The business opportunity of the century

“Building the energy system of the second half of the 21st century is the business opportunity of the century. Recently, the countries that have most successfully capitalized on this have been the rapidly developing economies, particularly in Asia.” Source Christopher Field, co-chair, IPCC Working Group II.

Danger, danger! We are told we are open for business and Asia will follow? Are they having the last laugh, so what does economic participation agreements mean? We guess, nothing unless we are in sync with our neigbours because they are not denying climate change they are fearful of it and taking appropriate action. Also most interesting is, they address a ‘resilience framework’ – something that meaningfully reduces the probability of system failure. You might also note that squarely ties ecosystem, and economic systems as being inseparable. So why do we hear so much other nonsense as climate responses cost jobs – utter rubbish! Now consider:

“Singapore is taking steps to better adapt to the vagaries of uncertain climate patterns in Southeast Asia by embarking on a national study to understand the impacts of climate change on the country’s roads, drainage systems, power stations, and other infrastructure.

Officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Ministry of National Development shared on Monday that all ministries and statutory boards will participate in this study, which will examine how rising sea levels, higher temperatures and more intense rainfall and flooding could affect the city state’s physical infrastructure.

The initial findings are expected to be released by 2016, and will feed into Singapore’s ‘Resilience Framework’, a blueprint developed by the Singapore Government in 2012 to safeguard against climate change over the next 50 to 100 years.

The study was announced on Monday at the sidelines of an event organised by Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to share findings from the IPCC’s recently released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and its implications for Southeast Asia. About 260 guests from the public sector, as well as businesses, NGOs and academia attended the event held at the Furama Riverfront Hotel.

The findings of AR5 conclusively state that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that it is “extremely likely” that human influence has been the main cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.

The report stated that in most projected scenarios, global surface temperature is also likely to exceed the 2°C limit. Most scientists at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 agreed that exceeding this limit of global surface temperature rise would result in dangerous climate change.

Scientists from the report’s working groups on adaptation, mitigation, and physical science also added that key risks for Asia included urban and coastal flooding, and water and food security.

No-regret policies for emission reduction

Singapore’s Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan highlighted Singapore’s vulnerability to these extreme weather events and the importance of adapting to them as early as possible.

“We cannot take a positive outcome for granted. Even though we will do our part as a responsible member of the global community, we also have to adapt to climate change and make sure we are resilient in order to look after our own citizens in a warmer and more uncertain world”, he said.

However, there were uncertainties inherent in climate science, in the economics of climate change and in the political framework surrounding a global climate agreement that hampered global adaptation and mitigation efforts, added Balakrishnan.

For example, he said that it was “misaligned economics” that blocked the adoption of low-carbon technologies in a global economy that is overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels.

“This is what keeps us trapped in a high carbon trajectory”, he said.

To address this, Balakrishnan proposed three “no-regret policies” to achieve substantial emissions reductions; namely investing into research and development of low carbon and clean energy systems, mandating energy efficiency standards, and removing subsidies for fossil fuels.

Scientists from the IPCC speaking at the Monday event seconded the minister’s view that scaling up the low-carbon energy sector was necessary to limit global temperature rise. They added that the pursuit of clean energy also represented significant business opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors.

Christopher Field, co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, said: “Building the energy system of the second half of the 21st century is the business opportunity of the century. Recently, the countries that have most successfully capitalised on this have been the rapidly developing economies, particularly in Asia”.

Jim Skea, vice-chair of the IPCC working group on climate change mitigation, shared that “there will be major changes in investment patterns in the energy sector if we are going to pursue climate change mitigation, and this provides enormous market opportunities”.

The panel of scientists identified three strands of scientific innovations in the energy sector as particularly promising. In the field of chemistry, developing better fuel cells, photovoltaic technologies and more efficient materials were raised as key areas that could drive clean energy forward.

Innovations in information technology such as smart grids and emerging biological research in increasing crop yields of biofuel crops were also identified as areas with high opportunity for investment.

While the potential for profit by developing new energy technologies prevailed in conversations about climate change mitigation, Katharine Mach, co-director of science of the IPCC Technical Support Unit, noted that there were business opportunities in adapting to climate change too.

“Adapting to climate change is largely about risk management, and risk is also one of the metrics that businesses are the most comfortable with. This focus on risk management is widely used in government and also in insurance and business”, she said.

“There are huge opportunities for businesses that adapt to changes in water resources and the weather extremes that will be playing out across the region”, she noted.

The scientists also expressed unanimous optimism that the world would collectively be able to meet the global challenge of climate change.

To illustrate that climate issues tended to pass through a cycle of initial denial and concerns about the high cost, followed by the gradual acceptance of evidence and political action, Skea cited the United Kingdom’s 1956 Clean Air Act, which was passed as a response to years of debilitating air pollution in London that took more than 12,000 lives. While the government was initially keen to downplay the severity of the smog due to economic pressures, it eventually introduced measures such as shifting to cleaner energy sources than coal and relocating power stations away from cities.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge of all because it is global. But I feel optimistic that the same pattern will be followed and that we will eventually deal with it”, he said.

Singaporean professor Wong Poh Poh, the coordinating lead author on AR5’s chapter on coastal systems and low-lying areas noted, however, that while new developments in science and technology were encouraging, the slow rate of political change did temper the his optimism somewhat.

