Dear President Obama, Encouraging Tar Sands Development is Not Acting on Climate
by HELEN GRANT. Counterpunch
Dr. James Hansen’s latest dire warning is that we are on the verge of crossing the point of no return, triggering runaway global warming that would last for centuries, making much of the planet uninhabitable by humans. He asks, “Humanity stands at a fork in the road. As conventional oil and gas are depleted, will we move to carbon-free energy and efficiency – or to unconventional fossil fuels and coal?”
Newcastle, home of the biggest coal loader in the world, is set to expand at Terminal 4.Tonight we talk to activists Steve Phillips, Amanda Albury and Fergus Green. Music from The Lurkers
Steve tells us how cancer rates have soared among families on Kooragang Island. A wetland there, protected by an international treaty for birds migrating from China, Japan and Korea is set to be destroyed.
Amanda is president of Rivers SOS. She has campaigned for many years against the impact of coal mining around rivers .Shereports on the recent case where Duralie Coal Co was taken to court. She challenges the heart warming ads we see from the Mining Industry and the myth they put about that coal seam gas is a “clean” energy.
Fergus Green is the co-author of BZE’s latest report “From Laggard to leader”.
We are laggards in that we have the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world. When we try to evade this by saying “Well , Australia only causes 1.5% of World emissions:” we have our heads down the coal mine.
Our fossil fuel exports are booming and we are on track to export twice the fossil fuels of Saudi Arabia creating 4% of world emissions. The expanded coal facility at Newcastle is a case in point. Fergus analyses how stopping exported emissions in our sphere of influence can make us a leader in turning around irreversible climate change.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Albury
Terminal 4 would have new rail lines running through the wetland with coal dust full of cancerous particulate matter whirling off the uncovered wagons day and night. Submissions from the public scream out a message to the planning minister
” Climate change is happening faster than predicted; the impacts are more serious than people realized. To contribute ,...nay actively encourage developments such as T4 is a grossly irresponsible act of governance.”
Arena reports: During the prime ministership of John Howard, the term ‘greenhouse mafia’ was coined to describe the fossil fuel industry representatives who were so influential they were literally writing the Federal Government’s climate and energy policies. With Martin Ferguson as Labor’s Minister for Resources and Energy, it seems very little has changed. The draft Energy White Paper (EWP), released in December 2011, provides as clear an indication as ever of the access and esteem granted to the organisations and individuals whose profits depend on Australia maintaining its fossil fuel-dependent status quo.
The EWP addresses questions central to the supply and use of energy in Australia and points to strategic priorities for the government in the face of expected challenges over the period to 2030. The answers it comes up with are as strikingly beneficial to fossil fuel industry interests as they are disdainful of the growing importance of renewable energy and the reality of responding to global warming.
Fortunately for the Federal Government, it can use a “Leaf” to hide its growing embarrassment at being exposed for suppressing its own report warning of sharp declines in global oil production in five years time.
In 2009, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) published Report 117, which revealed “at some point beyond 2017 we must begin to cope with the longer-term task of replacing oil as a source of energy. Given the inertias inherent in energy systems and vehicle fleets, the transition will be necessarily challenging to most economies aroundthe world”.
The Age Business Day reports: WE ARE adults here. We know that there will be some very tough trade-offs that will be needed to tackle climate change. But the oil and gas industry is asking too much if it wants Australians to incur the costs of a coal seam gas (CSG) boom, without clearly pointing out the benefits.
Until lately it was widely assumed that gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, with lower greenhouse gas emissions. The rise of unconventional gas extraction - whether from shale, coal seam or tight sand gas fields - has called that assumption into question, and guess what? The answer is frightfully unclear.
It would be fair to say most of the data is old or industry-funded or based on different practices used for extraction overseas. Or hidden.
The ''We Want CSG'' ads sponsored by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association say coal seam gas burned to produce baseload electricity produces ''up to'' 70 per cent fewer emissions than coal.
"ONLY a few pockets of the Sydney CBD have enough gas to support plans to power the city with a network of trigeneration gas turbines."
The so-called trigen units are locally installed gas-fired plants which generate electricity for buildings and then capture the exhaust to heat and cool them.
They have become increasingly popular in the past year as they can produce electricity for as little as 8c an hour and are three times more energy efficient than coal-fired power.
The City of Sydney has announced plans to install a network of more than 100 trigeneration turbines which it says would meet 70 per cent of Sydney's electricity needs by 2030.
But Simon Bennallack, the national manager of Urban Energy, who has consulted with the council over its plans, says that introduction of a second power network into the city will be far from straightforward.
Beyond Zero Emissions Inc. is a not-for-profit research and education organisation.
Through the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) research project, public engagement program and the Zero Carbon Communities (ZCC) inititiative BZE is encouraging climate change policy and action that is in line with the latest science and the Paris Agreement's mandate of peaking emissions as soon as possible.
Beyond Zero Emissions campaign seeks to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases to a level that will enable humanity and our natural environment to thrive and flourish. Website by Media Insights, Studioalto, Dvize and the BZE team.