Clean Futures

A New Threat to Charities and Environmental Organisations

December 7th: the Turnbull Government announced a new threat to Environmental organisations and Australia’s charity sector.

After a long-running campaign waged by the Minerals Council and the hard right to strip environmental organisations of their charitable status, the Turnbull government has appointed a known ideological warrior as head of the charities commission.

The Turnbull government has appointed Gary Johns to lead the federal charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-For- Profits Commission (ACNC).

TAKE ACTION to Defend Enviro Orgs: Call on PM Turnbull to stare down the hard right on charities

The ACNC monitors the compliance of charities and maintains a list of registered organisations. It also ensures charities abide by the laws in the Charities Act.  Assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar announced the appointment at Parliament House on Thursday morning.

Over 100 Australian charities wrote an open letter in June to the Prime Minister after Assistant Minister Sukkar failed to re-appoint Susan Pascoe as Commissioner, despite very strong positive recommendations for her reappointment.  The Assistant Minister had refused to meet with anyone from the ACNC for over six months even though he is responsible for the agency, and did not even meet with Susan Pascoe prior to not renewing her contract.

Gary Johns’ track record on charities

The former Labor MP has expressed controversial views about charities in the past. He previously argued that advocacy should not count as a charitable purpose and backed an unrealised Abbott government promise to remove it.

Such a reform would be devastating for environmental charities. He was Senior Fellow at the conservative Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (the IPA), and the head of its Non-Government Organisation Unit. He joined the IPA in 1997 and left in 2006. The IPA has had a long term interest is seeing green groups lose government funding (background here).… Read more >>

Little storage needed for 35-50% renewables: new Finkel report

A new report commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel, The role of Energy Storage in Australia’s Future Energy Supply Mix, says the required investment in energy security and reliability over the next five-10 years will be minimal, even if wind and solar deployment moves far beyond levels contemplated by the Energy Security Board.

“At an aggregated national level, Australia can reach penetrations of 50 per cent renewable energy without a significant requirement for storage to support energy reliability

The contrast with ESB modelling – and the attempts by Coalition parties at state and federal level to dismiss high levels of renewable energy as “reckless” – could not be more pronounced.

While the ESB, in arguing for a National Energy Guarantee, speaks of the system threats and urgency to act with a level of “variable” renewables accounting for between 18 and 24 per cent of total generation, this new report says surprisingly little storage may be needed with 35 per cent to 50 per cent wind and solar.

Even in the 50 per cent variable renewable energy scenario – more than double that contemplated at the high end by the ESB – the new report suggests enough battery storage may be available “behind the meter,” households and businesses, to meet the storage needs.

Pointedly, the study models levels of “variable”renewable energy – wind and solar” that are far higher than that contemplated by the ESB in its argument for an “urgent” reliability option.

The new study’s “low renewable” share – 35 per cent – is twice the amount of wind and solar modeled by the ESB for 2030, at just 18-24 per cent, and yet it sees little need for a lot of added storage.

The study’s medium renewables scenario aims at 50 per cent share of variable renewbles by 2030, while its “high” share models 75 per cent wind and solar penetration.… Read more >>

Doctors for the Environment call for NEG to be rejected

A letter on Nov 19th from Doctors for the Environment Australia addressed to State Premiers, Energy and Environment ministers points out the problems with the Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG):

The States must continue their strong leadership at the approaching COAG Energy Meeting, totally rejecting the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) because of its egregious denial of action on pollution and global warming and its deleterious effect on Health.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) represents hundreds of medical experts across Australia. We are supported by a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australian of the Year award and many other distinguished health professionals.

DEA is deeply disturbed by the health implications of the Government’s proposed (NEG) plan. As more analysis accumulates it is increasingly evident that the NEG is designed to encourage continued burning of fossil fuels. It is also clear that the NEG will lead to much less investment in decarbonisation of the energy market, leading to more pollution and rising CO2 levels. It is extraordinary that the design proposes no further reduction in CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2030. It thus fails Australia’s commitment to COP 21 in Paris.
— read the full letter at the DEA website

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Nuclear Power’s Deepening Crisis

More disastrous news for the nuclear power industry. In 2017 alone:
– clear signs of a major nuclear slow-down in China – the last remaining hope for the industry.
– the US nuclear power industry is in the middle of a full-blown crisis
– a seriously anti-nuclear government has been elected in South Korea
Taiwan has reaffirmed a nuclear phase-out by 2025
– the South African nuclear power program was ruled illegal by the High Court and probably won’t be revived
Switzerland voted in a referendum to phase out nuclear power (while all of Germany’s reactors will be closed by the end of 2022 and all of Belgium’s will be closed by the end of 2025).
– huge problems in the UK and France
India’s nuclear power program is going nowhere and the government has implicitly acknowledged that plans for French EPR reactors and US AP1000 reactors will likely be shelved
– Japan’s nuclear power program remains in a miserable state
– Russia’s Rosatom has acknowledged that the pipeline for new reactors is fast drying up
Meanwhile, the growth of renewables has been spectacular and will grow even faster over the coming years. Renewables will be producing 3 times as much electricity as nuclear power by 2022.

Jim Green, FoE Australia’s anti-nuclear campaigner,  goes into more detail in this recent article for online opinion.… Read more >>

New Report shows Underground Coal Gasification too costly and too unreliable

Underground_Coal_Gasification_-_website.jpgThe Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) recently published a report describing how coal-to-gasification technology for electricity-generation purposes remains commercially unviable.

The report — “Using Coal Gasification to Generate Electricity: A Multibillion-Dollar Failure” —concludes that two long-running marquee American Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), projects, Duke Energy’s Edwardsport plant in Indiana and Southern Company’s Kemper plant in Mississippi, prove the case against such investments.

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