The IPCC representatives shared that the process of putting together the next assessment report (AR6) would focus on addressing gaps in knowledge about Asia’s changing weather patterns and putting a number on the value of preventing catastrophic climate change.

This would be done by involving more environmental economists in the scientific process and ensuring that developing countries in Asia were more equally represented on the panel, said the scientists.” http://www.eco-business.com/news/singapore-steps-efforts-weather-future-climate-change/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=July+9+newsletter&utm_content=July+9+newsletter+Version+A+CID_a456bb2e4e5b7a34701ac945eeb190e2&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=READ%20FULL%20STORY

So please will the real Greg Hunt stand up and say what he needs to say – I believe!

Want less intrusive government and good policy – US influencers

Bloomberg reports the US republicans can warm to a carbon tax. Why? Because it is a solution that does not require subsidies to work and it allows the market forces to set the economic response. The hook – all the money is used to offset income tax.

Now back home, despite previously advocating a Carbon Tax as late as 2009, the conservative Australian Government is set about to dismantle the carbon price (also referred to as the carbon tax) and preferring to introduce other taxes/charges/fees that will be greater than the impost of the Carbon Tax. Considerable opposition to the plan is gathering pace, and it is based on the uncertainty of the alternative measures.

So how do the Americans intend to sell the Carbon Tax and what is the appeal that is persuasive for the Republicans? For a start in the main economists agrees a tax is the way to put downward pressure on emissions. The Republicans don’t like quantitative emissions controls, caps on emissions, or subsidies. However, they do like market forces to organise an economic response. The selling point is that emission can be cut where the market finds it is easier and cheaper to do so.

Now we hear the argument: ‘Some’ Republicans oppose the notion that Climate Change even exits! Well to use the President of the Australian Solar Council words spoken on 5 June 2014, when politicians resist they will come around to change their thinking easy enough. You could interpret that as – I oppose to recognise because change present problems that require actions. You could also say in ‘yes minister’ style: One will be courageous when it becomes unavoidable. You could say if you reduce the risk, and it is to reduce the likely hood of a voter backlash it is a good thing.

To follow on with the tax argument, we quote: “Instead of listing all the fine things a carbon tax could buy — some tax cuts here, a bit of budget-deficit reduction there, and plenty left over for additional spending on infrastructure and other good things — advocates of such a tax should simply offer to give back all the revenue in the form of tax cuts elsewhere.

It’s a worthwhile trade because a tax is by far the best way to reduce carbon emissions, which again is the whole point of this exercise. Consider a modest tax of $16 a ton of carbon dioxide, rising at 4 percent a year above inflation. It would reduce power-sector emissions by more than the EPA proposals for the energy sector would, and curb emissions across the rest of the economy as well.

A $16 a ton tax would also add about 16 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline and raise household energy costs by 5 percent to 20 percent, depending on the source. Such costs — to “families and businesses,” of course, because what politician in his right mind wants to impose a new tax on families and businesses? — are most often cited by opponents of the tax.

The answer is twofold. Yes, families and businesses would be paying a new tax. But no, families and businesses would not be paying more tax. The new carbon tax would raise about $1 trillion over 10 years and almost $3 trillion over 20 — a handy sum. That would be enough to send every U.S. resident a check for about $300 in the first year (with bigger checks to follow) or $1,200 for a family of four. It would be more than enough to cut the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, for instance, or take a bite out of payroll taxes, or some of both.

This would inevitably lead to an argument over which taxes to cut. At which point, admittedly, the debate could bog down all over again. But at least it would be framed by a shared assumption: that a carbon tax is good policy. It gets liberals a more effective climate policy, and Republicans a less intrusive government.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.”

Now back in Australia, eh what was the problem? I guess we have an issue with setting our priorities – we prefer to impress bar flies!

DoIICCSRTE – again one more time around

If you wondered if the writing is on the wall for climate change adaptation strategies what better declaration other than to say we need a new super department and call it the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

As of 26 March 2013 the transition has started in a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. In asking the question will it work? Consider:

Logical – The movement of Energy Efficiency to Resources; energy and emission reduction policies best fit is with Climate Change.

Illogical – the same super minister overseeing mining companies will manage renewable energy.

Means – the urgent need to decarbonize the economy.

Ends – to cut funding to over 140 projects across 33 universities around Australia. To affect more than 100 researchers in the ability to carry out critical work on climate change adaptation.

The game is to be seen as promoting innovation. That word innovation is being used as a football – or should we say moneyball.

If you are not aware the opposition is committed to reducing expenditure by $23b and if you think of what the Government has done – it is making that very difficult to do as the expenditure trimming has started and it will be difficult to extract efficiency dividends on already lean departments without stopping practices all together.

Therefore it is a game of tactics as both the government and opposition are committed to strategy for climate change. The tactics appear at this stage to be:

Government – creating a Super department and reducing the Department of Climate Change staffing numbers from about 1000 to around 600, and reducing funding to research facilities.

Coalition – reunite Climate Change and the Environment in a relationship it believes makes more sense, and revisit six green star accommodation at the Nishi building at a cost of $10 million a year.

