Approving Bacchus March coal mine akin to treason

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Ben Courtice, president of Moorabool Environment Group, is campaigning to stop a new open cut coal mine near Bacchus Marsh (00:00–29:00), while board chair and CEO of Green Music Australia, Tim Hollo, is launching a new Bring Your Own bottle campaign at music festivals (31:00–44:00).



Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 113:

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Ben Courtice is the president of the Moorabool Environment Group and lives in Bacchus Marsh. Previously he worked for Friends of the Earth and Beyond Zero Emissions in environmental campaigns and communications roles. He is qualified as a Fitter & Turner and is currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in botany at Latrobe University.

What Ben Courtice talks about in The Sustainable Hour

Mantle Mining estimates that 1-2 billion tonnes of coal could be mined from the Bacchus Marsh area. The Hazelwood mine, right next to Morwell in Gippsland mines just 19 million tonnes of brown coal per year and has not yet seen the removal of 1 billion tonnes.

If a new open cut coal mine were to go ahead in Moorabool Shire it would have a devastating impact on our environment and community.

» Read more No New Coal Bacchus Marsh

» Facebook campaign page

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan
Beyond Zero Emissions’ ‘Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan’ outlines a technically feasible and economically attractive way for Australia to transition to 100% renewable energy within ten years. Social and political leadership is now required in order for the transition to begin. The plan shows that with a combination of energy efficiency, fuel-switching from gas and oil to electrified energy services, and a combination of commercially available renewable energy generation technologies, Australia’s energy needs can be met with 100% renewables.

It demonstrates that 100% renewable energy is achievable and affordable, and proves that with commercially available and proven technologies renewable energy can power Australia within 10 years. It was launched in June 2010, so if its recommendations had been taken seriously by our politicians, Australia could have been running on 100% renewables already in just four years from now.

» Read more and download the plan


In 2011, the Australian Government announced its Clean Energy Future Plan amd commissioned the Australian Energy Market Operator to undertake a study which explores two future scenarios featuring a national electricity market fuelled entirely by renewable resources. The study was published in 2013:

» 100 per cent renewable study – modelling outcomes






BACCHUS MARCH COAL MINE


No new coal: time to finish this business!

We’ve been campaigning to stop a new coal mine at Bacchus Marsh for years. Now there’s a chance to see the end of this saga. We need your help: read on.

Victorian upper house MP Greg Barber recently brought to our attention that the minerals exploration licence for coal held by Mantle Mining and Exergen in the Bacchus Marsh area expires this month, as reported in local papers (see here for article).

We have met our local state MP, Don Nardella (who is supportive of our concerns) and we have written to the State Minister for Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio asking that the licence is not renewed.

Mineral exploration licences are usually given out and renewed without fuss by the department. However, we are informed that this year there will be a state government review of the issuing of coal exploration licences. Currently, we have been informed, the decision on issuing licence renewals rests with the Minister herself.

We intend to have our say in the coming review as to why we think coal exploration and new mines are no longer appropriate here. We are convinced by the evidence that climate change demands it, and that renewable energy can rapidly replace our current fossil fuel use.

We have asked Lily D’Ambrosio to put the Mantle/Exergen licence on hold – not to renew it – pending the outcome of the review.

Would you be able to write to her to express your support for our request?

Please write or email the minister:

Email: lily.d’ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mail: Level 36, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
or phone her office on (03) 8392 2100.

Tell her that you want the Mantle Mining/Exergen exploration licence at Bacchus Marsh not to be renewed, at least not until the outcome of the review of coal exploration licences later this year.



Why are we against this mine?

Here’s some reasons not to approve this mine, or new coal mines in general. It’s not an exhaustive list! Click on the links for further information.

  • To continue opening new coal mines would make it impossible to meet responsible emissions reduction targets if the world is to avoid the worst of climate change. It is time to begin moving out of coal: new mines is incompatible with this imperative. Read this by one of Australia’s world-leading climate scientists
  • The growth in renewable energy investment, with renewables now cheaper than new coal and gas energy, coupled with the imperatives of climate action, and uncertain international markets for low grade brown coal, suggest that should the coal mine get started, it may have a short economic life, leaving the locality with nothing but a big hole.
  • The recent inquiry into the Hazelwood mine fire, and news about management of coal mines interstate, reveal that rehabilitation plans and bonds are inadequate. In the relatively likely scenario that the mine is closed, there is a good chance the neighbours and taxpayers will be burdened with the cleanup.
  • Should a coalmine proceed, we are concerned at the impact on local water supplies. The area is already one of the driest in southern Victoria (as locals would be painfully aware at present), so the amount of water needed for wetting down and/or the amount of hazardous dust that may blow over the town and area are a major concern. We are concerned that dust could blow on the prevailing winds as far as Melton, Werribee and beyond, not just Bacchus Marsh.
  • Our area is now known for its horticulture and agriculture. Due to the impacts of dust, water waste, and damage to the town’s reputation, we fear that permanent damage could be done to these long-term industries by a coal mine.

