Changing climate – changing people

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The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 11 May 2016 with Katerina Gaita, director of Climate for Change, Tim Buckley, director of Energy Finance Studies at the Australasia 
Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Fanny Beck, Zoe Tseng and four other Deakin university students plus their teacher Steve Hjerrild. Rap song ‘Make it Hot’ by Baba Brinkman.


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 121:

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  LISTENER SERVICE:  

Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


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Tim Buckley: good news on the energy front

Tim Buckley brings good news from the renewable energy front. He talks about how cost of solar in Dubai is now lower than fossil fuels – something which signals there will very soon be no going back.

He is feeling positive that we will make the necessary changes to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, but that will only happen at the required speed if more and more people make their concerns public.

Tim Buckley cites examples of huge fossil fuel companies investing billions of dollars now in the clean energy space. He mentions the record amounts of wind and solar investments in China where the world’s largest coal supplier for instance is now building a giant solar plant, and in France where the major oil company Total is speeding up its expansion in renewables and entering battery business.

Adani is the biggest coal company in India and a proponent of the huge Carmichael mine in the Galilea Basin in Queensland, Australia – outlined on paper to become the world’s largest coal mine. However, in its home country, Adani is currently busy building huge renewable energy projects, Buckley tells us. And all Aussie banks and major international funders have said they won’t give any money to this coal mining project, simply because it is no longer economically viable.

Tim Buckley is Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Australasia 
Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. He has 25 years of financial markets experience, specialising in equity valuation.

» More info about Tim Buckley

» More about coal and China



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“Analysts did not expect solar costs, even in excellent locations such as the UAE, to fall so low until 2030. How have bidders now achieved such sharp savings? A move to auctions and away from the German model of guaranteed premium prices has driven developers to compete aggressively. Solar panel prices are down about 12 per cent over the past year, with new, more efficient technologies in development. More importantly, the large scale allows for economies in procurement and installation experience.”


» The National – 15 May 2016:
Remarkable solar bids in Dubai should spur on other Gulf nations



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‘Backlight: The breakthrough in renewable energy’

46-minute documentary film published on youtube.com on 5 May 2016

“It’s not in the papers but a silent revolution is moving across the world. Renewable energy is becoming cheaper than energy from fossil fuels. It means that progressively the choice for wind and solar energy is no longer an ethical one but an economic one. And this will speed up the transfer to renewable energy.”



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Climate emergency

Short climate emergency interview and statements in a 2-minute audio collage.

More here: www.climateemergencydeclaration.org



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Climate emergency math

“It is straight math: How many people are active and engaged on this issue? How hard are they pushing? How coordinated are they? It is the people who are engaged that determine what government does. And all we have is a choice to make about whether we are going to be one of those people or not.”
Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz – in the documentary film ‘Disobedience’


“The science is pretty dark. Things are changing very fast. But I am absolutely sure there is going to be one hell of a fight.”
Bill McKibben – in ‘Disobedience’


Award politicians who talk to us honestly about climate

“I think that as the public start seeing greater frequency of extreme weather events, as they start seeing what used to be 100 years storms seem to be happening every year or two, and you start seeing the economics of inaction, then people start thinking: you know what, we are going to award politicians who talk to us honestly and seriously about this problem.”
U.S. president Barack Obama in ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ season 1 episode 9, June 2014.

 
The American president Barack Obama explains why any sensible Australian politician would be paying very special attention to this particular election topic: climate change. He also said:

“If you profess leadership in this country, at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize that this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges – if not THE most significant long-term challenge – that this country faces and that the planet faces. The good news is that the public may get out ahead of some of these politicians.”


Spend two minutes of your time listening to what the American president Obama had to say about climate change back in June 2014:

 



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Research on why people “self-silence” on climate change

“If you want to understand why it is that on a planet wracked by climate change, people still don’t talk much about climate change, then this may be the key: They’re people.

Or, more specifically, they’re evolved social mammals who are acutely attuned to how they are perceived by the other evolved social mammals around them — and reasonably so, because those perceptions greatly influence their own lives.

Such is the upshot of new research on why people “self-silence” when it comes to climate change, just published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by Nathaniel Geiger and Janet Swim of Penn State University. In a nutshell, Geiger and Swim find that people are often afraid to talk about climate change with their peers because they wrongly think those peers are more doubtful about climate change than they actually are. This incorrect perception — which the authors dub “pluralistic ignorance” — then makes people fear that others will think they’re less competent, and thus, view them with less respect, if they bring up the subject or talk about it.”

