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South Australia at COP15 « Previous | |Next »
December 17, 2009

Mike Rann, the Premier of South Australia, has been attending and co-chairing the Conference of State and Regional leaders at Copenhagen They have been brought together by the Climate Group, an international non-government organisation with great links to business as well as governments. South Australia is a member of the group and it sees itself as a bit of a laboratory for change.

According to Rann what came from their meeting in Copenhagen was:

For a start, we collectively committed to planting one billion trees by 2015. This will remove hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Rapid deforestation is a cancer on the lungs of our planet. We must do more than slow it down. We have to commit to re-afforestation.It’s still not enough, but such a commitment would be a tangible endowment - or “green dividend” - from the Copenhagen COP15 summit.We also dealt with issues ranging from building efficiency to the rollout of electric vehicles, clean energy technologies and, of course, renewable energy...Every new State Government building will be mandated to have solar power systems plugged in from the middle of next year. In an Australian first, we will also rebate payroll tax for new renewable energy projects that are established in South Australia.

Rann's position is that SA leads Australia in making the shift to renewable power. It is committed to matching California’s target of producing 33 per cent of our power from renewables by 2020. He says:

That’s a big, but achievable, ask for a State that has no hydro-electric power. We are well on our way, with SA home to around 50 per cent of Australia’s wind power, 93 per cent of the nation’s geothermal development, and a clear lead in solar power.We were the first to introduce solar feed-in laws to increase the take-up of rooftop solar panels, and in 2007 we passed greenhouse gas reduction legislation that includes voluntary agreements with industry sectors that are committed to reducing their carbon footprints.
Rann is right we need to just start making the shift to a low carbon economy at state, city, local levels. As Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out in his address to the UN delegates at Copenhagen international agreements are useful but that countries alone cannot combat global warming. They must have the help of local governments.The world's governments alone cannot make the progress that is needed on global climate change. They need the cities, the states, the provinces, the regions. They need the corporations, the activists, the scientists, the universities.

Though SA was the first to introduce solar feed-in laws to increase the take-up of rooftop solar panels but, unlike the ACT, it has backed away from gross feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar panels. Secondly, unlike California, there are no solar farms even though South Australia is an ideal place to establish large scale solar facilities, because of the climate and the number of large scale resource projects requiring power. Only the foundations of the demonstration solar power plant in the industrial City of Whyalla have been laid. It will be operational mid next year.

Thirdly, though SA is at the forefront of geothermal energy exploration the technology is still at "proof of concept'' stage . So geothermal power is still at an experimental stage with minimal government subsidy, and still disconnected from the national electricity grid.

That leaves wind power. Is there an interconnector that allows SA to export excess wind power to the eastern states?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:51 AM | | Comments (5)


Rann in his article in Punch say:

We’re also getting tough with power-hungry appliances. For us, the villains are inefficient air conditioners that cause a massive hike in power consumption on our hottest days, which are becoming increasingly frequent. Some of these models represent the worst possible deals for consumers, who then face enormous power bills.

Good idea. But why no gross feed -in tariff for solar rooftops?

I find the "air conditioner" hypothesis baffling. When
he says "models", does he mean economic rationalist power generation, distribution etc "models" under the privatisation economic "model".
Or is he just talking about household air conditioners that we've been taught we need for our summers, against the backdrop of increasingly poor building codes and practices, since we were kids?
In which case he needs to grumble to air con manufacturers and builders, or more likely people like himself who have weakened building codes in favour of helter skelter development; not folk living in badly constructed, heat absorbent housing.
Which brings us back to Nan's shrewd comment, which reflects on a strategic tip of a whole continent of queer legislation passed, that creates exactly the sort of situation Rann grumbles about.
You can see why people go in for "climate denial", after a while.
What is happening with climate change has similarities to what happened re GFC, with trillion dollar bailouts stumped up for by the rest of the population. Then to add insult to injury, we made to feel as if it was all our fault that things went wrong, to soften us up to accept the unnacceptable, rather than have appropriation made of the Ken Lay/ Cheney/ Bernie Madoff/ Greenspan culture.

I think that Rann is referring to cheap household air conditioners that we need for our summers because of the increasingly poor building codes and practices that create energy inefficient buildings.

Rann has done very little on energy efficiency.

I guess I'm thinking on a world level when I say planting trees is a poor excuse for doing little to curb the emissions from burning fossil fuels.
from what I can gather a good actively growing timber plantation will capture 25 tonnes of CO2 a year. The world emits 28 billion tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuel consumption. My maths means an area roughly the size of Australia needs to be planted every year now to soak up current emissions, let alone increasing emissions. If we consider how much suitable land there is to have effective plantations, then we have to realise it will affect current agricultural land in the main. Now I wouldn't mind getting paid to watch trees grow, but I think it's a disservice to humanity.

If we are going to be realistic we need to urgently curb emissions not simply soak them in the short term.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that:

It's embarrassing that we don't have a U.S. climate policy. Maybe we shouldn't expect our federal government to lead. ...All great movements, including the environment movement, come from the grass roots, not the capital. Cities and the states need to do the work, because they are the ones who will do the mitigation.

His argument is that we can't look only to our national goverenment to solve this challenge: we need to look to our local leaders and ourselves to build the movement so that our leaders will follow.

The Climate Group is about the economic opportunity of innovation and cutting carbon pollution. Unfortunately, Rann says nothing about the Port Augusta power station. Shouldn't that be closed down as opposed to being kept going?

I do not think that the mayor of Adelaide was at the conference of mayors in Copenhagen where the ambitious plans of cities around the world were presented.