected during the year, bringing the national total to more than 1,600 by the end of 2024. The projection was based on the historical performance of network operators.

    “After a slow start, growth in Australia’s public EV fast charger network is clearly accelerating,” Bleakley said.

    “Lack of public fast-charging infrastructure is often quoted to be a major barrier to electric vehicle uptake in Australia, however our report shows the EV-charging network is actually now growing faster than the Australian EV fleet.”

    _________



    The Australian and New South Wales governments have tipped a combined $206 million into energy saving upgrades for social housing properties in the state and a solar sharing scheme, to help address the cost-of-living for more than 30,000 disadvantaged households.

    The move to upgrade some of the least energy efficient homes in the country was announced on Monday, alongside the launch of the Albanese government’s Solar Banks program – a plan unveiled back in 2021 promising to extend the benefits of solar to those households “locked out” of the market, either economically or logistically.

    When announced before the 2022 federal election, the Solar Banks policy proposed allowing households to buy a share of a medium-scale solar farm. The $30 million committed to the scheme this week, however, also aims to help low-income households and apartment residents install rooftop PV.

    Those households that simply cannot install rooftop solar on site, meanwhile, will be eligible for a subsidy to purchase a portion of a ‘solar garden,’ or community energy plot.

    It is hoped that more than 10,000 households will be able to access the Solar Banks program, which could help save households a vital $600 a year on their electricity bills.

    The $206 million investment in energy efficiency and electrification for social housing properties also promise to deliver major bill savings – according to the NSW government, upgrading an average home from a 1-star energy efficiency rating to a 3-star rating can cut energy consumption by as much as 30%.

    To this end, the Commonwealth and NSW governments will provide matched funding of $87.5 million over four years, with more than 24,000 homes to be eligible for upgrades including heat pump hot water systems, ceiling fans, reverse-cycle air conditioners, solar systems, insulation, and draught proofing

    __________




    The federal department in charge of Australia's climate change response has failed to show how much of its policies contributed to reducing emissions, an audit has found.

    The Australian National Audit Office report said the Department of Climate Change had yet to deliver key strategies and plans as part of its emissions reduction targets.

    The audit followed legislation passed by federal parliament that enshrined a 43 per cent reduction in emissions targets by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

    The legislation also locked in place a target for net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as requiring an annual statement to parliament on how the targets are being met.

    While the audit report said the governance arrangements of the climate change department were "partly effective", some components had not been delivered.

    "(The department) reports annually on progress towards targets, however is unable to demonstrate the extent to which specific Australian government policies and programs have contributed or are expected to contribute to overall emissions reduction," the report said.

    The report focused on the government's Powering Australia program, which targets jobs in the renewables sector and increasing renewable energy.

    It found there was no strategy within the climate change department that supported how the program was managed.

    "There is no consolidated policy and program-level reporting on progress, valuation and decision-making across the Powering Australia program of work," the audit found.

    "Cross-entity coordination arrangements and activities provide information on measures within the Powering Australia program of work, however, (the department) cannot demonstrate that arrangements are fulfilling their intended role."

    More than $2 billion was allocated in the October 2022 federal budget to measures as part of the Powering Australia plan.

    The audit office said the climate change department had not planned climate risks strategies that other government departments could use.

    The report made five recommendations that would allow for achievements of climate change commitments to be measured.

    Among them were for the federal department to use its reporting to demonstrate that the management of climate and energy work had made contributions to emissions reduction.

    The climate change department said it had agreed with all five of the audit's recommendations.

    It said work had already started on implementing the reforms.

    _________





    Santos’s $5.8bn Barossa offshore gas project has taken another step forward after the federal court dismissed a legal challenge by a group of Tiwi Islanders to the construction of a pipeline.

    In a decision on Monday, Justice Natalie Charlesworth dismissed the legal action and lifted a temporary injunction that had prevented Santos from beginning construction work in an area on the pipeline route.

    The judgment means Santos can push ahead with constructing the pipeline.

    It follows the December decision by the petroleum regulator National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to approve the drilling program for the project.

