National environment group Friends of the Earth say the Federal Coalition government's Finkel Review on energy has ignored the latest science on climate change and health impacts from coal pollution.
The election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote in the UK, and the continued rise of Right wing populist parties across liberal democratic nations is a huge concern for anyone who wants to see action on climate change and protection of the environment. Today's announcement that the USA will withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement should not come as a shock, but nor should it be seen as the end of climate action.
A crowd of concerned citizens joined Friends of the Earth and Quit Coal out the front of Jemena in Melbourne to protest the Federal approval of the 622km Northern Gas Pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa.
But shift to hydro is a concession the market is failing on climate change Friends of the Earth welcomes the Turnbull government's proposal for a $2 billion upgrade to the Snowy Hydro scheme, saying the large scale investment in renewables and energy storage is a positive step but shows the market is failing to address climate change.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released its annual gas market statement on March 9th, this time telling us that we're facing a looming gas shortage that could mean interruptions of supply of gas and electricity in the coming years. They're saying that as a result of the new demands of the export market and the closing of coal fired power stations, there won't be enough gas to run the gas fired power stations that provide energy during usage peaks. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has used the announcement to call for "urgent crisis talks" with east coast gas companies, blaming the restrictions on unconventional and onshore gas developments for potential future supply problems.
We did it! On March 7 Victoria became the first Australian state to permanently ban the process of fracking to access ‘unconventional’ gas (gases like coal seam gas or CSG, and Shale and Tight gas). We also achieved an extension of the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling until 2020. This is an amazing day. It is the result of more than five years of hard work and dedication by many thousands of Victorians. 75 regional communities declared themselves gasfield free during this process. By 2012 we had built enough collective power that we were able to stop all development of onshore gas drilling in our state. Today the ban on fracking was made permanent. This is an incredible win for the communities in regional Victoria who fought for more than five years to gain this ban and their allies in Melbourne (short summary of the campaign available here).
After the huge achievement of the #VicGasBan campaign that has seen the permanent ban of fracking in Victoria, Friends of the Earth Melbourne joined with Seed and Arid Land Environment Centre to hold an information night in relation the Northern Territory Gas Pipeline, the #NoNTPL campaign and how we could make this a national campaign.
The notion of the Climate Change Hoax has recently been promoted by President-Elect Donald Trump, conservative politicians around the world, business leaders tied to the fossil fuel industry, and conservatives generally both in the USA and other Western nations. Populist and nationalist politicians have attempted to exploit the claim that climate change is just a hoax in order to gain support from farmers, the religious Right, conspiracy theorists, the disenfranchised, and low-socio-economic sectors of society to bolster their polling numbers, particularly close to Federal and State elections.
This year is an important one for climate action in Victoria. We now have a state renewable energy target (a VRET) and will soon have a legislated ban on all onshore unconventional gas drilling. A range of government policies will be announced soon which will shape the future of our state: these include the re-build of the Climate Change Act and a draft coal policy, both of which will be released by late 2016. Putting a ban on all new mining of coal and setting a timeframe for a rapid phase-out of all coal-fired power stations would mean that Victoria plays its part in responding to the threat of climate change.
As emergency workers assist South Australians with the fallout from a historic storm that knocked down multiple power lines, causing a blackout across the state, national environment organisation Friends of the Earth say the storm is a wake up call to act on climate change and disaster preparedness. “Playing politics while South Australians deal with an unprecedented natural disaster is dangerous and the community expects better. The facts are that climate change is set to increase the number of extreme weather events, yet ideologues have wasted no time in blaming renewables for the state-wide blackout" said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth's campaigns coordinator.