Renewable energy

Students of Sustainability Conference 2013

Beyond Zero's Nick Carson visits the 2013 Students of Sustainability (SOS) Conference, a national wide conference which was held at the University of Tasmania from the 5th to 9th of July.
Throughout the past twenty-one years, SOS has grown into the primary national environmental conference for students. Held in a different city every year, SOS spreads its unique, life-affirming, change-making energy to the Universities and communities that host it.

Retrofitting Bonanza

To coincide with the launch of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Buildings Plan in August 2013, Beyond Zero Radio looks at transforming our buildings to zero emissions.The ZCA Buildings Plan is the first comprehensive, nationwide retrofit plan for Australia's building sector. This plan demonstrates how all existing buildings can reach zero emissions within ten years.

Beth talks to Lucy Roberts, BZE Live Retrofit Productions Manager, about the Master Builders Association's Build & Renovating Expo held in July 2013. Lucy ran a set and live performance at the Expo, where an average Australian house was transformed into a zero-carbon, low-energy, high-performance home, showcasing the solutions of the ZCA Buildings Plan. We also talk to a range of exhibitors promoting energy efficient products at the expo.

Trent Hawkins, ZCA Buildings Plan Project Director, explains how retrofit existing buildings for higher comfort and lower running costs can halve Australia's building energy use. Then we talk to Lloyd Niccol, Project Manager Team UoW Australia, the first team from Australia to gain entrance into a Solar Decathlon 2013 in China and the first in the history of the competition to demonstrate how to retrofit an existing home! 

UPDATE since the interview with Lloyd, is Team UoW has won Solar Decathlon 2013 - congratulations!

Retro wins out in high-tech housing contest

Paul McIntosh, Sustainable Dorset


Paul McIntosh, Sustainability Manager of Dorset Agenda 21 (da21) - an independent charity - works cooperatively with local people, communities, businesses, educational bodies, local government and other organisations to encourage sustainable living in Dorset, UK.

Sustainable Dorset, the website of Dorset Agenda 21, aims to promote the amazing work of organisations in Dorset working on sustainability issues, to provide resources such as funding information for groups themselves, and to be a common point of reference for those working in this field. Paul sees his role as an 'enabler' of projects ranging from community funded renewables such as tidal, solar PV, and biogas, to community carsharing, transition towns, organic gardening and more. Paul also oversees a project called Dorset Energized which is about connecting home owners with renewable energy.

They use the Brundtland definition of sustainable development : "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist, and activist.  In 1988, he wrote The End of Nature, the first book for a common audience about global warming.  He is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board at, an international climate campaign that works in 188 countries around the world.

Beyond Zero Radio's Vivien Langford talked to Bill on his recent 'Do the Maths' Australian tour in June 2013. Bill McKibben's also has a new movie of the same name, 'Do the Math'. In November 2012, following publication of his Rolling Stone article, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, Bill McKibben and hit the road to build a movement strong enough to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis by getting people, colleges and governments to take their cash out of coal investments.

Join the Fossil Free Australia community today to bring on the clean energy revolution!

Do the Maths: Bill McKibben argues for divestment

Kurri Kurri Gathering part 1: The Sunrise Project & Sierra Club

Beyond Zero radio takes you to a gathering in rural NSW today. The Sunrise Project gathered landowners and activists, politicians and people ready to go to jail in the battle to wake us up to climate change. They were at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, at the:

Our Land, Our Water, Our Future: Beyond Coal and Gas Gathering 2013 from 18-20 May.

As part of the three-day meeting, participants were involved in training and skill-shares in fundraising, media and legal processes. Together, we discussed how to counter mining industry spin with economic research, groundwater modelling and peaceful civil defence in ‘open space’ workshops and keynote talks.
Vivien Langford first speaks to Jonathon Moylan about pressuring your bank or super fund to stop lending to new coal or gas projects. He caused  the share price of a coal mine to plummet by putting out hoaxed press release from ANZ. Then Vivien gets the low down on how to mobilise from Sierra Club organisers Bob Bingaman and Jacinta Vargas.

Professor Colin Butler from Canberra University describes the health impact worldwise of an addiction to coal. Then stay tuned for  Ian Dunlop. He is a business insider who has managed coal companies and former president of the Australian Coal Association. His message to the mining industry is to think again, to face up to the fact that 80% of the coal oil and gas has to stay underground to get on track with the decarbonised economy.

Food for a zero carbon world

Oxfam Australia’s food justice spokeswoman, Melita Grant, is challenging Australians to take up six practical actions to help ensure that everybody has enough food always, as part of the GROW Challenges initiative. 

How? By taking up actions such as eating seasonal, organic, and sustainable foods; supporting small-scale farmers in developing countries; eating less meat and dairy; reducing food waste, and saving energy in the kitchen.

How can algae be turned in to food? Kevin Murphy from Advanced Algal Technologies talks about development & commercialisation of several innovative methods of industrial algae biomass production for end use in key industry sectors.

On 6 May 2013, environmental group Quit Coal unfurled a giant banner from the top of Flinders Street Station, calling on Premier Napthine to 'get off the coal train and get on track for renewables'.

Climbers scaled the landmark building's exterior to unveil the sign and were charged with trespass when the protest ended. “Premiers come and go, but climate change will be a long-term challenge for Victoria,” says Quit Coal spokesperson Chloe Aldenhoven. “This issue requires politicians to be visionary, to be honourable and to think beyond their term.”

Australia’s first solar towers are not yet built, but they have a name

The construction of what could be Australia’s first stand alone solar thermal power station has not even been agreed, but it has been named.


Need to cut carbon urgent

By Kris Keogh

LAST week, for the first time in human history, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were measured at more than 400 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the world's oldest continuous CO2 measurement station.

This little fact, without any context, doesn't seem all that important.

To understand why CO2 levels matter, let's first run through the basics.

Large amounts of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels.

This CO2 stays there for thousands of years, trapping heat from the sun, slowly raising the temperature of our planet. A temperature increase of even a few degrees can drastically change how and where we can grow food, work and live.

A level of 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is where many scientists believe we can stop the runaway affects of climate change. Unfortunately, we passed 350ppm in 1988. In the past decade the CO2 level has risen by an average of 2.1ppm a year.

Today's rate of increase is more than 100 times faster than the increase that occurred when the last ice age ended.

To cut a long story short, climate change, due to our continued use of fossil fuels is very, very real.

Governments across the world have paid lip service to this issue for the past two decades, with very little actually being done.

We need real action, fast. We need to end our use of fossil fuels so the CO2 level can start to drop.

Unlike Australia, some countries have already become powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Iceland generates all of its energy by geothermal and hydroelectric means.

Last year, our Federal Government commissioned the Australian Energy Market Operator to examine the feasibility of Australia going 100 per cent renewable.

Their recent report found it to be possible at costs almost identical to a business-as-usual model. Other institutes, including The University of New South Wales and Beyond Zero Emissions have also published studies with similar outcomes.

Success Stories & John Hepburn

To restore our faith in community climate action, Beyond Zero's Vivien and Nick celebrate success stories. Recent success against the fossil fuel giants include: 

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