    An earlier drilling permit was overturned after a separate federal court case found Santos had not properly consulted Tiwi traditional owners about the proposed drilling.

    Three Tiwi traditional owners, led by Simon Munkara, a member of the Jikilaruwu clan, and represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, launched the case against the pipeline last year.

    They claimed Santos had not properly assessed submerged cultural heritage along the route of its Barossa export pipeline, which runs within 7km of Cape Fourcroy on Bathurst Island.

    The case sought an injunction on pipeline works until Santos submitted a new environmental plan and it was assessed by Nopsema.

    Charlesworth found that evidence from witnesses for the three applicants asserting the pipeline posed a risk to intangible underwater heritage, including Crocodile Man songlines and an area of significance for the rainbow serpent Ampiji, was not “broadly representative” of the beliefs of Tiwi people who would be affected by the pipeline.

    Charlesworth also dismissed evidence provided in an expert report about potential impacts to underwater archaeological sites, finding there was a “negligible chance” of a significant impact to tangible cultural heritage.

    In a statement to the ASX, Santos welcomed the court’s decision.

    __________


    • Coral bleaching predicted over southern oceans as heat stress builds


    According to America’s NOAA Coral Reef Watch, significant heat stress is building across the southern hemisphere.

    Because of this, it predicts that over the next few months coral bleaching may occur throughout much of the Indian Ocean and the central equatorial and southwestern Pacific, including the Great Barrier Reef

    NOAA Coral Program - Significant heat stress is building across the southern hemisphere; over the next few months @CoralReefWatch predicts #CoralBleaching throughout much of the Indian Ocean and the central equatorial and southwestern Pacific, including the Great Barrier Reef. https://twitter.com/NOAACoral/status...19792725663845




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    A leading Antarctic scientist has urged the Albanese government to pay closer attention to abrupt changes under way in the southern continent, warning they will affect Australians in ways that are little understood and research into them is drastically underfunded.

    The head of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science, Prof Matt King, said he found it embarrassing how little was known about the local and global ramifications of changes including a historic drop in floating sea ice cover, the accelerating melting of giant ice sheets and the slowing of a deep ocean current known as the Southern Ocean overturning circulation.

    King said they were likely to affect temperature and rainfall patterns across Australia in different ways – changes that could transform communities and affect the viability of some agricultural industries – and hasten sea level rise along the coast.

    He said Australia dedicated only tens of millions of dollars a year to work on the continent and much of that went to building and maintaining ships and stations, not research. An Antarctic cargo ship can cost more than $40m.

    King said the allocation of funding was small in the context of the $680bn federal budget and did not reflect the continent’s importance.

    “We need a champion in cabinet who can drive forward a multi-decadal agenda in the Antarctic,” King said. “Perhaps one of the weaknesses is that Antarctica is seen as an environmental problem, but it is an all-of-government problem.”

    He added: “The Australian economy, and the global economy, is set up on Antarctica being as it has been. We’re moving to a phase where Antarctica won’t be like that any more.”

    The changes in the Antarctic region have raised serious concerns about its immediate health and coincided with evidence that longer-term transformations linked to the climate crisis have started sooner than had been assumed was likely.

    __________


    • NSW government approves Boggabri coalmine expansion


    The NSW government has approved a coalmine expansion in the state’s north-west, with climate activists calling the decision “incompatible” with the state’s emissions reduction goals.

    The state’s planning department has officially approved Idemitsu’s expansion of its Boggabri coalmine to extract an additional 28.1m tonnes of coal. A departmental assessment late last year recommended approval of the project because the “benefits of the modification outweigh its residual costs”.

    The expansion would be responsible for an estimated additional 63m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, with 61.8m tonnes of those projected emissions occurring after the coal is sold and burnt.

    The approval comes two months after the NSW parliament passed new climate legislation that enshrined the state’s emission reduction targets in law.

    The Lock the Gate Alliance said the decision was incompatible with those emissions reduction goals.

