Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Net zero by 2050 plan ‘uniquely Australian’: Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched the federal government’s plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by lauding the country’s achievements so far, saying Australia is on track to achieve a cut of up to 35 per cent by 2030.

“Australia has already met and beaten our ... 2020 targets and indeed Australia will beat and meet our 2030 targets as well,” Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

The government’s policy is a cut of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

“We believe we will be able to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030: that is something we actually think we are going to achieve,” he said.

The government’s plan to achieve net zero by 2050 stresses industries, regions and jobs will not be put at risk. The target of net zero by 2050 will not be legislated.

Mr Morrison was accompanied by Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, but Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was not present.

Nationals MPs backed the goal in a tense meeting on Sunday that cleared the way for Tuesday’s launch of the plan to tackle climate change, which includes $19 billion in investments for low emissions technologies including solar and clean hydrogen by 2030.

Mr Morrison said it was “uniquely Australian”.

“Australians want action on climate change. They’re taking action on climate change but they also want to protect their jobs and their livelihoods. They also want to keep the costs of living down,” he said. “And I also want to protect the Australian way of life, especially in rural and regional areas. The Australian way of life is unique.”

Mr Morrison will fly to Rome on Thursday to attend the G20 summit before spending two days in Glasgow for the United Nations climate talks.

The Prime Minister said the plan to cut emissions was not a plan “at any cost”. “There’s no blank cheques here,” he said.

The PM has revealed details of his government's climate plan that'll cut emissions in Australia to net zero by 2050, trying to allay fears it'll cut jobs and increase the cost of living.

He promised the target would not spell the end of coal or gas production or exports and would not increase energy bills.

“It will not impact households businesses or the broader economy with new costs or taxes imposed by the initiatives that we are undertaking,” he said. “It will not cost jobs, not in farming, mining or gas. Because what we’re doing in these plans is positive things, enabling things.

It also would not be a “set and forget” program, with five-yearly reviews from the Productivity Commission. The first review is set for 2023 and will look at the socio-economic impact of the plan.

Mr Taylor said the plan to achieve net zero by the middle of the century was achievable, thanks in part to the country’s performance to date on reducing emissions.

“Australia versus even developed countries has performed extremely well, with a reduction of almost 21 per cent since 2005,” he said.

Mr Taylor said carbon offset would be an important part of the plan, noting that Australia had 90 million hectares of productive agricultural land. Another focus would be reducing the costs of low emissions technologies.

“We’re looking at the customer and technology trends, shaping those trends to our advantage; and on the back of that, ensuring we have a portfolio of technologies that can deliver the outcome we want to deliver which is head zero by 2050,” he said.

‘Actions speak louder than words’

Mr Morrison predicted Australia’s plan to cut emissions would be strongly welcomed at the UN climate summit. He had been under increasing international pressure to increase the nation’s climate targets ahead of the conference, which starts on November 1.

“The actions of Australia, speak louder than the words of others. There’ll be lots of words in Glasgow, but I’ll be able to point to the actions of Australia and the achievements of Australia, and I think that’s very important,” he said.

The plan has already been welcomed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who overnight hailed the pledge to cut emissions as “heroic”.

Mr Morrison said the modelling that backed the plan would be released in due course.

When asked what the entire cost was, excluding funding previously announced, he said the plan drew together many earlier budget announcements including $464 million for green hydrogen and $1.4 billion in the Building Better Regions Fund.

“The budget is about achieving this plan and particularly on this plan there is $20 billion – pretty much all of which gets spent in rural and regional areas to achieve the lower emissions energy targets.”


Why is the coal industry making more money than ever before?

A shipment of thermal coal leaving the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales this month was worth roughly five times what it was about a year ago.

It means coal companies in Australia are making huge amounts of money – more than ever before – at a time when many predicted the coal price might never bounce back.

How high is it?

The international "Newcastle price" had sunk below $US50 ($67) a tonne last September, making the industry unprofitable.

But the price has continually soared since, sitting at $US230 ($307) a tonne after reaching an unprecedented US$269 ($360) a few weeks ago.

Prices have never been this high, having peaked previously at just over $US200 ($267) a tonne during the mining boom in 2008.

"We're looking at not just new record prices, but they're significantly higher than they've been in the past," Wood Mackenzie coal analyst Rory Simington said.

"It's beyond anyone's expectations a year ago."

Why so high?

There are several contributing factors, but the primary cause is China's rapid growth, insatiable demand for energy and shortage of coal supply.

China's thermal coal production grew just six per cent this year, while its demand for thermal energy grew by about 14 per cent.

China's 3.4 billion tonne thermal coal market is more than three times the size of all seaborne coal exports.

"If you look at the increase in coal-fired power demand for the year to August, it's equivalent to 190 million tonnes of coal burnt," Mr Simington said.

"So just to keep up with growth in demand China really needs to add an entire Hunter Valley, which kind of outlines the scale of what's happened in China."

The price of coal in China has now hit a staggering US$350 ($468) a tonne for a less quality product than Australian coal.

Meanwhile, China's ban on Australian coal has not helped its situation — nor has the gas crisis in Europe, which has increased the reliance on coal.

Usually, when prices soar due to increased demand, we would see new investment in production capacity, such as new thermal coal mines, that would boost supply, and prices would fall.

But that is not what analysts are seeing.

"The problem at the moment is that a lot of coal producers have the long-term picture in mind, and a lot have adopted business strategies to prioritise investment in areas other than thermal coal," Mr Simington said.

"So the long-term uncertainty is driving a lack of will to invest."

There has been a reduction in new coal capacity every year for the last five years as financial markets divest themselves of fossil fuels.

With supply remaining low, high coal prices could persist and probably will for a while. But much is dependent on a volatile Chinese market, where growth is slowing, and there is a potential property sector crisis looming.

Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a pro-renewables think tank, says we are in "absolutely bizarre uncharted territory".

"The key message, I would say, is that we are in unprecedented volatility in fossil fuel prices," he said. "Financial markets hate volatility, and consumers hate volatility."

Is it good for coal long term?

Instead of being a sign of the coal industry's vitality, both Mr Buckley and Mr Simington said high coal prices could actually speed up its decline.

The more expensive coal becomes, the more economic sense it will make to switch to cheaper renewable solutions.

"Now that [coal] is five times more expensive than it was a year ago, solar looks even more ridiculously cheap by comparison," Mr Buckley said.

"So countries like India and China will accelerate the deployment of lower-cost renewable alternatives at a speed that is unprecedented."

He said the situation should be viewed as an unexpected "windfall" for Australia — it's "really good news", but not a reason to build more coal mines.

"If we don't build new mines, our capacity is going to shrink over time, progressively, and the workforce will shrink progressively — that's an orderly transition," Mr Buckley said.


Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow ‘driven’ from office by OIA

The relentless pursuit of one of regional Queensland’s most popular mayors by a controversial council watchdog left the respected leader with “no choice but to resign”.

Margaret Strelow yesterday accused the Office of the Independent Assessor of creating a “climate of fear” among Queensland councillors.

The veteran Rockhampton mayor, who was in office for over 16 years, quit in late 2020 following a misconduct trial after failing to update her register of interests following a trip to India to meet with Adani.

She stepped down on “principle” after a Councillor Conduct Tribunal finding – prompted by an OIA investigation – found she engaged in misconduct.

Ms Strelow said yesterday the OIA should be reviewed, declaring common sense “has gone out the window”.

Her comments followed The Courier-Mail’s revelation the OIA was investigating Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon after he questioned the ability of health authorities to vaccinate his electorate.

It is understood Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles is meeting with the Local Government Association of Queensland on Monday to discuss its concerns about the OIA.

Neither Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk nor Mr Miles would comment yesterday.

Ms Strelow said the OIA had advised her it was investigating a complaint in January 2019 – eight months after she had already told the Local Government Department, which had received a similar complaint against her, she had declared the necessary trip details as “official ­hospitality”.

The OIA referred the matter to the CCT which found Ms Strelow was guilty of misconduct late last year. The CCT asked her to apologise to her council, however Ms Strelow refused and instead quit.

“I’m not going to apologise and say something that I genuinely did not believe to be true, and can I say there should not be a place in democracy where we require a forced confession,” she said.

“I no longer felt safe, I no longer felt as though I could continue to do my job for my community when I felt so distrustful of the state government’s processes.”

Ms Strelow said she chose to appeal the decision because at the time, official hospitality was not required to go on the register of interests, while she also claimed the CCT had included inaccurate information regarding the trip in its findings.

This information was Adani had paid for her and other mayors to fly to Mumbai where they attended a dinner with Adani’s board.

Speaking about calls this week for the OIA to be reviewed, Ms Strelow said: “It’s a climate of fear, you’ve got to understand what the OIA have created in local government. “Common sense has gone out the window.

“Councillors and mayors have less rights than anybody else and it’s just incredibly difficult.”

The OIA said councillors must abide by local government laws and it was required to assess complaints about councillors’ conduct according to those laws.


Scientists scour Australian rivers in canoes looking for new varities of taro, a Pacific staple root crop

Some varieties of taro are weeds in Queensland

A team of Queensland scientists have traded their lab coats for paddles and canoes, as they scour the Brisbane River in search of varieties of taro

They're hunting for new varieties of taro – a starchy vegetable crop – that could help improve food security in the Pacific.

University of Queensland plant physiologist Millicent Smith said domesticated varieties of taro – a staple food in many Pacific countries – were under threat from climate change.

"Our nearest neighbours in the Pacific are very vulnerable, particularly in the coastal regions where rising sea levels and lowering water tables lead to saline soils," Dr Smith said.

"Salinity really reduces the growth of [taro] plants – it stops plants from being able to basically function in their normal way." Dr Smith said in some cases, soil salinity could kill the crop entirely.

On the hunt for new varieties

Researchers are trying to find new types of taro – Colocasia esculenta – and related plants that are resistant to salt.

"Particularly around Brisbane and Moreton Bay you see taro relatives and also sort of a weedy taro growing in areas where there's a lot of salt, so around the bay, in close to waterways and wetlands," Dr Smith said.

"We think that these taro wild relatives might have characteristics that allow it to be much better adapted to salinity than the varieties that are found within the Pacific."

Hunting for taro in the rivers and bushlands around Brisbane has become a fun weekend activity for the team.

"We have gone out on canoes on the weekends to try and find taro. We're going bushwalking and looking for it whenever we can," Dr Smith said.

The researchers have been collaborating with the region's largest scientific body, The Pacific Community, to analyse the DNA of hundreds of taro crops collected from around the world.

UQ molecular geneticist Bradley Campbell said the project was important for food security in the region and around the globe.

"Whether it's caused by climate change, or whether it's caused by just the normal vagaries of agriculture, it's good to have that diversity there," Dr Campbell said.

Ensuring the future of a Pacific staple

The decimation of taro crops could be devastating for Pacific countries, which rely on the plant as a source of food and income.

Samoan taro farmer Tusani Luasamotu Tusani Nu'usa remembers when a fungus known as 'leaf blight' nearly wiped out the country's taro industry in the 1990s. "I was in the middle of kind of going commercial with farming with taro … it was so very hard at the time," Tusani said.

To combat the disease, agricultural scientists used a similar strategy to the UQ researchers — finding varieties of taro that were resistant to leaf blight.

Tusani, who now exports taro to New Zealand and the US, said the intervention saved her livelihood and the industry.

Taro also has cultural significance for some Pacific islands. In Hawaiian folklore, it is said to have grown from the burial place of a stillborn child belonging to the sky god, Wākea. Some Samoan myths refer to taro as being brought to earth from the heavens.

"Taro is something that we eat every day," Tusani said. "Even if we don't have fish or meat, as long as we have taro on the table with coconut cream [we] will still survive with that."

Dr Smith said analysing taro plants was important for protecting food security as well as culture in the Pacific.

People in the community can also get involved in the project by documenting taro plants they come across. "We're using an app called iNaturalist, which is a publicly available app. It's really helpful and it actually identifies everything for you," Dr Smith said.

"You take a photo of it, it will suggest what the species might be … then it will automatically be added to our project so we can see where you found it."


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


1 comment:

Paul said...

As Steven Miles has gotten fatter his inner oestrogen has leached to the surface making him a perfect fit for (((Anastacia))) and her unpleasant vagocracy.