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June 5, 2007

Finally, Australia is now committed to the introduction of a market for carbon emissions trading as both major parties are committed to introduce a "cap and trade" mechanism for pricing carbon. Everybody nods wisely and business says that Australia is going in the right direction. As Ziggy Switzkowski observes on Lateline, if the framework and principles is the first step, then the next step has to be a glide path with time lines and targets.

John Spooner

Something needs to happen quick and smart as the national energy market is a shambles in both regulatory and sustainability terms. Gaming --big generators using market power to force up average prices to extract monies from consumers is rife. And the talk is about building new coal-fired power stations to handle the increased demand for power.

50% or more (80% in Victoria) price increases for electricity are already in the pipeline, before we even begin to talk about $20 or more for a ton of carbon emitted over the cap. That is more than what would happen with the $20 per tonne under the cap and trade mechanism for pricing carbon. Yet the Howard Government is not talking in terms of recession, the destruction of the economy, jobs going offshore, or the lights going out. Nor is it talking about energy efficiency.

The problem is a serious one. As Ziggy Switzkowski says the science of climate change is very sound. The forecasts that suggest we have to get a 60 reduction relative to 1990 levels by 2050 speaking globally, are also appropriate. So that's where we must head. He adds:

The fact that no country, no economy has a plan to get us from today to there is an issue. As is the issue that is noted in the report. And that is in the year 2010, only three years from now, global emissions will be 40 per cent higher than 1990 levels. So we are as a globe on a trajectory of increasing emissions. We have to make a screeching U-turn to come down to minus 60 per cent in the remaining 30 or 40 years, and the means to do that, the technologies, the policies simply aren't visible in any part of the world.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:02 AM | | Comments (16)


They should list the company and we could all buy shares in pollution inc

a good example of smart architectural design and energy efficiency. It's not rocket science.

Seems to me lots of people are saying different things. The average punter is confused because it has all become too much a Political issue and not a scientific one. China seems to be a big offender from the docos I have seen and they seem ambivalent. I don't think Australia is a major offender in world pollution but yes it has its part to play.
People want new toys and they must be made and delivered. People want to switch on their Air conds and drive their cars.
I haven't heard much from Greenpeace lately! They must be busy raising money to feed their own bureaucracy.

I think that you can become paralyzed by the global picture.

We know what is going to happen in Australia --less rain, hotter weather, greater storms, more flooding of low lying coastal areas. That means changes in the way we currently live and more expensive electricity to power the machines. Nan is right. Energy efficiency is one way to respond. It's an easy and effective way.

China, which will soon surpass the United States as the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases, has decided to make a contribution to slowing climate change. It will reduce its greenhouse emissions through energy savings, the increased use of renewable sources and the introduction of clean energy technologies.

Contrary to what the Howard Government minsters keep say China is addressing the relationship between development and the environmental. It does not plan tottake the traditional industrial path, with high consumption and high emissions. According to the plan, renewable energy will develop 10 per cent of all power by 2010, and 16 per cent of power by 2020.

That's far more than what the Howard Government is planning to do. It points the finger at China but never the US, even though the US is the wor'ld's biggest polluter in terms of greenhouse emissions.

an emissions trading scheme is pretty simple. You can clear up your confusions by reading Ziggy Switkowski's comments on Lateline that Gary linked to. Very informative. I suggest you read it.

The average punter would not understand that. They will only hear that the electric bill will be higher.

I am not sure that comparing the emissions of china as a comparison in percentages with Australia is a good argument.

Getting back to the Politics of all this. Uranium is such a valuable asset. It gives us great strength as a nation.
It represent a huge income stream for the future.

As I understand it the expansion of BHP Bilton's Roxby Downs uranium and copper mine---known as Olympic Dam--- is to be powered by electricity generated by coal fired power stations. It is a huge expansion:--it is estimated that Olympic Dam will use more electricity than all the households in Adelaide and is set to increase our state's electricity consumption by about 40 per cent. It will blow SA's greenhouse emissions out of the water and it is estimated to increase the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 per cent.

Consequently, the Rann Government has backed away from any targets to reduce greenhouse emissions,--- rejecting a target to reduce greenhouse pollution by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 in the Legislative Council because it would damage economic prosperity and growth’ etc etc. The argument seems to be that we cannot do anything in relation to climate change that might impact on economic growth--so similar to John Howard.

Yet the Rann Government has been in the forefront of arguing for reduction in greenhouse emissions at a national level. So the spin is to allow the Roxby Downs expansion (the elephant in the room) to go ahead with minimal regard to how much extra greenhouse pollution it will produce.

The rhetoric of climate change does not match the reality of government action in SA. SA, as a self-proclaimed smart state, is going to rely on the mining boom for its economic future. What is not being done is solving the state's problems and then exporting the solutions.

That approach could serve SA well in the areas of energy efficien­cy (certainly in renewable energy), water supply, how to deal with the problem of a diverse urban form, and how to deal with (for example) the peak nature of our electricity de­mand from airconditioners during the very hot days of peak demand.

Woh!!! What is the nuclear power plant situation in S.A

a nuclear power industry is not wanted in SA, either by a majority citizens or the Rann Government. It would be political suicide for any state government to advocate one. Expansion of the Olympic Dam mine plus a desalinisation plant (with large public subsidies) to provide water for the mine's expansion (and the townships) are as far as any state goverenment will go.

In all likelihood a nuclear power plant would be situated on Commonwealth land in the Upper Spencer Gulf (Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie). And it appears that Premier Rann’s previous rock-solid anti-nuclear power stance has begun to shift in the last couple of weeks. The beginning of the softening up process?

Yes Nuclear power becomes the economic solution at the end of the day. Both sides will embrace it eventually.

In this interview on Lateline Ziggy Switkowski talks in terms of the market deciding once the framework and rules are in place.

He says that "any reasonable form of cost for carbon dioxide would immediately make a whole suite of alternative generating technologies competitive to our very cost effective fossil fuels.

And so nuclear would become more competitive, wind, solar, eventually geothermal, etcetera, and frankly, I think that's the appeal of an emissions trading framework, where you have a simple framework with a particular cost projection of carbon dioxide against which all of the renewables can be compared, and then the market will decide where the investment funds should flow."

In contrast, you talk in terms of one solution (nuclear) which all sides will have to embrace.

The government cant control the wind or the sun but it can control the price and availability of uranium. This is why I said both sides will embrace it eventually and also "It represents a huge income stream for the future"

This is why Howard is so keen on it.

interesting. Good quality video. Pretty "wham bang move on" but it indicates the use of incorporating wind into the energy mix.

SA is well suited to wind farms, but electricity generated from the wind is $30-$40 per megawatt hour (MWh) more expensive to produce, at present than electricity generated by coal fired power stations. However, the environmental pollution costs are not paid by the fossil fuel industry. That is what is going to change with emissions trading.

Wind is useful for isolated coastal towns on the electricity grid. There is a wind farm on the Fleurieu Peninsula at Starfish Hill, near Cape Jervis, where you catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island. From the ferry the wind turbines look graceful and look like works of sculpture. Much better than the giant prawn or pineapple, which are very kitsch.

If Australia has Australia has major water supply problems, then in SA these are particularly severe, especially on Eyre Peninsula. There is no recycling of Port Lincoln's waste water.

It is argued that it should be possible to set up the proposed desalination plants to run when there is excess electricity. Electricity cannot be easily be stored, but water can be, readily and cheeply. So the desalination plants can be organized so that they switch on when power is abundant and switch off when the power supply declines.

Yes BTN (behind the news) has been around and used in schools as a teaching aid for many years. Must be at least 30. The show has now evolved into this Short Takes format. It can be viewed on ABC at 5:50pm or on the internet. They usually are up to the minute on issues and simplify things so kids can understand.
Todays show is about carbon emissions

I thought that the punchiness and visuality of the video spoke to a generation at ease in a visual rather than a text culture.

It's good to see.