    Libby Laird, who lives on a property adjacent to the mine, said:

    This government has just said we need urgent action to bring greenhouse gas emissions down, yet it seems like its priority is approving a new coal project.


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  24. #249
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    Part 1 of maybe 3


    "Big Win:" Australia finally unveils New Vehicle Efficiency Standard


    • Australia will finally get fuel efficiency standards


    Australia and Russia have been the two only advanced economies without fuel efficiency standards.

    But today the minister for climate change and energy, Chris Bowen, and the minister for transport, regional development and local government, Catherine King, announced that Australia will adopt the “new vehicle efficiency standard”.

    The standard, which was made available online today, will apply to new passenger and light commercial vehicles in Australia, and bring it into line with the US.

    Bowen said the standard meant Australians would save about $1,000 from 2028:

    Because of a lack of action on an Efficiency Standard, Australian families are paying around $1,000 a year more than they need to be for their annual fuel bill – the Albanese Government is delivering long-term cost-of-living relief to fix that for new vehicles and put money back in people’s pockets.

    We’re giving Australians more choice to spend less on petrol, by catching up with the U.S. – this will save Australian motorists $100bn in fuel costs to 2050.

    This is about ensuring Australian families and businesses can choose the latest and most efficient cars and utes, whether they’re petrol and diesel engines, or hybrid, or electric.

    The government will consult on the preferred model for a month and introduce the legislation as soon as possible, with the new cost saving rules to come into effect by 1 January 2025.

    https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/in...eaper-run-cars


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    Part 2 of 3


    • Average wholesale energy prices drop in 2023


    The Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) latest Wholesale Markets Quarterly Report reveals that average annual wholesale electricity prices in the National Electricity Market (NEM) fell by between 44% and 64% and average annual east coast gas market spot prices fell by 43% in 2023.

    This was attributed to milder weather conditions, lower fuel costs, fewer coal supply issues and an increase in cheap wind and solar supply.

    The report also shows wholesale electricity prices during the October to December 2023 quarter fell in NSW, VIC and SA but increased in QLD and TAS compared to the previous quarter, with gas prices on the east coast spot market increasing slightly compared to the previous quarter.

    Both electricity and gas prices during the quarter remained well below the record prices of 2022 and were now closer to longer term annual averages. Once retailers’ wholesale costs adjust to the lower prices going forward, prices faced by consumers should reflect these lower costs.

    Electricity demand fell compared to the previous quarter between 9% and 19% in all regions except QLD, where hot and humid periods drove increased use of air conditioning units.

    However, in periods of high demand there were five high price events, and the market remains vulnerable to more frequent high price events should temperatures increase in the January to March quarter.

    The fall in electricity demand in regions outside QLD was impacted in part by rooftop solar output which increased 50% compared to the previous quarter and 17% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2022.

    Combined, wind and large-scale solar reached a record high of 26% generation output in the NEM – up from a previous record share of 23% at the same time last year.

    Forward prices for electricity fell in all regions for all forward quarters, reflecting mild spot price outcomes during the quarter. However, contract markets are sensitive to spot conditions and will likely be impacted if spot prices increase in the January to March quarter. Changes in forward prices also take time to be reflected in prices faced by consumers.

    Average east coast gas market spot prices increased by 3.8% (to $10.83 per gigajoule) compared to the previous quarter but were 39% lower than the same quarter in 2022 and similar to those at the end of 2021.

    Residential and commercial gas demand was at its lowest fourth quarter level in a decade, with demand from Gas Powered Generators also declining by 27% from the previous quarter. This low demand helped put downward pressure on domestic prices, offsetting potential upward pressure from high LNG export volumes or constraints in place to manage ongoing pipeline maintenance in Victoria.

    International liquid natural gas spot prices decreased in November and December. When international prices are high, it can increase pressure on domestic prices. While it is typical to see a continued increase in prices as the Northern Hemisphere enters winter, prices this quarter likely reflect Europe’s high gas storage levels and mild winter conditions.

    Domestically, the Iona storage facility remained at record high levels, topping up inventory in late November and late December. This supports market resilience against sudden changes in supply or demand.

