17 June 2015

Replacing Hazelwood is urgent, but who pays for the jobs transition?

by David Spratt

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Replacing Hazelwood coal power station is a must: it is old, unsafe and dirty. Based on emissions intensity, it is the third-dirtiest coal power station in the world and the dirtiest in Australia, releasing around 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, almost three per cent of total Australian greenhouse emissions. 

The Hazelwood majority owner, Engie owns the third-most polluting coal-power station fleet in the world. The full – health and carbon pollution – social costs of Hazelwood totalling $900 million per year  are borne by the community, rather than the plant’s owners.

Expanding renewable energy requires coal-generating capacity to be removed from the market because oversupply is crowding out and preventing new investment. The Australian energy market operator says there are about eight gigawatts of surplus generating capacity across the national market, equivalent to five Hazelwood power stations.  This includes up to 2.2 gigawatts of brown coal generation that is no longer required in Victoria in 2015, which is greater than Hazelwood’s capacity.

04 June 2015

Winning the carbon war: the Vatican talks

Jeremy Leggett
"The UN negotiations are totally unsuited to the climate emergency", and the process must change "otherwise the negotiators, who have been there for 15 or 20 years, will continue their folklore," declared French Environment Minster Ségolène Royal to Le Monde on 1 June 2014. If the form of negotiations does not change, "the negotiators, who have been there for 15 or 20 years, will continue their folklore. You will find hundreds of people at their computers, discussing a point of the bracketed text or playing crosswords!"

As the heat (if not the light) intensifies in the leadup to global climate talks in Paris in December, perhaps the most interesting development is the intervention of Pope Francis, who trained as a chemist and seems keenly aware of the urgency of the problem. A sense of where the Vatican may be headed is "Climate Change and the Common Good: A statement of the problem and the demand for transformative solutions" issued on 29 April by  The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, with signatories including leading climate figures  such as Dasgupta, Ramanathan, Archer, Crutzen, Sachs and Schellnhuber.