» For further details of the coal exploration licence, including a map of the exploration licence area, see this from SourceWatch.


“A shadow hangs over this community. The shadow has a name, and a number: EL 5294, a licence to explore for brown coal, black coal and methane on this pristine farmland.”

“Nobody’s really sure where the Labor Government stands on coal, because they’ve hardly said a word about it since they were elected. It’s up to us to make sure Labor knows that silence and tacit endorsement of the coal industry is no longer good enough. If the Energy Minister renews this coal license, she will condemn the Bacchus Marsh community to uncertainty and potentially massive disruption from coal exploration.”
Ellen Sandell

Read more

» RenewEconomy – 21 March 2016:
Coal exploration in Bacchus Marsh has passed the end of its shelf life


COAL


Netherlands Moves To Only Allow EV Sales By 2025 – End Of Gas, Petrol

It is actually quite simple, when leaders step in and show some leadership.

This is significant news from the Netherlands simply because it is shows in real life which kind of change our parliamentarians could decide for Australia… if only they wanted to: In a majority vote, the lower house of Dutch parliament supported a motion to no longer allow new sales of petrol or diesel cars from 2025.

When the Dutch can do this, the Australians – and every other country in this world – can as well. It is actually quite simple, when leaders step in and show some leadership.

Similarly, the Chinese government recently ordered China Shenhua Energy to halt construction on 80% of its coal plants. Now, how hard was that? And what stops Australian governments to make similar moves, rather than continuing to approve the opening of new coal mines?

What has been missing in Australia for years now is the political will to create that necessary transition to a zero carbon society quickly enough to avoid the worst and most dangerous of the climate disruptions.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/124853604211923/permalink/1215111001852839

» insideevs.com/



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Climate leadership means phasing out coal power

Environment Victoria wrote:

Right now the Andrews Government is making big decisions on climate change and energy. These decisions could mean big steps towards sustainable clean energy in Victoria, or they could be an opportunity missed. That’s why every single Victorian Labor MP needs to hear from the people who care about it most… You!

The government has repeatedly said it will make Victoria a leader on climate change. With half our carbon pollution coming from burning coal, a key part of this leadership needs to be a plan to phase out our oldest and most polluting power stations.

Write to your local Labor MP and demand they show real leadership on climate change and start phasing out coal-burning power stations. Renewable energy is ready to go, but it is being blocked by old coal.


Mik Aidt wrote:

Dear Christine Couzens,

I am a constituent in your electorate and it is important to me that the Andrews Government start delivering real leadership on climate change, as your government has repeatedly said it will do.

I am aware that the government is currently making many decisions that will affect climate change and the environment. The Climate Change Act is being reviewed; a Renewable Energy Action Plan is being developed; and the powers of the Environmental Protection Authority are also set to be revised.

The phase-out of coal burning power stations is central to any plan to reduce Victoria’s carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy future.

For many decades, Victoria has sourced energy from burning brown coal. But coal is an industry of the past that causes health and environmental problems.

It’s time to shift to the clean industries of the future, like wind power and solar, but we won’t see much investment in clean renewable energy until large coal-burning power stations are phased out. The government’s own Renewable Energy Roadmap acknowledges this.

There is something wrong somewhere in Labor when you are finding it so hard to do what simple logic dictates you to do, which is to ban all extraction of gas, and gradually but quickly phase out all coal mining.

Please listen to our podcast about the Bacchus March project, which is just one example of the madness taking place as a result of Labor’s wishy-washy stand on transitioning AWAY from fossil fuels.

“Approving Bacchus March coal mine akin to treason”
» http://climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour113

Your government has made clear that it wants more renewable energy. I strongly support this and I encourage the government to be ambitious in cleaning up our electricity supply.

But until Victoria’s coal power stations leave the grid, our state will have more electricity than we need and investors won’t start building the clean renewable energy of the future and the jobs that come with it.

Without a government plan, these old power stations may close unexpectedly because of corporate decisions in other countries, which would cause the most disruption to the people employed by them in the Latrobe Valley community.

Your government was elected on a platform of climate leadership. That leadership has not been tested until now. For the sake of our state and our future, I urge you to include a plan for the phase-out of coal burning power stations in your upcoming decisions on the future of Victoria.