Co2Land org take s particular note of the coalition stance and where they say it makes more sense – it does for control purposes. However, it will fall into the same traps of the Howard era and quickly be unworkable as a policy instrument. But then again that will allow ‘yes minister’ to continue and compel a review at opportune times.  The term then was a ‘broad policy approach’ – history to repeat itself?

Because it is good reading we suggest you research this matter asking the questions:

And what happened to Climate Change Adaptation? Has that once commonly used title now gone altogether? Then follow up on the link –

The ABC did a story last month about the future of the body charged with preparing the nation to meet the challenge of global warming, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

 

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country. Most recently, floods hurt the Australian eastern states, and a matter of weeks before by devastating fires. This is focusing on the thought – Maybe climate change is closer than we think.

The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison, on Monday 4 February 2013, made a comparison of Australia facing another summer of floods, and that we are not alone. She centred her story on how Indonesia’s capital grappled with a watery chaos and Beijing being brought to a choking halt by smog. Her point being “Australia’s recent re-acquaintance with devastating flooding in Queensland and northern NSW this summer has been another sobering reminder of the climatic shape-shifting wreaking havoc with lives and livelihoods across the country. 

Yes, Dorothea Mackellar might well have written of droughts and flooding rains in the early 1900s (while homesick for Australia as a teenager in England), but you’d be hard-pressed to find much wistful fondness among the many farmers who have watched livestock, equipment and expanses of primary produce wash away their livelihoods for the second time in two years. 

For many of these much-heralded ‘country folk’, the financial and emotional struggle of staying on the land will be too much; they’ve said as much in shocked-filled resignation as the water came back too soon. 

Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets?”

In another irony, the current Queensland Government did not see anything other than a cost/benefit analysis being required to manage the environment. Because of the events the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is now considering the cost of the climatic events and it is hard to find a benefit calculation other than the need for a capital injection might have to come from public funds to mitigate the damage. One such project would be that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland could be relocated “to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding”.

Another pair of ABC reporters, John Morrison & Kerrin Thomas, also on 4 Feb 2013 said New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, “says his visit to flood-affected regions on the North Coast has reminded him of his visit to Moree around the same time last year. 

Moree was flooded almost exactly one year ago, as floodwaters travelled downstream from Queensland. 

Barry O’Farrell told ABC’s Statewide Drive program the conditions in Grafton this year are very similar to those in Moree 12 months ago”. To paraphrase BOF’s (Premier Barry O’Farrell – we kid you not, it is a published acronym for his name) point is that the city dwellers think it is unusual and the country folk do not.  Too right mate it is bloody heart breaking for country folk, if you did not know!

The reality is what the city dweller is now able to see change, and the statement of BOF of “unusual” is losing credence as the numbers keep stacking up that something is wrong, and climate related events are becoming more extreme and records are being broken nudging the entire population to think again about climate change.

The point is made again: It is not just Australia that is affected, in Jakarta right now, where record flooding has swamped the CBD for the first time in history. As in Queensland (suggested by the Premier Campbell Newman) there is increasing talk that relocating the Indonesian capital is the only feasible solution to an escalating problem. The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison said, “Jakarta is sinking. Literally. Years and years of unregulated private water-bores has drained the city’s below-sea-level water table dry. The record rain, coupled with an underdeveloped drainage system and the penchant of Jakartans to use the city’s waterways as rubbish dumps, brought this city of 20-odd million to a standstill of a different kind…. Australians remember the massive economic and political impact when Brisbane flooded two year ago – the disruption and cost to business, the national flood levy, the daily Bligh/Newman media show, the rebuild…..The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality…And while the Indonesian capital grappled with a watery chaos, further north a different kind of stultification was engulfing the Chinese capital. The soupy and toxic coal-fuelled smog that has descended across northern China sent monitoring devices off the scale in Beijing. 

Hospitals recorded a 30 per cent increase in admissions for respiratory-related illnesses and residents were ordered to stay indoors as state-run manufacturing was put on the kind of state-instructed ‘go-slow’ not seen since the Blue Sky policies of the Beijing Olympic preparations….There is something darkly delicious about China’s state-run manufacturing boom on a state-imposed go-slow because Beijing’s middle class, the beneficiaries of the boom, can’t breathe. It’s a vexing Catch-22 for China’s new leadership – how to keep a slowing economy buoyant but avoid a widespread public health crisis – and a new twist on boom or bust. Not to mention the regional economic implications for trading partners like Australia, whose coal-exporters might possibly be the elephant in the (Beijing hospital) room? 

It doesn’t seem that long ago that “environmental refugees” living on increasingly brackish low-lying Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu were dismissed as the political fodder of fear-mongering climate change campaigners. Now, sadly, relocations from what were once primary food-producing areas are a new way of life – and it’s not just Kiribatins and Tuvaluans feeling the watery heat. 

Widespread record flooding and deadly landslides have been a common theme across the Pacific this summer – PNG, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands have all battled extreme weather events from ferocious cyclones and record rains. A 

It used to be that a few thousand people with wet feet in the Pacific never got much traction outside environmental campaigner circles; perhaps this faraway time of a planet impacted by a changing climate might be closer than we think”. 

Tracey Hutchison broadcasts throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific for ABC News Radio and Radio Australia.

