200 reasons to celebrate sustainable leadership and vision

On 20 December 2017, we look back at the year that flew by as we celebrate rounding a corner: This is Geelong calling for the 200th time, providing sustainable insight, leadership and vision on 94.7 The Pulse, Geelong’s community radio.

During the last four years, some 500 Geelong residents, business owners, leaders and innovators have been sharing their insights, experiences, solutions and visions with us and our listeners.

Today’s hour is broadcasted live from Barwon Water’s headquarter in Ryrie Street in Geelong – because we see Barwon Water as this city’s inspirational beacon and leading first-mover when it comes to ‘walking the talk’ of the One Planet Living principles, showing how embedding sustainability in corporate structure and thinking leads to both economical and social benefits. During the hour we meet:

Tracey Slatter, Barwon Water’s Managing Director
Tony Overman, Strategy & Sustainability Coordinator at Barwon Water
Michael Thomas, Partnerships and Innovation at Barwon Water
• Dr Simone Boer, Manager of Strategy and Program Delivery at City of Greater Geelong
• Councillor Sarah Mansfield, City of Greater Geelong


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 200 on 94.7 The Pulse:

» To open or download this programme in mp3-format, right-click here (Mac: CTRL + click)

  » Subscribe to ‘The Sustainable Hour’ podcast — via iTunes or via your own podcast/RSS software



A special big thank you to our operator of the hour, Simon Finch, who took care of all technical challenges during this live broadcast.



 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

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


Big win in South Australia. Big wind win, that is

It was hot yesterday, on 19 December – and that means peak demand day around Australia, where we are calling on the more expensive power stations. Like those which run on gas and diesel. Normally the price for electricity is between $40 and $80 per MWh. But yesterday afternoon it was quite high. Like more than $200 dollars per MWh in New South Wales and Victoria. But in South Australia they had so much wind and solar that the price was negative: Minus 3 dollars 10 cent is what you’d get paid for using electricity.

» More news about wind power progress

Prices are going the right way all over the world: In America, the cost of solar plants dropped by 30 per cent in one year – and in the UK, the price of offshore wind dropped by half in less than two years.




» Quartz – 22 December 2017:
Wind is now the cheapest source of clean energy in India



Fossil fuels fail during heatwaves

The Australia Institute has released research showing fossil fuels fail during heatwaves. Blackouts are due to faults in the fossil generating capacity, renewables are actually the cure to that problem. But we are seeing politicians spreading fake news and lies in social media about this.

During the February 2017 heatwave across south-eastern Australia, 14 per cent of the fossil generating capacity failed during critical peak demand periods in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland as a result of faults related to the heat.



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This is the media release Barwon Water we talk about in the program and which was sent out on 13 December 2017:

Barwon Water’s showcase of sustainable living

Barwon Water is behind one of Australia’s most sustainable housing estates, with the region’s first 7.5 star residential development set for release in Torquay.

The Salt Torquay estate will set a new standard for innovative, sustainable urban development as Barwon Water put its zero emissions targets and integrated water management systems into practice.

The former water basin site on Grossmans Road is no longer needed for operational purposes and, by developing the site for sustainable housing, Barwon Water can reduce pressure on water bills and activate the otherwise dormant landholding.

Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the development will boost regional prosperity as Barwon Water targets local contractors and stimulates more than $50 million of development.

“Transforming the former basin site into a showcase of innovative urban development is a win-win for sustainability and customer prices,” Ms Slatter said.
“The estate has been carefully designed to deliver key outcomes for the community, including connection to quality local recreational facilities, improved wellbeing opportunities, a light environmental footprint and low living costs while delivering a high standard of living.

“We are incredibly proud of our plans for the site. This estate really sees us walk the talk in terms of living our goals of zero emissions, zero waste and delivering customer and community value.”

The new estate incorporates a wide range of eco-features, including household solar and battery storage plus a 250kW solar array on Barwon Water’s land opposite the estate to allow renewable energy to generate most of the estate’s total energy demand. Electric car charging points will also be included in every home.

Houses will be designed to harvest rainwater and have a minimum 7.5 star energy rating. Smart water meters using Internet of Things technology will also be integrated.

Integrated Water Cycle Management has been incorporated in the design of the estate, with swales, a raingarden, integrated landscaping and a nature playground as part of the stormwater retention system.

Salt Torquay exemplifies Barwon Water’s goal in its Strategy 2030 of switching to renewable energy technologies and underscores its commitment to sustainable water practices.

» Visit www.salt-torquay.com.au


Barwon Water: Getting schools involved

Tracey Slatter, Barwon Water’s Managing Director, mentions the Victorian Schools Water Efficiency Program which 114 schools now are member of and which more than 1,700 schools across Victoria have been exposed to, helping with identifying water leaks in schools. 35 schools have signed up in the Barwon region, while $1.23 million dollars have been saved on their water bills since 2012.

» Register your school

Barwon Water’s policies, strategies and achievements

The following is an excerpt from Barwon Water’ Annual Report 2016-2017:

Education program
“Barwon Water’s education program is broad-based and targets customers and the community generally, as well as students at preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. An Education Officer is employed to coordinate the program, develop materials and deliver key messages on:

• water as a natural resource
• the need for the efficient use of water
• the role of Barwon Water in the supply of water and sewerage services
• developments in the area of reuse.