Yours sincerely,

Mik Aidt
South Geelong VIC 3220, Australia

» www.environmentvictoria.good.do/phaseoutcoal



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Coal phase-out, not just carbon pricing, crucial for climate credibility

To be serious about its recent Paris climate commitments Australia needs a targeted strategy to replace traditional coal fired power with clean energy by 2035 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050 said The Climate Institute as it released its submission to the Climate Change Authority’s review of Australia’s policy framework.

By John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute | 16 March 2016

“Global temperatures are smashing records right now and Australia’s emissions are rising again,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “The nation’s climate and energy policies lack the credible objectives, the tools and the urgency needed to back recent international commitments, let alone build an innovative, safer, zero pollution Australian economy.”

“We need to move beyond arguments about the value of carbon pricing and provide a policy framework that can do the job. There can be no durable policy framework without an objective for zero emissions; carbon budget analysis; and electricity market direct action to replace our aging and inefficient coal burning power stations with clean energy. Carbon prices are important, but we need to be aware of their limitation in current political and investment realities.”

“The Paris climate summit saw global business leaders, investors and politicians, including our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, recognise the inescapable fact that we have to achieve net zero emission economies if we are to control global warming levels.”

“Committing to pursue efforts to keep global warming below 1.5˚C – 2˚C above pre-industrial levels means we have to achieve net zero emissions well before mid-century. You can’t achieve that objective, and the Paris commitments, without an orderly and timely plan to modernise and clean up our electricity system.”

International momentum continues to build with coal consumption falling in China and with the US and Canada agreeing to announce 2050 targets this year. Yesterday the British Government committed to legislate a net zero emissions goal.

“Here in Australia there is drift and uncertainty in climate and energy policy. The Emissions Reduction Fund is reportedly losing budget support and ‘safeguard mechanisms’ impose little or no limits or responsibility on big emitters. Emissions are rising again. There are some welcome new initiatives under investigation but investors, business and citizens face a long delay potentially till the end of next year for a planned review to be concluded. The ALP has important elements like a net zero objective by 2050, but is yet to release a comprehensive strategy.”

The government supported the Climate Change Authority (CCA) review of policy mechanisms due to report later this year. In their submission to the CCA, The Climate Institute made the following key points:

The Terms of Reference for its review require the Climate Change Authority to consider the Paris Agreement, its objectives and the implications of its strengthening ratchet mechanisms, in its advice to the Parliament.

Achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement requires achieving net zero emissions by mid-century. Unless this process starts soon – specifically, the sustained replacement of the existing coal generation fleet by around 2035 – disruptive and costly interventions will be required to limit total emissions in line with the Paris objectives.

In terms of sending a broad signal throughout the economy of the need to undertake emissions reduction activities, carbon pricing remains an important policy. However, it is currently unlikely that a carbon pricing mechanism, for example through a baseline and credit or an internationally linked emissions trading scheme, would incentivise the transition required in the short to medium term.

“Investors would need confidence of a domestic carbon price of more than $70-$120/tonne during the 2020s to back an orderly transition from high emissions generation to clean energy. This is highly unlikely given our recent policy history and, unless supported by other measures, weak carbon price signals alone would deter the necessary investment.”

“Failure to deliver a policy framework aligned with a credible pathway to net zero emissions risks prolonging investment uncertainty and a much more rapid and disruptive change at a later date. There’s no plan for climate change, no plan for our future, without a plan for a zero carbon Australia backed by modern, smart and clean energy.

» The Climate Institute’s submission to the Climate Change Authority is available here (PDF, 5 pages)



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Interesting observations by Senator Larissa Waters: For every $1 they donate to the old parties, fossil fuel companies get $2000 back in government handouts and subsidies. What do the Libs and Labor get? Massive election warchests, and cushy jobs working for coal, oil and gas companies.

$1 trillion wasted globally on extraneous coal projects

Sierra Club writes: “With coal use on the decline worldwide, the estimated $981 billion needed to construct the proposed coal plant pipeline represents a massive investment in potentially stranded assets — resulting in an even further downward spiral for the global coal industry. In fact, this number is more than one-and-a-half times the amount that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates is needed to end energy poverty for the 1.2 billion people currently living without reliable energy access. On top of this staggering revelation, the report found that the additional new proposed coal capacity would result in over 130,000 more premature deaths worldwide each year from air pollution and finds that existing coal-fired power plants are responsible for a total of nearly one million premature deaths annually from coal-fired power generation.”

Mik’s comment on Facebook: “How annoying is this to be witnessing?! ….that we don’t have leaders who simply cut through all the coal investment madness! Since they can’t release themselves of their vested interests, it seems we need to elect a new generation of leaders who are able to see through the fossil foolishness and promptly make the right decisions without all the delay, waste, danger and destruction.”

