Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Greens’ red line sparks climate war

Labor party not green enough for Bandt. Throwing a spanner into the works is Bandt's cup of tea. He is an old Trot and as such will do anything to rip down the existing system

Anthony Albanese’s signature ­climate policy – underpinning his election promise to achieve 43 per cent emissions reductions by 2030 – is on the brink of collapse as the Greens prepare to kill Labor’s safeguard mechanism.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has issued a “red line” demand for the government to ban new coal and gas projects, fuelling concerns among senior government and ­industry figures that he will repeat Bob Brown’s scuttling of Kevin Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme in 2009.

Mr Bandt, who is refusing to back a raft of key legislation ­including the government’s ­marquee climate, manufacturing and housing policies, said the Greens would blow up the ­safeguard mechanism unless the Prime Minister stopped fossil-fuel projects.

The Albanese government, which is under pressure from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, industry and unions to unlock new gas fields or face an energy crunch by 2027, is not expected to yield to the Greens’ demands.

Mr Bandt said the Greens would support Labor’s tougher safeguard mechanism – forcing Australia’s 215 biggest-polluting facilities to slash emissions by ­almost 5 per cent each year out to 2030 – if the government “stops opening new coal and gas mines”.

Splits inside the Greens party room, which met on Tuesday, are understood to have heaped pressure on Mr Bandt to adopt a hardline position on the safeguard mechanism after last year backing Labor’s 43 per cent emissions-­reduction target.

The Greens’ 2030 election pledge to reduce emissions by 75 per cent was almost double Labor’s commitment.

As Labor races to win Greens and crossbench support for the safeguard mechanism, the $15bn National Reconstruction Fund and the $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund, which are slated to start from July 1, Mr Bandt said the emissions-reduction scheme would “make the climate crisis worse”.

“You can’t put the fire out while pouring petrol on it. The first step to fixing a problem is to stop making the problem worse. Coal and gas are driving the climate crisis, but Labor wants more,” Mr Bandt said.

“The Greens have huge concerns with other parts of the scheme, such as the rampant use of offsets and the low emissions-reduction targets, but we’re prepared to put those concerns aside and give Labor’s scheme a chance if Labor agrees to stop opening new coal and gas projects.

“Labor needs the Greens to get this through parliament. If Labor’s scheme falls over, it will be because Labor wants to open new coal and gas mines. Labor has to decide how much it wants new coal and gas mines.”

The Australian understands options to placate the Greens, whose 11 upper-house votes are needed by Labor if the Coalition is opposed, include a climate trigger and blocking coal and gas companies from accessing a $600m safeguard mechanism transition fund. The climate trigger, which senior government figures oppose as it would likely have unintended consequences across other critical sectors, could be included under Labor’s overhaul of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Greens Economic & Treasury Spokesman Nick McKim is calling on the federal government to “pull levers” and intervene with interest rate rises… set by the Reserve Bank. “The power is there, and in exceptional circumstances stances which where we find ourselves, the argument is there,” Mr McKim told More
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen is expected to use ministerial regulation powers in April to set rules for the new ­safeguard mechanism scheme. However, separate legislation creating new carbon trading credits for heavy industry must pass through the Senate before the scheme commences on July 1.

Senior Greens sources, who indicated the party would attempt to strengthen the “integrity” of Labor’s proposed carbon credits via legislation in the parliament, have left open the possibility of colluding with the Coalition to introduce a disallowance motion in the Senate. The disallowance motion, which must be lodged within 15 sitting days of Mr Bowen using his regulation powers, would overturn Labor’s safeguard mechanism.

Labor’s 2030 target, as laid-out in its Powering Australia election manifesto, relies heavily on accelerating emissions reduction across the nation’s 215 biggest-emitting facilities, which are responsible for 28 per cent of pollution.

