Big emissions cuts possible at home, study finds

By Peter Hannam. Sydney Morning Herald

Australia's homes could slash their carbon emissions by half and eliminate their use of gas by investing in efficient electrical appliances now on the market, according to a clean energy advocacy group.

Jointly published with the Melbourne Energy Institute, Beyond Zero Emissions's Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan argues that residential buildings could reduce their operating emissions by 53 per cent, and commercial buildings by 44 per cent, within a decade.

Together, the two building sectors now account for slightly more than a quarter of the country's annual greenhouse gas emissions.

How not to do it -- Photo: Aaron Sawall

Obama is Leading the World to Climate Hell

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?”

Aust buildings could halve energy use in decade – gas free

BY Sophie Vorrath, RenewEconomy

A nationwide plan to transform Australia’s existing building stock into models of energy efficiency and renewable power generation has found that residential and commercial energy use could be cut in half, and could reach zero emissions from their operations, within 10 years.

The The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint effort from climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute, set to be launched on Thursday – sets out a strategy to retrofit Australia’s buildings, to reduce energy bills, generate renewable energy, increase comfort levels, and make workplaces more productive.

The plan finds the residential building sector would be able to achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over 70 per cent reduction. Commercial buildings are estimated to be able to reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall.

Zeroing emissions from Australian buildings

By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator

Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), in conjunction with Melbourne University’s Energy Institute, has developed a detailed plan showing how all existing buildings can reach zero emissions within 10 years.

The report, to be released on Thursday, shows that residential buildings can achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over a 70 per cent reduction. Commercial building categories can reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall. In addition, gas appliances are replaced entirely by electric ones so that all energy can be readily supplied by zero emission renewable power generation.

Is carbon pricing reducing emissions?

Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism has been vilified by the Federal Opposition and certain members of the business community, but it is a key part of Australia’s response to climate change. So one year on, where does it stand?

High-speed rail debate: Cut the fat

Researchers say the federal government’s study on a high-speed rail link contains a lot of “fat” which, when cut out, can drive down construction costs by more than $40 billion. By Marion Lopez.

Australia’s 30-year debate on high-speed rail is raising more questions than answers. While most, including government, agree the project would improve traffic fluidity and national productivity by taking close to 84 million passengers off the country’s roads and out of the airports each year, some are still unsure whether spending $114 billion to achieve this is the best option.

Also not in its favour is the suggested timeframe for completing the rail link.

According to the federal government’s recently released $20 million study on the project, building a 1750km high-speed rail link connecting Melbourne to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane would require 15 years of planning and 45 years to build.

The announcement of these figures raised a lot of eyebrows including those of Gerard Drew, high-speed rail researcher for climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, who said they were an insult to the Australian construction industry.

“Forty-five years is laughable and 15 years of planning is just outrageous really. The notion of $114 billion is questionable, to say the least,” Drew said.

“Much has been made of the technical and logistical challenge but we must get some perspective. Australia is, in large part, flat and vacant – a luxury that no other country operating high-speed rail can boast. While there are some challenging points on the alignment, such as from Sydney to the Central Coast, a high proportion of the route is flat fields.

“Spain and China have been rapidly constructing high-speed rail in order to reduce the huge cost to those countries of imported oil and have completed 3000km and 15,000km of track, respectively, in the past decade alone.

“Indeed, these findings are an insult to the capability of Australia’s construction industry.”

Let's power ahead with solar options

AUSTRALIA'S energy mix is at a crossroads - and neither political party is helping properly, writes Dan Spencer.

AUSTRALIA'S energy mix is at a crossroads.

Nowhere is this better seen than in Port Augusta, where the town's ageing coal-fired power stations are coming to the end of their life and the community, backed by people across the state, is campaigning for a solar thermal replacement.

The recent debate around the Clean Energy Finance Corporation means this crossroads has a major roadblock. As September 14 nears, politicians and Australian voters need to remember whose future they are shaping at the polls: that of young people and future generations.

Sadly, one of the issues being most politicised this election will directly impact on the lives of young people: how we choose to act on climate change. Not only is support for action on climate change increasingly divided along party lines, there is a stark gap between old and young.

Polling released in the past few days by Essential Research made this divide clear. Among under-35s, 52 per cent of people support carbon pricing and only 25 per cent oppose it. This is remarkably resilient majority support for a policy that has been consistently denigrated since it was introduced.

Sadly, this level of support is not reflected in people over 55, where only 39 per cent support carbon pricing, with 56 per cent opposed.

Graphs: Can high-speed rail cut air travel emissions?


Australia’s domestic air travel (and its associated greenhouse emissions) has grown markedly – especially in the last 10 years, as this graph illustrates.

Air travel (passenger km) data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

We have calculated emissions using the short-haul average emissions per passenger-kilometre as used by the UK government. This takes into account radiative forcing effects of combustion at altitude, nearly doubling the climate impact of the emissions compared to Australian government estimates.

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.


Solar campaigner dies

Joy Baluch the mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta, who campaigned for solar energy for her city has died but not before South Australia's take-up of rooftop solar has risen to double the national average.

Transcript (ABC TV Lateline)

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Joy Baluch, the legendary mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta and fierce campaigner for a solar energy future for her city, died overnight.

Her death came only hours after the Federal Budget revealed deep cuts of more than $650 million to renewable energy funding and efficiency programs.

South Australia now leads the world in wind generation and its take-up of rooftop solar is double the national average.

Joy Baluch's beloved Port Augusta was leading the way in solar energy. She campaigned until her dying breath to use the energy from the sun to convert the city's struggling coal-fired generators.

Kerry Brewster has this exclusive report.

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