The Bullroarer - Wednesday 25 June 2008

SMH - Higher petrol prices cut car use: report

MOTORISTS drove less in 2005 because of a rise in petrol prices, government figures show, strengthening environmentalists' calls for petrol to be included in the emissions trading system. The latest report on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions shows that between 2005 and 2006 emissions from cars dropped 2.1 per cent, the first fall since the collection of figures began in 1990. Although the drop was directly attributed to higher petrol prices, motorists adjusted to the increases and appeared to return to their usual patterns last year.

The Greens senator Christine Milne said people would respond to higher petrol prices by driving less but only if they were given convenient alternatives such as public transport or more fuel-efficient cars. "Those reductions will be temporary unless we invest substantially in the alternatives. This sends a clear message that if we invest now in clean, mass transit at the same time as introducing emissions trading we will see transport emissions go much further down than they did in 2006, and stay down, unlike their subsequent rise in 2007," she said yesterday.

SMH - Parties battle over emissions scheme

The federal government ramped up its attack on the coalition as a bunch of climate change sceptics, as clear political divisions emerged over a future emissions trading scheme. The opposition is questioning whether petrol should be included in the scheme, saying the coming carbon price could add up to 50 cents per litre to fuel costs.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd dubbed the opposition "the climate change sceptics brigade mark II", accusing them of flip-flopping on emissions trading and recalling the previous government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. "What we have here quite plainly with this new fear campaign on emissions trading is this: we have the return of the Kyoto sceptics in their new fear campaign on climate change and on emissions trading," Mr Rudd told parliament.

SMH - Carbon scheme will push up energy prices

Crikey - Antidotes to Liberal climate quackery

When Greg Hunt declares that the Coalition is behind an emissions trading scheme, he’s either lying or he’s totally out of touch with his colleagues.

If the latter, today’s Australian must be humiliating for him. With Hunt having done The 7.30 Report and other media overnight and this morning stressing that not only was the Coalition supporting a trading scheme but they hadn’t even decided if transport should be in or out, The Oz describes in gory details how Hunt’s colleagues want to significantly delay and weaken emissions trading.

It is clear that, regardless of the views of Malcolm Turnbull and Hunt, the Coalition has prepared a litany of reasons for it to back away from an emissions trading scheme. 2010 is too soon. We’ll send jobs offshore. Australia can’t solve climate change by itself. Petrol costs too much to include.

So to make life easier, Crikey is preparing a cut-out-and-keep guide to why the Coalition is hopelessly wrong. Next time you find yourself stuck at a party with a greenhouse denialist, or a Coalition MP pays a visit, or you find yourself on the bus next to Andrew Bolt, whip out this guide and have it ready for their specious arguments.

SMH - Gas giant challenge to Origin

THE British gas giant BG has challenged Origin Energy to substantiate its claims of a rapid rise in the value of its contentious coal seam gas reserves after an on-off $13.8 billion attempt to forge an alliance between the two yesterday erupted into a full-scale hostile takeover bid. Frustrated by Origin's tactics in first rejecting a lower, earlier offer of $14.70 a share, then giving its implicit blessing to a higher deal which it subsequently kicked into touch, BG returned to the fray yesterday with the same bid of $15.50 a share targeted directly at shareholders.

SMH - BG offer undervalues Origin: analysts

ABC - Rail, sea urged to replace road freight

The freight industry is being urged to move away from road transport because of spiralling fuel prices. An International Cargo Handing Coordination Association meeting in Adelaide has been told the use of trucks for freight movement cannot be sustained. ...

Adelaide-Darwin rail operator FreightLink says demand for its service is rising and it will start running a sixth weekly rail service across Australia from this week.

ABC - Oil imports fall as drivers change road behaviour

Economist Craig James from CommSec told ABC Radio's PM program the latest falls are dramatic, even though oil imports have been slowing for six months. "What we saw in May is that the amount of petroleum that we've imported is 28 per cent lower than what it was a year ago," he said. "This is the biggest fall that we've seen in over four years, and it certainly shows that the higher prices are having an impact on people's behaviours."