Erwin Jackson, policy director of the Investor Group on Climate Change, whose members manage more than $30 trillion in assets under management, said failure to reach political consensus on the safeguard mechanism would stall investment in Australia and send the debate back decades. “Reforming the safeguard mechanism is the most important climate change legislation of the year,” Mr Jackson said. “Decades of delay have forced new clean energy industries offshore and we need to take this basic forward step to achieving the long term goal which is an orderly and just transition to net zero.”

Greens senator Sarah ­Hanson-Young and key crossbench senator David Pocock will appear at a climate integrity summit in Canberra on Wednesday, where they will discuss the integrity of Australia’s climate targets and whether the nation is set for a “greenwash”.

After the Coalition rejected Labor’s safeguard mechanism, the government needs the support of the Greens and two crossbench senators in the upper house to pass legislation.

While negotiations between the government and the Greens on the NRF and housing future fund remain tense, the left-wing party is likely to broker deals with Industry Minister Ed Husic and Housing Minister Julie Collins ahead of votes in the Senate next month. The NRF is expected to pass through the lower house this week and return to the Senate on March 6.

Following demands by the Greens to prohibit NRF investment in manufacturing linked to fossil fuels, Mr Bandt softened his position on Tuesday. The Greens on Monday night introduced an amendment to ensure the NRF – designed to boost modern ­manufacturing across renewables, medical science, defence, resources and agriculture – could not invest in activities “inconsistent” with greenhouse gas ­emissions-reductions targets.

Mr Bandt said the Greens’ amendment was “crystal clear”, but conceded he was willing to work with the government to make it clearer. “We are having discussions with the government and are happy to have good-faith discussions with them,” he said. “We think our amendment is crystal clear. If the government thinks that there’s additional changes that are required we’d be happy to hear that from the government.”

Mr Bandt said the Greens’ position was not about targeting genuine investment from Australian manufacturers, rather to ensure the fund did not become a “slush fund for coal and gas”.

Speaking to Labor MPs on Tuesday, Mr Albanese attacked Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for rejecting the NRF and accused him of “throwing rocks”. The Coalition has formally rejected the NRF, housing future fund and safeguard mechanism.

Mr Albanese said the Coalition strategy was “straight out of the Tony Abbott playbook” and reflected an opposition that “doesn’t know what it’s for, just what it’s against”. Ms Collins disputed Greens demands for a ­national freeze on rental increases, saying rent capping was controlled by the states


Cut emissions, but not at the expense of jobs and our cost of living


As prime minister, I regularly affirmed that climate does change, mankind does make a contribution, and we should do whatever we reasonably can to reduce our emissions.

I’d normally add, though, that there was little point reducing emissions in ways that drove up our cost of living or just sent our emissions offshore as industrial jobs relocated to places that were less environmentally scrupulous. Because there’s little point dealing with a speculative long-term problem in ways that make short-term practical ones much worse.

It is undeniable that climate changes. It’s the cause that’s uncertain. The ice ages are good examples of a world where the climate was radically different. The Roman and Medieval warm periods, when crops could grow in Greenland, and the mini-ice age of the 1600s, when there were regular ice fairs on the Thames, are more recent examples of climate change; that was, incidentally, independent of any man-made influence. And all other things being equal, the laws of physics mean that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (such as the industrialisation-driven rise from about 300 parts per million to about 400ppm that has taken place in the past century) should tend to warm the planet.

Perhaps this has been the key factor in the average warming of up to 1C that most scientists think has happened across that time (despite some rewriting of the temperature records). Certainly, it seems to be the consensus of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that man-made carbon dioxide is the principal culprit, even though dissident scientists such as Richard Lindzen and Judith Curry think the atmosphere is such a complex mechanism that it’s impossible to be certain, and that other factors such as sun spot activity may play a much larger part.

I certainly think that all countries should take reasonable, proportionate and prudent steps to reduce emissions. The big question is: how much should a country such as Australia be prepared to pay to reduce our emissions given that other countries, such as China and India, will not reduce theirs in preference to strengthening their economies and that nothing Australia does on its own, with our paltry 1.3 per cent of global emissions, will make any appreciable difference.

