Monday 21 Oct 2019 | 19:43 | SYDNEY
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Sustainability

Indonesia should put more energy into renewable power

Air pollution is worsening in Jakarta and West Java, while tens of millions of people experienced a day-long blackout earlier this month after gas-powered electricity generators failed and significant proportions of eastern Indonesia have do not have reliable power supplies. So why does Indonesia

Keep calm and fly on … unless someone stops me

Shame is a powerful emotion, but is it powerful enough to save the planet? Almost certainly not. But the question has assumed unexpected prominence as the sensitive Scandinavians and the schoolgirl activist Greta Thunburg spearhead a campaign to encourage us to fly less, simply because it’s the

What a waste: the G20 and the plastic problem

The recent G20 energy and environment ministers meeting in Osaka delivered an “implementation framework” for reducing the rapidly increasing levels of plastic waste choking the world’s seas and oceans. This year’s framework declaration echoes concern already expressed at the 2017 G20 meeting

Japan is again hunting whales. What can be done?

This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years. A small Japanese whaling fleet left port on 1 July after the Japanese government announced that it had set a quota of 227 whales for the remainder of 2019. The quota is made up of 150 Bryde’s whales

An Australian model for the renewable-energy transition

Australia is experiencing a remarkable renewable energy transition. The pipeline for new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems is 6-7 Gigawatts (GW) per year for the period 2019-21. This equates to 250 Watts per person per year compared with about 50 Watts per person per year for the

Why boycotting palm oil achieves nothing

In a bid to promote its palm oil-free products for the looming Christmas consumption frenzy, British supermarket chain Iceland recently sought to repurpose a moving Greenpeace campaign ad. The Disney-like cartoon shows a baby orangutan in a British child’s bedroom, disturbed by chocolate and

Japan’s complicated relationship with coal power

At first glance, it appears a sea change is underway in how Japanese banks and financial firms treat fossil fuels. According to a comprehensive study released by 350.org in September – Energy Finance in Japan 2018 – Japanese financial institutions underwrote over US$80 billion in loans for

Explaining green and blue growth

A new report co-authored by Lord Nicholas Stern made headlines earlier this month with the projection that efforts to transition to a low carbon economy within the next 15 years could add $26 trillion to the global economy. The report is underpinned by the concept of “green growth”, an

Electric vehicles and industrial policy 

A dramatic shift is underway in the global automotive market. Electric vehicles (EVs), once viewed as toys, are gaining momentum. There are now more than 4 million electric vehicles on the road globally, up from only 100,000 a few years ago, and 2018 EV sales alone are on track to exceed 1.6

Obama's legacy: Bold leadership on climate

Battling climate change was a signature issue of President Barack Obama’s tenure, particularly during the his second term. In contrast, President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, vowed to roll back climate regulations such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP

Green power has a long way to go

One factor driving energy policies across the world is repeated claims by activists that green energy is gaining substantial market share over its despised fossil fuel competitors. These claims, made for the likes of the Danish, German, Californian and even Chinese grids, are distorting the energy

Paris agreement: signaling change for decades to come

Years from now, the Paris climate conference may be seen as the point where ambitious long term global climate policy was finally enshrined in an international agreement, and where the world found a formula that enables consistent action. True, there is a massive gap between present policy ambition

COP21 Paris update: Tough and uneven progress

The pace in Paris  is picking up. Delegates are moving from meeting to meeting, negotiating on the elements of the agreement. Even big delegations are struggling to keep up. We will not get a good sense of what will have been accomplished this week for a day or so but it is fair to say that

COP21: Where style is as important as substance

The Paris Climate Conference is underway. This is the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to which 195 states are signatories and, like previous COPs, it has been hailed as the most important climate conference in history. This is

Paris update: Anticipation and hyperbole

The delegates have arrived and the behind the scenes discussions in Paris are well underway. Negotiators are meeting to discuss strategy and informally coordinate positions. The aim is to  ensure formal negotiations proceed smoothly after the fanfare of the leaders' statements tomorrow. Canada 