» Sierra Club – 29 March 2016:
NEW REPORT: Nearly $1 Trillion Wasted Globally On Extraneous Coal Projects, Amount Could End World Energy Poverty



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Morwell resident Kay Metcalf’s window sills are covered in coal dust. Photo: Hayley Mills

“People know they live in the Valley, but how much (coal dust) is accepted and how much do we put up with?”
Kay Metcalf, Morwell


» La Trobe Valley Express – 21 March 2016:
Coal dust concerns



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Campaign to stop the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland

When we launched our campaign to stop Adani’s Carmichael mine from destroying our country, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. Since we first said “no” to the Carmichael mine back in October 2014, Adani have searched for every way they can to undermine our decision.

Well, the fight’s not over. In fact it just got bigger.

We are taking on a billion dollar mining company, legislation that is stacked against us, and Governments that want to continue coal mining at the expense of our rights and country.

The next few weeks are crucial. Adani know they need our people’s consent to build their dirty mine, so they are preparing to launch one final devious effort to get what they want.

If they succeed, they will be allowed to destroy our land and rivers, and strip away our rights.

But we have a plan – and we have the courage that comes from knowing what’s right. We are coming together this weekend to rally our people to say no to Adani for the third time. It will be three strikes and you’re out!

No longer will Adani and Governments and their backers in the media get to dictate the terms of engagement.

We decide for ourselves what we want to do and what we want for our future generations.

We are setting the agenda and building the legal and political momentum to fight off Adani for good.

We will not trade away our human rights for the false promises of a foreign-owned mining company. We deserve better than being thrown the bait of a few jobs in a dirty coal pit or driving buses for fly-in fly-out workers – while Adani hopes to rake in billions of dollars.

You have been standing with us as we take on one of the most significant fights in Australia for Aboriginal rights and the protection of our country in many years. The last 18 months has been the biggest fight of our lives.

To all the hundreds of thousands of people who support us across Australia and internationally, thank you for your support.

Please continue to stand strong with us. We can fight off Adani one last time, but we can’t do it without you. Can you please make a donation to our campaign to stop the Carmichael mine and defend our country, our rights and our people?

Adani Mining won’t listen – they are rude and obstinate – so we will take the fight up a notch. We are planning more action in the courts and will take this fight all the way.

We won’t just make sure Adani doesn’t get our consent, we’re aiming to make sure they never get the leases they so desperately need to carry out their rapacious plans. Our struggle has implications for all of us fighting for a future free of reckless, dangerous projects like the Carmichael mine, which is why we need you to stand with us.

We will continue to fight. We are protecting Wangan and Jagalingou country from irreversible destruction, from complete devastation. We will maintain our stand against the Adani Carmichael mine. Because when we say no, we mean no.

Adrian and Murrawah,

For the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council

Adrian Burragubba started this petition on CommunityRun. If there’s an issue close to your heart that you’d like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.



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Exposed to the demise of the coal sector

Will at Market Forces wrote:

The structural decline of the coal industry is about to claim a major scalp. US-based Peabody Energy is facing bankruptcy, buckling under a massive debt burden and after its share price has fallen over 99% in recent years. For those of us wanting a transition away from dirty fossil fuels to a clean energy future this is a good sign but we also have to ask: how much are we exposed to the demise of the coal sector? Fairfax has reported how ANZ have written off another $100 million in bad debts – including to Peabody – and we’ve recently published a piece pointing out how most of us – through our super – will be wrapped up in all this as a part-owner of Peabody.

We’ve been making a big deal about how banks and super funds that have custody of our money shouldn’t use it to support companies and projects that harm the environment. Well, we need to amend that concern to how institutions that have custody of our money shouldn’t squander it away on companies and projects that harm the environment. Remember, you can take action from the bottom of this newsletter to put your bank on notice over fossil fuels and call on your super fund to go fossil free.

Closer to home, Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners are keeping up their determined fight against Adani’s horror Carmichael coal mine proposal, despite reprehensible government support for the project. At the same time, Adani are continuing their search for financial backers, and with ANZ, CommBank and Westpac all still in the mix, we need to keep up the pressure until those banks categorically rule out funding the mine and its associated infrastructure.

We’re also looking for help applying pressure to the fossil fuel industry and its supporters at a number of important annual general meetings coming up soon. Please check out the list of upcoming AGMs here and let us know if you are able to attend or would be willing to authorise a proxy to go in your place.

