Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tell the Government to Keep Renewable Energy

This is your chance to influence the future of Australia's energy.

Yesterday the government said it wants to reduce the Renewable Energy Target. Now it's negotiating with the opposition to settle on a position. So now is a great time to contact any of the men in the negotiation.

Negotiators of the Renewable Energy Target - MacFarlane, Hunt, Hockey, Butler, Gray and Bowen

Here are their contact details:
Ian MacFarlane - facebook or (02) 6277 7070
Greg Hunt - facebook or (02) 6277 7920
Joe Hockey - facebook or (02) 6277 7340
Mark Butler - facebook or (02) 6277 4089
Gary Gray - facebook or (02) 6277 4913
Chris Bowen - facebook or (02) 6277 4822

This suggested policy, described as a free kick for fossil fuels (which would also increase the price of electricity) would be a 64% cut in future investment, according to the Clean Energy Council.

Already, just a day after this announcement, one wind turbine manufacturer has had to let go of 100 jobs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Dramatic than Terrorism and Ebola

"For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week - terrorism, instability, inequality, disease - there's one issues that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate."
That's how Obama began his address to the UN Climate Summit.

He describes the effects on the USA, recognises that "the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it", and acknowledges that we have to cut carbon pollution in our own countries and work together as a global community before it is too late.

"We cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair.

This is the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and last generation that can do something about it.

In the US, there is triple the wind power, and 10 times more solar than when Obama became president. Cars are going to be twice as fuel efficient in the next decade, and every major car maker offers electric vehicles. Over the last 8 years, the USA has reduced carbon pollution by more than any other country - and is well on target to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020.

In Obama's words "the United states of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognise our role in creating this problem. We embrace our responsibility to combat it." He goes on to say that to be successful we must all work together.

Of course, Australia's leader failed to attend the Summit. Our foreign minister attracted a much smaller audience.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop speaking to a very small audience at the UN Climate Summit

Perhaps this not surprising. Australia has no effective climate policy at this time and a much smaller goal of a 5% reduction by 2020. Even as I write this, Australia's 20% renewable energy target (small by world standards) is being further reduced.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Uruguay - You are Great

At the recent UN Summit, Uruguay committed to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 85% by 2030.

Uruguay commits to reducing emissions by 85% by 2030

Of course there are many other nations with admirable and responsible commitments. (Not Australia though. Still just a 5% reduction)

I've been tagging all my posts like this one, about other nations doing great things, with the tag 'the world'.

But the Climate Council has put it all together in a clickable map.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting our money back

On the weekend hundreds of bank customers around Australia took their money back and closed their accounts.

It was an ethical move - to stop the banks using our money to finance fossil fuel burning.

Man with a large novelty cheque to celebrate his divestment from banks investing in fossil fuels

This man with the novelty withdrawal slip was completely serious about taking his quarter of a million dollars elsewhere - for the sake of his kids' future. Others brought their kids along - to feel the experience of taking a moral stand.

father and daughter cancelling the family account with ANZ

A couple of news outlets covered the day. Here's the best tv coverage.

To hear from the people themselves, check out this compilation video.

See Divestment Day Live, for more pictures of the event - from cities and towns around Australia.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrity Endorsement

Missy Higgins is taking part in, and promoting, this Saturday's Divestment Day.

It's a day to encourage people to move their money from banks that invest in fossil fuels, to banks that don't. (In case the interest rate difference wasn't enough reason).

Missy Higgins endorses Divestment Day

As Missy Higgins wrote on her facebook account:

"... my bank has loaned over $6.5 billion to dirty fossil fuels since 2008. I don't know about you but I don't like my money being used to accelerate climate change, it seems insane in this day and age. I'd much prefer my money to be funding renewable energy projects and development, things that might actually save our planet rather than destroy it. So I've written to my bank and told them that if they keep funding fossil fuels I am going to leave. It's our money, we should be able to decide what it's invested in, don't you think? The big four banks have all lent billions to fossil fuels, so if you bank with ANZ, CommBank, NAB or Westpac, join 'Divestment Day' and tell the banks that, "if you choose fossil fuels, we'll choose another bank."

See how your bank invests your money - and look for a better deal on my bank comparison table.

PS. This comes after Felix Riebl joined a previous divestment event.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Warmest September Ever

Following hot on the heels of the warmest August on record, September 2014 was the warmest September so far.

temperature chart of September 2014 warmest September on record

The way things are going, it looks like 2014 may become the hottest year we've ever experienced.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The "Value" of Coal

I've talked a bit about divestment - the idea of getting money out of fossil fuels.

Part of the reason is to make an ethical stand. But the other part is pure finance - taking money out of something that's losing value.

This chart is an example of what I'm talking about. It shows how Australia's coal companies have been losing value and dropping in share price over the past couple of years.

I'm no financial analyst, but to me they seem to past their 'best before' date.

In related news, this Saturday is Divestment Day - a day for taking money out of banks that still invest in fossil fuels.

(Of course, you could do it any day you like, but it's fun to make a special day.)

PS. I was surprised at how much these companies had collapsed in the past few years, so I checked up each company on the Australian Stock Exchange website. It's shocking stuff.

New Hope Corporation (NHC)
Whitehaven Coal (WHC)
Aquila Resources (delisted) High of $11.07 - Jan 2012 $5.85 - Sold at $3.40
Yancoal (YAL)
Cockatoo Coal (COK)
Bandanna (BND)
Carabella (delisted) High of $2.50 - Jan 2012 $1.10 - Sold at 45c
NuCoal (NCR)
MetroCoal (MTE)
Stanmore (SMR)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Not?

For the recent UN Climate Summit, 8 young people combined to put together the questions Why Not? to the world's leaders.

It's a good video, and it's a very good question.

why not solar power?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Outbreak of church ethics

I've just read that the Canberra division of the Anglican church has decided to divest from coal, oil and gas companies. "The Diocese accepts that it is both ethical and responsible to divest from fossil fuel stocks."

Canberra Anglican church divest from fossil fuels

The comes very soon after the Perth Anglicans and the Uniting Church in Western Australia also decided to stop investing in fossil fuels.

Churches are really starting to catch on - that it's difficult to love one's neighbour while at the same time as funding climate catastrophes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Australia at the United Nations (sort of)

Comedy program The Roast once again provides great coverage of current events, while being funny at the same time. (I might have mentioned that before).

This week it was the UN Climate Summit, the no-show by Australia's PM, and several related actions of the government here.

It's quite sad that when world leaders meet to act on climate change, Australia's leader isn't there. But at least it provides good material for comedy programs.

30,000 rally for climate action in Melbourne

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Australia that doesn't cost the Earth

Occasionally you see a great little statement that sums it all up in just a few short words. This shareable graphic from ACF was an example of that.

I want an Australia that doesn't cost the earth

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Super Switch - find a better super fund

What if our retirement funds are delivering us a world unfit to retire into? That's the problem Super Switch is here to solve. It's helps you pick a superannuation account that matches your values.

Find the best superannuation for you

Use the site to check up your super fund. Find out how much of your money is invested in fossil fuel companies. I compared my current one (SunSuper) to Australian Ethical (on the right).

Comparison of super funds

It seems Super Switch had a hard time finding out where SunSuper invests my money. So have I - particularly when asking about their "ethical" option. Australian Ethical looks much better, with around 90% invested in fossil free companies.

The site also gives you the option to contact your current fund to ask them to offer a fossil free option - and the option to switch to a better one.

Improve your super or switch to a better one

There's also a ranking of super funds according to the amount of fossil free investment.

Comparison table of superannuation funds

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Uniting Church to disinvest from fossil fuels

"With national governments reluctant to take difficult decisions, it falls to us as members of the body of Christ to show leadership in taking action to reduce damaging pollution."
Those were the words of Uniting Church president Andrew Dutney, as the church resolved to divest from fossil fuels companies.

"As Christians we are called to respect and care for the whole of creation," said Rev. Prof. Dutney. "To avoid damaging climate change we must move quickly to a clean energy economy. The Uniting Church recognises that continued investment in fossil fuel industries does not support the change needed."

Perhaps because of the church's strong connection with Pacific island churches, there is a recognition of the effects of fossil fuels on other nations - and how starkly that contrasts with 'loving one's neighbour'. For the church, this is a matter of social, environmental, and intergenerational justice.

The president also recommended that other churches follow the Uniting church's lead.

More info:
Uniting Church website
Brisbane Times article

PS. The move also seems popular with church members. When the news was posted on the church facebook page, the article received more likes than the page has followers.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Weekend Project Inspiration

My friend made this planter box over the weekend. Made from a discarded pallet; painted white, and then sanded for the 'used look'. It's a great example of 'upcycling' - where an otherwise discarded item is given new life as a different object.

An upcycled planter box made from an old discarded pallet

Apart from having a unique and stylish planter box for the garden, he has saved a pallet from going into landfill, saved himself some money, and avoided the production of another needless item (and the pollution that comes from that). Well done, mate.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Penny-Farthing of Energy

When the report on the Renewable Energy Target was released this week, the Roast devoted most of that night's episode to it. One of the highlights was Jazz's look at outdated industries.

He describes coal as "For 5 millenia, the best idea we've had for energy is: Find rock. Burn rock."

While I've picked his segment as a highlight, it's worth seeing the whole episode. For a show that's meant to be comedy, it does a good job of explaining the news while keeping it entertaining.

The Roast 1 September 2014