Friday, November 29, 2019

State of Play: who's winning the clean energy race

In the absence of meaningful action at a federal level, it's mostly up to Australian states to do the heavy lifting in the renewable energy area.

Here's the Climate Council's assessment of how those states are going.


Since last year's list, South Australia has leapt to to the top of the list with most of their power coming from renewables and a 100% target for 2030.

The Australian Capital Territory has also overtaken Tasmania and looks set to hit 100% renewable energy in the new year.

At the other end

It's not just the time zones that sees Western Australian behind the other states. They've moved from last to second last place with an "aspirational" net-zero emissions target by 2050. That's nice but not much. I guess that's why they're still "at the starting blocks".

Here at home

My home state of Queensland wins the "most improved" with lots of solar being installed over the past year, but still not enough to reach the 2030 target of 50% renewable energy.

It's bizarre that the "sunshine state" has just 8.8% renewable energy (including hydropower) and only 5.6% from solar and wind.

Here's how each state does on renewable energy (light blue) and solar and win energy (darker shaded area).

Download the full report from the Climate Council.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fires and how to ignore them: a politician's guide

Even if you're reading this outside Australia, you've probably heard about the enormous areas of bushfire through Eastern Australia.

Climate change and fires

Clearly this is related to climate change. This map shows the changes in forest fire danger over the last four decades.

Brown represents more danger, blue less. The more intense the colour bigger the change.

Something to talk about?

But leaders don't want to talk about it. You'd think leaders would be keen to address something that threatens the citizens. But apparently not.

They didn't want to talk about it in 2013 - or during any bushfire since - or on any other day. I think that's what prompts cartoons like this.

Not Today

My favourite bit of satire was this video by Mark Humphries and Jan Fran. (Aussies, look out for a clever cameo part way through the video)

News (satire) headlines

Some of my favourite satirical headlines are:

Why the laughs?

Aside from the map (Bureau of Meteorology) I've focussed a bit on the humour and satire side of this. It's mainly a situation where one has to laugh or one would cry (or get really frustrated).

It's simply astounding that governments not only have no interest in solving the problem, but also no interest in even discussing what is killing people and destroying homes.

This month it's bushfires. For ages it's been drought. Later it will be another climate-change-assisted disaster. The reaction seems to stay the same. :(

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Clean energy, cheap prices

Last night, Alan Kohler summed it up on ABC News:

Electricity prices are falling because of all the renewable energy being built.

It's common economic knowledge that when you increase supply of a product, the price goes down. But for some reason politicians continue to pretend it's the environment versus the economy. It's not.

If we build more clean energy, prices keep coming down and everyone can pay less for power. Sounds like a convenient solution!

Related posts

Powershop - switch and save - see how you can save by switching to a renewable-friendly electricity provider.

Are there jobs in renewable energy? - here's another way clean energy helps our economy.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Brisbane's 20 best signs (Global Climate March)

Today is a global climate "strike". Around the world people are gathering to support (perhaps even insist) on climate action.

The park was packed

In Brisbane today's event was the biggest the city has seen. So much so that the park could not hold all the people. Fortunately, the street had already been blocked off. People stood on the road and on the footpaths of adjacent blocks.

Let's get to the signs

I've always been a fan of people's creative signs for these events. Here are some of Brisbane's best.


With this being the last day of school term, there were lots of kids there (with their parent's permission) and a number of signs were about that.

Some signs featured the Dr Seuss character The Lorax.


Old people showed up for their kids grandkids ... and great grandkids.

Positive encouragement

Witty Signs

Some signs were quite clever, like this one from a university staff member (presumably the health faculty):

This one starts by saying "I like my planet the way I like my men..."


Some were just frustrated with the government's lack of action.

That last one is a reference to the current prime minister saying the schoolkids shouldn't be speaking up for the future (being "activist").

What a wonderful world

Some just wanted to say what a wonderful thing the earth is.

