The Bullroarer - Sunday 4 November 2007

NZ Herald - Let the sun shine on developing nations

A surge in investment in solar power is bringing down costs of the alternative energy source, but affordability problems still dog hopes for the 1.6 billion people worldwide without electricity. Supporters believe a solar era may be dawning, boosted by Western funding to combat oil "addiction" and climate change. But there are few handouts in developing nations where it could be argued solar power is more relevant. The InterAcademy Council said efforts to curb climate change must target vast numbers of people who lack basic energy.

SMH - $US100 a barrel could be days away

The Australian - Renewables industry backs Labor's target

THE renewable energy industry has predicted it can meet Labor's ambitious 20 per cent target by 2020, rebutting claims by conventional power generation companies that the target may be unachievable. The prediction came as conventional power generators disputed claims by Labor's environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, that he had consulted widely with industry before announcing the ambitious target. "There has been significant consultation with both (Labor energy spokesman) Chris Evans and myself," Mr Garrett said yesterday. "The views of industry have been listened to very, very intensely."

Mr Garrett said Labor decided to announce a target now and not wait until Ross Garnaut finished his economic analysis of emission trading and targets next year because the renewable energy industry was ready to move. "Why wait when we have a climate crisis on our hands?" Mr Garrett said. "Why wait when we have $20billion worth of investment just waiting to emerge?"

Pacific Hydro spokesman Andrew Richards said the renewable industry was ready to spend the estimated $12billion needed to deliver Labor's renewable target. He said that although wind energy alone could meet the target, it was likely to be augmented with a range of other renewable technologies, including geothermal and biomass. "The only thing stopping 10,000 megawatts of wind energy in Australia is policy," he said.

SMH - Loyalty to coal takes wind out of clean energy advocates' sails

In April last year the future of wind energy in Australia was in doubt after the Coalition Government blocked a Victorian wind farm project to protect the endangered orange-bellied parrot, a bird so rare it appeared never to have flown near the site. The decision to overturn state approval for the project ostensibly on environmental grounds sparked outrage from green groups and prompted a string of Pythonesque jokes about dead parrots.

The Labor Party made much mileage from the drama but it refused to say how much renewable energy it would aim for if it won government. Meanwhile, both parties continued to support the country's dirtiest industry, assigning millions of dollars to an elusive technology they said would clean the carbon out of coal. The renewable energy industry watched in despair. Wind turbine manufacturers threatened to quit the country and solar power researchers headed overseas.

Things look very different 18 months later. The two main parties are locked in a battle to prove their green credentials. Opinion polls show voters respond enthusiastically to renewable energy, and to wind and solar power in particular.

Energy Business Review - Meridian Energy's Hayes wind farm development gets approval - Forest may be bought to offset emissions

Brisbane Courier Mail - Australians are world's worst carbon polluters

The Age - Melbourne rainfall hits record low

SMH - Kyoto: the Japanese feast where you eat your own words

GetUp - Walk Against Warming

Jakarta Post - Australia pledges US$27.7 million to reduce gas emissions in Indonesia

TreeHugger - Boreal Forests Found to be Net GHG Emitters

Using a one million sq. km stretch of forest in Manitoba, Gower and his colleagues coupled their measurements of how carbon moved between the atmosphere and the trees with past records and computer models to examine how the forest's ability to store carbon dioxide has changed since mid-century. Their results showed that the forest's ability to store more carbon dioxide than it emitted had weakened over the last few years - to the point where it has now become a net emitter of carbon.

The culprit for this abrupt reversal, Gower explained, is forest fires. "The warmer climate has increased fire frequency and extent. Those wildfires have caused this transition in the boreal forest from a carbon sink to a carbon source." They have, in effect, caused a positive feedback loop: the more soil is exposed to sunlight as a result of trees burning, the speedier the decomposition process and the more carbon dioxide is released. The real concern is that climate change may soon causing the large-scale thawing of permafrost around the world; second only in size to tropical rainforests, boreal forests cover a vast swathe of land in the upper latitudes of Alaska, Siberia, China, Scandinavia and the Yukon.

Gower's assessment is fairly grim, to say the least: "Based on our current understanding, fire was a more important driver than climate was. But if carbon dioxide concentration really doubles in the next 50 years and the temperature increases four to eight degrees Celsius, all bets may be off."