He said the figures disabuse people of the notion that demand for petrol was non-elastic and that people kept on demanding petrol no matter what the price.

Farm Weekly - Gas crisis prompts food fears

THE Food Industry Association (FIA) has called on the Government to increase its support to WA's food industry after this week's announcement that WA's gas supply could still be affected in December. Apache Energy said its Varanus Island gas production plant would return to part production in August but would not be back up until full production until the end of the year.

FIA chief executive Andrea Berteit said the Government had underestimated the full extent of the impact of the gas shortage on WA's food industry. Ms Berteit said the gas crisis was having a huge impact on all sectors of the food supply chain.

Farm Weekly - $2 billion Collie fertiliser plan

A $2 BILLION plan to produce fertiliser at Collie could provide benefits to farmers if it is completed. Indian-owned company Northwest Chemicals - an offshoot of the Burrup Fertiliser Group - is working with the Collie Coal Futures Group to develop a plant, providing 200 jobs, that could produce up to one million tonnes of fertiliser a year.

The process would see the coal gassified, producing urea. The Burrup Fertiliser Group currently operates on the Burrup Peninsula using gas to produce fertliser. The Collie plant could be a much cheaper operation.

ABC (Bush Telegraph) - The era of peak phosphorus is coming

You probably heard of peak oil - the idea that global petroleum supplies are about to, or have, passed their peak. But have you ever heard of peak phosphorus? Probably not, but it's something you'll hear alot more about in years to come because when the earth's phosphorus supplies run out, so too will food.

It sounds like a doomsday scenario, but my guest today believes deposits of phosphorus could be depleted this century. And while oil can at least be partly replaced with alternative energies, nothing that can replace phosphorus in food production. But there's a glimmer of hope if phosphorus can be reclaimed from human waste.

Crikey - Why we might not be able to count on the Indian economy

The wheels are falling off the Indian economic boom as high oil prices and food costs send inflation soaring and interest rates higher.

India is now the poorest performing of the quartet of emerging economies called the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. The surge in Indian inflation and the jump in interest rates is a reminder to those in Australia who uncritically believe in the resources boom: it's not going to continue without a few hiccups.

SMH - Help us out: charity's plea to oil giants

Mission Australia today appealed to major oil companies for the first time, saying the rising cost of petrol was threatening the viability of its Missionbeat vans.

SMH - Luxury home is too radioactive to live in

A WATERFRONT home on the site of an old uranium smelter at Hunters Hill is so radioactive that it is "unfit for human habitation", independent tests have found. Peter and Michelle Vassiliou, who bought their property at 11 Nelson Parade from the NSW Health Department seven years ago, are too scared to go home after radioactive soil next to their bedroom was measured at 350 times safe levels.

NZ Herald - Big gains touted in emissions report

An emissions trading scheme would unlock investment of more than $12 billion over the next 10 years and create nearly 10,000 jobs, according to a report commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

rosetta moon - Emissions Trading: Climate Change panacea or expensive red herring?

COALITION frontbenchers are pushing for a delay in the introduction of emissions trading in a move that threatens bipartisan support for the main mechanism to cut greenhouse gases and tackle climate change. The Australian, June 25, 2008, Liberal bid to delay emission trading scheme

With Ross Garnaut’s long awaited Climate Change Report due next week, the value of ‘emissions trading’ in the broader context of Australian Government environment policy deserves examination. While such a big ticket approach appears attractive on the surface, it may not be the golden bullet we are looking for and it may indeed distract attention from more immediate opportunities for government intervention. The premise of emissions trading or carbon trading, that the big end of town can clean up its act with the right mechanism may be overly optimistic. So while the Australian suggests emissions trading is the ‘main mechanism to cut greenhouse gases and tackle climate change’ others may suggest that practical regulation and guidance is more realistic in offsetting the costs (externalities) of the global economy which has become far too reliant on carbon heavy fossil fuels.

SMH - July rain critical for wheat harvest

Wheat production in Australia, forecast to be the world's third-largest exporter of the grain, may miss a government estimate as dry weather cuts yield potential, according to an industry analyst. Output may be 19.5 million metric tons this harvest, said Malcolm Bartholomaeus, an analyst with Callum Downs Commodity News who has covered the grains industry for 18 years. That compares to the 23.7 million ton prediction by the government forecaster.

Australia will sow a record area to wheat this year as farmers seek to benefit from higher prices. Still, the nation's government forecaster, Rabobank Group and National Australia Bank have trimmed production estimates after the country's driest May on record.

I believe an overall carbon cap is far superior to prescriptive standards. A cap makes no prejudgment as to which technology is best; it says to industry 'you figure it out' just setting how much carbon is allowed in total. In other words it doesn't pick winners in advance.

The first big advantage is that it should prevent leakages across carbon boundaries. For example substitution of coal for gas which we are seeing in WA electrical generation and soon apparently in ammonia production. A prescriptive standard could say for example if you use coal your emissions must be less than the gas equivalent, and then we'll cut it year by year. Why not make the standard the solar powered equivalent?

The second big advantage is avoiding moral lapse. Obviously corporate sleazoids will put a huge effort into making their own standards as lax as possible. Instead of swapping carbon permits behind the scenes they will set up permanent lobbying in Canberra for papal dispensations. A good example is the corporate average fleet economy (CAFE) in the US. Car manufacturers got the weak standard they wanted and now they are going broke. Stick with the auctioned carbon cap that covers everything and avoids loopholes. Then give back the auction revenue which can't be spent on more carbon as the limit has been set.

Changing tack I've seen a WW2 aviator's watch painted with the radium from the Hunter's Hill site. The hands and numerals glowed lime green in the dark so could be read in a darkened cockpit. Never heard of any associated health problems.

Agree that caps are better than papal dispensation - though I'd still be tempted to maintain the MRET as well (remaining neutral on which clean energy sources make up this segment).

Never heard of any associated health problems.

Maybe you should go to Hunters Hill and explain that the people who died of Leukemia were just unlucky ?

Hi Big Gav,
I am confused what was being measured; a reduction in vehicle travel miles(VTM) or a reduction in petrol importation(use)?
It makes most sense to include all carbon dioxide emissions, although its not likely that 4-5 cents/L for petrol is going to have a big impact, in comparison with possible future petrol price rises( >$1 per L) due to oil shortages. We should definitely also have improved fuel economy standards for all vehicles that are raised every year.

I see one of the biggest impacts of carbon trading encouraging an expansion of long term forestry plantations. One of the problems with 20-25 year tree rotations for timber is the lack of income until harvesting.

Seems you only had to be related to a Nelson Pde resident, not actually live there

several former residents of the street whose relatives have died of leukemia and cancer have come forward

The radium was mined near one of the SA geothermal prospects (Paralana) and shipped to Sydney.

On the MRET I think that's where much of the carbon auction revenue should go, even to the radioactive geothermal sites just to see if they can get it to work. The trouble is that micro-renewables such as rooftop solar are still battler-unfriendly even with quotas, feed-in tariffs and rebates. My big idea for today is give a lot of the ETS revenue to electricity retailers and they can install smart meters, rooftop solar etc regardless of the homeowner's financial situation.

That's remarkably heartless and disingenuous.

Its kids complaining that their parents died - all of whom lived together. They are probably worried about their own health in future too.

Got any more pro-nuclear spin you'd like to add to that ?

The original article didn't indicate the afflicted relatives had spent any time in Hunters Hill.

I'll save my pro-nuclear views for the right forum.