What you will find on this page: LATEST NEWS; Fossil fuel emissions have stalledMapped: global coal tradeComplexity of energy systems (maps); Mapped: Germany’s energy sources (interactive access); Power to the people (video); Unburnable Carbon (report); Stern Commission Review; Garnaut reports; live generation data; fossil fuel subsidies; divestment; how to run a divestment campaign guide; local council divestment guide;  US coal plant retirement; oil conventional & unconventional;  CSG battle in Australia (videos); CSG battle in Victoria; leasing maps for Victoria; coal projects Victoria

Huge task to decarbonise

Emissions graphic

Source: Australian Delegation presentation to international forum held in Bonn in May 2012 

Latest News

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Fossil fuel emissions have stalled

14 November 2016, The Conversation, Fossil fuel emissions have stalled: Global Carbon Budget 2016. For the third year in a row, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry have barely grown, while the global economy has continued to grow strongly. This level of decoupling of carbon emissions from global economic growth is unprecedented.Global CO₂ emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and industry (including cement production) were 36.3 billion tonnes in 2015, the same as in 2014, and are projected to rise by only 0.2% in 2016 to reach 36.4 billion tonnes. This is a remarkable departure from emissions growth rates of 2.3% for the previous decade, and more than 3% during the 2000’s. Read More here

 

Mapped: The global coal trade

coal-trade-around-the-world-13 May 2016, Carbon Brief, The global coal trade doubled in the decade to 2012 as a coal-fueled boom took hold in Asia. Now, the coal trade seems to have stalled, or even gone into reverse. This change of fortune has devastated the coal mining industry, with Peabody – the world’s largest private coal-mining company – the latest of 50 US firms to file for bankruptcy. It could also be a turning point for the climate, with the continued burning of coal the biggest difference between business-as-usual emissions and avoiding dangerous climate change. Carbon Brief has produced a series of maps and interactive charts to show how the global coal trade is changing. As well as providing a global overview, we focus on a few key countries: Read More here

Do you want to understand the complexity of energy systems which support our high consumption lifestyles?

Most people don’t give too much thought to where their electricity comes from. Flip a switch, and the lights go on. That’s all. The origins of that energy, or how it actually got into our homes, is generally hidden from view. This link will take you to 11 maps which explain energy in America (it is typical enough as an example of a similar lifestyle as Australia – when I find  maps for Oz I’ll add them in)

e.g. above map showing the coal plants in the US. Source: Vox Explainers

Mapped: how Germany generates its electricity – another example

germany-energy-sourcesGermany’s “Energiewende”, which translates as energy transition, conjures up images of bright, sunlit fields scattered with wind turbines and solar panels. But to its critics, it is a story of continued reliance on coal. Both stories are illustrated in Carbon Brief’s new interactive map of Germany’s electricity generating capacity. Our series of charts show how the coal problem reveals the challenge of decarbonising heat, transport and industry – issues that have remained largely hidden in countries such as the UK. Carbon Brief has also published a timeline tracking the history of the Energiewende and the German government’s attempts to secure its future. German energy in 2016 In common with many other rich nations, Germany’senergy use is in decline, even as its economy grows. (There have been ups and downs: the first half of 2016 saw energy use increase by nearly 2% year-on-year). Germany used 320 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2015, the same amount as in 1975. UK energy use has fallen even further, and is now at 1960s levels. (To clarify, this is referring to all energy used by the countries, not just electricity.) Oil overtook coal as Germany’s number one fuel in the early 1970s and today accounts for more than a third of the total. Coal use roughly halved between 1965 and 2000. Yet it has remained relatively flat since then and still supplies more energy than all low-carbon sources combined. Access interactive map and breakdown of energy sources here

Power to the People – Lock the Gate looks back at the wins of 2015

And there’s lots more coming up in 2016.  Some of the big priorities coming up next for the “Lock the Gate” movement are:

  • The imminent decision by the Victorian Government on the future of unconventional gas
  • The Northern Territory election due in June this year, where fracking is a major issue
  • The legal challenge against the infamous Acland Stage 3 coal mine in Qld which starts in March, and support for families being forced to live in gasfields
  • Putting the pressure on Santos to withdraw its plans for 850 gas wells near Narrabri, and support for Hunter communities facing harmful coal mine expansions

If you want to give “Lock the Gate” your support – go here for more info
21 April 2015, Climate Council, Will Steffen: Unburnable Carbon: Why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

This new report reveals that the pollution from Australia’s coal resources, particularly the enormous Galilee coal basin, could take us two-thirds of the way to a two degree rise in global temperature. To Read More and download report

Stern Commission Review

The 2006 UK government commissioned Stern Commission Review on the Economics of Climate Change is still the best complete appraisal of global climate change economics. The review broke new ground on climate change assessment in a number of ways. It made headlines by concluding that avoiding global climate change catastrophe was almost beyond our grasp. It also found that the costs of ignoring global climate change could be as great as the Great Depression and the two World Wars combined. The review was (still is) in fact a very good assessment of global climate change, which inferred in 2006 that the situation was a global emergency. Read More here

Australia’s Garnaut Review

The Garnaut Climate Change Review was commissioned by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in 2007 to conduct an independent study of the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy. Prof. Garnaut presented The Garnaut Climate Change Review: Final Report to the Australian Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers in September 2008 in which he examined how Australia was likely to be affected by climate change, and suggested policy responses. In November 2010, he was commissioned by the Australian Government to provide an update to the 2008 Review. In particular, he was asked to examine whether significant changes had occurred that would affect the analysis and recommendations from 2008. The final report was presented May 2011. 

Since then the Professor has regularly participated in the debate of fossil fuel reduction, as per his latest below: To access his reports; interviews; submissions go here

27 May 2015, Renew Economy, Garnaut: Cost of stranded assets already bigger than cost of climate action. This is one carbon budget that Australia has already blown. Economist and climate change advisor Professor Ross Garnaut has delivered a withering critique of Australia’s economic policies and investment patterns, saying the cost of misguided over-investment in the recent mining boom would likely outweigh the cost of climate action over the next few decades. Read More here 

Live generation of electricity by fuel type

 

Fossil Fuel Subsidies – The Age of entitlement continues

fossil fuel subsidiesNovember 2014 – The Fossil Fuel Bailout: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal exploration report: Governments across the G20 countries are estimated to be spending $88 billion every year subsidising exploration for fossil fuels. Their exploration subsidies marry bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for climate change. In effect, governments are propping up the development of oil, gas and coal reserves that cannot be exploited if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change. This report documents, for the first time, the scale and structure of fossil fuel exploration subsidies in the G20 countries. The evidence points to a publicly financed bailout for carbon-intensive companies, and support for uneconomic investments that could drive the planet far beyond the internationally agreed target of limiting global temperature increases to no more than 2ºC. It finds that, by providing subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, the G20 countries are creating a ‘triple-lose’ scenario. They are directing large volumes of finance into high-carbon assets that cannot be exploited without catastrophic climate effects. They are diverting investment from economic low-carbon alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro-power. And they are undermining the prospects for an ambitious climate deal in 2015. Access full report here For the summary on Australia’s susidisation of it’s fossil fuel industry go to page 51 of the report. The report said that the United States and Australia paid the highest level of national subsidies for exploration in the form of direct spending or tax breaks. Overall, G20 country spending on national subsidies was $23 billion. In Australia, this includes exploration funding for Geoscience Australia and tax deductions for mining and petroleum exploration. The report also classifies the Federal Government’s fuel rebate program for resources companies as a subsidy.

24 June 2014, Renew Economy, Age of entitlement has not ended for fossil fuels: A new report from The Australia Institute exposes the massive scale of state government assistance, totalling $17.6 billion over a six-year period, not including significant Federal government support and subsidies. Queensland taxpayers are providing the greatest assistance by far with a total of $9.5 billion, followed by Western Australia at $6.2 billion.

The table shows almost $18 billion dollars has been spent over the past 6 years by state governments, supporting some of Australia’s biggest, most profitable industries, which are sending most of the profits offshore. That’s $18 billion dollars that could have gone to vital public services such as hospitals, schools and emergency services. State governments are usually associated with the provision of essential services like health and education so it will shock taxpayers to learn of the massive scale of government handouts to the minerals and fossil fuel industries. This report shows that Australian taxpayers have been misled about the costs and benefits of this industry, which we can now see are grossly disproportionate. Each state provides millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to the mining industry every year, with the big mining states of Queensland and Western Australia routinely spending over one billion dollars in assistance annually. Read More here  – access full report here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divestment

What is fossil fuel divestment?

Local Governments ready to divest

Aligning Council Money With Council Values A Guide To Ensuring Council Money Isn’t Funding Climate Change. 350.org Australia – with the help of the incredible team at Earth Hour – has pulled together a simple 3-step guide for local governments interested in divestment.  The movement to align council money with council values is constantly growing in Australia. It complements the existing work that councils are doing to shape a safe climate future. It can also help to reshape the funding practices of Australia’s fossil fuel funding banks. The steps are simple. The impact is huge.The guide can also be used by local groups who are interested in supporting their local government to divest as a step-by-step reference point. Access guide here

How coal is staying in the ground in the US

Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

May 2015, Politico, Michael Grunwald: The war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the U.S. electric grid and the global climate debate. The industry and its supporters use “war on coal” as shorthand for a ferocious assault by a hostile White House, but the real war on coal is not primarily an Obama war, or even a Washington war. It’s a guerrilla war. The front lines are not at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Supreme Court. If you want to see how the fossil fuel that once powered most of the country is being battered by enemy forces, you have to watch state and local hearings where utility commissions and other obscure governing bodies debate individual coal plants. You probably won’t find much drama. You’ll definitely find lawyers from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the boots on the ground in the war on coal. Read More here

Oil – conventional & unconventional

May 2015, Oil change International Report: On the Edge: 1.6 Million Barrels per Day of Proposed Tar Sands Oil on Life Support. The Canadian tar sands is among the most carbon-intensive, highest-cost sources of oil in the world. Even prior to the precipitous drop in global oil prices late last year, three major projects were cancelled in the sector with companies unable to chart a profitable path forward. Since the collapse in global oil prices, the sector has been under pressure to make further cuts, leading to substantial budget cuts, job losses, and a much more bearish outlook on expansion projections in the coming years. Read full report here. For summary of report 

USA Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign

 

Coal Seam Gas battle in Australia

Lock the Gate Alliance  is a national coalition of people from across Australia, including farmers, traditional custodians, conservationists and urban residents, who are uniting to protect our common heritage – our land, water and communities – from unsafe or inappropriate mining for coal seam gas and other fossil fuels. Read more about the missions and principles of Lock the Gate.

Access more Lock the Gate videos hereAccess Lock the Gate fact sheets here

CSG battle in Victoria

2014: Parliament of Victoria Research Paper: Unconventional Gas: Coal Seam Gas, Shale Gas and Tight Gas: This Research Paper provides an introduction and overview of issues relevant to the development of unconventional gas – coal seam, shale and tight gas – in the Australian and specifically Victorian context. At present, the Victorian unconventional gas industry is at a very early stage. It is not yet known whether there is any coal seam gas or shale gas in Victoria and, if there is, whether it would be economically viable to extract it. A moratorium on fracking has been in place in Victoria since August 2012 while more information is gathered on potential environmental risks posed by the industry. The parts of Victoria with the highest potential for unconventional gas are the Gippsland and Otway basins. Notably, tight gas has been located near Seaspray in Gippsland but is not yet being produced.

There is a high level of community concern in regard to the potential impact an unconventional gas industry could have on agriculture in the Gippsland and Otway regions. Industry proponents, however, assert that conventional gas resources are declining and Victoria’s unconventional gas resources need to be ascertained and developed. Read More here

28 January 2015, ABC News, Coal seam gas exploration: Victoria’s fracking ban to remain as Parliament probes regulations: A ban on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration will stay in place in Victoria until a parliamentary inquiry hands down its findings, the State Government has promised. There is a moratorium on the controversial mining technique, known as fracking, until the middle of 2015. The Napthine government conducted a review into CSG, headed by former Howard government minister Peter Reith, which recommended regulations around fracking be relaxed. Labor was critical of the review, claiming it failed to consult with farmers, environmental scientists and local communities. Read more here

Keep up to date and how you can be involved here

Find a group near you 

Friends of the Earth Melbourne

Coal & Gas Free Victoria

20 May 2015, FoE, Inquiry into Unconventional Gas: Check here for details on the Victorian government’s Inquiry into unconventional gas. The public hearings have not yet started, however the Terms of Reference have been released. The state government’s promised Inquiry into Unconventional Gas has now been formally announced, with broad terms of reference (TOR). FoE’s response to the TOR is available here. The Upper House Environment and Planning Committee will manage the Inquiry. You can find the Inquiry website here. The final TOR will be determined by the committee. Significantly, it is a cross party committee. The Chair is a Liberal (David Davis), and there is one National (Melinda Bath), one Green (Samantha Dunn), three from the ALP (Gayle Tierney, Harriet Shing, Shaun Leane), an additional MP from the Liberals (Richard Dalla-Riva), and one MP from the Shooters Party (Daniel Young). 

Work started by the previous government, into water tables and the community consultation process run by the Primary Agency, will be released as part of the inquiry.The moratorium on unconventional gas exploration will stay in place until the inquiry delivers its findings.

The interim report is due in September and the final report by December. There is the possibility that the committee will amend this timeline if they are overwhelmed with submissions or information. Parliament will then need to consider the recommendations of the committee and make a final decision about how to proceed. This is likely to happen when parliament resumes after the summer break, in early 2016.

Quit Coal is a Melbourne-based collective that campaigns against the expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industries in Victoria. Quit Coal uses a range of tactics to tackle this problem. We advise the broader Victorian community about plans for new coal and unconventional gas projects, we put pressure on our government to stop investing in these projects, and we help to inform and mobilise Victorian communities so they can campaign on their own behalf. We focus on being strategic, creative, and as much as possible, fun!

Mine Leasing Maps

victoria-mining-licence

The above screen shot is of the Victorian State government’s Mining Licences Near Me site. Go to this link to see what is happening in your area

Environment Victoria’s campaign CoalWatch is an interactive resource that tracks the coal industry’s expansion plans and helps builds a movement to stop these polluting developments. CoalWatch provides a way for everyday Victorians to keep track of the coal industry’s ambitious expansion plans. To check what tax-payer money has been pledged to brown coal projects and the coal projects industry is spruiking to our politicians. Here’s another map via EV website (go to their website and you should be able to get better detail from Google Maps: 

Coalwatch-v5-for-web

Red areas: Exploration licences (EL). These areas are held by companies to undertake exploration activity. A small bond is held by government in case of any damage. If a company wants to progress the project it needs to obtain a mining licence. Exploration Licence applications are marked with an asterix in the Places Index eg. EL4684*.

Yellow areas: Mining Licences (MIN). A mining licence is granted with the expectation that mining will occur. A larger bond is paid to government.

Green areas: Exploration licences that have been withdrawn or altered due to community concern.

Green outline: Existing mines within Mining Licences.

Purple areas: Geological Carbon Storage Exploration areas for carbon capture and storage. On-shore areas have been released by the State Government, while off-shore areas have been released by the Federal Government.

Coal projects on the agenda 

The Coal Watch wiki tracks current and future Victorian coal projects, whether they are power stations, coal mines, proposals to export coal or some other inventive way of burning more coal. To get the full picture of coal in Victoria visit our wiki page.  Get more info and see the full list of Exploration Licences current at 17 August 2012 here

August 2015, Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis – powerpoint: Changing Dynamics in the Global Seaborne Thermal Coal Markets and Stranded Asset Risk. Information from one of the slides follows. To view full presentation go here

Economic Implications for Australia 83% of Australian coal mines are foreign owned, hence direct leverage of fossil fuels to the ASX is relatively small at 1-2%. However, for Australia the exposure is high, time is needed for transition and the new industry opportunities are significant:

1. Energy Infrastructure: Australia spends $5-10bn pa on electricity / grid sector, much of it a regulated asset base that all ratepayers fund much of it stranded.  BNEF estimate of Australia’s renewable energy infrastructure investment for 2015-2020 was cut 30% from A$20bn post RET. Lost opportunities.

2. Direct employment: The ABS shows a fall of ~20k from the 2012 peak of 70K from coal mining across Australia, and cuts are ongoing. Indirect employment material.

3. Terms of trade: BZE estimates the collapse in the pricing of iron ore, coal and LNG cuts A$100bn pa from Australia’s export revenues by 2030, a halving relative to government budget estimates of 2013/14. Coal was 25% of NSW’s total A$ value of exports in 2013/14 (38% of Qld). Australia will be #1 globally in LNG by 2018.

4. The financial sector: is leveraged to mining and associated rail port infrastructure. WICET 80% financed by banks, mostly Australian. Adani’s Abbot Point Port is foreign owned, but A$1.2bn of Australian sourced debt. Insurance firms and infrastructure funds are leveraged to fossil fuels vs little RE infrastructure assets. BBY!

5. Rehabilitation: $18bn of unfunded coal mining rehabilitation across Australia.

6. Economic growth: curtailed as Australia fails to develop low carbon industries.