Bringing this closer to home in the story “Fitzroy River continues rising amid ‘sea of water’” by Paul Robinson, Monday February 4, 2013 –the story is of central Queensland and the city of Rockhampton where it two has been hit by severe floods in as many years of the Fitzroy reaching up to 9.2m. This height has the potential to cut off the city for as much as two weeks at a time. Flooding also closed the Airport. However the problem for the city is that much of the water coming in also came from further inland, which brings its own problems in terms of trade. And extensive damage to agriculture. 

Quoted is “We’ve seen loss of livestock, there’s tractors that have been washed out of sheds, four-wheelers that are a couple of hundred metres down the paddock, there’s a lot of irrigation gear and pump sheds that have just gone missing, tanks, like a lot of fodder, round bales, small bales and lucerne, all gone,” he said. 

”Tourism hit

A central Queensland tourism body says tourist operators can expect further hits to business as Rockhampton prepares for Saturday’s flood peak. 

Capricorn Enterprise says highways cut by floodwaters severely damage tourism”. Also affected is rail infrastructure and mining activities and it is reported that “rail company Aurizon says coal rail lines to Gladstone could be closed for more than a week…. An Aurizon spokeswoman says crews are still unable to fully assess the situation because the rail line is under water. However, she says at the moment they expect the Moura and Blackwater systems will reopen within seven to 10 days. 

Freight operations along the coast have also been interrupted by flooding of the Queensland Rail network”. 
We should also say roads are also cut or restricted for use at different points too.

CO2Land org thinks maybe BOF had it the wrong way around. Country folk are finding it unusual that 10, 50 and 100 years events are happening, seemingly every 2 years. It is city folk that are tending to think it is normal and even the assistance appeals are failing to reach the targets.  Is it too late, how can we adapt at this rate? What is the cost of taking the high ground!

Synfuel – to a ‘waste-free’ world

The prediction is Synfuel is the best alternative to meet world energy demand, and it will help address the other big issue of a waste-free environment.  The differences are an improvement over Biofuel as it will not compete with food production or involve land clearing, and the processes of the waste will put it to good use.

We already know the prediction of peak oil, what has changed is the dates when we will reach that tipping point, and it will be driven by demand. The current prediction is that fuel demand will triple by 2025, that gas energy and petroleum price will rise within 2 years and be subject to more competitive tendering processes as governments seek more revenues and vested interests seek to retain margins. Ironically, government (take Queensland for instance is solely assessing energy as a financial cost benefit, and this encourages consumption as a take or pay exercise). There is no demand constraint or carbon consideration other than price.

It is therefore reasonable to assume the oil industry will not be able to sustain supply.

A curious part of the matter is that the technology to address the demand and supply equation exists, the source of the feedstock is abundant, and government has the power in the form of existing legislation and approval processes to make the need for power ‘responsible’ and be encouraged. As CO2Land org is told, all that is needed is the assistance of the stakeholders to the innovative and the refinement of the design to meet accreditation requirements as a mass project rollout. We understand, currently the environmental protection license requirement policy is assessment on a project by project basis. The other impediment is the economics that proponents of most alternative and or renewable energy have issues with and that relates to costs, and cost can be in the form of cash investment or embodied problems in the ‘producability’. Therefore what must be overcome is the difficulty of the sustainability of the programs, not the technology.

What can be assured of is the technology to convert all organic waste to proper Synfuel or Kerosene according to the EU regulations, and in Australia (we understand the NSW EPA could accredit the technology in Australia within months) it is likely “as surely as day, the best, most cost effective and environmentally friendly way one can choose to convert waste to fuel. And it is one investment and not two – first in incineration or similar and then later into Synfuel. We can do it both with one technology” – If you would like to hear from the source of the quote, contact – helga@imvemvane.com .

CO2Land org also notes the ability to use gawk.it to see what is the opinion around the world and especially agrees with the opinions of JAMES FERGUSON. Directly quoting:” However, this was not where this blog post goes. I wanted to make a simpler point. If you want to fix ‘Planned Waste’ then you had best address ‘Thoughtless Waste’ first. Why – because the first can be bought but not bought well in the context of the other, and the other must be learned – and cannot be bought at any price.

If thoughtless waste is addressed, it comes at the princely price of a penny – as in ‘a penny for your thoughts’. So payback is immediate and it clears noise away so that investment in reducing ‘Planned Waste’ can be made in the context of a reasonable operation. Please remember that thoughtless waste includes, not turning down thermostats, not adjusting time-clocks and making unfounded assumptions about needs.

Regarding the last ‘Obligatory Waste’ – can only say that the obligations are rules made to be broken. Waste is always wanton. So preventing waste always allows the actor access to the higher ground.”

CO2Land org then ponders recent discussion with Real Power Systems and Congent over feedstock for cogneration projects and those conversations was typical in that whenever and wherever ones reads about converting waste, or zero waste aspirations, around 90% of these discussions go around creating electricity from waste. In fact, it soon becomes discussion on a multiplicity of products and that the industry has a place to exist in a sustainable way, and it can be done, and it’s not difficult at all and each of the products make use of the resources we already have consumed.