As prime minister, I agreed that Australia should take a 26 to 28 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 to the 2015 Paris climate conference, based on official advice that this could be achieved without extra government spending, additional costs in the economy, or changes to existing policy.

At that stage, the federal government was spending about $1bn a year through a tender process to fund emissions-reducing activity such as tree planting, soil improvement and better technology (all of which made sense on other grounds too) that was obtaining credible reductions at the cost of about $15 a tonne.

While the previous Coalition government was routinely demonised as “climate-denying”, largely because I had abolished the carbon tax, which was socialism masquerading as environmentalism, as of last year Australia under the Coalition had already cut its emissions by 20 per cent from 2005 levels – compared with just 9 per cent by Canada and just 5 per cent by climate darling New Zealand.

The Coalition’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 – but through technology, not taxes – wasn’t enough to satisfy the climate emergency doomsters who always sought affirmations of faith in the coming climate apocalypse, ignoring the fact the commitment to net zero by a country such as New Zealand relied on excluding emissions from agriculture.

For years now, any discussion of climate policy has been poisoned by fearmongering over supposedly unique catastrophic weather, such as that creating last year’s NSW floods. While last year’s flooding in and around Lismore genuinely was unprecedented, it’s not really surprising that records do sometimes get broken.

On the Hawkesbury, where flood records at Windsor go back to 1799, the four floods of 2020-22 were matched by the five floods of 1860-61; the previous 28-year flood-free period between 1992 and 2020 was more than matched by the flood-free period between 1819 and 1857; and none of the recent floods exceeded 14m (which has been previously exceeded on nine occasions, including three since the completion of Warragamba Dam in 1960). At 13.9m, last year’s flood peak was almost 50 per cent below the all-time peak of 19.7m attained in 1867, which could hardly have had anything to do with man-made climate change.

Unsurprisingly, the Albanese government cited last year’s flood to justify its policy to cut emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, and to cut fossil-fuelled power from more than 60 per cent to under 10 per cent of the electricity grid within eight years. To achieve this, as the Energy Minister has recently admitted, requires the building of 40 large wind turbines every month, the installation of 22,000 solar panels every day and the construction of 28,000km of transmission lines between now and 2030 – all of which will have to be paid for via people’s power bills or taxes. And while (if it’s achieved) this would deliver the renewable power the government seeks, it won’t guarantee the reliable power the economy requires, especially if all the coal-fired power closes in the meantime, as is likely.

By requiring Australia’s 215 biggest emitters (many of which are also big employers) to cut their emissions by 5 per cent each year, or to buy abatement at the cost of up to $75 a tonne, the government is likely further to deindustrialise Australia. And by taking the view that all new fossil-fuel projects pose unacceptable climate risks, the government will gradually kill the coal and gas exports that currently earn more than $200bn a year in national income and deliver the tens of billions in royalty revenue needed to sustain programs such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Driven by its emissions obsession, the government is gambling the country’s entire electricity-dependent way of life on the rapid development of green hydrogen, even though the International Energy Agency, under the most climate-optimistic of its three scenarios, expects this to be providing less than 2 per cent of global electricity by 2050.

Back in 2017, addressing a Global Warming Policy Foundation event (a speech that’s available at, I said the “only rational choice is to put jobs and standard of living first; to get emissions down but only as a far as we can without putting prices up. After two decades’ experience of the very modest reality of climate change but the increasingly dire consequences of the policy to deal with it, anything else would be a dereliction of duty as well as a political death wish.”

Although the Albanese government got lucky when the Coalition essentially “me-too-ed” its climate policy at last year’s election, very soon climate wishful thinking will start to crash against the reality of blackouts, not being able to make things here, and even more expensive electricity.


Greenie carbon scheme is a sham

The whistleblower who forced a review of Australia’s carbon credit system has lashed the outcomes of the federal government’s investigation, saying its findings are incomplete and unsubstantiated, and its recommendations are “tortured”.