» Washington Post – 12 May 2016:
The vicious cycle that makes people afraid to talk about climate change



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The Climate for Change fundraiser

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» www.chuffed.org/project/c4c2016


  LISTENER SERVICE:  
The fundraising campaign was succesful
Climate for Change wrote in their newsletter:

“Words cannot describe the elation we felt when our crowd funder reached its $40,000 target on Saturday afternoon, and it’s all thanks to you! Thank you for so generously donating to our efforts, and for your support throughout our campaign. We now have the funds we need to employ two new staff members, who will put in the groundwork to get us ready for launching nationally next year.
It’s an incredible feeling knowing that so many of us want to be part of creating the social climate for effective action on climate change in Australia.
Please take a moment to watch this special message from our Director, Katerina Gaita.”


Climate for Change gathering
Climate for Change gathering

About Climate for Change

Climate for Change wants to create the social climate in Australia for effective action on climate change.

“As individuals, we do what we can. But to stop climate change, we need action on climate change to be a social norm. So let’s create that social norm!,” says Climate for Change.

How?
We know social change happens when ordinary people have conversations with people they trust. So Climate for Change are kick starting those conversations.

A host invite his or her friends and family to the home for a gathering. At the gathering a trained Climate for Change facilitator guides a conversation and present information about climate change, its solutions and what we can do to make those solutions happen.

At the end of the gathering guests are encouraged to take regular action and to keep having conversations with their friends and family. The easiest way for them to reach out straight away, is to host their own gathering with their friends and family. In this way the iniiative can grow exponentially, engaging more and more people over time.

Values
“Whilst the warmings of climate scientists may be dire, there are many reasons to hope. Hope is what drives us and gives us courage to act. We will hold on to it, stay true to it and share it with others.

Staying true to one’s values requires constant inspiration and support, both practical and emotional. We will offer spaces for people to come together to inspire and support one another and we will provide the tools and resources they ask for to be powerful.

We believe in democracy and the potential of citizens who join together to make change in their communities, their countries and the world. We will build responsible and powerful citizen networks to realise the changes needed in Australia to stop climate change.

We recognise that for a movement to be universal and representative of the people, it must contain people from many background and of many differing worldviews. It is essential not just for the success, but also for the integrity of the movement that we work together in a respectful and empathetic way, to find common ground and work towards a shared goal.”

» www.climateforchange.org.au/about



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The Australian voters want to see change

Strong climate change policy is a vote-changing matter for a majority of Australians, a new poll shows, reports Sydney Morning Herald, calling the issue “an important battleground”.

According to the ReachTEL survey of 2,400 people, conducted for a coalition of environmental groups, 64 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a party seeking 100 per cent renewable energy in 20 years.

56.4 per cent of people want the government to do more on climate change, while 27.8 per cent think the current settings are right and 9.9 per cent want less action.

48 per cent said they would be more likely to support a party reducing Australia’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The figures contrast with the Turnbull government’s avoidance of the topic. The Prime Minister did not even mention climate change in his speech when kicking off the election campaign.

The Coalition’s policy is a 26-28 per cent cut on 2005 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030 through its multi-billion dollar emissions reduction fund, and 23 per cent clean energy production by 2020. 

Labor proposes a 45 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2030 through emissions trading and restrictions on land clearing.

The Greens want a 63-82 per cent equivalent cut to emissions, and 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030.


Majority wants to phase out coal
Lyndon Schneiders, national director of the Wilderness Society, said that “it is clear that the vast majority of Australians recognise that we need new and powerful laws to manage that transition and to protect the places we love from the impacts of climate change.”

The poll also found that a majority of Australians, 56.1 per cent, would be more likely to support a party phasing out coal-fired power, compared to 27.2 per cent unchanged and 16.6 per cent who would be less supportive.

66.9 per cent would be more likely to vote for a party that strengthens environmental laws protecting sites like the Great Barrier Reef, while 23.1 per cent are unaffected and 10 per cent would be less likely to support them.

61.9 per cent of people agree that the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming and is destroying the Great Barrier Reef, while 23.2 per cent disagree.