So what about the other numerous natural sources from which to harvest as much electricity as we need – for instance wind, sun, hydro, ocean currents, vents in the ocean, photovoltaic, etc. Simply the answer is there is a place for all if we consider we will consume and economics says we need to grow to prosper. Therefore we must consider the many possibilities we should use just to meet the demand and consider the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of doing so, and the science says our demands are growing faster and the impacts are accelerating. It follows that three times the amount being demanded is more than the oil industry can maintain, and whether it is 2030 or 2025 when that comes about does not remove the need to think now and encourage the technology that converts all organic waste to reuse products. Think about this waste as from agriculture, Metropolitan waste streams, sewage, medical, hazardous, old oil and/or tyres and more and it can all be converted to Synfuel – this is not biofuel from productive land or food production diversions or sources. It is a fuel that goes from the manufacture plant into the engine, motor, jet and needs no blending. A well designed and tested unit produces desulphurized, 100% environmentally friendly fuel and the numbers show it will comply fully to the EU EN590 regulations, even exceeding the Cetane up to 58 and sometimes even more and also exceeding ASTM requirements.  Some numbers we could quote suggest around 63% from green waste blends.

Quoting ‘helga’ again: “If you wish so the plant will also produce A1-type Kerosene. 
You want to create electricity – no problem, we just add a genset and you get your electricity. 
BUT you invest only one time because investing now in an incineration or combustion plant – how long do you think this will a viable business? In most areas maybe for 8 – 10 years”. The analogy follows that the Synfuel industry will have a significant lead on other technolgies that will inevitable be developed to meet the demand for electricity. For instance in Goulburn yesterday, it was suggest Thorium reactors will be viable in the near term and the issues of producability will constrain the introduction in similar timeframes.  In the mean time Synfuel will solve a number of problems in landfill, the need to consume and the need for energy. ‘Helga’ also suggest our transport needs will not be met by electrical cars, and they are wasteful of resources also, and we should consider environment impacts of the millions of trucks, heavy machinery, planes, train locomotives and similar that cannot drive with electrical batteries – they will run on waste when it is converted to fuel. A fuel that can be produced in minutes without electricity and a waste can produce beneficial bi-products for agriculture (for instance bio-char) in six minutes.

Don’t you all think that this is the better way to go?

COAG Powers – playing ball EPBC, Energy Market Reform

A business’s focus should not just be on project management, which is a reactive stance, but ’project mastery’ – this includes not allowing stakeholders to tug it in a multitude of directions, making it impossible to set clear goals and deliver the goods on time – finding the balance between sticking to the original plan and remaining flexible – avoiding ‘score creep’ (where the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled) – and keeping to the path. Says The Harvard Business Review as sent out by Caring for our Country’s Garry Reynolds.

Linking how this could affect the effectiveness of the intention of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) intentions (Meeting – Communiqué Canberra, 7 December 2012) from its 34th meeting in Canberra [As a note COAG has for 20 years been meeting to discuss Business and politics]. You could wonder it COAG can deliver despite it continues to reiterate its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

If we focus on COAG Environment and Energy Reforms:

Posted on December 7, 2012 by co2landEPBC Powers – COAG passing the ball?” where we raised an analogy over federalism and enterprise models and “If you translate that to Federal and State and Territory government workings, you might see the possibility of a run away train through select enterprise if the influence is replaced by vested interest other than the good of society, or our long term future”, and then recently COAG, on Environmental Regulation Reform, “re-affirmed its commitment to broad environmental regulation reform that enhances efficiency and increases certainty for business, while maintaining high environmental standards”. It follows that the Commonwealth will progress its legislative reforms in response to “the Hawke review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to further streamline and strengthen environmental regulation”.

As we previously said COAG wants to articulate ‘standards’ that the Commonwealth has proposed and that State and Territory processes would need to meet these standards as ‘accredited’ arrangements. COAG writes it “represent an important milestone in COAG’s reform agenda” and “Jurisdictions have made consistent efforts to improve regulatory arrangements, including increased use of strategic tools and commitment to early engagement with proponents.  COAG welcomed the release of the Commonwealth’s Statement of Environmental and Assurance Outcomes and draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation”.

The issue may be in the following: “As a further step to improving processes relating to environmental regulation, COAG agreed that all jurisdictions will direct their regulatory and referral agencies to eliminate duplication and to avoid sequential assessments and delayed approval processes and also to utilise common information requirements for both assessments and approvals”. The operative being co-operation and avoiding ‘score creep’ as states and territories are known to seek.

Energy Market Reform, in 1996 we saw the introduction of the National Energy Market (NEM) and its strong appeal was for urgent and concrete action to reduce the price of energy through ‘contestability’. In 2012, “ COAG noted the strong call by business for urgent and concrete action on energy market reform to help moderate the impact of high electricity prices on consumers and business, particularly the need for greater access to more flexible pricing”.   While the concepts differ in that contestability was the original answer to lower energy rices, in particular Electricity prices, what COAG has now endorsed is a more comprehensive package of energy market reforms for jurisdictions in the National Electricity Market than in 1996. In this instance ‘reliability standards’ are to be addressed additional to rules and price.

Set up for the job of the reforms are, “the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER), with advice from the Business Advisory Forum (BAF) Taskforce.  In addition to agreeing to the recommendations from SCER and the BAF Taskforce, COAG agreed in principle to adopt the new best-practice framework for reliability standards (to be developed by the Australian Energy Market Commission and which give primacy to affordability for consumers at agreed levels of reliability and take account of regional considerations) and to transfer responsibility for applying the framework to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), with a final decision by the end of 2013”.