During 2016-17, the program reached 10,190 students and community members across the region. The most popular aspects of the program were interactive site tours and in-class sessions, with 155 tours conducted and 194 in-class sessions delivered over this period.

The program also encouraged students to consider and connect with the environment by organising tree planting days and hosting an annual National Water Week poster competition. In 2016-17, 991 students from 13 schools submitted posters for the competition. Almost 10,000 students were involved in planting more than 3,000 native trees at schools, along the Barwon River or at other environmentally sensitive locations.

Barwon Water was also involved in five community events: Poppykettle Festival, Geelong agricultural shows, World Tree Day, GPAC Sustainability Festival and Geelong Big Play Day.


Environment Strategy
Barwon Water’s Environment Strategy 2013-2018 provides strategic direction on its commitment to environmental responsibility. It describes the current programs and actions to manage environmental impacts, as well as future initiatives to continually improve environmental performance. The strategy aims to:

• protect catchments for current and future generations 


• minimise the impact of water supply extraction on waterways and groundwater dependent ecosystems

• protect and enhance land and biodiversity values across the region and support efforts to halt the decline in biodiversity 


• achieve a five per cent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2018, from 2004-2005 levels (note: the strategy will be updated to reflect Barwon Water’s new zero emissions target) 


• implement a sustainable procurement policy 


• manage waste generated and received in accordance with regulatory standards. 



Sustainable water use
We understand there are sustainable limits on the use of natural resources, including water. Optimising value from existing infrastructure and available resources is essential to provide the foundation for a strong economy, healthy environment, liveable towns and cities and a prosperous region in the decades to come.

Our long-term ambition is to achieve optimal use of our resources to the full extent possible and achieve zero waste. This includes managing our water and wastewater to recover and re-use not only water, but other resources, such as energy and nutrients embodied within waste streams.

Reducing waste will not only enhance our environment, it will help drive innovation to identify and deliver greater productivity.

Internally, we will engage all staff in the identification of waste and process improvement projects that make us a more customer focused, productive and high performing organisation.


Recycled water
Barwon Water continues to invest in the staged implementation of dual pipe water infrastructure to supply Class A recycled water to residents at Armstrong Creek and Torquay North. Recycled water is supplied from the Black Rock Recycled Water Plant. The plant treats wastewater from Black Rock via ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet and chlorine disinfection to produce Class A recycled water.

Significant quantities of Class A recycled water continue to be supplied to VIVA Energy’s Geelong refinery from the Northern Water Plant, reducing the requirement for use of drinking water for refinery operations.

Class C recycled water is produced at several of Barwon Water’s water reclamation plants and is supplied to a range of non-residential customers for watering golf courses, horticulture, agriculture and viticulture.


Urban Water Strategy
Barwon Water finalised its 2017 Urban Water Strategy (UWS) during 2016-17. The strategy sets out how Barwon Water will continue to deliver secure water supplies, supporting resilient and liveable communities under a range of climate futures, over the next 50 years.
The strategy considers a growing population, changing climate, evolving customer needs and a desire to protect and sustain the environment and cultural values, including Traditional Owner values.

It emphasises the need to make the most productive use of what we have to support the region’s ongoing prosperity. It also explores the role of alternative water sources, considering all aspects of the water cycle, to meet future demand.

The strategy shows how significant investment in new water supplies over the past decade has secured the water supply for the Greater Geelong region and Colac. However, an upgrade to the Apollo Bay system may be required as early as 2024 under worst-case conditions. Lorne’s water supply may also require an upgrade as soon as 2032 under worst-case conditions.

The fifty-year outlook of the Urban Water Strategy enables – and requires – Barwon Water to rise boldly to this challenge. We are optimistic about our ability to respond as an organisation and as a community, working together to make the best use of the resources we have available to drive the region’s continued prosperity and liveability.


The value of green open space
Public open space assets include parks and gardens, sportingfields and golf courses. These assets are the only green spaces available to the community during drought, therefore the preservation of green open space has significant liveability outcomes.

Due to favourable climate conditions and prior investment in standby water sources, water restrictions were not required during 2016-17. Barwon Water recognises the economic and social importance of maintaining green assets for the community and the impact water restrictions have on the irrigation of public green spaces. In 2016-17, Barwon Water engaged with local government authorities to identify open space areas, their water requirements and developed arrangements for the protection of priority green open spaces during dry periods.

» Read more in Barwon Water’ Annual Report 2016-2017 (PDF)


» The Sustainable Hour on 23 February 2017:
Water management as a solution to climate change
In the studio, we have the privilege to spend the hour together with  Tracey Slatter, who is the new managing director of Barwon Water. It becomes a talk not just about water management, but about values, accountability, and the role of leaders in building that community of trust which is required if we want to take action on climate change at a more serious level.


» The Sustainable Hour on 16 December 2016:
As politics gets dumber, people and companies get smarter
Interview with Tony Overman, sustainability coordinator at Barwon Water, about the organisation’s plan to go 100% renewables by 2025



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“It’s exciting to see it grow, but we need Geelong to be a healthy environment  to live and work, with sustainable development and a culture that includes everyone.”
~ Sarah Mansfield, Greater Geelong councillor

Councillor Sarah Mansfield

“Councillor Mansfield wants to help build a healthier, more sustainable, more inclusive Geelong,” City of Greater Geelong writes on its page with information about who Sarah Mansfield is:

“Councillor Mansfield moved to Geelong in 2011 to be with her husband. She works as a GP and at Deakin University. She loves living in Geelong and considers it home. As Councillor, she wants to:

• ensure we stick to existing commitments to achieve a more sustainable future, such as the Zero Carbon Emissions strategy

• increase cycling and walking routes to build a safer and better connected Geelong

• be accessible to members of the community, and promote transparency and engagement

• consider the impact of all decisions that come before council on equity, health, wellbeing, and the environment

• make early childhood services more inclusive of the whole family

• ensure our sports clubs have facilities to grow female participation

• support local arts to create more vibrant communities.”