» Sydney Morning Herald – 15 May 2016:
Election 2016: Climate change policy a vote winner for majority of Australians



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Upcoming event in Geelong: 

Facing the Heat: Exploring conversations on climate change

May Geelong Green Drinks

Geelong Sustainability’s monthly social networking event – Geelong Green Drinks – on Wednesday 25 May will be an interactive workshop, which is very appropriate given the forthcoming federal election.

As people begin to accept the seriousness and urgency of climate change they often feel the urge to spark conversations with family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers, only to discover it’s not always as easy as expected. Climate change conversations are not just about rational scientific debate. They touch upon people’s identity, values and emotions. The conversations we have can either feel draining or nurturing. The more we have draining conversations the more risk we are of dropping out or burning out. This experiential workshop will allow both a playful delve into conversations and a reflective nourishing space to consider the process of conversation and how to manoeuvre in those more tricky moments.

The workshop will be facilitated by practicing psychologists: Carol Ride and Ben Nisenbaum from Psychology for a Safe Climate.

Geelong Sustainability’s monthly Green Drinks is a great way to learn about what’s new and happening in our region and to connect with others working in the sustainability sector. Don’t miss this informative social get together. See you there!
Entry just $2 – Finger food & tastings provided – Drinks at bar prices

WHEN: Wednesday 25 May 2016 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.
WHERE: Beav’s Bar, 77 Little Malop St, Geelong

Please register for catering purposes 

» More information: May Geelong Green Drinks





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Baba Brinkman: ‘Make It Hot’
Published on youtube.com on 6 December 2015.





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Great Barrier Reef on death row

Is the Great Barrier Reef on death row? The answer must be yes, writes David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red. The dying reef is a tremendous political failure.

» Climate Code Red – 9 May 2016:
After record, mind-numbing coral bleaching, what would it take to “Save the Reef”?

This page contains numerous recent stories and information about the Reef:

‘Dear environment minister, it’s time for simple logic to dictate your policies’
» www.climatesafety.info/reefbleaching



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Cape Grim climate milestone underscores need for urgent action

“Tasmania’s Cape Grim atmospheric monitoring site has passed the symbolic but significant milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the atmosphere for the first time, again highlighting the growing burden burning fossil fuels is putting on the planet.

This is not the first time the milestone has been passed globally, with sites in the Northern Hemisphere registering 400ppm at various times since 2012. What is different, is that Cape Grim’s very clean air represents a stable baseline with less seasonal variation than other sites, and now that it has passed this milestone it will not dip below it again.

We’re already seeing the many brutal impacts of rapidly increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, including the Tasmanian wildfires, unprecedented bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and the relentless smashing of temperature records.

Unfortunately, under the Turnbull Coalition government CSIRO cuts – including at Cape Grim – are continuing, and they are leaving us flying blind on climate change.”
The Tree



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100% electric vehicles on the roads in Holland and India

Holland and India have committed to 100% electric vehicles in groundbreaking statements.

» RenewEconomy – 4 April 2016:
India joins Norway and Netherlands in wanting 100% electric vehicles



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Carsharing in Geelong and Melbourne

Flexicar is a cheap, green and easy alternative to owning a car.

» www.flexicar.com.au

» www.facebook.com/flexicar



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China Coal Energy Co reports a 2015 net loss of US$436 million

China Coal Energy Co. this week reported its 2015 annual results: a net loss of US$436 million on a 16% year on year decline in revenues to Rmb59bn.

Average coal prices received dropped 20% year on year (yoy) and coal sales dropped 12% yoy to 137 million tonnes (Mt).

The outlook for 2016 is grim – management forecast a further 16% yoy decline in revenues on a 16% reduction in coal volumes. China Coal’s net debt grew to US$12 billion over 2015.

Despite this, the company continues to aggressively expand, with significant new capacity being added in coal mining, coal rail transport, 4GW of new coal fired power plants and coal chemicals manufacturing. With coal consumption declining in 2016 for the third straight year, China’s stranded asset risks are rapidly rising.

Overall result … a net loss on collapsing revenues
· China Coal reported a net loss for ordinary shareholders was Rmb2.8bn (US$436m), delivered on a 16% yoy decline in total revenues to US$59bn.
· The newly built coal chemical division (olefins, methanol and fertilizer) reported a trebling of revenues and a move into profits with an EBIT gain of Rmb2.5bn (US$385m) in 2015. Given the massive water requirements and carbon emissions intensity of coal chemicals, the financial success of this expansion is poor news for the environment.

China Coal … coal mining losses on the back of collapsing volumes
· The domestic Chinese thermal coal price (Bohai-Rim) declined 30% over 2015 to end at Rmb370/t (US$57/t). This compares to China Coal’s cash cost of coal production declining only 6.6% year-on-year, hence the coal division’s move into losses.
· China Coal’s coal division reported an EBIT loss of Rm2.2bn (US$340m loss) for 2015 on a 30% yoy decline in revenues.
This reflected a average 20% yoy decline in coal prices to Rmb294/t
Coal sales were 138M, down 12.2% yoy vs 2014.
Coal mining operated at an EBITDA breakeven in 2015 (gross profit margins declining from 9.6% in 2014 to just 0.3% in 2015).
Thermal coal was 90% of production at 86.6Mt, down 18% yoy and gross cash cost of production was Rmb240/t (-6.6% yoy).
Coking coal was 10% of production at 8.9Mt, +47% yoy. This shows China is moving to build self-sufficiency in coking coal.
· China Coal is required to set aside Rmb10-15/t (US$1-2/t of raw coal) for sustainable development and environmental restoration funds.
· China Coal forecasts own coal production to reach 80Mt in 2016, a 16% reduction on 2015.

China Coal’s strategic direction … aggressive investment in vertical integration
· China Coal reported that the central government is “speeding up the supply-side structural reform so as to proactively dissolve overcapacity of coal … to exit around 500Mt of production capacity and to reduce and reorganize around 500Mt through to 3 to 5 years. The Central government is setting up the dedicated reward and compensation funds for industrial structure adjustment so as to dissolve overcapacity.”
· China Coal concludes “the supply and demand imbalance is anticipated to remain unchanged in 2016 and will be expected to persist for a long time.”
· Not withstanding two successive years of rapid production declines, China Coal is due to commission five near coal mines by 2018 with a reported total new production capacity of 34Mt.[i] Again a clear stranded asset risk in light of the 2.9% decline in coal consumption across China in 2014, the 3.7% decline reported for 2015 and the fact that this decline has accelerated in the first two months of 2016.< · Similar to many western coal companies, China Coal has been caught by the rapid downturn in China coal demand. China Coal is 10% shareholder in the Mengxi-Huazhong Railway Co – a company only part way through a US$10bn capex program to build a 1,800km railway line from north west China across to the east. The railway development was established in 2012 and commenced in 2014.[ii] This development will expand rail capacity and lower cash operating costs per tonne, but looks likely to be a stranded asset in the making.
· This followed the commissioning of the Mengji Railway, providing China a third dedicated coal rail corridor in early 2016. This will reduce domestic bottlenecks and further squeeze out imports of thermal coal this coming year, as evidenced by the 20% yoy decline in thermal coal imports in the first two months of 2016.[iii]
· China Coal also looks to further vertically integrate downstream into coal-to-liquids/coal-to-methanol/coal-to-fertilizers. In addition, the group has committed to expanding into the coal fired power sector having commenced construction in 2015 on four new coal fired power plants with a total capacity of 4.0GW. This will provide vertical integration, but will only serve to build overcapacity in thermal power generation for China overall – yet more stranded assets.

Capital structure … financial distress to worsen
· Net debt rose by 17% over 2015 to US$13bn by year end 2015. Given trends to-date, plus the ongoing heavy capex and forecast 16% decline in revenues to Rmb50bn expected for the new year, this financial distress is likely to worsen over 2016.
· China Coal Energy shares are down 47% over the last five years. The group remains one of the top 5 coal companies globally in terms of current equity capitalisation of US$10.4bn.
· On the back of this result, Goldman Sachs further downgraded their expectations and now forecasts net losses for China Coal will continue at more than US$400m annually through to 2018.

Like many western coal mining companies, China Coal Energy continues to assume the coal sector rationalisation will be a gradual process, and as a result, China’s stranded asset risks are accelerating even as this company shrinks at a double digit annual rate.

Tim Buckley
Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

[i] www.snl.com
[ii] www.reuters.com
[iii] www.platts.com





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