    AER Board Member Jarrod Ball said the regulator was pleased to see average annual wholesale energy prices below the record highs of the previous year.

    “Although we saw increased electricity prices in some regions and a small increase across all regions in the gas market during the quarter, these remain significantly lower than those experienced in 2022 and closer to the levels seen at the end of 2021.

    “The proportion of electricity output sourced from coal and gas fell to a record low of 66%, down from 67% the previous quarter.

    “Each region set a new solar output record this quarter, and although relatively little new generation entered the market, a significant increase in new entry is currently scheduled for 2024.”

    https://www.aer.gov.au/news/articles...ices-drop-2023

    __________




    The Albanese government has claimed it is “on track” to have national climate targets that would be in line with keeping global heating to 1.5C in a report to Unesco on efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

    The federal and Queensland governments are trying to convince Unesco not to recommend the world’s biggest coral reef system be placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger – with a decision due at a meeting in India in July.

    Last year Unesco’s 21-country world heritage committee followed recommendations from Unesco that Australia should submit a report by 1 February that would review progress against a list of concerns, including action on improving water quality, sustainable fishing and climate change.

    Across 21 commitments previously made to Unesco to keep the reef off the world heritage “in danger” list, Australia was “on track” with 10, had completed nine and two more were “in progress”, the government’s report said.

    On climate change, the world heritage committee had said Australia needed to strengthen its cornerstone Reef 2050 plan “to include clear government commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions consistent with the efforts required to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, saying this would help limit the impacts of global heating on the reef.

    Global heating caused mostly by fossil fuel burning is pushing up ocean temperatures. Coral reefs are one of the most susceptible ecosystems to global heating.

    The Great Barrier Reef has suffered six mass bleaching events since 1998 and scientists are concerned that wave damage and flood plumes from two cyclones this summer could have caused further damage.

    __________




    Promoting trust and communication will be vital if wary Australians are to embrace the nation's transition to net zero, according to a major energy study.

    Improved community consultation, better complaint handling through ombudsman roles and a rating system for developers are among nine recommendations of the review put forward by the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner.

    All have been accepted in principle by the federal government.

    Led by Commissioner Andrew Dyer, the study aimed to determine more effective ways to engage landowners and communities directly affected by the green energy transformation.

    It found some participants had "a lack of trust" in project developers, including government-owned corporations.

    Other recommendations include increasing early local collaboration and revising planning and approval processes.

    The review was carried out after complaints in regional Australia about poor planning and a lack of consultation with farmers.

    Many participants advocated for "an approach that enabled developers to be held accountable where performance fell below the expected standard".

    "The transition cannot succeed without community participation and effective engagement over a long and sustained period of time," the authors said.

    The federal government wants 82 per cent of electricity produced by renewables by 2030, up from 32 per cent in 2022.

    "We're in the middle of a very important revolution when it comes to our energy generation," Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said as he launched the AEIC's findings at a wind farm near Goulburn in NSW on Friday.

    "There are legitimate valid issues and concerns that people have that need to be worked through.

    "There's also disinformation and misinformation for people who do not want to see renewable energy.

    "We want to make sure the regions which host so much of this infrastructure are properly engaged ... not every renewable proposal is in the right place."

    The peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia warned specific recommendations around developer rating schemes and more government involvement in the location of projects could lead to delays.

    "Genuine engagement in good faith ... is needed to ensure we get the balance right between managing community expectations and getting on with the job of building the generation, transmission and storage infrastructure Australia urgently needs," the Clean Energy Council's Arron Wood said.

    Farmers have warned there is a long way to go to get things right.

    Things need to improve," Tony Mahar from the farmers' federation warned.

    "The government, industry and agriculture must work together to make sure that we act on this report."

    Farmers for Climate Action want the recommendations acted upon.

    "We were glad to see legitimate concerns were printed in this review and were not hidden," Farmers for Climate Action head Natalie Collard said.