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Simone Boer

Make a pledge!
 
The 30-year community-led vision for the Greater Geelong region, ‘Greater Geelong: A Clever and Creative Future’, was launched in August 2017. Since the ministerial launch, project leader Simone Boer and her team have been busy raising awareness about the vision, its nine aspirations, and projects that are already steering us towards a clever and creative future. Simone Boer writes:
 
“This vision belongs to everyone in our community, which is why we’re keen to share the fantastic response we’ve had, and some of the exciting projects and initiatives that are starting to surface. You’ll find a news story about these projects and initiatives, titled the “Nine aspirations of Christmas”, on the clever and creative website.

If you’d like to join the 16,000 members of our community who think our future can be clever and creative, make a Pledge or use #clevercreative through social media.
 


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Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is a former major in the Australian Army who now works with Barwon Water​ in the area of Partnerships and Innovation. He holds postgraduate degrees in Oceanography, International Relations, Management and is currently a PhD candidate with UNSW examining the security implications of climate change.

The presentation Michael Thomas gave at a ‘Smarter Living Expo’ in Geelong on 13 September 2014 can be heard here.

» More info here:
Climate challenges embraced in Geelong

Disaster Alley report

In The Sustainable Hour on 21 June 2017, we interviewed David Spratt, co-author of the report ‘Disaster Alley: Climate change, conflict and risk’, for a talk about the publication and a the Senate inquiry.

The paper is part of Breakthrough’s special series of discussion papers which explore the science, politics, economics and social change dimensions for climate restoration.

‘Disaster Alley: Climate change, conflict and risk’ looks at climate change and conflict issues through the lens of sensible risk-management to draw new conclusions about the challenge we now face.

» Radio interview with David Spratt and more info about the report

Climate Change: National Security Threat?

“President Donald J. Trump announced a new national security strategy for the United States, removing climate change from the list of global threats. Maybe he should have consulted with the U.S. Military first?”

Published by Years of Living Dangerously on youtube.com on 19 December 2017




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Progress for wind power in Australia

In June 2017, Victoria-based developer Offshore Energy announced plans to develop a two GW offshore wind farm to be known as ‘Star of the South’, and to be located off the coast of Victoria in Bass Strait. Since then, things have progressed, with Offshore Energy announcing that it has partnered with fund management company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners on behalf of the fund Copenhagen Infrastructure III K/S to continue development of the project.

When completed, the project is expected to produce around 8,000 GWh of electricity per year, approximately 18 per cent of Victoria’s electricity usage, and to reduce carbon emissions by about 10.5 million tonnes per year. 

Report about Australian wind energy
A new report commissioned from the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures. ‘Wind Power in Australia’, highlights the world class wind resources we have here in Australia.
 
The report found that there is enough onshore wind resources in Australia to power the entire country’s electricity more than 12 times over. But as we currently meet just 6 per cent of our electricity needs with wind energy, there’s an enormous opportunity to do better. The report also found that wind power is still the cheapest way to generate new energy. It highlights that Australia risks missing out on the boost to jobs and economic growth if we fail to implement adequate renewable policy.


Andrew Bray, National Coordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance, wrote: “This is great news for everyone who is doing their part to help make our air cleaner, and our energy future more sustainable. We’re heading for 100% clean, affordable and reliable energy. Let’s keep going!”

» Read more on www.windalliance.org.au
  
» The Examiner – 12 December 2017:
A salute to wind power on its 30th birthday



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 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about – in particular in this week where we are approaching the new year and the season for family gatherings and talks around the BBQ.





We keep warming our planet

2017 will be the warmest year in history without an El Niño.

There’s been little respite from climate chaos as we enter this year’s holiday season. As historic wildfires consume California, the truth of the climate emergency is rapidly becoming impossible to ignore.

In his must-read piece in Rolling Stone, Eric Holthaus writes: “In Houston, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles, Americans are feeling the urgency of climate change not in weather data and distant news reports, but in their pulse rate.”

But amid fear and tragedy, there is also new opportunity for honest conversations about the transformative change necessary to protect our homes and each other. This month, we have many more stories of regular people across the country leading the movement to restore a safe climate for all. 
 
“A new report estimates that global temperature will increase 3.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. That’s well over the 2-degree limit set by the Paris Agreement in 2015. But it’s not all bad news: China and India have made huge strides in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, despite the US’ pledge to pull out of the agreement.”

» Business Insider Australia – 16 December 2017:
Earth will likely warm way beyond the crucial tipping point that the Paris agreement was meant to avoid

“Justin Worland is a Washington D.C.-based writer for TIME covering energy and the environment. The Arctic is melting with no turning back. Climate change increased rainfall during Hurricane Harvey by at least 15%. And several extreme weather events that occurred in 2016 would not have been possible without man-made global warming.”

» TIME Magazine:
Climate Change Is Already Wreaking Havoc on Our Weather, Scientists Find

» USA Today – 15 December 2017:
Climate Point: Fires a sign of things to come

“It is no longer news that the Great Barrier Reef has suffered extreme bleaching. In early 2016, we heard that the reef had suffered the worst bleaching ever recorded. Surveys published in June that year estimated that 93% of coral on the vast northern section of the reef was bleached, and 22% had already been killed. Further reports from this year show that bleaching again occurred. The back-to-back bleaching hit more than two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef…”

» Business Insider Australia – 15 December 2017:
Coral bleaching of the Great Barrier reef is getting worse

» Quartz – 21 December 2017:
Global disasters in 2017 cost $306 billion—nearly double the cost of 2016

» The Guardian – 22 December 2017:
Devastating climate change could lead to 1m migrants a year entering EU by 2100

“As this year comes to a close, 2017 is on track to set the all-time record for the most billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in any single year in U.S. history, writes Alice Hill. This is precisely the wrong time to cripple America’s efforts to fight climate change.”

» CNN – 20 December 2017:
2017 is a record-breaker — and not in a good way



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Change the stories we tell ourselves

If we want to change the story of the human race in the 21st century, we need to change the stories we tell ourselves. And in case you were in any doubt that the tides are turning, just take a look below at the recent development around the world.




Some countries are leaders, others are laggards… and France clearly has placed itself among the world leaders now.

This is what the transition away from fossil fuels looks like. Great to see it happening now – finally, after too many years of procrastination and much too much talk about intentions without any real action or legislation behind it.

From here on, everything else is but a question about time and timing. Being last in the row will never be an advantage. Which is why we now will have to call out and defy those laggard leaders – in Australia and elsewhere – who fail to understand this, or who are bought and entangled by vested interests of the fossil fuel industry.

There are many ways forward, but continuing to burn oil, gas and coal is not one of them.

» The Guardian – 20 December 2017:
France bans fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories
“French parliamentarians have passed a law banning fossil fuel extraction. President Macron says he wants France to lead the world with switch to renewables.”

» RenewEconomy – 15 December 2017:
2017 showed global clean energy revolution is unstoppable, no matter what Trump does
“The revolution is now unstoppable at a global level. That means the super-cheap solution to climate change is at hand — and in 2017, these individual technologies started to team up, joining their powers like the Marvel superheroes in the Avengers movies.”

» The New York Times – 21 December 2017:
Shell, Seeking to Curb Its Carbon Footprint, Buys Electricity Provider
“Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, has said he intended to increase the company’s investments in new-energy businesses toward $2 billion a year.”



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Montgomery County declares climate emergency

On 5 December 2917, Montgomery County, Maryland, in the US declared a climate emergency and resolved to eliminate emissions by 2035. The county council resolution passed unanimously thanks to months of hard work by the MoCo Climate Mobilization. The move made waves across the nation, with coverage in the Washington Post and the Associated Press picked up by 50+ outlets.

» Source: www.washingtonpost.com

» AP – 6 December 2017:
Montgomery County aims to cut greenhouse emissions to zero



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The good news keep ticking in

As inspiration to change the stories we tell ourselves, take a glance at this excerpt from an article on Medium.com which lists 99 reasons 2017 was a good year:

In July, 1.5 million people in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh set a new Guinness record for reforestation by planting more than 67 million trees in a 12 hour period. | RT

A province in Pakistan announced it has planted 1 billion trees in two years, in response to the terrible floods of 2015. | Independent

The EU imposed new, stricter limits on pollutants such as nitrogen, sulphur, mercury and particulates that will apply to all 2,900 of Europe’s large power plants. | Reuters

China carried out its largest ever crackdown on pollution, reprimanding, fining or jailing officials in 80,000 factories, 40% of the country’s total. | NPR

Indonesia pledged $1 billion to clean up its seas from plastic, Kenya announced a ban on plastic bags, and Chile said it will ban them in its coastal cities (30 countries now have existing or impending bans in place). | ABC

Eleven countries continued their plan to build a wall of trees from east to west across Africa in order to push back the desert. In Senegal, it’s already working. | BBC World Hacks

Cameroon committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of forest in the Congo Basin, and Brazil started a project to plan 73 million trees, the largest tropical reforestation project in history. | Fast Co.

In November, Mexico’s government created a new 148,000 square kilometer ocean reserve, ‘the Galapagos of North America’ for the conservation of hundreds of species, including rays, humpback whales, sea turtles, lizards and migratory birds. | Reuters

In 2017, the ozone hole shrunk to its smallest size since 1988, the year Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy.’ | CNET

Sweden committed to phasing out all carbon emissions by 2045, and the country’s largest pension fund divested from six companies that violate the Paris Agreement, including Exxon, Gazprom and TransCanada. | CleanTechnica

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the largest pile of money on the planet, announced they were officially divesting from all fossil fuels, and the global insurance industry has pulled $20 billion. | Telegraph

New figures at the beginning of the year showed that the global coal industry is taking a hammering. A 48 per cent drop in pre-construction activity, a 62 per cent drop in construction starts and a 19 per cent drop in ongoing construction. | CoalSwarm

In May, a shareholder rebellion forced ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, to start reporting on the effect of preventing climate change on its bottom line. | Washington Post

France stopped granting all licences for oil and gas exploration, and said it will phase out all production by 2040, a major transition towards clean energy being driven by the new Macron government. | Bloomberg

Deutsche Bank, one of the coal industry’s biggest financiers, announced it would stop financing all new coal projects. Ouch! | Mining.com

In 2017, the United Kingdom, France and Finland all agreed to ban the sale of any new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

China continued its all out war on coal, stopping construction on more than 150GW of coal plants, and laying off more than 700,000 coal workers since 2014. | CleanTechnica

In one of the great climate change victories of our time, TransCanada terminated its tar sands pipeline, triggering a $1 billion loss and ending an epic 4 year battle between politicians, big oil, environmentalists and indigenous communities. | Calgary Herald

On the eve of one of their major feast days, 40 Catholic institutions on five different continents announced the largest ever religious divestment from fossil fuels. | Catholic Reporter

In the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the industrial revolution, carbon emissions fell to the lowest levels since 1894, and on the 21st of April, the country did not burn coal for the first time in 140 years. | Independent UK

In November 2017, a new global alliance of more than 20 countries, including the UK, France, Mexico, Canada and Finland, committed to ending their use of coal before 2030. | BBC

The cost of solar and wind plummeted by more than 25 per cent in 2017, shifting the global clean energy industry on its axis. | Think Progress

The cost of solar plants in the United States dropped by 30 per cent in one year and in the United Kingdom, the price of offshore wind dropped by half in less than two years.

Solar energy is now responsible for one in every 50 new jobs created in the United States, and the clean energy sector is growing at 12 times the rate of the rest of the economy. | CNBC

In June 2017, South Korea announced a major U-turn on energy, shifting one of the world’s staunchest supporters of coal and nuclear power toward natural gas and renewables. | Reuters

JP Morgan Chase said it will source 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020 and will facilitate $200 billion in clean financing through 2025. PV Tech

General Motors believes “the future is all-electricVolkswagen announced it’s investing 70 billion euros and “putting its full force behind a shift into electric cars” – and Volvo said that starting in 2019 it will only make fully electric or hybrid cars – “the end of the combustion engine-powered car.”Atlantic

China is going to install 54GW of solar by the end of 2017, more than any country has ever previously deployed in a single year, and doubled their 2020 goal to 213 GW. | PV Magazine

China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, also announced that their Paris Agreement pledges will now be met a decade ahead of schedule, with emissions forecast to peak in 2018. | Australian Financial Review

Following in China’s footsteps, India more than doubled its solar installations in 2017, accounting for more than 40% of new capacity, the largest addition to the grid of any energy source. | Quartz

A new report from the European Union said that between 1990 and 2016, the continent cut its carbon emissions by 23 per cent while the economy grew by 53 per cent.   So much for the propaganda of fossil fuel lobbyists. | CleanTechnica

In more than 60 regions across the globe, more populations of large sea turtles are improving than declining, a big change from a decade or two ago. | Associated Press


» Source: Medium.com:


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Werribee ‘switches-on’ 5MW plan for CSIRO

The largest solar PV system installed on a CSIRO site was celebrated with a ‘flick-the-switch’ event at Werribee, as the first stage of a new 4.5MW roll-out across eight sites.

The solar switch-on on 19 December 2017 at CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre at Werribee marks the start of large-scale solar PV roll-out that will see CSIRO complementing its energy research and innovation with further on-ground action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

CSIRO Executive Manager, Environmental Sustainability, Tony Hudson announced the solar roll-out as staff and dignitaries gathered at the Werribee site to ‘flick the switch’ on the first stage of a new 4.5MW roll-out. “CSIRO has installed 1017 by 295W panels or 300kw of photovoltaic (PV) at the Werribee Food Innovation Centre,” Tony said.

CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre at Werribee

The Werribee installation across three buildings will produce 440,000 kWh of electricity and deliver around 587 tonnes of annual CO2 emission reduction pit more money back into science.

“Werribee will be the largest grid-connected, roof-mounted solar PV system installed so far across CSIRO’s national sites or facilities. The system will produce enough energy to power 80 houses or 15% of the Werribee site’s energy needs and it will pay for itself over six years,” Mr Hudson said.

“While CSIRO is pushing the frontiers of science and innovation in areas such as next generation solar and renewable technologies, electricity grids, battery storage and hydrogen fuel, we are also setting strong targets for improving our environmental performance across our facilities and property footprint.”

Werribee is the first of eight CSIRO sites to receive solar PV panels as part of a national roll-out that will bring CSIRO’s renewable energy generation to 5MW.

“These new PV systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 6000 tonnes CO2 each year, save more than 6,000 MWh of grid-fed electricity and deliver almost $1 million annual savings on our energy bills. On top of the environmental and energy advantages, initiatives like this enable us to deliver more science and innovation value for our nation per dollar of investment,” Hudson said.

More broadly CSIRO is focusing on six key areas to reduce emissions and improve environmental sustainability namely through:

– sustainable buildings
– sustainable laboratories
– travel and transport initiatives
– adopting low-emission energy technologies
– sustainable procurement and
– site consolidation and greater use of facilities to meet future research and enterprise needs.



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2017 highlights for the WAGA councils

These are some highlights of the WAGA councils’ achievements in 2017:

Brimbank signed an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) for a 430 kW solar system with a local manufacturer.

Greater Geelong finalised plansfor installation of two electric vehicle charging stations in Central Geelong.

Hobsons Bay continued to install solar panels on its libraries: 50-90 kW for each library, saving up to 85 per cent of each building’s greenhouse gas emissions.  

Maribyrnong continued to install solar on all council kindergartens.

Melton incorporated the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (MPHWP) into the Council Plan for the first time, including ambitious climate change and energy actions. The Environment Plan aims for zero net GHG emissions by 2040.

Moonee Valley started ‘Energy$mart Schools’ program, tailoring free energy efficient lighting and solar assessments for schools by reputable providers appointed by Council.

Moorabool developed a Sustainable Environment Strategy, which is now out for community consultation.

Wyndham completed bulk changeover of 1000 major road lights to energy efficient luminaires.


In addition, the following regional-scale projects were highlights in 2017:

Solar bulk-buy programs for residents – and, in some municipalities, businesses – through Positive Charge (Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley, Wyndham)

Environmental Upgrade Agreement programs (Brimbank, Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham)

Energy$mart for businesses – appointment and promotion of preferred providers for commercial solar and energy efficient lights (Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Moonee Valley, Wyndham)

Carpool the West – carpool scheme for staff and students (Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Melton, Wyndham and other organisations)


» Source with more information: www.waga.com.au



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CLIMATE COUNCIL:

Clear up myths and misconceptions about renewables

Amanda McKenzie, CEO, Climate Council, wrote:

“It’s that time of year again. Summer means sunshine, backyard cricket and the occasional cringeworthy climate conversation with THAT family member around the BBQ. But there’s no need to sweat those awkward moments: come prepared with our mythbusting Summer BBQ Guide.

Talking energy takes energy, and busting fiction takes conviction. So we’ve consulted our energy experts and come up with 5 myths about energy (and how to bust them!).

We answer those prickly questions from your rellos like, how does renewable energy work when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing? We also clear up myths and misconceptions about renewables driving up prices and causing power outages.

Find out how to bust these common myths and more with our handy guide and turn the talk around to focus on a clean, renewable powered future. So next time you’re grilled, be ready!”

» www.climatecouncil.org.au/bbq

P.S. Hungry for more sizzling electricity facts? Check out our Energy report and Electricity fact sheet. Curious to see which state/territory is leading the charge on renewables? Find out here.



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CLIMATE COUNCIL:

28,000 media items reaching 360 millions readers

Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor, and Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council, write:

“It’s been an eventful year to say the least. Australia experienced its hottest winter on record, the Great Barrier Reef suffered its second year of back-to-back bleaching and extreme weather events intensified globally with supercharged storms, heatwaves and bushfires dominating the headlines.

On the political front, Trump threatened to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. At home, Australia has had another year of inaction, censorship and delay tactics by the Federal Government, who at the end of 2017 still don’t have a credible policy or plan for tackling climate change.

But 2017 wasn’t all bad.

Solutions surged ahead around the world. The cost of renewable energy plummeted and is now cheaper than new coal. China opened the world’s largest floating solar plant, and at home, South Australia launched the world’s biggest battery. Meanwhile, Australia celebrated 30 years of wind power.

And in the face of federal inaction on climate change, across Australia, local heroes have been working to reduce emissions and transition to cleaner, renewable powered communities. This year we launched the Cities Power Partnership, which has brought nearly 70 local councils together to reduce pollution and grow renewable energy. The program now represents over 7.5 million Australians!

We’ve now released almost 100 critical reports providing independent information on climate change and solutions to Australians across the board. These are used by emergency services, governments, farmers, health services, educators, and many other groups.

We’ve cut through the complex energy debate, keeping the government to account one energy thought bubble at a time. We’ve kept climate change on the national agenda and in the headlines with over 28,000 media items reaching 360 millions readers, viewers and listeners so far. This drum beat of information has been crucial to raising public concern about climate change to its highest level in a decade.

Together we’ve countered misinformation every step of the way, with independent, authoritative science. We’ve ensured Australians are equipped with the best information on climate change and solutions. And with your support, we’ve continued to be the number one organisation communicating on climate change nationally.

The Climate Council is only as strong as our community – and we are bolstered each and every day by your enthusiasm and perseverance to keep fighting for climate action, and for the future of our planet.”



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Australia’s offical climate policy review: “Carefully workshopped product”

Federal Government’s review of its climate-change policies: almost entirely descriptive

“You could be forgiven for mistaking this week’s Federal Government review of climate-change policies for a Christmas special edition of ‘Utopia’. The carefully workshopped product talks the talk and covers lots of ground, but it gives nothing away. It doesn’t critically evaluate Australia’s existing climate-change policies. It makes no recommendations. It is almost entirely descriptive.”
~ Kate Griffiths

» Grattan Institute – 21 December 2017:
Australia’s ‘nothing to see here’ approach to climate policy



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CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT:

100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable

Climate Reality Project writes:

“Even as national leaders deny the reality of the climate crisis or drag their feet on solutions, more and more businesses, cities, colleges and universities, and even states and provinces around the world are moving forward with real, practical steps to cut emissions and shift to 100 percent renewable electricity.
What’s driving this shift? Increasingly, citizen activists like you.

Today, 100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable. And with the cost of clean energy plummeting every year, it’s never been easier or more affordable. The switch to renewable energy is good for our wallets and our planet.

Already, cities like Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, and Boulder, Colorado, universities like Colorado State University and Plymouth State University, and resorts in Switzerland like St. Moritz, LAAX, and Arosa Lenzerheide have pledged to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity.”

Make a commitment to meaningful climate action. Download our 100% Committed toolkit to see how you can help drive the transition to renewable electricity: 100% Committed toolkit


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MODELS OF SUCCESS AND SUSTAINABILITY:

Anne-Maree McInerney, founder and CEO of Models of Success and Sustainability (MOSS), collected these snippets highlighting positive developments from 2017:

• More than philanthropy, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a $12 trillion opportunity for the private sector.

• 326 companies have now set science-based targets for climate action.

• There are now 68 partner exchanges on the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.

• The GRI sustainability disclosure database now contains 45,587 reports.

• In 2017 43 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews to the UN on their progress with Sustainable Development Goals.

• China became the undisputed renewable growth leader.

• Some GBP 15bn in assets was shifted away from coal.

• Impact investment assets reached over $114bn.

• The Canada and the UK have joined with 25 other nations and regional states to launch a new global alliance aimed at phasing out coal-fired power and weaning the world off the most carbon intensive form of electricity generation. Global investments in new renewable power now significantly surpass those in new coal-fired electricity, and clean growth represents an opportunity worth trillions of dollars.

• Stinky waste products become solutions for pressing environmental problems. What do sulfur and urine have in common? Scientists and designers have uncovered new ways to transform the two smelly substances into smart solutions  to tackle pressing environmental problems. There’s hardly a waste product on earth these days you can’t find a useful application for.

• UK Photographer Ashley Cooper spent thirteen years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy. He’s now compiled it into a book with 500 of the best images from his epic journey. ‘Images From a Warming Planet’ is out now. The book has just won a Gold, Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice. The author is currently raising the funds to send a copy of the book to every world leader and every member of parliament in the UK. Now that’s an educational campaign they won’t be able to ignore. Get your copy now to support his campaign!  Good luck, Ashley!

• Lessons from China’s industrial symbiosis leadership. Industrial symbiosis is a central part of a circular economy, a model in which resources and energy are recycled and recovered instead of moving linearly from extraction to disposal. China is among the only nations in the world with a formal circular economy policy that breaks down theoretical circular economy concepts into concrete policy measures. Learn more

• Ceremona Italy makes the circular economy real for cities. Cremona, a tidy city of 72,000 is part of a much larger and very forward-looking local policy on waste management that seeks to reduce what residents throw away and increase what gets reused and recycled. Cremona has become a European test ground for new ideas to promote a ‘circular economy’ a concept that seeks to reduce waste and extend the useful life of resources.

• MSC celebrates 20 years, looks ahead to the future with new targets, consumer campaign. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has released a special edition of its Annual Report describing two decades of driving change on the water. More than 400 fisheries, landing 14 percent of global marine catch by volume, are now engaged in the MSC program.  Our oceans remain under enormous pressure. While there is no silver bullet, we know that credible market-based programs like the MSC have an important role to play in the solution.



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350 AUSTRALIA:

2017: What we have achieved

Glen Klatovsky, Acting CEO on behalf the 350 Australia team, writes:
“2017 has brought us to a tipping point in the fight to end fossil fuels and the move to a fair and just transition to clean energy. Our work has led to millions of dollars divested from fossil fuels, major banks moving away from coal and the proposed Adani coal mine crumbling after a huge community campaign.

This couldn’t have happened without you. Together we have achieved:

• A commitment from NAB, one of Australia’s big four banks, to no longer fund investments in thermal coal

• AGL coming out as the strongest voice for climate action in Australia

• BHP’s continued public opposition to the the Minerals Council of Australia’s interference in politics and climate advocacy

• A commitment from the Chinese Embassy to ensure no Chinese banks fund the proposed Adani coal mine

• A community-led #StopAdani movement: growing the campaign alliance, coordinating campaign summits, building huge community participation around the 20,000 people strong day of action, and pushing the Queensland Government to veto the NAIF loan for Adani’s railway line

• A commitment from Monash University to become Australia’s first renewable-energy powered University

Next year we’re going to be bigger, bolder and louder.

We’ll be ramping up our divestment efforts as we get ready to take on Australia’s biggest polluters for a fossil-free future. We’re going to make sure the Turnbull Government’s draconian attacks on charities return to the dark ages, because a not-for-profit sector that has the freedom to advocate is vital for a healthy democracy.

2018 is going to be huge, and we can’t wait to keep winning with you.”



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2017: Coal highlights

A world tackling climate change needs fewer coal mines, not more. Australian governments still refuse to put a moratorium on new coal mines, and our emissions are climbing. However, we’re going into 2018 with a sense of optimism, because 2017 is ending with a rush of good news for #nonewcoalmines.

Here are some highlights:

In Australia’s export coal industry

  • Australia’s biggest and most controversial proposal, the Adani coal mine, is facing a string of setbacks.
    • Queensland Premier Palaszczuk has vetoed a $1 billion proposed loan subsidy from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a decision with wide public support and good economic justification.
    • Major Chinese banks – including the two biggest commercial banks in the world – announced they were not and would not consider funding Adani’s mine. It came days after an Adani director was reported to have boasted the NAIF loan wasn’t needed because Chinese companies would fund it.
    • Major mining services company Downer EDI has walked away from three years or negotiations about providing services to the project. The decision, apparently, was “mutually agreed”.
  • In NSW, the proposed Rocky Hill mine near Gloucester has been knocked back by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).
  • National Australia Bank has announced it “will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects.” Earlier in 2017 Westpac announced it would not fund new coal basins or coal of quality below the Newcastle benchmark – which would rule out the Adani mine.
  • The new Chair of the operators of the Port of Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal port, has outlined “an urgent need to diversify the Hunter economy and the port’s business.” 
  • Earlier in the year, the owners of the Port of Newcastle commissioned modelling from Wood MacKenzie, which showed subsidised expansion of new coal supply would suppress coal prices and threaten coal profits and jobs in other basins.



