Sunday 20 Oct 2019 | 17:42 | SYDNEY
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Climate change

The environment and the news cycle

I loved this bit from US environmental activist Bill McKibben, who is guest blogging on Andrew Sullivan's site: Every day there’s something more immediately important happening in the world: ISIS is seizing an airbase this morning, and California is recovering from an earthquake, and Michael

A breakthrough in Chinese climate policy? Not likely

I argued back in April that China's 'synthetic natural gas' (syngas or SNG, which is gas made from coal) is 'bad economics, bad science and an environmental catastrophe'. I also said that 'what is striking is the ambition of Chinese plans versus the widespread scepticism of SNG worldwide and

Just how expensive is renewable energy?

I raised this topic recently when The Economist pointed to a new Brookings study which argued that the cost of renewables had been severely underestimated. There was some pushback in the comments thread, and now I see that Green Tech Media, an American green energy industry website, has also

From the comments thread: Green energy

Two reader comments I'd like to flag in response to my piece highlighting new research by the Brookings Institution's Charles Frank, written up in The Economist, which suggests renewable energy is still way too expensive to take over from coal, oil and gas. Here's OfKember: The basic inadequacy

Green power still too expensive

This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July. The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various

Climate action: Public opinion is not the problem

A newly released IPSOS Global Trends Survey  shows, according to a Guardian columnist, that Anglophone countries are particularly inclined towards climate denialism: When you click on the interactive version on the IPSOS website, you see that the bottom red line (for the US) shows 32%

China: Climate wrecker or climate leader?

Lisa Williams is author of the new Lowy Institute Analysis, China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the Australian Government. As the world prepares to fight for (

Carbon tax repeal: Learning from Europe

In September 2010, the Australian Labor Party's Greg Combet sat down with The Australian's Samantha Maiden to explain why the coal industry 'absolutely' had a future. Given Australia is a leading coal exporter, this should have been unexceptional, except that Combet had been put in charge of the

Australia's next climate push must come from the right

Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr is hardly the first to point this out, but on the day the carbon tax is repealed in the Australian parliament, it is worth repeating this sentiment: The answer to this anomaly probably lies in this Nicholas Gruen piece on The Interpreter from last May, which was a

Australia's carbon price repeal: The global context

With the repeal today of Australia's two-year-old carbon pricing scheme, the Abbott Government has formalised Australia's transition from climate laggard to climate wrecker. But just how serious a blow to global climate efforts is this repeal? To answer this question we can compare Australia

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Asia's coal demand: You ain't seen nothing yet

Sam Roggeveen yesterday showed us how much demand for coal has risen in Asia during this century. Now consider what the future will hold. A recent joint publication from the International Energy Agency and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia forecasts what is in store for the

Climate change: Asia leads, but not in a good way

Vox has some remarkable — and depressing — charts on why the world is failing on climate change, all derived from BP's latest Statistical Review of World Energy. Half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions now come from Asia, with China alone consuming half of the world's coal. This is the

Climate and energy policy merging, but where is Australia?

Australia's low level of ambition ahead of next year's climate change talks in Paris reveals more than the negative effect of domestic politics on our international reputation and economic future. The broader message to trading partners, investors and policymakers is that Australia is unwilling

Climate change: The G20 can add value

Yesterday I gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald for a story published today: 'Stopping climate change talks "could hurt" G20' (p. 8 in the paper version). Here I want to offer a little more background to the three direct quotes that made it to the final story: Climate change will be

Movie trailer: Godzilla

A new trailer for the Godzilla reboot has just emerged, and it looks pretty awesome: Judging by the trailer, environmentalists should be ecstatic with this one. In fact, maybe James Cameron and his Hollywood actor pals could have saved themselves the effort of making a worthy documentary about

IPCC and clean energy: Easy on the optimism

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes for gloomy reading. The world needs 'drastic changes' to reduce carbon emissions and prevent global temperature rises, reports the ABC; investment in renewable energy needs to triple, says the BBC; the emissions problem is

The heat is back on climate change

With the start of the Warsaw climate change talks today, combined with the election of the Abbott Government and its proposed repeal of the Gillard Government's carbon tax regime, climate change is back on the political agenda. There was considerable consternation at the linking of climate change

Documentary trailer: Years of Living Dangerously

Remember that furore in the Indonesian media a few months ago about actor Harrison Ford being rude to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan? What was that in aid of, you ask? An all-star TV documentary series about climate change made by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, due to be released in the

Australia's carbon debate mirrors global follies

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Australia’s longest-running tragedy is starting a new season with a new cast but the same familiar follies. Of course I am talking about Australian climate policy. Before Julia Gillard was deposed she had

Reader riposte: Pro- and anti-nuclear environmentalism

Richard Broinowski writes: Lowy Institute Research Fellow Daniela Strube should perhaps spend a bit more time examining trends in energy research. The pro-nuclear environmentalists portrayed in the film Pandora’s Promise are neither intriguing nor rare. For it is a standard ploy of big energy

China's environmental crisis, close up

China watcher James West writes for The Atlantic on his latest train trip through China, and has a short accompanying video (above): I have never before been as dumbfounded as during a train ride this week from Beijing through a swathe of China’s northeast coal belt... ...The scene could be a

Abbott's 'so-called' carbon market

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's clumsy remarks on climate change ('a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one') have been roundly criticised and interpreted as a 'dog whistle' to the climate sceptic wing of his party's supporter base. So what was he really getting

Rudd should scrap, not hasten, EU carbon linkage

Fergus Green is a researcher specialising in climate change policy. Here we go again. The Labor Government is contemplating weakening the carbon scheme for what must be about the seventh time since Rudd Mk 1 was elected in 2007. Rudd cabinet Mk 2 is rumoured to be considering curtailing the

Do voters want to repeal carbon pricing?

John Connor is CEO of the Climate Institute. The past year has been historic in Australia, with around 300 businesses beginning to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions for the first time under carbon laws that had a troublesome gestation and a difficult birth. The last year and the couple

What to do about climate migration

Professor Jane McAdam is a member of the Consultative Committee of the Nansen Initiative and the author of Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law.  Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council released a report revealing that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in

Carbon pricing: Let the jury decide

Nicholas Gruen is CEO of Lateral Economics, Chairman of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, an entrepreneur involved in a number of internet startups, and a regular Fairfax columnist. I concluded my previous post on climate change (cross-posted at Club Troppo) by asking rhetorically

Martin Wolf's climate pessimism examined

Nicholas Gruen is CEO of Lateral Economics, Chairman of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, an entrepreneur involved in a number of internet startups, and a regular Fairfax columnist. I was contemplating writing a post on Martin Wolf's latest Jeremiad on climate change when Sam

Martin Wolf's climate change column

Further to the thread I started on Monday about Martin Wolf's pessimistic column, I've had an email from economist John Quiggin which goes directly to the source of Wolf's (and my) pessimism. For Wolf, the problem is that the case for acting against climate change is always based around privation

Climate change: After activism

Martin Wolf got my weekend off to a dreadful start. I read his latest FT column (Why the World Faces Climate Chaos) on Friday, and it's been on my mind ever since. Wolf is hardly the first to lay out the reasons why climate change is such a diabolical policy problem. But if, like me, you

China and the Arctic: What's the fuss?

For a few hours this evening Australian time, media outlets from around the world will zoom in on Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city of 18,000 inhabitants and host to the Arctic Council ministerial meeting. The foreign ministers of the eight Arctic Council member states – Canada, Denmark, Finland

No, Europe's ETS definitely doesn't work

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Here's his initial post on this topic. After the European parliament voted down a proposal to prop up its flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS), most observers finally admitted what has been obvious for a

So, Europe's ETS works after all?

Last Monday's Interpreter piece from Environmental Studies Professor Roger Pielke Jr was one of a number of commentaries in the international media arguing that Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) had essentially failed as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions. Now I see that there's

Europe's ETS: Good branding, poor substance

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Last week, in a surprise to many, the European parliament defeated a proposal to postpone the auctioning of emissions permits, a move that would have propped up prices in the bloc's carbon market, known as the

Fragile shifts in carbon tech and diplomacy

John Connor is CEO of the Climate Institute. As John Howard put it, the period from 2005 to 2007 represented a 'perfect storm' for climate action. Domestically, bushfires, water shortages in capital cities and calls from leading businesses for long, loud and legal carbon pricing built pressure

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