Witness a global tipping point: The beginning of the end of coal

This is the first in a two part series by Fergus Green, climate policy consultant and researcher, London School of Economics and Political Science and Richard Denniss, chief economist, The Australia Institute. This post examines trends in coal demand. Part two will focus on proposals to regulate

G20 lacking ambition on climate change

G20 energy and resources ministers concluded the first-ever G20 Energy Ministerial in Istanbul over the weekend. Their communique is an initial response to the call from G20 leaders at last November's Brisbane summit to meet and progress nine agreed principles on energy collaboration. With

Reader riposte: Australia-India nuclear deal

By Ron Walker, currently a visiting fellow at the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at ANU. Ron is a former DFAT officer who worked for 20 years in Australia's nuclear diplomacy. Among the positions he occupied were the first Head of the Nuclear Safeguards Branch and Chairman of the Board of

Humanity's carbon countdown

First, the good news. We have enough fossil fuel to survive until the century's end. Today's proven reserves of coal, oil and gas combined is about 83 years (at current usage rates), so Spaceship Earth could make 2100 – the exact date that IPCC scientists have set for mankind's plan to moderate

Why we still need UN climate negotiations

The Marrakesh Accords, the Bali Roadmap, the Cancun Agreements, the Durban Outcomes, the Doha Climate Gateway, the Lima Call for Climate Action – the grand names given to decisions taken under the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stand in contrast to the meagre progress made on

Lebanon's garbage crisis reveals political paralysis

It's 2014 and it's a beautiful summer evening in Lebanon. As the heat of the day subsides, and the rubicund sun slowly sinks into the shimmering azure sea, breathe deep and you can inhale a malodorous scent that gently wafts up from the pile of burning trash emanating from the Karantina waste

China makes its formal climate-change pledge

China's long-anticipated formal pledge to international climate change negotiations, it's 'intended nationally determined contribution' or INDC, has arrived. China's target is a 60% to 65% reduction in the emissions-intensity of the economy by 2030 pegged at 2005 levels, with carbon dioxide

MRC bows out of Don Sahong discussions

There has been little news of the much criticised proposed dam at Don Sahong in the far south of Laos since the beginning of the year, when the Mekong River Commission (MRC) arranged for a series of public meetings to be held in member countries to discuss the dam. From the start, these meetings

The road to Paris: Ten days and counting

The latest round of negotiations for the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change closed in Bonn last Friday with mixed results. With ten formal negotiating days left until crucial climate negotiations resume in Paris later this year, the clock is ticking. Bonn Climate Change Conference, 1 June

Is the G20 getting serious about climate change?

The G20 does not have a great track record when it comes to climate change. This is a problem, because the group includes the world's main greenhouse gas emitters. G20 countries have agreed to a global target not to warm the earth more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels as part of the UN

Inclusive growth should not be the G20's game

In 2002 David Dollar and Art Kraay, both at the World Bank at the time, published an article in the Journal of Economic Growth called 'Growth is Good for the Poor'. Dollar and Kraay showed that if an economy's growth increased by a percentage point, then growth of the incomes of the poor increased

Post-2020 emission target a test for Australia

Failure to pay proper, high-level attention to negotiations under the UN's climate convention (UNFCCC) seriously endangers Australia's national interest in areas beyond climate change. This is the important headline conclusion from a timely Lowy Institute paper by Howard Bamsey and Kath Rowley. The

Cyclone Pam: A photo essay from a volunteer

By Eva Westfield, who was an Australian volunteer based in Port Vila. Consistently rated the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of disaster risk, Vanuatu is no stranger to the destruction caused by natural hazards. Talk of Cyclone Pam hitting Vanuatu started about a week before it

Australia is not meeting its IEA oil reserve targets

The plunge in the global oil price is a hot topic. Between June 2014 and January 2015, the price of crude has dropped by 57%. Most of the attention has been on the boon for consumers, with a litre of petrol in some parts of Australia now counted in cents, not dollars. But while Australia is

India nuclear deal needs serious parliamentary scrutiny

The Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will soon review the proposed treaty between Australia and India on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, signed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi in New Delhi on 5 September 2014. A 1984 cartoon on Australia's

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