Want more?

See some highlights from previous events - Schoolkids strikeof 2018 - I want some action - Scientists

Monday, August 19, 2019

Australia sinks island hopes

At the recent Pacific Island Forum, Australia has appeared to prefer burning coal to saving lives

The leaders of the Small Island States had all agreed to a declaration for stronger action on climate change. Perhaps not surprising considering these nations' future existence is at stake. But then Australia stepped in.

Instead of giving them what they need (action on climate change) Australia gave them foreign aid money. Cartoonist Cath Wilcox illustrated how (not) useful that is.

And even worse, it's not extra money - it's been redirected away from other foreign aid orther worthy programs no have to go without.

So basically Australia, having heard that climate is the biggest issue for all these Pacific Island nations is not giving one extra dollar and not reducing pollution by one single gram.

Back in Australia, the Deputy (and acting) Prime Minister made some bizarre remarks about fruit-picking, and also,

“I also get a little bit annoyed when we have people in those sorts of countries pointing the finger at Australia and say we should be shutting down all our resources sector so that, you know, they will continue to survive,”

Two things here. First is the exaggeration/lie about what was being asked - it was only ever about coal. Second is the display of priorities where he seems to be saying that a polluting industry is more important than people's lives - that he wants to continue burning and exporting coal forever - even if it wipes out several nations along the way. Stunning.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Climate Change: The Facts - by David Attenborough

If you missed last night's ABC screening of Climate Change: The Facts here's the link to see it on iview.

David Attenborough's Climate Change: The Facts

There's an explanation of climate change, it's impacts and what we can do to reduce it. Being a David Attenborough documentary it also contains some amazing footage:

  • Australian bats littered on the ground after a heatwave, (perhaps turn away at that point if you're an animal lover)
  • Dashcam footage as a father and son driving through a bushfire to escape it - only to realise that was impossible, (their escape was quite miraculous)
  • Flames coming out of ice. This was a demonstration of the quantity of ice-trapped methane in the permafrost. When this permafrost melts (due to climate change) this methane will be released and cause even more climate change. This is what's called a tipping point.

There's also amazing stats:

  • British heatwaves are 30 times more likely than in the 70's.
  • Greenland is losing ice at 5 times the rate that it was just 25 years ago.
  • The US state of Louisiana is losing land the size of a football field every 45 mins - due to sea level rise - and already people have had to abandon their homes.

Sometimes our tendency is to avoid change even when it's necessary. It's important to remember that the "cost of action is dwarfed by the cost of inaction".

Some more David:
David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Earth can't keep up

If you spend your whole year's income in 7 months, that's not good. That's what we're doing to the Earth.

Today (29 July 2019) is Earth Overshoot Day. That's the earliest it's ever been. Already this year we've used up a year's worth of natural resources. To put it another way, what we use in a year takes 1.7 years for the earth to regenerate.

It hasn't always been this bad

In 1970 the date was at the end of the year. We were using the exact amount of resources that Earth could replenish. Yes, there's more people today, but with our advanced technology and better choices we can get our of ecological debt.

Australia hasn't improved

If everyone behaved like Australians, we would need 4 Earths to sustain us. Our overshoot date is March 31 (same as last year) and is one of the worst. (Yes, the USA is still a bit worse).

Is your country not here?

See if you can find your country on this calendar. (The later your country's overshoot date, the better).

Friday, July 26, 2019

Global warming really is global

Local ABC news doesn't normally give international weather reports but this was an exception.

Europe is going through a heatwave. England is set to record it's highest temperature EVER.

Forecast for England's hottest ever temperature

Here in Brisbane, Australia, July is our coldest month. This July it looks like every day of the month will reach 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). That's happened only twice before - last year and once early in the 2000's. It never ever happened through all the 1900's.

Meanwhile the US has also been having heatwaves. Normally these affect the elderly quite badly, but this one claimed 32-year-old former SuperBowl player Mitch Petrus.

It's one thing to see a hot or cold day in one place, but when this is happening consistently all around the world we need to take action.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Coal barren - Mine vs Ours

This brilliant cartoon highlights the inequity of coal mining and climate change in general. While there are benefits to be gained by the billionaire, or company, that pollutes - the cost of that is felt by everyone else.

It can be more frequent extreme weather events, more severe droughts, or in this case a destroyed natural wonder. In any case, a few really rich people benefit while everyone else pays the price.

Cartooning credit to the brilliant Fiona Katauskas.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Yes, Australian voters want climate action

Since the Australian election some have been worried that Australian voters seem unconcerned about climate change. However, ABC's Vote Compass shows the opposite.

While not many people changed the party they vote for, they are ready for (and expect) more climate action.

How much should we do?

The proportion of people saying we should do more has reached an all-time high. Also, the number of undecideds has decreased each election.

How many Australians want more action on climate change

Cross-party support

Across the four biggest parties, each party's supporters want more action rather than less. The highest are Greens (99-0) and Labor (96-0) supporters. A bit further back are Coalition supporters (59-13) and One Nation supporters (40-34).

Whilst some parties seem opposed to more action, every party's supporters think we should be doing more.

Which party's supporters want more action climate change? All of them.

What about policies?

Renewable energy is immensely popular with 86% of people saying there should be more of it.

The price on carbon emissions was abandoned by the current government. Yet still 68% of people agree with the Greens policy to bring it back.

Electric cars are also a popular idea with 72% saying that the government should do more to increase the number of electric cars in Australia.

What actions Australians want on climate change.

What does it mean?

Despite the increasing desire for action on climate change, the votes of all the parties remained almost identical to the last election. Perhaps people are sticking with their preferred party, but expecting them to do more.

It's interesting that we seem to be in favour of policies that politicians seems less keen to introduce. Will this be something they notice and begin to act upon? Or could this possible be the effect of political donations by companies that profit from polluting?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Zero waste election day?

Sometimes elections can seem like a high-waste event. Here are some tips to minimise the environmental impact of the day.

Why the flyers?

The info on the flyers is important in a federal election. The Senate is a crucial part of our democracy and for a Senate vote to be valid we need to number at least 6 parties in our order of preference.

Who are these people?

There are so many parties on the Senate ballot paper. Many have ambiguous or strange names, so it's hard to know exactly who you are voting for, or giving your preferences to.

You can do your own research - the ABC has a Senate Guide. Click your state at the top and you'll get a page with links to all the parties that are running in your state. For example, here is the Queensland list. [Edit: Buzzfeed also have this informative (and humourous) guide.]

But with 25-30 parties running in most states, many people find that too hard and opt to follow their favourite party's how-to-vote card.

What can we do

While the papers are important we can still minimise our impact - and the impact of others. Depending on your enthusiasm, here are several levels of waste reduction you can do.

Level 1

Only take flyers from candidates or parties that you are interested in. I see people take flyers from every party. I guess it seems polite but it's just a waste.

Level 2

Put any flyers you take in the recycle bin supplied at the booth, or at home.

Level 3

Take care of the flyer(s) you take so it's in good condition to return it to the volunteers. They can use it again.

Level 4

After voting, casually take a bunch of used flyers out of the recycle bin at the booth and return them to the volunteers for reuse. The more leftovers they have at the end of the day, the more confident they can be in printing fewer copies next time.

Going online

Parties are starting to put this information online. The Greens one is the most user-friendly. Labor also do it, but it seems to require a fair bit of personal information to be entered.

The Liberal party one is semi-functional. It's hard to tell what parties it suggests to preference. The names of other parties are either removed or too small to read (at least on my screen). I'm hoping this is poor design rather than a deliberate attempt to hide the identity of the party they suggest you give your preferences to.

