August

It's the end of the earth as we know it. Read all about it! | The Guardian

“In a nutshell, the findings suggest that emissions drive climate changes that trigger abrupt changes to Earth systems when they cross certain thresholds. Ten of these feedback loops are identified in the report, including the release of methane trapped in Siberian permafrost and the impact of melting ice in Greenland on the Antarctic.”

Insurance firms could face fines over climate reporting failure | ClientEarth

“We think the law is quite clear on this and by omitting financially material climate risks from their annual reports, these companies are not giving the full picture. Without this information, how can investors make a fully-formed investment decision?”

China has already surpassed its 2020 solar target - Energydesk

By the end of July this year, China’s solar PV capacity topped 112GW, after installing a stunning 35GW in just seven months — more than twice as much as installed by any other country in all of 2016.

As a result, total solar PV capacity now exceeds the government’s 2020 goal of 105GW, set as recently as last year.  More

Harvard scientists found Exxon using the tobacco playbook | The Guardian

As Oreskes documented with Erik Conway in Merchants of Doubt, tobacco companies and several other industries that profited from harmful products engaged in decades-long campaigns to sow doubt about the scientific evidence of their hazards. As one R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company 1969 internal memo read:

"Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public"

The results of this new paper show that Exxon followed this same playbook. While the company’s internal communications and peer-reviewed research were clear about human-caused global warming, its public communications focused heavily on sowing doubt about those scientific conclusions.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says cheap coal-fired power era is ending | AFR

by Phillip Coorey

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the era of cheap, coal-fired power is coming to an end and anyone claiming it is the sole solution to the nation's energy dilemma is propagating a myth.

In comments that push back at calls by Tony Abbott and others that Australia should ditch its commitments to greenhouse gas reduction and just build coal-fired power stations, Mr Morrison said that would not work.

New coal-fired power was much more expensive than that being generated by existing power stations which were nearing the end of their lives, he told a private policy forum over the weekend.

Current coal generators produce power at a cost of between $10 and $40 a megawatt hour whereas the newer, high-efficiency, low-emission plants (HELE) generate power at about $70 to $110 a megawatt hour.

Doubling down on the need for the federal government to adopt a technology agnostic policy approach, in conjunction with a clean energy target (CET), Mr Morrison said the only ultimate solution to price and stability was long-term policy certainty for investors.

"To solve the problem we need to have certainty around investment rules and conditions to enable that capital flow," he said. "That capital is there but it will not come without that certainty and we're working to achieve that.

'System in the future'

"If a HELE plant stacks up or a carbon capture and storage with HELE stacks up, by all means knock yourself out, but let's not think that there's cheap new coal, there's not."

"And [HELE] takes seven years to turn up, so if we think that is all of a sudden going to make your power bills cheaper next month, it won't.

"Whether it's a part of the system in the future, I think the rules will define that, but new cheap coal is a bit of a myth."

Earlier this year Mr Morrison passed a lump of coal around Parliament and said coal has "endured for over 100 years that Australia has enjoyed an energy competitive advantage that has delivered prosperity for Australian business".

On the weekend, he said there was "cheap old coal" coming out of existing stations such as Bayswater and Liddell and it was important the lives of these stations were prolonged to provide adequate base-load power while the sector transitioned.

Mr Morrison's comments came in a speech over the weekend to the Wombat Hollow Forum, a monthly ideas forum featuring high-profile guest speakers. The comments are consistent with other interventions in recent weeks by Mr Morrison as the Coalition girds itself for an internal battle over the design and adoption of a CET.

A CET would apply post-2020 and mandate that a certain percentage of energy be generated from sources designated as clean.

'Green theology'

At a minimum, Coalition conservatives want HELE, or so-called clean coal, designated along with renewables and gas while hardliners such as Mr Abbott now insist emissions reductions should not be a policy consideration, dismissing it as "green theology".

Mr Morrison took issue with this, saying "we've got to get rid of the 'ology' when it comes to how we deal with the energy debate".

"Everyone's got an ology ... climatology, coalology, whatever it is, everyone's got some sort of religious view when it comes to dealing with the energy market," he said.

"What we're focused on is the engineering and the economics and the ideology frankly has to take a leave pass because that doesn't solve the problem.

"If we stay focused on just one part of it, what's the price of this or let's build this, that doesn't, of itself, and arguably even at all, I think, really address the issue."

He said there was no turning back from cleaner energy sources and the intermediate challenge was reliable base-load power until renewables were more reliable.

"The only new power that is coming into the system ... is largely in the renewables area and we know that on the renewables front the system stability elements of that are not anywhere near where they need to be to have the certainty you need to run a proper energy system.

"But that said, we need to ensure that we get the rules right so people can have confidence investing in new energy supply. I don't care what they invest in, if they invest in coal or they invest in wind."

Construction halted on nuclear power reactors in South Carolina | NBC News

“The best case scenario shows this project would be several years late and 75 percent more than originally planned,” Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter said in a statement. “We simply cannot ask our customers to pay for a project that has become uneconomical.”

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Australia must join gobal effort to meet climate budget | The Saturday Paper

What do you call a planet where the temperature sets a new record every month, where the northern ice cap is melting at disastrous pace, where drought and flood have begun to alternate with devastating relentlessness? You call it Earth, in 2016.

Australians have had a front row seat to the carnage. The oceans have warmed so much that only 7 per cent of the coral reefs across the Great Barrier Reef have completely avoided bleaching, and experts are saying the northern hemisphere is set for its worst reef-bleaching events this summer. In Tasmania, bushfires have ravaged more than 1000-year-old forests. In Sydney and the Pacific region, fierce storms have lashed the coast.

Dear Minister Frydenberg | Geoff Cousins, The Saturday Paper

Letter to the Minister
Congratulations on your appointment as minister for the environment and energy. The bringing together of these two portfolios for the first time could present a substantial opportunity for sound policy development in Australia.  More ..