Andrew Macintosh, the former head of the government’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, blew the whistle on the Australian Carbon Credit Unit system almost a year ago, arguing it was a fraud that had wasted more than $1bn of taxpayers money and had done more damage than good to the environment.

His research, published ahead of the 2022 federal election, led to a review of the system commissioned by incoming climate minister Chris Bowen and chaired by former national chief scientist Ian Chubb.

But, in a new paper to be published on Wednesday, Professor Macintosh says although governance reforms recommended by the Chubb review are welcome and should lead to “significant improvements” to new projects entering the system, they do not go far enough to stop sham projects already registered from claiming carbon credits.

The Chubb review essentially dismissed claims the ACCU system has integrity problems and does not help deliver genuine cuts to greenhouse gas emission levels in Australia. Professor Chubb told reporters on its release the scheme was “not as broken as has been suggested”.

Prof Macintosh’s response to the review, written with fellow researchers from the Australian National University and the University of NSW, ramps up his criticism of its findings.

“The review panel’s findings on the methods are unsubstantiated and incomplete, and its recommendations are tortured, whereby they do not explicitly state there are any problems but implicitly acknowledge the underlying issues and recommend they be fixed,” the report says, arguing that doing so could significantly undermine the federal government’s plan to reduce emissions by toughening the safeguard mechanism.

“The key flaw in the proposed reforms is that they could largely leave existing projects untouched.”

The 1430 offset projects registered to generate ACCUs on December 19, the paper says, use 42 methods of abatement. Of these, 560 use the scheme’s three “main method types” – landfill gas, avoided deforestation and human-induced regeneration (HIR) of native forests, with the latter accounting for about 40 per cent of ACCUs currently issued.

But, while the paper agrees with review’s recommendation that oversight of system be tightened to ensure only regeneration projects that actually comply with the intent of the scheme – that the project area will become native forest and permanently store carbon – are involved, it says the recommendation will ultimately fail if its administration by the Clean Energy Regulator is not improved.

“The full and proper implementation of the panel’s recommendations would have profound implications for existing projects and the ACCUs they are able to generate; eligible (regeneration) areas could be reduced by more than 90 per cent. Moreover, proponents could be required to surrender an equivalent number of ACCUs as have been issued in relation to these ineligible areas,” the paper says.

“However, whether the method requirements are properly applied depends on the Clean Energy Regulator. To date, the Clean Energy Regulator has refused to admit there are any problems with the scheme or its administration, including with the interpretation and application of the HIR method.”

The paper argues that if existing projects are not reviewed to ensure they are meeting their promises, up to 75 million “low integrity” ACCUs – each representing a tonne of carbon-equivalent emissions – will be generated under the three main methods in the scheme alone.

“This is a substantial threat to the effectiveness of the safeguard mechanism,” the paper says.


Bright-eyed Warmists think its a good idea to coat seeds with fungus

What could go wrong?

Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has joined venture capital outfits including the CSIRO-backed Main Sequence, Lowercarbon Capital and Wollemi Capital in ploughing $105m into one of the nation’s fastest-growing start-ups, Loam, which is launching its carbon removal technology in the Australian market.

After years of research and product development, Loam is this week debuting its microbial technology, which chief executive Guy Hudson says will enable farmers to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it stably in soil, allowing them to both generate revenue and tackle climate change.

The start-up has received backing from Mr Cannon-Brookes’ family office Grok Ventures, in a blockbuster Series B round co-led by Lowercarbon Capital and Wollemi Capital with participation from Horizons Ventures, Acre Venture partners, Main Sequence, the Clean Energy Finance and others, bringing Loam’s total funding to $150m.

The start-up’s previous backers include TIME Ventures, a venture capital firm led by billionaire Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Canadian billionaire Tobias Lütke, the founder of e-commerce company Shopify.

The company, which was founded in Orange NSW in 2019, did not disclose its valuation, but the raising is one of the largest for an Australian start-up in 2023 to date. It now has dozens of staff working across four laboratories in Australia and the US.

“The role of beneficial fungi in agriculture has been hugely underexplored. We’re only just starting to understand how important these organisms are in the ecosystem,” Mr Hudson said.

“By applying Loam seed treatment, farmers can accelerate a path towards healthier, more productive soils by building soil carbon more quickly, which benefits resiliency and productivity. It also provides the opportunity for farmers to diversify revenues into natural capital markets and carbon markets.

“Microbial science has an enormous role to play in addressing climate change.”

The start-up’s co-founder Tegan Nock said used at scale, Loam’s technology can help push forward carbon farming as an enterprise in the Australian market.

“With Loam’s technology we’re able to open a door for farmers in the cropping sector – that wasn’t necessarily open before – to genuinely participate in carton farming, which is really powerful,” she said.

“Loam opens up new pathways for farmers to diversify while also achieving genuine impact for climate at scale, which is really exciting.

“We are not trying to re-engineer the food system. We’re working with growers to enable participation in carbon projects, that’s been quite difficult to step into until now.”

According to Mr Hudson, it has long been thought that there was little to no chance of building soil carbon in cropping soils, making the prospect of entering a carbon project unprofitable for farmers.

Loam’s CarbonBuilder seed inoculum works at the root system of crops to enhance the plants’ natural ability to store carbon stably in the soil, he said.

“Before Loam, I spent over a decade in the climate space, and was constantly frustrated with the lack of speed and scale of the technologies in addressing climate change,” he said.

“The first time I felt any hope in our ability to address this challenge was five years ago sitting in a ute in dusty and drought-stricken New South Wales, with agronomist [and now Loam co-founder] Guy Webb, who started talking about the role of microbiology in addressing climate change.”


Expert exposes brutal reality of owning an electric car in Australia after struggling to find a place to charge his $100k vehicle

An expert car reviewer has exposed the difficult reality of owning an electric vehicle and finding a charging station in Australia. Car expert Jonathan Ross has vented his frustration after struggling to find a place to charge a $100,000 Kia EV6 in Perth.

Ross had been driving the vehicle around and reviewing the perks and shortcomings of the electric car for his YouTube channel Ross Reviews.

He filmed his journey as he drove to four different locations before finding an adequate charging station.

He said he had been waiting for about an hour just for the vehicle's battery to reach 80 per cent after waiting in queue for the station.

'It's f***ing. It's crazy man. This is what you call clown world,' he said in a TikTok video. 'Everyone here is waiting an hour and queuing up and waiting for others to charge.'

A look of defeat was on his face as he contemplated the final cost of the recharge. 'We're still going to have to pay, you know, the same as petrol,' he said. 'Clown world.'

Mr Ross revealed that he was forced to search for a charging station after his battery levels dropped to 17 per cent. The vehicle only had enough energy to travel another 61km sending Mr Ross into a panic.

He filmed his disappointment after wasting five kilometres to drive to an inadequate charging station.

A small shelter had been built around it with a locked gate in the doorway. The shelter was only big enough to charge an electric scooter

'There's not even anything in here. Are you kidding me?' Mr Ross said. 'Are you kidding me? I don't know how you get into this.'

Social media users slammed the lack of available charging stations claiming they would not be making the switch from petrol cars anytime soon. 'I don't think Australia is ready for electric cars,' one wrote.

The 2023 Kia EV6 will set drivers back around $100,000, making it the most expensive Kia sold in Australia.

Mr Ross's review is the latest example of growing frustration shown by owners of electric vehicles who are disappointed about the lack of available charging stations.

During the Christmas holidays, Tesla drivers were forced to wait in 90-minute queues at charging stations as thousands took to the roads. Queues for charging stations were spotted nationwide, including in Victoria and NSW.

Footage showed Tesla owners aimlessly standing around their cars as they waited for their turn at a Wodonga station on the NSW/Victoria border.

Similar scenes at a Coffs Harbour charging point in northern NSW, with Teslas stretching through the carpark as drivers waited their turn to power up.




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