    The review held more than 75 meetings throughout Australia, with more than 700 participants and some 500 submissions.

    https://www.dcceew.gov.au/energy/ren...agement-review

    __________




    The Greens have called on Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to reject a koala-killing coal mine which would destroy thousands of hectares of precious forest habitat, crucial for endangered koalas and other wildlife.

    The Vulcan South project is now on Minister Plibersek's desk following today's approval from the Queensland Government. Labor claims it wants to fix Australia's broken environment law this year, but is yet to back calls for a ban on native forest logging and new coal & gas projects.

    Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is Greens Environment Spokesperson and Manager of Business for the Greens in the Senate:

    "This project is a koala killer and a climate cooker: Minister Plibersek must block it and commit to fixing Australia's broken environment laws to stop the extinction and climate crisis.

    "Thousands of hectares of endangered wildlife habitat now hang in the balance. Labor must chose koalas over coal and reject this mega mine. It will not only cook our climate but fuel the extinction crisis and the survival of endangered wildlife.

    "It is unacceptable that the Queensland Government did not undertake environmental assessment before approving this coal mine. Every tonne of coal mined and every tree cleared puts wildlife on the frontline of the climate crisis.

    "This year will be a crucial test for the Albanese Government: will they work with the Greens to fix our broken environment laws to ban native forest logging or will they continue to approve deadly projects for their fossil fuel donors?"

    __________




    The independent senator David Pocock says the Australian government is failing to listen to its “Pacific family” and must stop approving new fossil fuel projects that fuel “an existential threat for those nations”.

    In a new podcast to be released on Monday, the ACT senator also described the “really sobering” experiencing of entering parliament and “seeing the influence of the fossil fuel industry” up close.

    “It’s been really frustrating to see Australian politicians talk about the Pacific family and then not listen to Pacific Island nation leaders when it comes to bold climate action,” he told the Good Will Hunters podcast, which focuses on the aid and development sector.

    “I really think that we need to step up as a country.”

    Pocock, a former Wallabies captain, drew on his rugby experience to explain the gap between the Australian government’s rhetoric and its actions in approving coal and gas projects.

    “I remember being a rugby player talking to some of my Fijian-Australian teammates, who talk about their home village having to find higher ground for cropping because the land’s becoming too salty, becoming saline,” he said.

    “And then you’ve got an Australian government going on about how, you know, we’re part of the Pacific family … and it just doesn’t square.”

    Pocock said it was inconsistent for Australian officials to make such pledges to Pacific neighbours “and then go and approve new fossil fuel projects when they know that that is going to be an existential threat for those nations”.

    The senator was interviewed by the Good Will Hunters podcast, a collaboration with the Australian Council for International Development and WWF Australia.

    Pocock, who was elected in 2022 and holds a key role in Senate negotiations, said he was pressing for strong action after what he characterised as “a long history of denial and then delay in Australian climate politics”.

    He said the Labor government was “saying the right things” in pushing to transition the economy away from fossil fuels, but at the same time was approving new coalmines and gas projects.

    “One of the things that’s really sobering, getting into parliament, is seeing the influence of the fossil fuel industry, where you have both the major parties essentially wheeling out fossil fuel talking points about the need for more gas – when we export 75% of our gas.”

    Pocock did not make any accusations about any individual politicians or specific industry groups.

    The Albanese government has legislated a target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 43% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, and net zero by 2050.

    The resources minister, Madeleine King, has previously told Guardian Australia: “The government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and gas will remain an important energy source during the energy transition. Gas is able to ensure reliability and security of energy supply as coal generation comes to an end.”

    The foreign minister, Penny Wong, travelled to Fiji during her first week in office and said Australia under past governments had “neglected its responsibility to act on climate” and showed disrespect to Pacific nations – but she wanted to “assure you that we have heard you”.

    During her subsequent travel to the region, Wong has repeatedly been asked about Australia’s fossil fuel policies. She has argued Australia is accelerating the transition from a carbon-intensive economy in a meaningful way.

    But the government also faces domestic political pressure over the transition, with the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, accusing Labor of “rushing to renewables” without adequate planning.

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