It is additional funding from the Commonwealth that is being made available to enable the AER to review “its resources, independence and operational arrangements”.

COAG secretariat acknowledges the full implementation of the reform agenda (to be taken forward by Energy Ministers), “will take sustained commitment over time”, and the oversighting progress needs to be vigilant.  Further details on the reform package are available at www.coag.gov.au.

It should also be noted the domestic gas market is not forgotten and “COAG requested SCER to provide advice to its next meeting on challenges facing domestic gas markets”.

A bit more from Caring for Our Country co-ordinator, Garry Reynolds:

The International Energy Agency is projecting a glut of energy as the US becomes the largest producer of oil and an exporter of gas – CO2 emissions will continue to grow, but energy efficiency could help buy us time in addressing climate change and save money. Source: Climate Spectator 13 Nov 12.

Global demand for fossil fuels, especially coal, is forecast to grow strongly – yet carbon emissions will have to peak soon if the worst of climate change is to be avoided – coal met 45% of the growth in global energy demand between 2001-11 – roughly triple the contribution from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Australia is betting big on the expansion of coal as the world’s 4th largest producer (6% of the world’s coal production) – committed projects to expand coal capacity total $9.8 billion for ports and $16.7 billion for mines – the Government is hoping that the long term development of carbon capture and storage will mitigate the greenhouse effects of the expansion.  Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Because of the variability of wind and solar power, every 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy production capacity needs 600 megawatts of coal or gas power as a backup. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

The US glut of cheap natural gas is leading major coalminers to look to the construction of new ports on the US West Coast to massively increase exports to Asia. Source New Scientist 13 Oct 12.

Hydro Tasmania is the largest generator of clean energy in Australia. Source Planet Ark 24 Oct 12.

Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target has delivered $18.5 billion in investment, with the potential for $18.7 billion more if the policy is retained in its current form according to the Clean Energy Council – it is cutting emissions and paying for itself. Source  REneweconomy 25Oct 12.

And, the best for last : ‘Innovation is obvious in hindsight and radical in foresight’ Hargraves Institute 23 Oct 12.

EPBC Powers – COAG passing the ball?

A seemingly disjointed argument: Commonwealth devolving EPBC powers to States and Territories and the Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory, a specialist consulting firm which helps governments and corporations discover, measure, value and manage their impacts on natural and human capital held a seminar at the Australian National University (ANU), 5 December 2012. In essence, both argue over the move from federalism models of influence to enterprise models.

As an analogy, and as we in all likelihood, need the technology to research effectively, our IT systems giants can be brought into the highlights: Apple is a Federalism model and Microsoft an Enterprise model.  Co2Land org puts forward the difference is the application of standards and accreditation. One is a moderator and influencer, and he other is a executive lobbyist and controller. Another way of putting it – Apple makes devices that influence the development of things that make it work and manage the introductions of the applications that can be framed fro the devices. Microsoft makes thing work for the information flows that fit the enterprise and its vested interests, and strictly controls the infrastructure platforms they will work to within the select enterprise. If you translate that to Federal and State and Territory government workings, you might see the possibility of a run away train through select enterprise if the influence is replaced by vested interest other than the good of society, or our long term future.

If we go back to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 (EPBC) concerns:

  • We notice that Andrew Campbell, Director, Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, headlines ‘Commonwealth handballs environmental protection to States and Territories’, and talks of the COAG proposal to devolve EPBC powers to States and Territories, “even for matters of national significance, may be OK in principle but seems sure to end in tears. States & Territories are dis-investing in environmental capacity and are often proponents or at least key stakeholders in big development projects. Existing S/T legal frameworks are patchy. Hard to imagine that the Commonwealth will invest sufficiently in monitoring or compliance to ensure that other jurisdictions adhere rigorously to the COAG agreement”. He then said “when inevitable controversy occurs, the Commonwealth Minister will be blamed anyway”.
  •  Preceding Campbell, 0n 5 December 2012, http://theconversation.edu.au ,the Conversation printed, ‘Commonwealth should keep final say on environment protection’. This creditable account even offered what interests the authors may have to declare including:  Lee Godden has received funding from the Australian Research Council for a project on environmental governance and climate change. Jacqueline Peel receives funding from the Australian Research Council under grants relating to climate change regulation and litigation. Lisa Caripis has volunteered with a number of climate change advocacy groups including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).
  •  The ‘Conversation’ story is compelling and to quote “Almost 30 years ago, the  Australian High Court gave the Commonwealth Government constitutional authority to make laws protecting the national environment. Now, a Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) agreement will severely limit the practical scope of that Commonwealth power. CoAG has initiated a fast-tracked process to effectively devolve Commonwealth development approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to the states. This could see a return to a highly decentralised system of environmental management in Australia, which means nationally significant areas and problems could receive inadequate attention”.

At the ANU scheduled seminar for GIST – Pavan Sukhdev, he defines an economy as one that improves human well-being and social equity while also reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. While focused on an economy: It is an urgent need to build a green economy as was the primary theme of the ‘Rio+20’ conference in June this year. Mr Sukhdev suggests that micro-level rather than macro-level changes are required to bring about a green economy, and that corporations have an important role to play in this regard.