» Click here to find out how your super may be exposed and take action to get it out of fossil fuels:
www.superswitch.org.au/analysis/how-peabody-energy-burned-us-all





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GREEN MUSIC


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What Tim Hollo talks about in The Sustainable Hour

Green Music Australia’s newest campaign is asking Australian musicians to take the lead in getting rid of unnecessary and destructive disposable plastic water bottles. Popular Australian artists such as Paul Kelly and Missy Higgins have adopted the ‘Green Drinks Rider’ and become ambassadors for the BYO Bottle campaign.

» Read more and join the campaign on www.greenmusic.org.au


“Musicians have an amazing influence – tapping into our emotions, changing the way we think, influencing the food we eat and the clothes we wear, literally putting words in our mouths. From the civil rights movement in the USA to indigenous rights in Australia, from the feminist movement to nuclear disarmament, musicians have been at the forefront of social change since time immemorial. The special skills of engaging communication and leading by example make musicians invaluable to any process of change.

Green Music Australia has researched this vital role, looking at social and cultural theory and history, communications theory and practice and more. You can read the detail in the report, ‘Key Change’.

» Read more on www.greenmusic.org.au



CLIMATE


As planet burns hot, new report shows Paris a relic of historic failure

Scientists say they are shocked and stunned by the “unprecedented” NASA temperature figures for February 2016,
which are 1.65°C higher than the beginning of the twentieth century and around 1.9°C warmer than the pre-industrial level.

Stefan Rahmstorf of Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research says we are now “in a kind of climate emergency”.

Like the dramatic and unexpected “big melt” in the Arctic in 2007, we are now in another moment of terrifying climate reality, for Nature cannot be fooled. The recent data suggests it has taken just three months for the Paris climate accord — with its escalating emissions to 2030 — to become a relic, completely disconnected to the task the world now faces.

So what is the reality after Paris?, asks David Spratt from Climate Action Moreland.

» Download Breakthrough report




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“The disconnect between Australian politics and the urgency of our climate crisis is dizzying. Australia’s so-called leaders are a bunch of Neros, fiddling while the atmosphere burns.”
Ben Eltham, New Matilda’s National Affairs Correspondent

Climate treason

“The Coalition’s policies on climate can fairly be described as treason. There is no other word for policies that betray our nation’s future, and the security of our children and grandchildren,” wrote Ben Eltham, New Matilda’s National Affairs Correspondent

“The carbon tax has been abolished, and with it the cap on Australia’s emissions. So emissions are rising. Australia’s largest coal mine, at Carmichael in Queensland, has just been approved. The Renewable Energy Target has been slashed, and investment in climate science. Funding for renewable energy and environmental research has been slashed. The Climate Commission was abolished. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been paid to the worst polluters under the cosmic joke of “direct action.”

All this happened under Tony Abbott as prime minister. But Malcolm Turnbull has changed nothing at all.

And Labor remains committed to Australian coal mining, in the bizarre assertion that coal dug up by Australia but burnt in China somehow doesn’t count.”

» New Matilda – 15 March 2016:
After A Record Breaking February Let’s Call Our Climate Policies What They Are: Treason
“While the nation plans to invest billions in defence, the safety and security of the next generation is being traded away.”


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Turnbull talks about climate change in parliament

“My question is to the Prime Minister: NASA has said that February was the hottest month on record ever, smashing a century of global temperature records by a “stunning” margin, results that scientists have described as a “climate emergency”.

Prime Minister, do you agree with your Chief Scientist that we are losing the battle against climate change?”
Adam Bandt, Greens MP



On 16 Mach 2016, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to back his own Chief Scientist on climate change when asked by Greens MP Adam Bandt in Question Time in Parliament.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s Chief Scientist has rightly said ‘we are losing the battle against climate change’, yet the Prime Minister refuses to back him,” Mr Bandt said.

“February this year has been named the hottest month on record ever, smashing a century of global temperature records by what NASA calls a ‘stunning’ margin’.”

“We’re in the middle of a climate emergency, yet we are losing the battle. The Greens know it, Australians know it and now Malcolm Turnbull’s very own Chief Scientist has said it.”

“Malcolm Turnbull is waffling while the planet burns.”

“Malcolm Turnbull must live up to his past rhetoric on climate and ditch Tony Abbott’s weak and dangerous pollution targets and Direct Action policy. Malcolm Turnbull must commit to renewable energy and the end of coal.”

“The Greens have the courage and vision to take real action on climate change that will cut pollution and keep temperature rises below the internationally agreed 1.5 degrees.”




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94.7 The Pulse

» 947thepulse.comGeelong’s Premier Community Radio Station

 

 


 

The Sustainable Hour on social media

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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer