Tag Archives: coal

Heatwave: Australia’s new weather demands a new politics

By George Monbiot – originally published in The Guardian

Climate change clashes with the myth of a land where progress is limited only by the rate at which resources can be extracted.

Five of Australia’s six states are still suffering fires after the counrty’s fiercest heatwave in more than 80 years. Photograph: Kim Foale/EPA

I wonder what Tony Abbott will say about the record heatwave now ravaging his country. The Australian opposition leader has repeatedly questioned the science and impacts of climate change. He has insisted that “the science is highly contentious, to say the least” and asked – demonstrating what looks like a wilful ignorance – “If man-made CO2 was quite the villain that many of these people say it is, why hasn’t there just been a steady increase starting in 1750, and moving in a linear way up the graph?” He has argued against Australian participation in serious attempts to cut emissions.

Climate change denial is almost a national pastime in Australia. People such as Andrew Bolt and Ian Plimer have made a career out of it. The Australian – owned by Rupert Murdoch – takes such extreme anti-science positions that it sometimes makes the Sunday Telegraph look like the voice of reason.

Perhaps this is unsurprising. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal – the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. It’s also a profligate consumer. Australians now burn, on average, slightly more carbon per capita than the citizens of the United States, and more than twice as much as the people of the United Kingdom. Taking meaningful action on climate change would require a serious reassessment of the way life is lived there.

Events have not been kind to the likes of Abbott, Bolt and Plimer. The current heatwave – so severe that the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to add a new colour to its temperature maps – is just the latest event in a decade of extraordinary weather: weather of the kind that scientists have long warned is a likely consequence of man-made global warming.

As James Hansen and colleagues showed in a paper published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the occurrence of extremely hot events has risen by a factor of around 50 by comparison to the decades before 1980. Extreme summer heat, which afflicted between 0.1% and 0.2% of the world 40 years ago, now affects 10%. They warned that “an important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3?) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period”. An extremely hot outlier is a good description of what is roasting Australia at the moment.

So far Abbott has commented, as far as I can tell, only on the fires: “Our thoughts are with the people and the communities across the country who are impacted by the bushfires,” he says. Quite right too, but it’s time his thoughts also extended to the question of why this is happening and how Australian politicians should respond. He says he’s currently on standby with his local fire brigade, but as his opposition to effective action on climate change is likely to contribute to even more extreme events in the future, this looks like the most cynical kind of stunt politics.

To ask him and others to change their view of the problem could be to demand the impossible. It requires that they confront some of the most powerful interests in Australia: from Rupert Murdoch to Gina Rinehart. It requires that they confront some of the powerful narratives that have shaped Australians’ view of themselves, just as we in the United Kingdom must challenge our own founding myths. In Australia’s case, climate change clashes with a story of great cultural power: of a land of opportunity, in which progress is limited only by the rate at which natural resources can be extracted; in which this accelerating extraction leads to the inexorable improvement of the lives of its people. What is happening in Australia today looks like anything but improvement.

This, I think, is too much for Abbott to take on: as a result he has nothing to offer a nation for which this terrible weather is a warning of much worse to come. Australia’s new weather demands a new politics; a politics capable of responding to an existential threat.

What Sea-Ice Melt Means For Our Climate Policy – By David Spratt

Originally published in newmatilda.com

There’s half as much sea-ice as there was 30 years ago and the annual summer melt keeps smashing records. David Spratt on why Australian policy-makers should be paying attention.

In the last few days something so dramatic has happened in the Arctic that it demands another look at Australia’s climate policies.

On Friday 24 August, annual summer melting of the floating sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean smashed the previous record, with another three weeks of the melt season still to to go. Scientists are calling it “stunning” and “astounding”. This breaks the record set in 2007. Back then there were scientific gasps that the sea ice was melting “100 years ahead of schedule”.

Thirty years ago, the summer sea-ice extent was around 7.5 million square kilometres (similar to the area of Australia), but this year it will end up at half that figure. And the ice is becoming thinner, due to melting from below by warmer seas, and the relentless loss of thicker, multi-year ice. So the volume of the summer ice will in 2012 be only around one quarter of what it was three decades ago. Now it looks like the sea-ice will be gone in summer within a decade or so, maybe sooner. That’s what many of the cryosphere scientists and models are saying.

Climate Commissioner Will Steffen commented on the ice melt in yesterday’s newspapers: ”We can expect to see an ice-free Arctic at about the middle of this century”. This line looks out of touch with the most recent data and, in my humble opinion, is a case of scientific reticence. In 2007, NASA climate science chief James Hansen proposed in a research paper: “I suggest that ‘scientific reticence’, in some cases, hinders communication with the public about dangers of global warming. If I am right, it is important that policy-makers recognise the potential influence of this phenomenon.”

The enormity of the present situation is best summed up by sea-ice blogger Neven:

“Basically, I’m at a loss for words, and not just because my jaw has dropped and won’t go back up as long as I’m looking at the graphs. I’m also at a loss — and I have already said it a couple of times this year — because I just don’t know what to expect any longer. I had a very steep learning curve in the past two years. We all did. But it feels as if everything I’ve learned has become obsolete.”

What is also stunning are sea-ice daily extent figures of ice loss averaging more than 100,000 square kilometres per day for the last four days. This suggests melt is accelerating very late in the melt season in a pattern that has never before been observed. The Arctic this year is heading into new territory and it looks like 2012 may in retrospect be seen as the year when a new melt regime took hold.

Climate change impacts are frequently happening more quickly and at lower levels of global warming than scientists expected, even a decade or two ago. And this week the Arctic has provided a dramatic and deeply disturbing example.

The sea-ice decline is being relentlessly driven by positive reinforcing feedbacks. As the ice area reduces, reflective ice is replaced by dark seas which absorb most of the sun’s radiation. As the seas warm, more ice is lost and the seas warm more.

The ice is now much thinner on average than in the past, as the extent of multi-year ice declines sharply. Thin ice is easily smashed up by storms and rough seas, and that is what happened this year. In early August, a huge Arctic ocean storm decimated the sea ice area which was melting out at a record rate, before the high waves and winds shattered the Siberian side of the ice cap. But there have been subsequent, less well-reported, cyclonic storms churning up the ice, which may explain why the melt rate has not eased off in the last 10 days.

With Greenland passing its previous record melt on 8 August 2012 — with more than a month of the melt season left — it seems to be an extraordinary year, but the record show it may be the new norm as the Arctic warms at two-to-four times the global average, and increasing areas of exposed sea are absorbing vast amounts of energy that would previously been reflected by ice.

So what does all this mean for the rest of the world, and for Australia?

Consequences include:

• Devastating impacts on the communities and species of the Arctic north.

• Changes to atmospheric patterns and the jet stream in the northern hemisphere, affecting the frequency of extreme weather events; both the extreme winters Europe has experienced in recent years, and the recent prolonged heatwave, drought and wildfires in the USA, are examples of what can happen. Scientists are now just beginning to understand (pdf) how these profound Arctic shifts may be increasing the likelihood of more persistent and extreme weather.

• Increased heat in the Arctic pushing up the rate of melt on the Greenland ice sheet, and sea levels.

• Melting of Arctic permafrost with dramatic consequences. In an interview with Bloomberg on 16 August, NASA’s top climate scientist, James Hansen said the increasing sea-ice melt may be a harbinger of greater changes such as the release of methane compounds from frozen soils that could exacerbate warming, and thaw of the Greenland ice sheet: “Our greatest concern is that loss of Arctic sea ice creates a grave threat of passing two other tipping points — the potential instability of the Greenland ice sheet and methane hydrates… These latter two tipping points would have consequences that are practically irreversible on time scales of relevance to humanity.

For Australian policy-makers, two issues stand out.

Firstly, adaptation and sea-levels. Sea level planning in Australia is based on a possible 1.1 metre rise by 2100. But this does not include any allowance for accelerated ice mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica. The City of Boston (see chart) is now considering sea-level rise scenarios of up to two metres, and prudent risk assessment procedures suggests Australia should do the same. Professor Tim Lenton, the world’s leading authority on climate tipping points says,  “the (Arctic) system has passed a tipping point”. More worrying, he says, and very likely, is the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet that could cause catastrophic sea-level rise.

Chart: Projected sea-level rise to 2100 (inches). Source City of Boston.

The gap between science (the necessary scale of action to reclaim a safe climate) and politics (what is politically “possible”) is growing alarmingly wide. Experts like James Hansen warn that the emissions reduction targets of both major parties in Australia would result in a lot more than two degrees of global warming and are a recipe for global disaster. There is a forlorn hope amongst the political class that two degrees of warming won’t be as bad as the science suggests. On recent trends — where observations such as in the Arctic often exceed the scientific projections for rates of change — it’s likely to be worse.Secondly, emissions reduction targets. The bi-partisan political orthodoxy in Australia is that to reduce greenhouse emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 is doing enough. Few voices are prepared to point out that buying international permits means emissions will actually go up, rather than down, by 2020, or that the planned expansion of Australia coal exports will make us a bigger exporter of fossil fuel carbon by 2030 than Saudi Arabia.

The gap between science (the necessary scale of action to reclaim a safe climate) and politics (what is politically “possible”) is growing alarmingly wide. Experts like James Hansen warn that the emissions reduction targets of both major parties in Australia would result in a lot more than two degrees of global warming and are a recipe for global disaster. There is a forlorn hope amongst the political class that two degrees of warming won’t be as bad as the science suggests. On recent trends — where observations such as in the Arctic often exceed the scientific projections for rates of change — it’s likely to be worse.

YCAN joins rural and urban alliance against new coal and gas projects

Coal mine destroying agricultural land in NSW. Photo: Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Yarra Climate Action Now is a proud member of the rural and urban alliance, launched yesterday, calling for a ban across Victoria of all new coal and coal seam gas exploration and development. As of this morning, Forty-five community organisations had joined the alliance.

This call is also backed by the State and Federal Greens. The Victorian Labor Party is supporting a moratorium on coal seam gas development (but not coal).

Friends of the Earth, who put the alliance together, is running a petition. If you haven’t signed it yet, please do so here.

Below is further information about the alliance and the call for a moratorium on new coal and gas developments, taken from Friends of the Earth.

 

Rural and urban Alliance calls on State Government to ban new fossil fuel projects

Victorian government wants more coal – the community wants farmland and clean water

As Victoria faces a wave of exploration licences for coal seam gas (CSG), coal, and tight gas, there is growing opposition to this industry. “Community groups have formed across the ‘coal belt’ of southern Victoria, from the Otways to Wonthaggi to Toongabbie” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. “Clearly local farmers and residents do not want to see their lands and water sacrificed for short term fossil fuel development.”

“In Queensland and New South Wales there is a massive community backlash against the CSG industry” said Merryn Redenbach, spokesperson for Quit Coal. “Elsewhere in Australia, governments and individual members of parliament are standing up against the growth of CSG exploration and new coal mining in rural and urban areas. Locally, the Bass Coast Council has called for a ban on mining and gas operations, and Liberal MP Ken Smith has supported this demand”.

Mr Walker said “the only response from the government of Ted Baillieu has been to increase opportunities for further coal development. Just this week it was reported that the Baillieu government is working on a strategy to try to head off community objections to its plans to develop Victoria’s brown coal reserves.”

An alliance of 45 groups has today called on the Victorian government to ban all new on-shore coal and un-conventional gas operations until there has been a thorough investigation into the likely impacts of this industry on:

  • water resources,
  • farmland and food security,
  • local communities and natural biodiversity, and
  • greenhouse emissions.

Sue Anderson, a dairy farmer from near Bunyip, said “the industry needs to provide guarantees for the integrity of aquifers and surface water before it is allowed to proceed.  Blind Freddy could see that mining is detrimental to the production of food.  In a competition between food and coal seam gas, food has to win.”

“In the specific case of our area in West Gippsland, any government that approves CSG operations where 15% of Melbourne’s food is produced must be both barking mad and broke”.

Community member from Toongabbie, Tracey Anton, said “rural communities, state wide, are forming powerful alliances with environmental organisations against new mining explorations and development. Why? Because in our time of need, they are the only ones there to answer our questions.  To prevent the social and economic erosion of our communities, will Government and Industry work with us or against us?”

“The government is pretending there is no problem with new fossil fuel developments in Victoria” said Mr Walker. “Recent revelations that it is considering new coal allocations shows that they are out of step with community sentiment across rural Victoria. It is time they made their position clear: will they support a call for a moratorium?”

For further comment:
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth 0419 338 047

Groups which have supported this statement

To add your group please email cam.walker@foe.org.au

Coal seam gas extraction causes water pollution

Alternative Technology Association
Ararat Greenhouse Action Group Inc
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Benalla Sustainable Future Group
Beyond Zero Emissions
Brimbank Climate Action Network (BrimbankCAN)
CLIMARTE
Climate Action Moreland
Climate Action Network Australia (CANA)
Climate and Health Alliance
Community Over Mining (Gippsland)
C4 (Communities Combatting Climate Crisis), Healesville
Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Assoc Inc
Darebin Climate Action Now
Emerald for Sustainability (EmFSus)
Environment Victoria
Friends of Bass Valley Bush Inc
Friends of Gippsland Bush Inc. (FOGB)
Friends of the Earth
G CAN [Geelong Chemical Action Network Inc]
Global Warming Action Party Australia, East Gippsland
Gippsland Environment Group Inc (Bairnsdale)
Gippsland Action Group
GreenLeap Institute
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Groundswell Bass Coast
Grow Lightly South Gippsland
Healesville Environment Watch Inc.
INC3
Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group
Lighter Footprints
Locals Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE)
Lock The Gate Alliance
MADGE Australia Inc
Melton Community Supported Agriculture
Moonee Valley Climate Action
Nillumbik Climate Action Now
Quit Coal
Riddells Creek Sustainability
Surf Coast Energy Group
The Wilderness Society
Western Regional Environment Centre
Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH)
WTree Progress & Promotion Association
Yarra Climate Action Now

 

Who supports this moratorium?

More than 1,200 individuals have signed the petition calling for a moratorium. http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-dangerous-coal-seam-gas-mining-in-v…

Adam Bandt, Federal MP for Melbourne
Richard Di Natale, Senator for Victoria

Colleen Hartland, State Upper House MP for Western Metropolitan
Greg Barber, State Upper House MP for Northern Metropolitan

 

What are people saying about a moratorium & fossil fuel impacts on rural Victoria?

ALP

The state opposition supports the call for a moratorium on new coal-seam gas exploration.

Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio said there were growing concerns about coal-seam gas projects. ”New evidence has emerged that raises questions about the safety, health and environmental impacts of coal seam gas exploration, and it’s important these concerns are fully investigated”.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/labor-call-to-ban-fracking-20120411-1w…

Alex Arbuthnot, from the Victorian Farmers’ Federation, says areas of high food production should be protected from CSG mining.

“Food security, following the adoption of a national food plan and perhaps a Victorian food plan next year … is going to become a major, major issue,” he told the Victorian inquiry.


“I have flagged to the mining industry here, there could be some no-go zones for food.”

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/farmers-call-for-csg-nogo-…

The VFF issued a stronger statement after we launched our call for a moratorium:

“Farmers are calling on the Vic Coalition Government to extend wind farm veto laws to cover coal seam gas projects. The VFF’s Gerald Leach says landholders should have the right to veto mining on their property. He says farmers are concerned coal seam gas mining could cause long-term damage to aquifers and their land. Leach says the Vic Government has given landholders the right to veto in respect to wind towers”.

ABC Gippsland (Sale), 08:30 News – 13/04/2012
In March 2012, the Bass Coast shire voted to reject exploration for coal and gas within its jurisdiction.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/03/23/460155_latest-news.h…

Colac Otway shire mayor Brian Crook said in 2011 that a ban on exploration was essential until the government improved its “seriously flawed” consultation process and could assess the impact of mining.

“Until we have the process evaluated and there is a 100-per-cent guarantee there will be no impact on aquifers and the community is happy with it, coal-seam gas exploration must stop,” Cr Crook said.

He said the council called for the mining companies to abandon exploration and would push for the support of major political parties in the Colac district’s fight against coal-seam mining.

http://www.colacherald.com.au/2011/09/coal-seam-gas-miners-resist-demand…

Federal Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman, who is a qualified geologist, supports a call to ban Coal seam gas mining.

“There’s absolute community outrage. Western Victorian has some very valuable environmental assets and highly productive agricultural land and this industry has been proven to do tremendous damage.”

http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2011/10/06/283971_news.html

State MP for Bass (Gippsland) and Liberal party member Ken Smith has supported the call for a ban on exploration for coal and gas within his electorate.
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/03/23/460155_latest-news.h…
“We’ve got a farming community down here and the last thing that we need to have now is people exploring the countryside from the shoreline up into the hills looking to dig the place up,”

The Weekly Times editorial“The risks of mining CSG are real; the benefits temporary and the profits go to mining fat-cats”.

A polluted aquifer could end food production in an agricultural region indefinitely – a contaminated aquifer is impossible to decontaminate”.


“The Victorian government needs to show it will not be pushed around by mining giants.


It should declare prime food-producing land off-limits to mining”.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/10/19/396331_opinion-news….

Baillieu’s Coaltopia puts Victorians in danger

The Victorian State Government is currently considering a plan to offer mining licenses for large reserves of brown coal, with the aim of kick-starting a brown coal export industry in Victoria. They are also considering a taxpayer funded public relations campaign, on behalf of the coal companies, to convince Victorians that brown coal is great.

Mining companies are already lining up to bid for the right to dig up billions of tonnes of brown coal, in some of Victoria’s most productive agricultural regions.

This comes on top of the Baillieu Government’s destruction of the wind energy industry and is occurring alongside their destruction of the solar energy industry (they aim to get rid of the solar feed-in tariff for rooftop solar).

Under any reasonable analysis, this plan is indefensible. The only beneficiaries are the coal companies, who happen to donate money to the Liberal and National Parties.

There is a lot of misinformation and corporate propaganda flying around on this issue, so Yarra Climate Action Now wants to clear the air with a few key points:

1. There’s no such thing as “clean coal”.

Brown coal is the dirtiest and most polluting fossil fuel used in Australia. Some of the “new” technologies proposed for treating the brown coal (which the coal lobby deceptively refers to as “clean” or “pristine” coal) will only reduce brown coal’s greenhouse gas emissions to the level of black coal, or at best, fossil gas. This is far from clean and nowhere near the zero emissions status of renewable energy.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which is also sometimes referred to as “clean coal” doesn’t exist, and is still only theoretical. Even its most enthusiastic proponents say it will not be ready for at least another 20 years, by which time renewable energy will be far cheaper anyway.

“Clean” coal is nothing but a delay strategy put forward by the coal lobby to slow down the roll-out of renewable energy and ensure they can keep making obscene profits for a little while longer.

2. Baillieu’s plan will increase electricity prices.

Baillieu’s destruction of the wind energy industry already means that Victorians will be paying billions more for our electricity than we otherwise would be. A brown coal export industry will expose Victorians to international pricing for coal, something we are shielded from since brown coal is not currently exported. This will increase domestic coal prices and increase the cost of electricity production in Victoria.

3. Brown coal development will kill jobs.

If you invest your money in one thing, then you don’t have money to invest in another. Money going into brown coal development will reduce the amount of money going into renewable energy technologies. And guess what! Renewable energy is far more jobs-rich than fossil fuel technologies are.

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan calculated that if we transitioned our whole economy to one that is run by 100% renewable energy, 40,000 permanent jobs would be created, and 20,000 jobs would be lost. That is, for every job lost in the fossil fuel sector, 2 jobs would be created in the renewable energy sector due to its higher labour needs.

If the money going into brown coal was shifted to building renewable energy and establishing a renewable energy components manufacturing industry, then far more jobs would be created, and they would be sustainable for the long term too.

4. Investing in coal is bad for the Victorian economy.

Lobbyist Dan Cass outlines the economic stupidity of  investing in brown coal in his article on the ABC website. He says:

Premier Ted Baillieu’s plan to expand Victoria’s brown coal sector is a blow to our economic credibility.

“The world is switching to renewable energy and brown coal, the dirtiest, least efficient way to generate energy, will be left for dead.

“China is the biggest coal consumer in the world, but it is planning to cap coal imports in 2015. That is only three years away. Victoria’s new brown coal mines will not even be a hole in the ground by then, let alone a viable export industry.

“India is another big coal customer that is turning to renewable energy, because it is more economically viable. The Indian government put an industry plan in place to bring the cost of solar below the cost of coal, by 2022. A review of this ‘Grid Parity’ by KPMG found that it was likely to be reached five years earlier, by 2017!

“The USA is still the economic powerhouse and it sets the global energy agenda. It also has an industry plan like India’s, which will get solar cheaper than brown coal by 2020. That is only eight years away.

To summarise – the world is shifting away from coal and we will be left with stranded assets and a product no one wants to buy. We should be putting our money into the energy technologies of the present and future, not the 19th Century.

5. A brown coal export industry is a climate disaster.

The climate science is clear. There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to prevent catastrophic climate change. We need to get to zero emissions and start removing the excess carbon we have been adding to the atmosphere as quickly as is humanly possible.

Brown coal is currently not exported due to its unstable nature. If left at room temperature it can spontaneously combust, making it too dangerous to transport long distances. If the coal companies get their way and they can develop technologies to make brown coal suitable for export, then more coal will be exported, making coal more accessible to countries currently deciding their energy futures and thereby delaying the urgent and necessary transition to zero-emissions technologies.

Coal mine destroying agricultural land in NSW. Photo: Jeremy Buckingham MLC

6. This brown coal plan will reduce our food security.

Coal mines are planned for Bacchus Marsh and many other areas in Victoria, particularly Gippsland. These are some of the most agriculturally productive regions in Victoria, supplying Melbourne and many other places with fresh fruits, vegetables, grain and dairy products. With the impacts of the climate crisis, including droughts, floods and heatwaves, reducing our ability to produce food globally, the productive land we do have is becoming more and more precious.

No matter what the coal industry says, we can’t eat coal. Food security is more important than the profits of mining companies.

7. We don’t even need coal anyway.

We already have the renewable energy technology to get to 100% renewable energy and replace the baseload power we get from coal and gas. Renewable energy is rapidly dropping in price, and the more we build it, the cheaper it gets. Contrast this to coal and gas prices which are set to become even more volatile and will just keep going up in the long term. We don’t need coal anymore to produce our electricity.

 

The Greens have already come out and rightly condemned this plan, saying they will fight it. As has the Bass Coast Shire Council (Wonthaggi) and even the state Liberal Member of Parliament for that area, Ken Smith. The Federal Labor Party has continued its usual support of the fossil fuel lobby by saying they will allow a brown coal export industry to be developed, while the State Labor Party maintains an unprincipled silence (we have contacted our two state members of parliament, Bronwyn Pike and Richard Wynne, and await their responses).

To help stop this insane proposal please sign the petition here. If you want to get more actively involved (and unless more people do, then this will go ahead) please contact us or Quit Coal.

No new coal: Let’s bury HRL once and for all

Copyright: Michael Bainbridge

On the eve of the Federal Government decision that could make or break HRL, the proposed new coal-fired power station for Victoria, it’s up to us to convince the politicians that in 2012, new coal-fired power stations are a dud investment.

In 2007, the Howard Government awarded HRL a grant of $100 million. But 5 years later, HRL have failed to meet the conditions of the grant and no money has changed hands – yet. Now this funding is under review.

JOIN US at 12:30pm Wednesday 1 February at Parliament House, Spring St, Melbourne, to tell the Prime Minister and Premier:

Say NO to funding this polluting new coal-fired power station, and YES to clean renewable energy.

Speakers include Mr. Kelvin Thomson, ALP Member for Wills and Mr. Adam Bandt, Greens Member for Melbourne.

With you at the rally, MPs from across party lines supporting us, and over 12,000 of your hand written signatures on our petition, we can show the federal and state governments that HRL is a dud investment.

Together we can convince the Gillard Government to withdraw their $100 million, and put it into renewable energy instead.

But we need you to join us!

Please, make sure you’re with us on the 1st February.

For more info:
http://quitcoal.org.au/portfolio/stop-hrl/
http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/no-new-coal
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Dual_Gas_power_station

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Battles against fossil fuel developments heat up in Victoria

There are a number of key battles being fought in Victoria right now against fossil fuel development. I have briefly outlined them below and provided links to further information. Please consider helping out in one or some of these campaigns. Allowing further development of fossil fuels considering the climate crisis we face is insanity and they cannot be allowed to go ahead.

 

Coal Seam Gas

Coal seam gas has been in the news quite a lot lately, with a massive groundswell of opposition to its development arising in rural QLD and NSW, where the industry has already begun extraction of gas from prime agricultural land, mostly against the wishes of the land owner. Apart from producing a highly greenhouse gas emitting fuel, coal seam gas extraction is dangerous and dirty – it pollutes groundwater, air and land in some of Australia’s most productive food growing areas. One company (Dart Energy) is even trying to drill for gas in the middle of Sydney!

Here in Victoria we don’t yet have a coal seam gas industry but there are exploration licenses covering huge areas of the state, from Gippsland out to the west. It’s only a matter of time before projects start to happen – so the industry needs to be stopped before it can do irreparable damage to our climate, air, land and water.

To find out more about coal seam gas, come along to hear Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance in QLD speak on Friday 7 October, 7.30pm, New Council Chambers at Trades Hall, cnr Lygon & Victoria Streets, Carlton.  Drew is an excellent speaker not to be missed. For more information on this even click here.

And please sign the petition to ban coal seam gas extraction in Victoria.

For more information on coal seam gas see the Lock the Gate Alliance and Gasland.

 

Bacchus Marsh brown coal mine and export industry

Shaun from the Switch Off Coal collective stops drilling for brown coal at Bacchus Marsh, 19 Sep 2011

Brown coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and currently cannot be exported because it spontaneously combusts. However, Mantle Mining, together with their financial backers Cygnet Capital want to start a brown coal export industry in Victoria, starting with a coal mine in Bacchus Marsh and then drying the coal to stabilise it before exporting to India. The locals in Bacchus Marsh, including the affected land owners, do not want a coal mine ruining their land, and we don’t want more of our precious farmland containing the market gardens that grow our veggies ruined while a new fossil fuel industry is created.

Not only that, but India’s energy system is currently at a crossroads. If they cannot get their hands on cheap coal, then they will start the shift to renewable energy. This project is a key part of keeping alive their coal addiction.

Take Action! Email Cygnet Capital and demand that they pull their financing from this projectdj@cygnetcapital.com.au

 

HRL – a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley

The HRL project has been on the cards for many years. It is a brown coal-fired power station that uses new technology to make it as polluting as a black coal-fired power station. It was approved by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) this year and both the State and Federal Governments have committed taxpayer money to the project.

However, the Federal Government has yet to release its $100 million and may yet be convinced to pull the plug. Without federal money it will not go ahead. A petition is currently being put together (hard copy signatures only). Download it from here and get signing!

Environment Victoria and Doctors for the Environment are also taking the EPA and HRL to court, questioning the legality of the environmental approval. The case will start on 24 October.

For more information see the video below and click here.

 

 

Anglesea Coal Mine

For decades now, Alcoa has operated a coal mine right near Anglesea in order to obtain coal to power its aluminium smelter. Alcoa is now looking to extend its mining lease for 50 years past the current 2016 expiry. This will mean expanding the mine. Anglesea Primary School is about 1km from the open cut coal mine, and no independent monitoring of air quality has been done to date. The Alcoa power station fed by the mine emits 1161% more particulate matter than all of Hazelwood Power Station.

The residents of Anglesea want clean air and we want Alcoa to develop renewable energy sources for its smelter. We call on the State Government not to renew Alcoa’s lease.

For more information and to sign the petition click here.

Is the Victorian EPA completely useless?

Last Friday the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) gave a works approval to a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. The HRL Dual-gas proposal will create millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide per year if built.

In the 2010 election campaign, Julia Gillard promised that no dirty new coal-fired power stations would ever be built in Australia. Gillard’s credibility is now on the line as the Federal Government continues to pledge $100 million of taxpayer money to the project. The emissions of the HRL plant will be around 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of energy generated. This is about the same as a black coal-fired power station and double the OECD average for coal-fired power stations.

Despite the spin from HRL, this is a dirty technology using a dirty fuel that should be left in the ground.

It is great news that all four of the big Australian banks are refusing to finance this project. However, to ensure it is never built, the state and federal governments need to withdraw their funding.

The EPA’s decision was made within the legislative framework that governs it. However, the question needs to be asked, if the EPA cannot say no to a new coal-fired power station, despite the extreme urgency and severity of the climate crisis that we face, then why does it even exist?

The HRL project will never be built because we’re going to stop it. To help the campaign please sign the petition and sign up to Stop HRL updates and action alerts.

YCAN takes on ANZ: report

On Saturday 19 March, Yarra Climate Action Now volunteers spent several hours leafletting the customers of the Bourke Street Mall and Collingwood branches of ANZ bank, as part of the Greenpeace Dirty Banks campaign. We were there to let people know that for every dollar ANZ invests in renewable energy, they invest $6.40 in global warming-causing coal energy.
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Despite their greenwash, ANZ is one of the major financiers of coal infrastructure in Australia, and thereby a facilitator of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.
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Our material was well received, with lots of people stopping to chat and the Bourke Street Mall team running out of flyers a good half hour before the bank branch was due to close!
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Our message to ANZ is clear. Stop pretending to care about your customers while undermining their wellbeing with your investments. Stop investing in fossil fuels, stop facilitating the destruction of our economy and ecology. It’s time to invest in a zero emissions future.

Stop the HRL new coal plant – rally 11 April

Did you know that the company HRL is planning to build a new coal-fired power station in Victoria?

The proposed new 600MW HRL ‘Dual Gas’ power station is likely to received works approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) sometime in the next few weeks. Despite relying on a mixture of synthetic gas (produced from coal) and natural gas, it nevertheless is still as dirty as a black coal-fired power station.

Public money is being used to fund this project, with the primary financiers currently being the federal government ($100m) and the state government ($50m).

Join us to protest against new coal power in Victoria:

Monday April 11th 9:30am 

Federation Square, Melbourne

Go to the Stop HRL website for more information and to sign up to action alerts.

Help us take on Australia’s dirtiest bank

Come along to help hold ANZ accountable for their support of the coal industry. There are two locations, each with two separate shifts for this action. Register for one of the shifts with Ian at iandrmack -at- optusnet.com.au or alternatively, just show up!
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When: SATURDAY MARCH 19
Where: ANZ Branch 219 Smith St, Fitzroy
Times: 9am to 11am and 11am to 1pm

Or:

When: SATURDAY MARCH 19
Where: ANZ Branch 309 Bourke St Mall, City
Times: 10.30am to 12.30pm and 12.30 to 2.30pm
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A new report commissioned by Greenpeace, Pillars of Pollution: How Australia’s Big Four Banks Are Propping Up Pollution, reveals the extent to which Australia’s big four banks are investing in polluting coal power – and they’re using your money to do it. For every $1 ANZ invested in renewable energy over the last five years, it invested $6.40 in coal.
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These banks spend huge amounts of money and time trying to sell themselves as environmentally responsible. But if they continue heavily investing in polluting power, it doesn’t matter how many trees they plant – the damage caused by their coal investments is already too great.
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Local Melbourne climate action groups YCAN and inc3 are organising an action as part of the Greenpeace Dirty Banks campaign to pressure the big four to stop funding new coal fired power stations. We would love to invite and have you join us in this action.
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The action will mainly involve leafleting outside ANZ bank branches, holding banners, etc.
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This is the same strategy that was used to make it hard for Gunn’s and their pulp mill to get funding and holding financial institutions to account for the greenwash they are building into their branding. Tasmania as we know recently has had their breakthrough agreement with the loggers.
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The facebook event page is here.