In coal lobbying

  • In 2017, the Minerals Council of Australia went from getting a lump of coal into the House of Representatives and helping derail a Clean Energy Target, to sacking its CEO and losing numerous member companies. MCA’s coal advocacy was out of all proportion with its diverse membership and desire of some members like BHP to be ‘climate leaders’. BHP will be announcing soon if they will leave the MCA.



In domestic energy

  • AGL stared down pressure from the Prime Minister to keep the aging Liddell coal power plant open another 5 years, instead announcing a mixture of storage, renewables and gas. Meanwhile, half of Liddell’s boilers are out of action.
  • Origin announced a 50% cut in emissions 2030 – a target they’ll reach by shutting down an aging coal plant on schedule, yet is still far more ambitious than government policy.
  • In a state now without coal, Tesla’s new world’s-largest South Australian battery is showing the market what it can do.
  • And The Australia Institute released research showing fossil fuels fail during heatwaves. During the February 2017 heatwave across south eastern Australia, 14% of fossil generating capacity (3,600 MW) failed during critical peak demand periods in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland as a result of faults largely related to the heat.



Internationally

  • Twenty countries – including France, UK, Canada, New Zealand – announced the international Powering Past Coal Alliance, pledging to phase out coal power in their domestic power supply by 2030.  
  • ING announced that by 2025 will stop lending to any energy company that uses coal for more than 5% of its energy, while French insurer AXA will stop insuring coal and tar sands and divest from a further Euro 3 billion of coal and tar sands. The threshold they’re using means they will divest from large diversified miners like BHP. 
  • The World Bank already won’t fund coal, but has now announced it will no longer fund oil or gas extraction projects.
  • The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Update 2017 shows full energy access, security and affordability can be combined with success under the Paris Agreement. Crucially, “coal demand goes into an immediate decline”, replaced by energy efficiency and low carbon energy.

Don’t get us wrong. Emissions are high and edged up this year, when they need to come down, fast.
But there are promising signs and no good reasons to delay.
The sooner we stop building new coal mines, the better.

~ No New Coal Mines Team



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Viable fusion energy may be just around the corner

Viable fusion may be just around the corner, powered on by immensely powerful lasers. Even better, a newly technique requires no radioactive fuel and produces no toxic or radioactive waste.

One of the brightest burning dreams of sci-fi enthusiasts the world over is closer to reality than we’ve ever dared hope: sustainable fusion on Earth. Drawing on advances in high-power, high-intensity lasers, an international research team led by Heinrich Hora, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at UNSW Sydney, is close to bringing hydrogen-boron reactions to a reactor near you.

In a recent paper, Hora argues that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable and closer to implementation that other types of fusion we’re toying with — such as the deuterium-tritium fusion system being developed by the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

Hydrogen-boron fusion has several very appealing properties which Hora believes puts it at a distinct advantage compared to other systems. For one, it relies on precise, rapid bursts from immensely powerful lasers to squish atoms together. This dramatically simplifies reactor construction and reaction maintenance. For comparison, its ‘competitors’ have to heat fuel to the temperatures of the Sun and then power massive magnets to contain this superhot plasma inside torus-shaped (doughnut-like) chambers.

Furthermore, hydrogen-boron fusion doesn’t release any neutrinos in its primary reaction — in other words, it’s not radioactive. It requires no radioactive fuel and produces no radioactive waste. And, unlike most other energy-generation methods which heat water as an intermediary media to spin turbines — such as fossil-fuel or nuclear — hydrogen-boron fusion releases energy directly into electricity.

All of this goody goodness comes at a price, however, which always kept them beyond our grasp. Hydrogen-boron fusion reactions require immense pressures and temperatures — they’re only comfortable upwards of 3 billion degrees Celsius or so, some 200 times hotter than the Sun’s core.
Back in the 1970s, Hora predicted that this fusion reaction should be feasible without the need for thermal equilibrium, i.e. in temperature conditions we can actually reach and maintain. We had nowhere near the technological basis needed to prove his theory back then, however.

Why not blast it with a laser?
The dramatic advances we’ve made in laser technology over the last few decades are making the two-laser approach to the reaction Hora developed back then tangibly possible today.

Experiments recently performed around the world suggest that an ‘avalanche’ fusion reaction could be generated starting with bursts of a petawatt-scale laser pulse packing a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.
“It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations,” he said.

“Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”

Working together with 10 colleagues spread over six countries of the globe, Hora created a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design. The document takes into account recent breakthroughs and points to the areas we still have to work on developing a functional reactor. The patent to the process belongs to HB11 Energy, an Australian-based spin-off company, which means it’s not open for everyone to experiment.

“If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have a prototype reactor within a decade,” said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.

“From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf,” he added.

The paper “Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion” has been published in the journal Laser and Particle Beams.

» ZME Science – 15 December 2017:
Functional hydrogen-boron fusion could be here “within the next decade”, powered by huge lasers



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“It is very simple: We are overloading the atmosphere with heat-trapping gas and the rest is details.”
~ Andy Vesey, AGL chief executive






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Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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