The Australian - China bid for agricultural chemicals maker Nufarm marks new global era

AGWeb - Fertilizer costs and production risk

The National (PNG) - PNG Agro exports nose-dive

MOST of PNG’s commodity export volumes have dropped dramatically since 1999. Only oil palm has shown a consistent rise in export volumes over the same period, while cocoa has seen some modest increases in the past four years.

Islands Business (Fiji) - Energy: ‘MAD’ GERMAN + FALLING COCONUTS = ‘WONDER’ FUEL

The National (PNG) - PNG-Japan ties getting stronger

PAPUA New Guinea and Japan will continue to enjoy the existing good relationship, PNG’s ambassador to Japan Michael Mauve said. “PNG’s relationship with Japan is special due to the numerous historical developments and especially in memory of the Head of Japanese Forces, Yamamoto, who had his headquarters established in Rabaul during World War Two between 1942 and 1945,” he said.

The Japanese companies comprised Japan Bank of International Corporation, Nippon Oil Exploration Corporation, Itochu Corporation, JCG Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, LNG Japan Corporation and Cosmo Oil Corporation, which is the third biggest petroleum company and is working closely with OISCA by putting a lot of money back into environment conservation awareness. “People should realise that just as they (Japanese companies) need our raw materials, we need their skills and knowledge and capital to build downstream industries."

ABC - Coalition pledges $10b for roads, rail. "There's nothing new in rail, especially public transport rail, in this announcement."

SMH - Unpopular nuclear option on back burner

IHT - Exxon-Shell venture draws German and Australian interest

The network connects the Netherlands and Denmark with German cities like Hamburg and Berlin. BEB also has a gas storage site near the Dutch border. Oil companies like Shell and Exxon Mobil are selling off peripheral energy businesses to focus on exploration, production and refining as crude oil trades at record levels.

Looking at the links I gather;
#Forests sometimes absorb CO2.
#Forests sometimes emit CO2.
#Forests are always a good offset.

I smell a scam. I'd give tree planting more credibility if just once somebody had their carbon credits taken back because they failed to water the trees or put out a fire. As we say in Australia this is a 'magic pudding'.

Hmmm - I didn't notice anything in there about offsets.

What I read was that global warming is drying out soils and making forest fires more common - which are thus making some forests slight newt carbon emitters (as previously captured carbon is released back into the atmosphere).

The point being that there is a feedback effect at work here and it isn't a good one.

See the stuffco item above

Where I'm coming from is that I'm sure coal mining will increase at least for the first term of the next PM. 'You lied to us' the voters will say. The new PM will reply 'but I offset' on account of having paid the Indonesians a few dollars not to cut down the forests of Kalimantan or farmer Bill and his mallee trees. Note this is not a new initiative but merely preserves the status quo. As with other claimed 'offsets' it works out much cheaper than actually cutting emissions. Modest sized acreages at home or abroad will be alleged to neutralise large tonnages of emissions, and nobody seems to check that hard. It won't stand up to scrutiny, which is why the European trading scheme won't have a bar of it.

Ah - yes - fair enough - I was focused on the more alarming story from TH.

I agree most offset schemes are bogus in any case, and an easy and tempting form of greenwashing for politicians...

I agree most offset schemes are bogus in any case, and an easy and tempting form of greenwashing for politicians...

That's why I plant my own trees. 500 and counting...

Maybe I should pay you to plant a few more every time I get on a plane :-)

You just have to promise they won't burn down or die because of lack of water !

Our CO2 emissions will only be reduced if coal fired power plants are de-commissioned and REPLACED by genuinely renewable energies. In NSW, we have 12,500 MW. If we phase these out over 40 years until 2050 (I doubt whether we have that much time) EVERY 2nd YEAR a 600 MW block has to go. Where is the plan for that? And forget growth in power supply for luxuries. 1st priority is to get rid of the old stuff. This is not possible without a drastic POWER DOWN as proposed by Richard Heinberg
The first step is to make Earth Hour
permanent (turn off unnecessary city lights). Why is there such a delay?

Well - I certainly don't agree with the need to Powerdown - I think Richard Heinberg has a number of other issues in mind when proposing that course of action.

Replacing 300MW per year of coal fired power with solar, wind, ocean, geothermal, biomass, hydro and "negawatts" would seem to be an achievable goal to me - but I'll agree no one is currently planning for it.

It would probably need to be more like 400MW per year to handle expected growth too I suspect.

Why is there a delay ? Political gridlock. Not easy to solve...