Again the ABC provides a great resource of all the how-to-vote cards for each state. Here's the Queensland list. For other states click your state at the top of the page. It's handy to see them because each party's suggested preferences give you an idea of what they stand for.

Take heart

The sight of all this paper can be disturbing to the eco-minded. Bear in mind that good parties are now printing on recycled material and most of the paper is recycled afterwards.

Whilst they are very visible, federal elections are only once every three years. The stuff that happens every day of the year (and often out-of-sight) adds up to a far bigger impact than election day. Once the election is over let's get back to fixing those issues.

Try to walk or cycle to the polling booth. It avoids parking problems and positive environmental impact is even greater than what you do regarding flyers.

Monday, May 13, 2019

See the "Accelerate" documentary for free

The "Accelerate" documentary is now available to view for free! It's just under an hour, has featured at special screenings around the country and is now online for free.

The Accelerate documentary shows why we need climate action, and how collectively we can work together for a safe climate future.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Powershop - switch and save

We've recently switched our electricity provider to Powershop. I'm highly recommending it. Here are 8 reasons why it's a great choice.

Renewable energy makers

Whichever electricity retailer I choose, they're going to make a profit from me. I'd prefer that profit to go to a good company. Powershop is owned by Meridian Energy, which also makes renewable energy. That's the kind of company I like to support.

Greenest electricity provider

The Green Electricity Guide ranks electricity companies on their green credentials. This includes emissions from power stations they own, their policy positions on renewable energy and fossil fuels, their deals for solar consumers, and their promotion of energy efficiency.

Powershop tops the list every year and is one of only two companies with a 5-star rating.

Cheaper Electricity

Electricity costs are made up of two parts - the daily 'supply charge' and the 'usage rate'. Both of these are cheaper than our previous provider. Also, their pay-on-time discount applies to both areas. Other providers generally offer their discount only on the usage charge part of the bill.

To compare to your current provider, check out

Extra "David-discount"

You won't see much advertising for Powershop. Instead of paying for TV ads, they just give the money to customers. What a great way to do business!

If you sign up with my special link you'll get $75 credit and so will I.


Powershop also does billing better. You can top-up your credit at any time (like a prepaid phone or a public transport card). You get a discount for doing this. For example you can buy $100 credit for just $85.

Smaller bills

Powershop bills monthly rather than quarterly. (Yay!) Apart from making it easier to budget for, it's also less of a shock because each bill is around one-third what you are used to paying. Powershop also lets you know a few days ahead of time, so you have a chance to double-check you have enough credit to cover the bill.

What about my solar panels?

The Energy Made Easy site doesn't really cater for solar households. You might have to compare the rates to your current bill. Generally their solar rates are good (part of their great environment score). Here's the link to check rates for your area.

What do other customers think?

Powershop is big in Victoria (their first state). Amongst its customers there it rates 5-stars in most categories and out-rates the major retailers by quite a margin.

Are there any negatives?

I know of only two possible negatives. The greenpower option is slightly more expensive (at least compared to my previous provider). However, as 100% Greenpower customers we found this small extra cost was offset by Powershop's great base prices. Even with our 100% Greenpower the overall cost was practically identical. The sign-on bonus was waaay more than the tiny difference in cost. We changed mostly to support a renewable energy company with better business practice. If you're not a purchaser of Greenpower, then you should have lower cost, and a sign-on bonus.

The only other thing is that your very first bill may be based on estimated usage. Powershop bills monthly, but physical readings are only done quarterly. So your first bill may seem bit low or high. This will even out once they've done a physical reading. Or you can choose to enter your own DIY meter readings via the website.

In summary

If you're looking for the cheapest deal, Powershop's a great choice.

If you're looking for the greenest electricity company, Powershop's a great choice.

If you'd like more for the solar power you export, Powershop's a great choice.

If you'd like to receive a sign-on bonus, Powershop's a great choice.

Here's my special link to get your $75 bonus credit.

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