Co2Land org asks what can be achieved by short term solutions being put to long term problems? An economy – is it an accounting function or a heritage action?  Why write about this? We must address this and other issues, and posts like this might help tackle, and influence us to avoid looming catastrophic damage to the environment, and at the very least mitigate trends in climate change. The word here is ‘responsible’ as in held accountable for bad actions, and praise for good ones. Ball passing, as described by Campbell, then becomes irresponsible!

The operative of ‘Sustainability’, ‘Resilience’

A scientific term describing the dynamic balance of ecological systems – the term “sustainability”. Over the last 40 years or so since defined, it is not understood, or the meaning is misused. To appearances it is a similar problem for many terms like Demand Management, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming, Consistently, Resilience etc.

Posted on August 27, 2012 by co2landThe operative of ‘Consistently’, ‘Resilience’. Quote “Now a little more on why your methodology may be too narrow in its focus and it revolves around the word ‘Resilience’. According to the Decision Point, August 2012, Resilience is not about not changing as far as natural habitats are concerned – it is concerned with holding a system in exactly the same condition erodes resilience because the capacity to absorb disturbance is based on the system’s history of dealing with disturbances.”

Then we see a comment on Linkedin.com that many in the UK are now using ‘resilience’ as a substitute for ‘sustainability’ especially when taking in business/operational terms, and gets over the still widely held link that sustainability is just about the environment. They claim “resilience links the need for an organisation to look to becoming enduring, being able to project itself into the future and be able to ride the vulnerabilities and challenges of scarce resources, energy security, adapting to climate change, and including social and economic aspects. 
Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Lovely, if it was perfect!

However, if you now look at why meanings change it could be enthusiasm at fault. Enthusiasm to be recognized and establish programs at the strategic level, and very little push actually comes from practitioners to bend the intended results. It follows that a strategic outcome is not always the path to a wanted result.

In a former role, some of us experienced that many government initiated ‘sustainability’ programs did not meet the ‘successful’ criteria, and that would be described as a ‘flawed’ program. The underlying issue would be determined that the program was not ‘robust’ enough. The move would then be to have a more robust means of measuring the success. You might have noticed we are no longer concerned with the problem of sustainability, but the measure. The means of ensuring it remains still long enough to guage success.

The effect is that policy continues and more and more metrics are being introduced, and becoming a place where subjectivity has no place and the need is to replace it with objectivity. You might see at this point it is ‘YES, MINISTER’, and when giving advice you would say ‘Challenging, but certainly quite feasible’. 
From this point on, there is now many ways that our terms that mean sustainability can be applied, and sit as a subset of the same term.

This is not saying all is wrong, many of the metrics are dealing with the social side of things and repositioning what might also be considered organisational boundaries into areas of influence that could do good. However, what is unfortunate, is the term “sustainability” (and many other well defined terms) becomes co-opted by business and politics and used to refer to all kinds of things that bear no relation to the triple bottom line or endurance over the long-term.

CO2Land org argues that diluting the meaning and confusing the general public this way could explain why people are easily led to believe the resources have been mis-used.

As further evidence of our position being shared. We quote: “This is because the term “sustainability” is not understood, and misused accordingly. A scientific term describing the dynamic balance of ecological systems in the 70s it was applied to economic systems by the WCED in 1987, and enhanced in later definitions to make clear its about leaving the world a better place for future generations (not the same place as it is now). As a green building advocate for nearly 30 years now, it has been important to me to distinguish between the process and the product. I doubt there are many “sustainable products” but we try, using a sustainability “lens” to do the best we can in designing products (from oatmeal to homes to manufacturing systems) that afford us environment, economic, and social benefit. This “systemic” lens is also known as integrated design, and the only way I know to achieve anything like the kind of future we crave for the greater good. This is so important to me that I am spending my “retirement” training and mentoring leaders in the sustainable building field in a systems approach to leadership — The Emerge Leadership Project. www.emergeleadership.net.

To balance the argument , as a good debate should, another view: http://alderspruce.blogspot.com/2011/05/why-we-love-greenwashing.html), “one of our most important jobs is to create healthy dialogues and allow people to discover their own meanings of sustainability. It is always my first step with clients, to help them define it for themselves and connect this definition to the definitions that might be different for other groups and societies.

I am sure the survey data backs up this response but exactly the same happened with Quality. Everyone followed the Toyota Model and we experienced BS5750, ISO 9000 etc. Over time the value of belonging to the club was eroded by spin and a watering down of the intensity of the standard. Sustainability isn’t easy – that is the point. Whatever you believe you can change the word for will, over time, suffer exactly the same apathy as the low hanging fruit is harvested. Surely these same highly experienced executives can find a way of innovating because one thing is clear – there is massive room for improvement.”

CO2Land org has the last word – we take particular note of “the club was eroded by spin and a watering down of the intensity of the standard” – that is our point.

Bioenergy policy – case for clarification

Two important statements: Coal is not a sustainable option for energy production. Energy production ‘product substitution’ could result in the use of higher carbon alternatives. Do we need to educate policy makers on what this means?

