Carbon diem: Seize the carbon

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How can we effectively reduce our fossil fuel emissions to zero? Will we have to wait for federal politicians to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry and for consensus in the United Nations before we can begin the transition away from burning coal, gas and oil?

Not at all! Many cities, councils, municipalities, shires and boroughs have already started that journey. The first step is to write a strategy, allocate funds, formulate the goals, and then start working on how to get there.

The Borough of Queenscliffe has already done this. And neighbouring City of Greater Geelong Council is in the process of doing it.

In the 46th Sustainable Hour on 8 October 2014 we talk with Queenscliff mayor Helene Cameron about their carbon strategy to learn what it takes to become ‘carbon neutral’, and we talk with Dr Quentin Farmar-Bowers, a retired researcher from Deakin University, about carbon sequestration and what we are to make of this new technology.

Last week, Canada switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that catches the carbon from the coal emissions so it can be stored underground. Is this a super-smart climate change solution? Or is it a super-expensive dead-end with only one incentive: to keep coal companies in business, while renewables keep getting cheaper and cheaper?


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 46:

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


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Guests in the studio:
• Mayor Cr Helene Cameron, Borough of Queenscliffe (enters at 26:35 minutes in the program)
• Dr Quentin Farmar-Bowers, former researcher at Deakin University

Here is a six-minute excerpt of what Mayor Helene Cameron was explaining:



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Videos

which we played in this Sustainable Hour:

Petrolify®: Don’t Just Seize the Day, Seize Life
Is Petrolify right for you? Click to find out

» More info about this video on: www.postcarbon.org



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Divest it like its hot

‘Divest It Like It’s Hot’ by rapping Santa Clara University students.

The coeds in Fossil Free SCU want their college to drop its investments in the top 200 oil and gas drilling businesses, following in the footsteps of other American schools. Their lyrics go:

“If you invest in fossil fuels
Divest it like it’s hot (x3)
If Big Oil tries to get at you
Park it like it’s hot (x3)
If a business gets an attitude
Drop ‘em like it’s hot (x3)
I got McKibben on the phone and I’m gonna protest,
Gotta stop climate change; you know it’s time to divest”

» www.grist.org

Australian singer Missy Higgins steps in

The Australian singer Missy Higgins steps in

» How to divest: Quick Guide


Theme of the hour: Seize the carbon


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“Our aim is for the Borough of Queenscliffe to be a carbon neutral community by 2020,” says Queenscliffe Mayor Helene Cameron in the 46th Sustainable Hour on 8 October 2014, which focuses on carbon strategies and how we can become ‘carbon neutral’: effectively reduce our fossil fuel emissions to zero.

Cr Helene Cameron describes the journey which the Borough of Queenscliffe – Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale – has been taking in order to reach consensus about the idea that the entire community would set out to reach this ambitious goal.

The City of Greater Geelong Council has recently just started on a similar journey with a review the city’s Greenhouse Gas Strategy from 2009-2011. The hope is that the new strategy will engage both the business sector and the community to reduce its emissions through a combination of reducing electricity and gas usage, using solar or wind power and possibly also offsetting remaining emissions, for instance by planting trees or financing tree planting elsewhere.



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How Queenscliff will seize the carbon

By Helene Cameron, Mayor of the Borough of Queenscliffe

“I recently had the privilege and pleasure of officially launching an important new local organisation called the Community Environment Alliance.
I was delighted that so many people turned out for the occasion and commit themselves to the preservation and protection of our environmental heritage.
As I travel through the Borough I am constantly reminded that we live in an extremely beautiful location. We are indeed fortunate to call this place home with its sandy beaches and blue sea. The air we breathe is pure and clean and the scenery we look over is both grand and pristine.
But our beautiful environment is a fragile thing and something we should never take for granted.
Rather it is a valuable asset that we should nurture and protect, not just for ourselves but for our children, their children and the generations that follow them.
The good work we do today in safeguarding our environment will reap dividends through the ages. That is why our Community Environment Alliance program is such an important new organisation for the Borough.
It is also why I was particularly pleased to attend the launch and declare the Alliance open for business. The Borough of Queenscliffe is committed to this organisation and the many worthwhile future projects and works it will become involved in.
Council will play a key role in the day to day operation of the Alliance.
Council has a strong commitment to the environment and aims that the municipality will be carbon neutral by the year 2020.
We are currently working towards this deadline by reducing our electricity and gas usage, by increasingly moving to solar power.
Businesses, groups and individuals can also make significant contributions by reducing electricity consumption, switching to green power and installing solar panels.
We may opt to use our cars less often in favour of our push bikes or walking shoes.
We could start our own vegie gardens at home or join the Queenscliffe Community Garden.
I’m a strong supporter of recycling and in my own home the children and I run our own recycling program that includes composting food, garden waste and chickens.
In effect everything that can be recycled is recycled.
Every member of the household becomes involved – it is a lot of fun and also allows me to reinforce the idea that the environment is worth taking care of.
I have no doubt our new Community Environment Alliance will have an extremely positive impact on sustaining and safeguarding our uniquely beautiful environment.
Membership of the organisation is open to business and community groups and private individuals.”


You can become involved in the Alliance via the council’s website www.queenscliffe.vic.gov.au or by calling the Borough’s Sustainability officer Jacqueline Wilson on 5258 1377.

This text was published in the Mayor’s Column under the headline ‘Community Environment Alliance Launch’ in Bellarine Times on 29 May 2014

» Corporate Carbon Neutral Action Plan (PDF)

» 2-page flyer: Community Environment Alliance



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CARBON STRATEGY:

Cities show leadership by example

IN THE US AND EUROPE
• At the UN climate conference in New York on 23 September 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in New York City by 80 per cent by 2050.

Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, is aspiring to become the first carbon neutral capital in the world by 2025.

Munich in Germany is targeting a 100 per cent clean electricity supply by 2025.

IN AUSTRALIA
Moreland Council in Melbourne’s inner north unveiled it’s Zero Carbon Evolution strategy on Saturday to reduce community GHG emissions by 22 per cent by 2020.

Borough of Queenscliffe, as mentioned above, are promoting, investing in and creating an alliance with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020.

The City of Freemantle has over the last decade taken a number of steps to demonstrate leadership in sustainability – as the first carbon neutral local government in our state, installing both wind and solar systems.

Yackandandah is aiming to become Australia’s first town to operate off 100 per cent renewable energy, aiming at achieving its goal by 2022.

Lismore City Council is looking to a range of innovative measures – including community funding for a large scale solar project, a type of consumer retailing model, and an ambitious energy efficiency program as part of its plan to go 100 per cent renewable by 2023.

City of Canning is “committed to an ongoing journey towards more sustainable processes and outcomes” and is committed to “leading by example, undertaking exemplary projects and practices which comply with the sustainability principles”, the first of which is “to reduce and eventually eliminate fossil fuel dependence and wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals.”

Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory (abbreviated ACT) legislated in November 2013 an ambitious target to source 90 per cent of the Territory’s power from renewable sources by 2020, a quarter which will come from wind energy.

Melbourne is aspiring to become ‘The Carbon-Free Capital of the World’. The City of Melbourne has been certified ‘carbon neutral’ as part of its undertaking to become one of the world’s most sustainable cities.
Melbourne has set a number of specified goals to reduce emissions: By 25 percent from business-as-usual levels in its commercial sector by 2020, by 20 percent in residential sector by 2020, by 19 percent from energy production by 2020. By 20 percent from public transport by 2020, 15 percent from cars, and 100 percent increase in use of bicycles.
» More about Melbourne’s carbon strategy below.

Sydney has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent below 2006-levels by 2030. This includes a target of 30 per cent of electricity from renewable sources. The City of Sydney has a renewable energy master plan which outlines how 100 per cent of the city’s electricity, heating and cooling can come from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and energy from waste, by 2030.





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Major new analysis – Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050

Here is why making a carbon strategy makes a whole lot of common sense. This report explains how Australia can prosper in a low-carbon world

“Imagine a world in 2050. Everyone drives an (electric) car, homes have all the gadgets, appliances and nick-nacks. The public transport system is emissions free. Mining work and transport is electrified, and diesel is dumped. Electrification has taken place in much of the steel industry. And it is all emissions free. It might be powered by 100 per cent renewables – the sun, wind, the sea, and geothermal, hydro and biomass. And the economy is still strong.

Welcome to the zero carbon world awaiting Australia and much of the rest of the world.

The major new analysis ‘Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation’, produced by Australia’s ClimateWorks along with ANU, shows that 15 of the world’s biggest economies can move to “net carbon zero” by 2050, and it need impose no extra costs over business as usual. In fact, electricity bills will be lower than what they are now. Economic growth will remain more or less the same, and the benefits, in terms of health and the environment, will be enormous.”

» Australia urged to set 50% renewables target by 2030:
www.reneweconomy.com.au



» Read more about the report on: www.climateworksaustralia.org

» Get the report (PDF)

» See infographic (PDF)



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World of clean energy ‘feasible’ by mid-century

International researchers, in what they believe is the most comprehensive global assessment of clean energy’s potential, report that a low-carbon system could supply the world’s electricity needs by 2050.

» Read more: http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/10/world-of-clean-energy-feasible-by-mid-century




Catch the carbon


CCS-comment

“How many more times will the offensive myth that is CCS (carbon capture and storage) be trotted out by desperate fossil fuel interests before policy-makers finally acknowledge this idea is dead in the water? We have had enough of our tax dollars being handed out to promote this futile nonsense.”
Surf Coast Air Action’s comment to the article ‘Stand back! Big Coal has formed a CCS roundtable’


“8 October 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

The good news is that ‘clean coal’ is now proven in commercial power stations in Canada and in Missouri USA to capture 60 – 90% of carbon pollution from burning brown coal. The ‘storage’ part of ‘carbon capture and storage’ has been proven by Melbourne University’s ‘Otway project’.

To secure the future of brown coal in Victoria the ‘carbon capture and storage’ system needs to be financed by government and built. It would be great if you announced that your government will proceed with ‘clean coal’ starting with Loy Yang; the most significant power station in the Latrobe Valley.

The American power stations provide an indicative carbon capture cost of eleven million dollars a megawatt. Capturing the carbon at Loy Yang (3,000 megawatts) might be around 33 billion dollars. Storage might add another 10 billion dollars.
This is a bit more expensive than 3,000 megawatts of new wind energy (perhaps costing $7 billion) but ‘carbon capture and storage’ has the advantage of providing electricity 24/7, restricting demand and protecting the value of brown coal.

Concentrated solar thermal, especially liquid salt systems could provide electricity 24 /7 but would cost more than wind (perhaps costing $8–12 billion for 3,000 megawatts).

It may be time to see if Australians are nostalgic enough to want to retain brown coal power stations even though ‘clean coal’ is likely to triple their electricity bills.

Kind Regards

Dr Quentin Farmar-Bowers
East Geelong
Victoria, Australia”



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$1.3 billion Canadian carbon capture project launched

“The first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming.

Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider is due to cut the ribbon on the $1.3 billion Canadian project. But officials from SaskPower International Inc. told guests invited to the ceremony the 110 megawatt plant went live on Tuesday night.

The Boundary Dam power plant promises to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent by trapping C02 underground before the gas reaches the atmosphere – making its opening a milestone in the coal industry’s efforts to remain viable in a low-carbon economy.”

» www.climatecentral.org


“An encouraging vision for a future in which fossil fuels for energy production are finally rendered completely obsolete, thanks to the clever boffins and their energy storage technologies. Much more feasible on both economic and environmental fronts than the CCS (carbon capture and storage) debacle”

RenewEconomy – 6 October 2014:
Why we may not need fossil fuels for grid stability any more
By Zachary Shahan


“The International Energy Agency (IEA) today welcomed the launch of the world’s first large-scale power station equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, calling it a historic milestone along the road to a low-carbon energy future.

The 110MW retrofit of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada will trap around 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. The captured CO2 will be injected into nearby oilfields to enhance oil recovery. The plant began capturing CO2 in September and was due to be inaugurated this week.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said the launch represents “a momentous point” in the history of the development of CCS, the family of technologies and techniques that enable the capture of CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes, its transport via ships or pipelines, and its storage underground. (…)

Several CCS projects are under construction or in advanced stages of planning. Early 2015 should see the start of operations for another large power-CCS project in Kemper County, Mississippi. Further projects are currently under construction elsewhere in the United States and Canada plus Saudi Arabia and Australia.”

» The Australian – 2 October 2014:
First major power station begins carbon capture


Global carbon capture begins – as Australia dithers

“Carbon capture and storage took a big step forward yesterday, in Saskatchewan, Canada, with the ribbon cutting of Sask Power’s Boundary Dam, now the world’s first operating power station with CCS at commercial scale.

CCS is an important complement to energy efficiency and renewable energy for ensuring we avoid extreme climate disruption. But cynicism about its role is widespread. Although CCS is being used around the world on oil and gas extraction and industrial processes like ethanol production, it is only now starting to emerge at commercial scale in the power sector. (A project in the US, Kemper County Energy Facility, is set to start capturing carbon next year.)

(…)

The Gorgon LNG project off the coast of Western Australia will become the world’s largest storer of CO2 when it comes online in 2016. But our other three CCS projects are in pre-feasibility stages. And as with other developing technologies, the trick with CCS isn’t to get a single demonstration up and running but to get the second project up, the third … the tenth.

Who’s shirking support for CCS in Australia? An obvious answer is the industry with the most to gain. The coal industry’s much-vaunted COAL21 Fund has stopped levying members, and its objectives have been amended to promote coal use rather than low emissions research.

Yesterday the Minerals Council of Australia announced the launch of a “Leadership Roundtable” on reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Given its primary function appears to be to “share information”, this initiative has a long way to go to be credible either with the public or the increasingly concerned investment community.”


Excerpt of article by Olivia Kember, policy and research manager for The Climate Institute, published by www.businessspectator.com.au



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Offset your carbon footprint

By offsetting your carbon emissions with Greenfleet you help protect our climate and restore our forests. Greenfleet will plant enough native trees on your behalf in Australian biodiverse forests to offset your emissions.

You can choose what source of emissions you would like to offset: vehicles, flights, households etc.

To calculate the exact amount of CO2-e to offset, visit the Australian Greenhouse Calculator and select per tonne offset:

» www.greenfleet.secure.force.com



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Human handprint marks Australia’s hottest year

2013 – in that one year, Australia recorded its hottest day ever, its hottest month in the history books, its hottest summer, its hottest spring, and its hottest year overall.

Scientists are fond of saying that it is difficult to pin the blame for any one climate event onto climate change. But they have just made an exception by reporting that many things that happened in Australia in 2013 bore the signature of man-made climate change.

Despite the Australian prime minister’s climate science scepticism, research funded by taxpayers has unanimously found man-made climate change guilty of causing the country’s record-breaking temperatures last year.

» Read more: www.climatenewsnetwork.net



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Climate change is bad news for surfers

You probably didn’t see that one coming, (we didn’t either!) but now there’s apparently also a specific SURFER’s angle to the price we’ll have to pay for our carbon emissions and the man-made climate mess-up:

Dedicated surfers, deeply involved with monitoring the natural coastal environment around the world, warn that climate change now poses a major threat to this booming leisure industry.

The world’s oceans are alive with surfers enjoying one of the fastest growing leisure activities. It is estimated there are now at least 35 million people around the globe who regularly ride the waves, and many thousands of people are employed in what has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

You’d think that a warming world should be good news for all those artists of the waves. BUT… Two studies appearing in the journal Nature Climate Change have made surfers stand up on their boards and reconsider the situation:
(and there are now at least 35 million people around the globe who regularly ride the waves..,)

A study led by Dr Andrew Dowdy, a researcher at the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) predicts that rising temperatures will in fact reduce the number of storms causing big waves by the end of the century on the central east coast of Australia.

The storms that do occur could be more intense and potentially destructive – but the consistency of wave patterns will be reduced.

That’s bad news for surfers of the future in that area – one of the world’s surfing hotspots. They’ll just have to move elsewhere.

» Climate News Network – 5 October 2014:
Surfers fear climate will wipe out big waves



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Merkel adviser lashes Abbott’s ‘suicide strategy’ on coal

“If Australia just sits there and says we offer our cheap coal but we have no manufacturing industry, we have slipped from renewables, these are dire prospects for the economy of your country. It’s bad for Australia because you might miss the innovation train.”
~ Professor Schellnhuber, a former personal adviser to Chancellor Merkel, co-chairs the German Advisory Council on Global Change – the equivalent of Australia’s Climate Change Authority

» Read more: www.smh.com.au




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City of Melbourne says: “What if…?”
“What if 50 per cent of the municipality’s electricity came from renewable sources?
What if we didn’t waste the 10 per cent of energy that is lost in grid transmission and doesn’t even make it to the end user? And what if the electricity network made it easy to connect diverse renewable energy sources to the grid?
What if we reduce the city’s buildings energy use by 40 per cent by having as standard practice that all buildings are upgraded regularly to ensure they are as energy efficient as possible? And all new buildings used leading technology, design and materials for improved sustainability outcomes.
What if each business and each individual took responsibility for their own activities being carbon neutral?
What if the city assisted this process? Would it really cost that much?
If we were to offset our emissions today it would cost an average of $467 per resident per year, $130 per worker or $2,655 per business. Some of us are already doing it.
Could we get to zero? Is this future so unimaginable?
These are the big game changing ideas that are very difficult to achieve, but not impossible. We can’t do it alone, and neither can any individual, business, or government entity. But by working together it is achievable.
Over the next four years City of Melbourne will work to explore these possibilities, in collaboration with key organisations and sectors, through establishing effective networks to take action.”

Excerpt from ‘Zero Net Emissions by 2020 – Update 2014’ on page 3, ‘How could we get to a zero net emissions city by 2020?’

Download the publication Zero Net Emissions by 2020 - Update 2014 published by City of Melbourne

» Download the publication ‘Zero Net Emissions by 2020 – Update 2014’ published by City of Melbourne:
www.melbourne.vic.gov.au (PDF)


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Picture 19

“The ludicrous notion that Australia is somehow protecting its interests by cautiously and sensibly waiting for the rest of the world to act on energy reform: totally debunked by this article that clearly demonstrates who we are shamefully being left way behind. To think that we were once world leaders in new energy technologies….”
Surf Coast Air Action’s comment to the article ‘Global clean energy investment up, Australia at record lows’



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QuentinFB_NewYork

“Dear Prime Minister Tony Abbott,

Getting climate change right is much more important to Australians than going back to war. We can reach agreements with other people but we cannot reach any kind of deal with the planet. King Canute worked that out a long time ago.  We have to start cutting pollution now and work on it very hard. It’s a form of security and a much more reliable form of longer term security than we can possibly get from spending money on submarines and fighter aircrafts.

I suspect the Pope is right: politicians are taking us into World War III, and he is also right when he said, “God forgives but the Planet does not.”  We cannot win against the Planet.

Please go to UN’s Climate Summit in New York and come back convinced that the Australian economy needs to innovate and get a modern energy industry based on renewables.

Dr Quentin Farmar-Bowers
East Geelong
Victoria, Australia”



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Quentins Julie Bishop letter

“Dear Minister,
I understand you will be attending the UN Climate Summit.

As you know people are getting more and more concerned about the government actions on climate change in Australia that are preventing innovation, new jobs and reducing the long-term security of Australian citizens.

I hope you will talk your cabinet colleagues into changing their allegiance from fossil fuel technology to renewables.
Loyalty to the coal/oil/gas companies is admirable but is now misplaced.

The recent report of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate raised 10 points for discussion.

I am sure you will be asked about them on your return.

Regards
Dr Quentin Farmar-Bowers”



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