During 2011, a company called Carbon Innovation had high hopes that bioenergy projects would form part of its sustainability platform. The platform built on biomass for energy production and biochar products. It was a noble cause and the indicators were it could be a success. Like so many innovators, the fight became not about the quality of product, but of policy, and waiting for the strategy to be formed and implemented. All this takes time. Time is money and for a business case to be proven it needs to be bankable.  To be bankable requires metrics and measure of product approval.

In the debate of climate change verses global warming it should be clear-cut: The former is trends and the later is shorter-term rises. But somehow, deniers fixated on the later, media adopted the term as a de facto for sensationalism and controversy. The result what was a genuine cause becomes ‘issue’.

Let me put Carbon Innovation’s cause to you first: Forrest floor waste has many negative consequences and the bioenergy potential was a focus towards truly sustainable inputs.  Sufficiency reports advises any further investigation into waste products for energy use, such as wood waste from forestry was a sensible alternative to coal burning, and a very good global warming mitigation.

Representation to ABARE questioned if there was an accurate accounting system. Whether the systems were capable of raising awareness of carbon debt and material substitution, or whether it merely found a ‘lumping in ‘ approach easier. The argument being it is a lazy way and the approach fails to be robust and in all likelihood would lead to a challenge of the effectiveness of genuine environmental benefits. It should be clarified what was asked was for waste to be used as the fuel, not the deliberate destruction of a carbon sink.

Carbon Innovation Pty Ltd is now in the process of a ‘Strike-Off Action In Progress’ with ASIC – as a volunteer action by the management.

The CO2Land org notices a number of stories now circulating on Biomass for energy production and finds some interesting foes for the concept. Albeit it might be again the problem of ‘lumping in’ and things being taken as a ‘broad brush’ statement and failing to see the wood for the trees – not original but illustrated the problems very well.

While Carbon Innovation was trying for a favourable policy position in Australia, to offer a carbon neutral renewable resource, the UK government supports this shift through subsidies on biomass to combat climate change. However, some environmentalists label these subsidies ‘climate fraud’. Background stories:

Bioenergy policy

“The UK Bioenergy Strategy published earlier this year, aims to support sustainable bioenergy in order to reduce emissions. With this goal in mind, the UK plans to continue subsidising the use of wood for large-scale power generation. The strategy makes it clear that the use of wood, in comparison to coal, will result in emission reductions. As a result, several British power companies are actively following this directive”.

Dirtier than coal?

“A new report challenges the assumption that biomass is carbon neutral. ‘Dirtier than coal?‘, a combined effort between RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, goes so far as to say that replacing coal by burning whole trees would increase emissions by 49% over the next 40 years. The report identifies two key critiques of the assumption that wood is a carbon-neutral energy source.

1. Wood is inefficient

Stuart Housden, Director at RSPB Scotland, explains that the aim of government biomass subsidies is to shift towards lower carbon intensive inputs. Housden argues that replacing coal with wood will not have this outcome.

“When trees are burnt in power stations, CO2 comes out of the chimney, just like it does when you burn coal. The difference is that wood is less energy-dense and is wetter than coal, so it takes a lot more energy to harvest, transport, process and finally burn it…

Transport emissions are likely to rise as the UK will be forced to import wood in order to meet rising demand. On a local scale, as demand and price rises, industries using wood may be pushed into using cheaper options. This ‘product substitution’ could result in the use of higher carbon alternatives.

2. Carbon debt

Advocates of biomass argue that losses in carbon storage from harvesting of wood is compensated by regrowth. This leads to the second ‘accounting error’ of the bioenergy strategy. It fails to recognise the time lag between initialising regrowth and mature, carbon sequestering ecosystems. This issue of ‘carbon debt’ is one of the most serious criticisms of biomass for energy production. Housden goes on to point out that,

(It can take decades, if not centuries for the trees to recapture that carbon, leaving us with more emissions in the atmosphere now – when we least need it).”

 To put into a summary:

They are correct in these main areas:

  • There is the need for an accurate accounting system that avoids ‘lumping in’ one size fits all
  • Accounting systems should factor an awareness of carbon debt and material substitution
  • Bioenergy should refocus towards truly sustainable inputs
  • Further investigation into waste products for energy use, such as wood waste from forestry would be a very sensible strategy
  • There must be continued discussion over biomass as a renewable resource, and the classification of carbon neutral
  • Carbon neutral must be clarified in a policy context, as should other loose terms such as sustainable, real, even carbon (see footnote).

Many groups and governments agree coal is not a sustainable option for energy production. What is not clear is the question of the assumptions that surround policy regarding biomass as a product substitution. However, CO2Land org cannot support claims of ‘climate fraud’ by some environmentalists saying Governments practice it. We claim it is more akin to ignorance and under resourcing of responsible units, and that need to be addressed to get effective actions from government.

Footnote: Carbon – the word confused in CFIPosted on August 2, 2012 by co2land .

Carbon Farming Initiative – approved two landfill gas projects in Canberra

Two landfill gas projects declared eligible in Canberra

The Clean Energy Regulator has approved two landfill gas projects in Canberra under the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The Belconnen Landfill Gas Project and the Mugga Lane Landfill Gas Project use the Capture and combustion of methane in landfill gas from legacy waste methodology, and are located in Belconnen and Hume respectively. There are now 11 landfill projects approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative. All projects that are declared eligible under the Act are published on Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

For more information about applying for the Carbon Farming Initiative contact the Clean Energy Regulator: