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                    [post_date] => 2018-05-21 15:07:19
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30374" align="aligncenter" width="763"] Sunshine Coast is the first council to offset its electricity consumption thanks to its solar farm.[/caption]

Local governments are increasingly adopting corporate emissions reduction targets but are challenged by a lack of resourcing, report finds. 

When Sunshine Coast Council flicked the switch on its solar farm last July it became the first local government in Australia to offset its entire electricity consumption across all its facilities and operations from renewables.

Sunshine Coast Council says its striving to become Australia’s most sustainable region and the solar farm, which was recognised in the National Awards for Local Government last week, is a key of its plan to realise that vision.

The solar farm, which is expected to provide $22 million in savings over 30 years, is among the initiatives highlighted in a new report canvassing how Australian councils are tackling climate change, as well as the barriers and challenges they face.

The analysis, produced by think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, global network ICLEI and consultancy Ironbark Sustainability, also highlights Bundaberg Regional Council’s energy efficiency work with Bundaberg Airport, which has brought about a 15 per cent reduction in electricity costs year-on-year since 2015.

Based on a survey of 98 local governments and a review of the websites of all 537 councils, the analysis found most councils had corporate emissions reduction strategies and/or policies, with energy audits of buildings and solar installations among the most common measures being adopted.

The survey found 56 per cent of the councils had a corporate emissions reduction target and a further 25 per cent stated they intended to have one. Almost three quarters (72 per cent) had a corporate emissions baseline inventory while two thirds (64 per cent) had corporate emissions reduction strategies or plans in place.

“Measures that had already been implemented to reduce corporate emissions included energy audits of large facilities (92 per cent), installing solar PV on council facilities (97 per cent) and upgrading lighting in council facilities (93 per cent)."

The review of council websites found that half presented information addressing climate change while 48 per cent detailed actions focusing on reducing or saving energy. Some 42 per cent of all websites presented information about current strategies, actions or plans to reduce emissions.

Most of the councils (70 per cent) reported working in partnership with local community organisations on energy initiatives and over half (53 per cent) worked with their state’s local government association.

[caption id="attachment_30381" align="aligncenter" width="653"] Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson at the award winning Sunshine Coast Solar Farm[/caption]

Funding, resourcing among the barriers

The analysis found that a lack of funding and resourcing are the most significant barriers to reducing emissions in both corporate and community efforts. It found many councils had no official budget allocated to reduce emissions, and the scale of investment, related costs and emissions outcomes “are not well understood.” The report concludes that local government has a clear role in reducing corporate emissions and there is growing interest in reducing community emissions as well.  But it says state governments with their own emissions reduction targets will need to engage with local governments and the wider community to meet these goals. The report recommends that councils start or continue to set ambitious targets to reduce corporate emissions, measure corporate and community emissions and set community targets in collaboration with local stakeholders. It also calls on state and territory governments to legislate emissions reductions targets for maximum effect and support councils and communities to access annually updated corporate and community emissions inventories.
Related GN coverage: Climate change adaption: lessons from leading local governments 
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[post_title] => Councils are “leading action” on climate change [post_excerpt] => Local governments are increasingly adopting corporate emissions reduction targets but are challenged by a lack of resourcing, report finds. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-are-leading-action-on-climate-change [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-25 10:03:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-25 00:03:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30373 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29871 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-04-13 09:17:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-12 23:17:53 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29873" align="aligncenter" width="516"] An Australian-developed tool calculates the solar potential of any rooftop.[/caption] A new platform that calculates the solar power potential of rooftops promises to help local councils and urban planners make decisions about investments in solar. The developers behind the new tool say the next phase of the project could see councils provided with detailed reports analysing solar potential across local government areas, which would help inform large-scale deployments. The SunSPoT online tool has been developed by Australian PV Institute (APVI) and UNSW with technology partners Solar Analytics and Enosi, with funding under the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities and Suburbs program. Local governments including Ku-ring-gai, Willoughby, Randwick, Northern Beaches and Lane Cove are among the early adopter partners of the project and provided input and feedback on features that would be useful to government. While the development costs associated with the new tool were funded under the grant funding, it’s hoped that council subscriptions to the service will fund its ongoing maintenance and data hosting costs. The tool uses geographical information systems data to estimate the technical potential of rooftop solar, taking into account the tilt of roof surfaces and shading at the site. Anna Bruce, a senior lecturer in UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, said the next phase of the project could see councils provided with detailed analyses of the solar potential of their buildings and assets, and even across local government areas. “In the next phase, there’ll be more detailed information including financial modelling of outcomes under different tariffs for specific rooftops and based on load profile,” Dr Bruce told Government News. “We can provide much more detailed information, specific to councils.” A series of consultations with participating councils will inform the next phase of the project and the kinds of analyses and reports that local governments receive, she said. It may involve subscribing councils having access to a dashboard or portal that delivers ongoing high-level data, Dr Bruce said.  

Enormous untapped potential 

The researchers have already produced a series of reports analysing the usable rooftop area in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, which showed enormous untapped potential for solar panel installations across a range of buildings. It determined that in most cities, almost half of all building rooftops could go solar: [caption id="attachment_29878" align="alignnone" width="391"] Solar potential: APVI's analysis of usable rooftop area in capital cities[/caption] Dr Bruce said the team was keen to engage with local government and urban planners to ensure the online tool was widely used as an aid to facilitate evidence-based decision making about solar deployment. “We want to engage more closely with councils and provide them with data that’s useful for their own planning and policy –making purposes, as well as providing the tool for any of their rate payers to use,” she said. Access the tool here 
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[post_title] => Online tool to help governments plan solar use [post_excerpt] => A new platform that calculates the solar power potential of rooftops promises to help local councils and urban planners make decisions about investments in solar. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => online-tool-to-help-governments-plan-solar-use [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-13 11:29:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-13 01:29:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29871 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29550 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-03-19 11:30:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-19 00:30:37 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29552" align="aligncenter" width="548"] China's new policy has exacerbated long-standing issues in Australia's waste management, groups say.[/caption] Local government is scrambling to avoid a “recycling crisis” as China clamps down on accepting foreign waste, which threatens to derail councils’ collection of kerbside recycling, a parliamentary inquiry has been told. Peak bodies representing local councils and the waste management industry have said a clear vision and national action plan for how Australia manages waste and resource recovery is now urgently needed. Since January, China has introduced more stringent standards on imported waste and recycled materials under its National Sword policy, blocking many Australian materials and causing severe waste management problems for some councils. At the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee inquiry into the waste and recycling industry last week Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said some councils were being asked to renegotiate contracts so processors can recoup the increased cost of processing recycling material onshore. "If the recycling industry in Australia falters then we all lose," she told the inquiry on Wednesday. Echoing others from the waste and recycling industry, Cr Scott said that with state and federal government support Australia could develop new regional jobs in a home-grown environmental and recycling industry. While councils are already seeking support to develop markets for recycled glass, paper and plastics and working to reduce recycling contamination levels, there is an immediate need for financial assistance and fast-tracking of approvals for on-shore reprocessing and remanufacturing, Cr Scott said. "There is also an immediate need for market development such as requiring recycled content in certain products: glass sand for pipe bedding, road base and asphalt, for example,” she told the inquiry.

Australia needs national approach

Gayle Sloan, CEO of the Waste Management Association of Australia, told the inquiry that a clear vision for how Australia manages waste and resource recovery, and a consistent policy approach across states, was needed for industry to be effective. The growing crisis brought about by China’s national policy only highlighted long-standing issues with waste and recycling policy in Australia, she said. It also represented an opportunity to tackle regulatory settings at state and national level to support the sector’s growth and create jobs and investment, she said. The lack of a unified vision for the sector led to "well publicised perverse outcomes" such as the transport of waste across borders, which included construction and development waste between NSW and Queensland and medical waste from Western Australia to Victoria, Ms Sloan told the inquiry.
“We have the situation where beverage containers can be redeemed in Albury but not Wagga, where energy for waste facilities are commencing in Western Australia and nothing approved as yet in NSW.”
Australia has been left behind the world rest of developed world in transitioning to a “circular economy” and using waste commodities as a resource, she said.

Roundtable hears solutions

Elsewhere, Federal Government bureaucrats who attended a workshop in Canberra on Thursday were told that the issues facing the recycling industry needed a national response. The meeting - attended by local, state and federal government officials and banking and waste, recycling and packaging peak bodies - heard that China’s restrictions likely affect 40 material recycling facilities and eight companies in Australia. But given the small number of operators in the industry, any collapses would significantly impact the future of recycling in Australia, delegates in attendance said. “Participants thought that the Federal Government was best placed to focus on medium and long-term goals,” the Australian Local Government Association reported after the workshop. Some of the ideas put forward included greater industry certainty to encourage investment, initiatives to encourage recycling and selection of more sustainable products, and diversification for products and markets.

Government actions

At the senate inquiry’s previous hearing in November the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council said it supported calls for the Federal Government to look at uniform conditions and standards across states. “We've asked for a national audit of stockpiles, which is the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government,” the council’s CEO Max Spedding told that hearing. Visy Recycling has said government should support domestic recyclers that utilise kerbside recycling materials for re-manufacturing activities, and it should create domestic markets through mandating recyclable material usage as raw material or feedstock, which could be reflected in government procurement “An example would be mandating recyclable glass aggregate into public roadbuilding, and plastics into public infrastructure and locally manufactured paving materials,” Visy’s Tony Monaco told the November hearing. “On government policy, local government kerbside tenders must consider and prioritise factors that enhance jobs, economic benefits from recyclables used domestically, and re-manufacturing, ahead of simply price.” The inquiry's hearings continue. It is due to report on 13 June.
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[post_title] => Councils, industry call for national waste and recycling plan   [post_excerpt] => Local government is scrambling to avoid a “recycling crisis” as China clamps down on accepting foreign waste, which threatens to derail councils’ collection of kerbside recycling, a parliamentary inquiry has been told. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-industry-call-for-national-waste-and-recycling-plan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-19 15:27:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-19 04:27:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29550 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29194 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-20 08:25:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-19 21:25:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29195" align="alignnone" width="300"] The Tesla battery farm in South Australia[/caption] Australia’s states, and in particular South Australia, are leading a battery and energy storage boom which will transform the way energy is used and distributed in Australia. The Climate Council has released a new report on the technology: ‘Fully Charged: Renewals and Storage Powering Australia’. The report says Australia is on the cusp of an energy storage boom driven by supportive policies by state governments and falling costs. It is not all about batteries. Energy storage includes pumped hydro, such as the Federal Government’s proposed Snowy 2.0 scheme. Storage technology will go a long way toward making renewable energy a viable option to carbon-based fuels because they will be able to smooth out the peaks and troughs in renewable electricity generation. “Energy storage technologies, like batteries, solar thermal and pumped hydro, can be used to build greater reliability and flexibility into Australia’s electricity grid,” says the report. “They can store wind and solar power to provide electricity 24/7.” It gives the example of South Australia’s ’s well-known ‘world’s most powerful battery’, implemented by leading technologist and entrepreneur Elon Musk's Tesla. South Australia is often singled out in the report for the sophistication of its renewable energy strategy. “South Australia is … already benefiting the power grid by helping meet peak demand, and responding rapidly to coal plant outages. By 2020 the state will also have a 150MW solar thermal plant with heat storage.” It notes that the Victorian, Queensland and the Northern Territory governments are also investing in grid scale battery storage technology, while the Federal, Queensland and Tasmanian governments are considering developing large pumped hydro projects. NSW is a laggard. The boom is being driven by falling costs. “The cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 80 percent since 2010. Costs may halve again by 2025. The cost of energy storage technologies is rapidly falling and becoming competitive with peaking gas plants, particularly in light of the trebling of the domestic gas price over the last five years.” While the report talks a lot about batteries, it says that pumped hydro powered by renewables is the cheapest form of large-scale energy storage. “However, the Climate Council has significant concerns about the Federal Government’s Snowy 2.0 mega-project, as the project is not accompanied by new investment in renewables.” The battery boom is also happening at the domestic level. There were 6,750 new household battery installations in Australia in 2016, a number the Climate Council believes tripled in 2017 as prices have fallen an awareness of the technology has increased. The Climate Council believes energy storage technology is critical for building a reliable Australian electricity grid for the 21st century. “Energy storage technologies are ideally suited to the needs of a modern, smart grid providing electricity when and where it is needed. “Energy storage can complement high levels of wind and solar power in the electricity grid by storing excess renewable energy. Countries such as Germany, Spain, Ireland and Denmark together with major economies like California have all successfully integrated much higher levels of wind and solar (20 percent to over 50 percent) into their electricity grids without compromising reliability. ”The Australian electricity grid and old fossil fuelled power stations are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events, particularly as these power stations age. Over half of Australia’s coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030. Having a variety of storage technologies will improve the flexibility and resilience of the power system.” The report highlights the importance of the use of renewable energy and energy storage as key technologies for reducing carbon emissions and helping Australia meet its Paris Climate Accord commitments. It does not even mention the Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which relies strongly on coal and gas as energy sources. But the involvement of the states in renewable energy and storage will ensure that the technologies will be high on the agenda at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, to held in April after the last meeting in November 2017 deferred any decision on adopting the NEG plan. The Climate Council report can be found here. [post_title] => States leading the way on energy storage [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => states-leading-way-energy-storage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-20 08:25:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-19 21:25:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29194 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29169 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-16 08:02:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:02:07 [post_content] =>

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its first detailed analysis of Australian energy market in five years. It is not complimentary. Australia’s energy policy, it says, is uncoordinated and falling behind the rest of the world on many measures. The IEA is not given to overstatement. It is an OECD agency established in 1974 to help its 29 member countries deliver reliable and affordable energy. In recent years has also focused on clean energy and sustainability as essential parts of the mix to help address climate change. The IEA report was developed at the Government’s request. They may wish they had not asked. “Australia has been relying on the paradigm of deregulated and liberalised energy markets,” says the report. “Despite ongoing reforms, the signs of stress in the Australian energy system have grown. “Since the last IEA in-depth review, energy prices have remained continuously high against low levels of competition in gas and electricity markets and low consumer choice, pointing to structural challenges. Concerns have been raised that gas supplies may reach a shortage in the east coast market as LNG exports ramp up to 2022, further pushing up power prices. “The resilience of the electricity system is being tested at a time of system transformation with old coal plants retiring and more variable renewables entering the system, but unevenly distributed across the common market, the National Electricity Market (NEM).” The report points out that there is significant duplication of resources between the many energy bodies in Australia: the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) ,the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Australian competition and consumer commission (ACCC), the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and the Climate Change Authority (CCA). “Energy policy governance in Australia is very complex and fragmented. It suffers from frequent changes of policy direction and institutions at Commonwealth level.” The IEA criticises Australia’s state based radial electricity distribution system, and many other aspects of Australia’s energy system. But its harshest criticism is reserved for Australia’s climate change policy, or a lack of it. “Despite stated ambitions of the Paris pledge, the Commonwealth government has not yet come forward with durable climate change policies after 2020 or a long-term emissions reduction goal for 2050, pending a climate policy review in 2017. A stable and longer-term framework is critical to guarantee visibility for investors and consumers alike.” It says Australia had a higher proportion of fossil fuels in its energy mix than any other OECD country. “The CO2 intensity of Australia’s electricity generation remains the highest among all IEA member countries and almost twice as high as the IEA average. “The country is not subject to any effective carbon constraint or rate under the Emissions Reduction Fund and its safeguard mechanism. Current energy efficiency measures and climate mitigation policies are not sufficient. To meet its 2030 target, domestic efforts need to increase.” The report is a damning indictment of the inadequacies of Australia’s energy and climate policy. It makes a number of recommendations to the Government, which it says should:
  • Design an energy and climate policy framework for 2030 and develop a mid-century low emission development strategy based on the Finkel review.
  • Improve governance through enhanced collaboration and clarified roles with states and territories through the COAG Energy Council and with market bodies of the NEM.
  • Guide the energy transition through an emissions reduction goal for the power sector and provide a market signal to retire older and less efficient generation.
  • Continue to foster well-functioning wholesale and retail electricity markets through the COAG Energy Council.
  • Develop competitive, liquid and adequate domestic gas supplies and transportation capacity by swiftly completing the gas market reforms. Support the sustainable development of domestic oil/gas reserves by addressing community concerns.
  • Regularly update the National Energy Security Assessment, in order to identify energy security risks across the energy system, and design measures to reduce or eliminate these risks in a timely and comprehensive manner.
  • Foster data reporting and monitoring across all energy sectors and continue to develop data-sharing arrangements across government and agencies to improve energy data quality for analysis, policy development and the deployment of emergency measures.
It’s not a pretty picture. Australia has a fragmented energy policy, is not addressing climate change, and is doing little to address the situation. Yts the Government thinks it is doing a good job The report is available here.   [post_title] => International Energy Agency gives Australia low marks for energy policy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => international-energy-agency-gives-australia-low-marks-energy-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:04:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:04:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29169 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29115 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-12 09:26:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-11 22:26:13 [post_content] =>

Local Government Super (LGS), the industry superannuation fund for NSW local government employees, has won two environmental awards for its property portfolio. It has been awarded a 5-Star Green Star rating for its entire direct property portfolio – the first portfolio in Australia to achieve the rating. It has also been named Australia’s ‘Best Green Super Fund’ for the sixth time in Money magazine’s Best of the Best awards. “The awards further cement LGS’s position as an industry leader in responsible and sustainable investing,” said LGS Chief Executive Officer, David Smith. “Our commitment to sustainability has been a key factor in the strong performance of our direct property portfolio in recent years, helping us to achieve our aim of long-term sustainable returns for our members.” The 5-Star Green Star Performance rating is an internationally-recognised building sustainability rating system. It assesses the operational performance of a portfolio of buildings across nine impact categories, including management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions, and innovation. The award recognises a number of key achievements within the LGS direct property portfolio, including:
  • The first portfolio to complete the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) ‘Powered by Renewables Innovation Challenge’ across all assets, due to ongoing commitment to GreenPower purchase since 2007.
  • The new ‘Carbon Neutral Innovation Challenge’ introduced by the GBCA in 2017 resulting in the portfolio achieving up to 6 points per site for on-site solar, engagement with tenants for their purchase of 100 percent GreenPower, base building purchase of 100 percent GreenPower, and no fossil fuel use on selected assets.
  • An average of 97 percent of total points available were achieved for the Greenhouse Gas Emissions credit across the portfolio, reflecting the energy efficiency of the assets, tenant engagement, and ongoing commitment to GreenPower.
  • Over 80 percent of the available points for the Management category were claimed by the retail component of the portfolio, demonstrating a high focus on sustainability.
The Best Green Super Fund award follows LGS’s number one global ranking for the management of climate change in the Asset Owner’s Disclosure Project (AODP) 2017. Earlier in the year it won the SuperRatings Infinity Award, also for the sixth time. LGS says it has one of the most sustainable direct property portfolios in Australia. It investments include $40 million in the Lighthouse Solar Fund, which has solar farm assets in Clare, near Townsville in Queensland, and in Moree in northern NSW. The buildings in its property portfolio have an average NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) Energy rating of 6-star, the highest possible rating. “The Best Green Super Fund award recognises the way we actively invest in a wide range of sustainable activities,” said Mr Smith. It shows the extent of our management of environmental, social and governance risks across our investment portfolio. “LGS currently has just under $1 billion in low-carbon investments. We’re investing in a number of long-term growth sectors and actively seeking out investments that have a positive social or environment impact on the wider community. These include renewable energy generation, clean technology, recycling, and sustainable agriculture.” LGS’s direct property portfolio comprises seven assets including three shopping centres: Marketplace Leichhardt, Village Centre Batemans Bay, and Bridge Plaza in Batemans Bay. There are also four commercial buildings: Local Government House (28 Margaret St, Sydney); 120 Sussex St, Sydney; 76 Berry St, North Sydney; and 2-4 Lyonpark Rd, Macquarie Park.     [post_title] => Local Government Super wins environmental awards [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => local-government-super-wins-environmental-awards [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-12 11:51:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-12 00:51:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29115 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29068 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-06 04:57:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-05 17:57:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29070" align="alignnone" width="300"] Basslink - not needed any more?[/caption] The National Electricity Market (NEM) is under fire from many quarters. A new parliamentary report has criticised many aspects of its operation, and now Tasmania’s Liberal Government has said that if returned to office after the 3 March election it will withdraw the state entirely from the NEM by 20121. Tasmania, which has abundant hydroelectric power and the lowest electricity prices in Australia, only joined the NEM in 2005. “With Tasmania charging toward 100 per cent energy self-sufficiency,. now is the time to take back our competitive advantage and break away from inflated mainland prices, and to drive down the cost of living of Tasmanians,” said Tasmania Premier Will Hodgman. The NEM dates from 1998, when the Howard Government brought together the wholesale electricity markets operating in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. Tasmania joined when the Basslink interconnector, which enabled its electricity to be carried under ass Strait, became operative. Western Australia and the Northern Territory, geographically isolated, have never been part of the NEM. The Tasmania Liberals’ announcement came on the same day as the release of a major new bipartisan report from the cross-party Parliamentary Committee on the Environment and Energy. It is a ‘consensus’ report, from a committee headed by a Liberal, and with ALP, National and Green members. Such reports are usually quite bland, but this one is highly critical of the NEM, even if many of its comments are masked by bureaucratese. “It has become increasingly apparent that modernising this essential piece of infrastructure is necessary to future-proof the grid,” says the report. It makes 23 recommendations, most of whicxh have to do with improving the resilience of the NEM. The first four:
  1. The Committee affirms the importance of resolving policy uncertainty in relation to emissions reduction in the electricity sector. The Committee commends to the House the establishment of a stable and enduring mechanism for scalable emissions reduction in the electricity sector, with appropriate notice given for changes in targets.
  2. The Committee recommends that the Minister for the Environment and Energy, through the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council, investigate new market, non-market, and regulatory, approaches to maintaining an adequate level of flexible, dispatchable capacity in the National Electricity Market.
  3. The Committee recommends that the Minister for the Environment and Energy, through the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council, investigate new market, non-market, and regulatory approaches to maintaining an adequate level of system security services in the National Electricity Market.
  4. The Committee recommends that the Minister for the Environment and Energy, through the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council, identify and implement changes to improve the responsiveness of the rule-making process in the National Electricity Market.
One of the Committee members was Green Adam Bandt. As might be expected, he was far more critical. The Greens have gone so far as to call for the reprivatisation of the electricity grid. “The consensus report r shows that Parliament agrees that the rules governing our electricity market are broken. “Now that there’s consensus that the rules that govern our grid are broken, the next step is to start fixing them,” he said in a statement after the report was released. “Fixing the grid means standing up to the Cayman Islands company and other corporations that own our network and instead running it in the public interest. Without reform, the incumbent generators and special interests will continue to stymie any attempts to transition our electricity grid. “We need to stop thinking about how to save dirty old clunkers like Liddell and start thinking about how to plan for and establish new ‘Renewable Energy Zones’ to take advantage of our abundant solar and wind potential. If we leave it up to big corporations seeking only to maximise their profit at public expense, renewable energy zones won’t happen. “The rules are not working. Privatisation has failed. It’s time for Labor and the Liberals to admit that. It’s clear that the Cayman Islands company and big corporations who own our grid are not interested in a 21st century grid, they’re interested in shareholder profit.” Labor ais also critical. “The Tasmanian Liberal Government has belled the cat on Malcolm Turnbull’s failed energy policy,” said the ALP’s energy spokesman Mark Butler. “The NEM is in crisis and the Tasmanian Liberal Government has no faith in the Turnbull Government’s ability to fix it, seeing ‘de-linking from inflated mainland electricity prices in the National Electricity Market’ as the best strategy for the tate. “This decision follows the Energy Security Board warning late last year that the health of the NEM is in ‘intensive care’ and is currently delivering an electricity system where ‘reliability risks are increasing, electricity bills are not affordable, and future carbon emissions policy is uncertain’.” Any change to the NEM will be debated as the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, which last November deferred until April 2018 any decision on whether to adopt the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan, integral to how the NEM will operate in the future.     [post_title] => National Electricity Market ‘broken’ – Tasmania wants out [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => national-electricity-market-broken-tasmania-wants [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-13 10:26:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-12 23:26:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29068 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28999 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-01-29 10:36:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-28 23:36:41 [post_content] =>

The Cities Power Partnership (CPP), a consortium of Australian local government authorities to encourage the use of renewable energy, has increased its number of members to 70, exactly double the number that signed up when the group was formed in July 2017. Numbers are likely to grow even more after the next round of applications opened in March. The ACT government is also a member, representing Canberra. The group received a major boost in November 2017 when Sydney and Brisbane joined, along with Darwin. The CPP is an initiative of the Climate Council, which last year issued a report on local government and climate change. It is available here. “In the six months since the launch of the CPP we’ve seen a surge of council renewable energy projects, from Lismore’s floating solar farm through to a solar bulk buy program in Strathbogie, Victoria helping residents combat rising power bills,” said Climate Councillor Professor Lesley Hughes “While federal climate policy stalls, local governments are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the job. With 7.5 million Australians now represented by CPP councils, the groundswell of grassroots climate action is fast spreading across the country. “This mirrors what we’re seeing from around the globe, as cities and towns create ambitious renewable energy targets and climate solutions. Transforming the way cities and towns use energy could make up to 70 percent of the greenhouse gas reductions needed to limit worsening climate change.” A key aspect of the CPP is the sharing of knowledge between participants. Councils also get access to domestic and international experts, events with other local leaders and support in implementing ‘pledge items’. It also works to promote and disseminate information about local government renewable energy initiatives. The CPP’s website features a Power Analytics tool “for planning, tracking and sharing energy, financial and carbon project data. This tool allows member councils to input specific projects and track carbon savings, energy savings and financial savings, as well as sharing this data to the tool’s library so that other member councils can learn from it too.”

First round of CPP Power Partners

  1. Albury City Council (NSW)
  2. Alice Springs Town Council (NT)
  3. Bega Valley Shire (NSW)
  4. Blacktown City Council (NSW)
  5. Bundaberg Regional Council (QLD)
  6. Byron Shire (NSW)
  7. Canberra (ACT)
  8. Canterbury Bankstown City Council (NSW)
  9. Douglas Shire Council (QLD)
  10. Eurobodalla Shire (NSW)
  11. Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (Tas)
  12. Hawkesbury City Council (NSW)
  13. Huon Valley Council (Tas)
  14. Kiama Municipal Council (NSW)
  15. Ku-ring-gai Council (NSW)
  16. Lane Cove Council (NSW)
  17. Lismore City Council (NSW)
  18. Moreland City Council (Vic)
  19. Muswellbrook Shire Council (NSW)
  20. North Sydney Council (NSW)
  21. Noosa Council (QLD)
  22. Parkes Shire Council (NSW)
  23. Penrith City Council (NSW)
  24. Shoalhaven City Council (NSW)
  25. The City of Canning (WA)
  26. The City of Darebin (Vic)
  27. The City of Fremantle (WA)
  28. The City of Newcastle (NSW)
  29. The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA)
  30. The City of Port Phillip (Vic)
  31. The City of Swan (WA)
  32. The Shire of Strathbogie (Vic)
  33. Upper Hunter Shire Council (NSW)
  34. Willoughby City Council (NSW)
  35. Yass Valley Council (NSW)

Second round of CPP Power Partners

  1. City of Armadale (WA)
  2. Bathurst Regional Council (NSW)
  3. Bayside City Council (NSW)
  4. Bellingen Shire Council (NSW)
  5. City of Boroondara (Vic)
  6. Brighton Council (Tas)
  7. Brisbane City Council (QLD)
  8. Broken Hill City Council (NSW)
  9. City of Bunbury (WA)
  10. Cairns Regional Council (QLD)
  11. Cumberland Council (NSW)
  12. City of Darwin (NT)
  13. City of Gosnells (WA)
  14. City of Greater Dandenong (Vic)
  15. Hornsby Shire Council (NSW)
  16. Inner West Council (NSW)
  17. City of Kwinana (WA)
  18. Logan City Council (QLD)
  19. City of Melville (WA)
  20. Mornington Peninsula Shire (Vic)
  21. Nambucca Shire (NSW)
  22. Northern Beaches Council (NSW)
  23. Northern Midlands Council (Tas)
  24. City of Onkaparinga (SA)
  25. Orange Shire (NSW)
  26. City of Parramatta (NSW)
  27. City of Randwick (NSW)
  28. City of Ryde (NSW)
  29. Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale (WA)
  30. Sunshine Coast Council (QLD)
  31. City of Sydney (NSW)
  32. Wagga City Council (NSW)
  33. Waverley Council (NSW)
  34. Wingecarribee Shire (NSW)
  35. Woollahra Municipal Council (NSW)
  [post_title] => Cities Power Partnership doubles in size [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cities-power-partnership-doubles-size [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-29 10:36:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-28 23:36:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28999 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28873 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-01-12 09:00:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-11 22:00:57 [post_content] =>

Record-breaking temperatures across Australia have seen no end to the continued bickering over climate and energy policy in Australia. The release of Keating-era cabinet papers from 1994 show that the Governmnet was struggling with how to address the issue even then. In 1992, Environment Minister Ros Kelly had signed Australia up to the new UN Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit. (Remember Ros Kelly and her famous whiteboard, and the ‘Sports Rort’ affair?) In 1994 her replacement John Faulkner pushed for a carbon price, a move that was rejected by Cabinet. Notes from the meeting include this comment: “Climate change is capable of impacting severely on coastal infrastructure, living marine resources and coastal ecosystems such as reefs. The Australian regional oceans strongly influence global climate, and Australia is vulnerable to oceanic changes affecting rainfall and possibly the incidence of tropical cyclones.” Here we are, nearly a quarter of a century later, and nothing has been done. Nothing. A bit of fiddling around the edges, but it has all come to naught. Only this week our current Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg was forced to admit, under intense questioning, that Australia’s total emissions actually rose in 2017. He made all sorts of qualifications, such as saying that they fell in the last quarter, and that per capita emissions were falling, but they don’t hide the policy failure. Hi Government has gone backwards on climate change policy. Tony Abbott famously ‘axed the tax’ (which was not in fact a tax at all), and Malcolm Turnbull has retreated even from an emissions trading scheme. Australia’s Treasurer gloatingly waves around a piece of coal in Federal Parliament. The Climate Council was defunded and power station owners bullied. It’s a mess. Meanwhile, Australia boils. Extreme climatic events worldwide are now commonplace. The recent big freeze on the east coast of North America was laughingly used by the dwindling band of climate change skeptics as evidence of global cooling, when it was in reality a consequence of the imbalances to ocean currents and the jet stream brought about by the planet’s gradual heating. The Government has pushed back on any action, paying lip service to emissions reduction while doing nothing of the sort. Reducing Australia’s emissions will make no difference, we are told, by the same people who say we should set an example to others in our personal behaviour. South Australia, derided by the denial crowd for trying to do something, now has Elon Musk’s ‘world’s biggest battery’. Victoria is getting one too, and NSW’s Conservative Government fiddles while Sydney burns. There is a great science fiction novel, possibly the best ever written, by Kim Stanley Robinson, called ‘2312’. Set in that year, it describes a humankind that has spread across the solar system. Earth is entirely tropical and the areas around the equator uninhabitable. Sea levels in the 21st century rose tens of metres as the icecaps melted, flooding whole countries and most major cities. In the book, Robinson refers to the period between the discovery that man’s actions were warming the planet, and the heating and flooding that came from it, as the ‘Great Dithering’. We are there now. Dithering. Science fiction is science fact. Governments dither, the sea is rising, temperatures are soaring, and we do nothing about it, even as the solution is staring us in the face. [post_title] => Opinion – Hot summer, but no end to climate wars [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-hot-summer-no-end-climate-wars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-16 09:48:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-15 22:48:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28873 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28789 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-12-13 12:02:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-13 01:02:30 [post_content] => The Federal Government’s current energy policy says it is ‘technology agnostic’, and that carbon fuels will have a continued role as energy sources well into the future. It talks often of ‘clean coal’ and of carbon capture, technologies that are intended to reduce the emissions of exist fossil fuel energy sources. Despite these technologies being roundly criticised by environmentalists, the Government insists they have a major role to play. To that end, it has invested money in developing the two technologies. But a new report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANOA) suggests that while the Government is talking the talk, it is not spending the money. Its commitment to both clean coal and carbon capture technology has dissipated, and its much vaunted programs in these areas have fallen well short of their objectives. The ANAO report is written in bland bureaucratese, but behind the weasel words is a strong criticism of how the programs have been administered and how effective they have been. The report casts serious doubt on whether the Government is really serious about any commitment to helping develop the technologies. Most of the energy industry believes they are rubbish technologies anyway. One can only assume the Government is also starting to think that way – if they really want these technologies to work, the half-hearted commitment exposed by the ANOA report shows they are letting themselves down and wasting taxpayer’s money. The report looks at the Government’s administration of the National Low Emissions Coal Initiative (NLECI) program and the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) program, and Low Emission Technologies for Fossil Fuels (LETFF) program Some quotes from the report may allow you to draw your own conclusions They are strong words, coming from an auditor: “Key performance measures for the programs provide limited insight into the extent to which the programs are achieving the LETFF strategic objective of accelerating the deployment of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” “Funding under the NLECI program was originally directed towards five election commitments, three of which were unable to be fulfilled due to technical and/or financial reasons. The selection of replacement projects was not supported by a clear strategy, and therefore their alignment to the original election commitments is unclear.” “The CCS Flagships projects are yet to reach the stage of deployable technology as originally envisaged in the program design. It is unclear whether the program is capable of delivering on its strategic policy objective as the program is due to close in 2020, and all program funding is currently committed.” “There have been ongoing reductions in the available funding for each of the NLECI and CCS Flagships programs which have not been supported by a strategic approach to applying remaining funding across the projects.” “Risk management plans for the NLECI program were not identified until the first quarter of 2011–12, despite the program commencing in 2008.” “None of the CCS Flagships projects met the original timeframe or reached the stage of deployable technology as originally envisaged in the program design.” “Over the life of both programs, funding was significantly reduced—to around half the original NLECI program funding and around 75 percent of the CCS Flagships program funding. The program was not supported by a framework for monitoring the impact of the changing funding environment. As a consequence, when the funding envelope for both programs was reduced, there was no clear strategy for determining how the reduced funding would be applied across the programs.” The full ANAO report is available here. [post_title] => Audit Office slams Government’s clean coal and carbon capture efforts [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => audit-office-slams-governments-clean-coal-carbon-capture-efforts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-12-13 12:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-12-13 01:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28789 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28757 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-12-11 09:59:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-10 22:59:11 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28758" align="alignnone" width="300"] Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie[/caption] The Climate Council of Australia has called on the Government to release Australia’s latest quarterly carbon emissions data, saying that its failure to do so amounts to ‘climate censorship’. Meanwhile, independent modelling using the same methodology as that used by the Department of Environment and Energy shows that Australia’s emissions are rising. “Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution data should be urgently released,” said Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie. “The Federal Government has failed to provide an update for almost six months.” She said the Government has a record of delaying the release of the data. The most recent data, for the March quarter of 2017, shows a rise of 1.6 percent. "At a time when Australia’s federal climate and energy policy remains in limbo, it has never been more important for transparent pollution information. Continuing to keep the information hidden just raises questions about what there is to hide,” she said. "For several years, there’s been a consistent delay from the Department of the Environment and Energy’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory on releasing vital emissions data. This raises serious concerns over the Federal Government’s transparency on Australia’s pollution levels." "The only way the public can keep the government accountable on climate progress is if they have transparent processes for releasing emissions data." Ms McKenzie said the clear solution to tackling Australia’s rising pollution levels was the “urgent rollout of strong climate and energy policy, supporting the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology. "In 2017 alone, we’ve already seen mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, along with extreme heatwave events and supercharged storms. Meanwhile national policy debate on climate and energy policy is happening in the absence of the latest pollution data. "How can Australia implement new climate and energy policy, without our politicians taking our rising pollution levels into account? Any further delays on releasing this information can only amount to climate censorship." In the absence of Government data, consultancy Ndever Environmental has released a report that uses the same methodology as that used by the Government’s missing analysis. It has found that emissions for the September 2017 quarter were the second highest quarterly result in five years. Emissions from the National Energy Market (NEM) – electricity generator emissions – fell to three-year lows, driven by a massive increase in wind generated electricity in Victoria and NSW. But despite this, total carbon emissions continue to rise. The emissions for the September quarter are predicted to be 7.3 Mt CO2-e – higher than the required trajectory to meet the Paris Agreement and 17.2 Mt CO2-e higher than the required trajectory to meet Australia’s Science Based Targets (the level the Climate Council says Australia needs to help keep global warming to less than 2 degrees). Much of the problem is emissions from transport, especially from growth in the usage of diesel and aviation fuel, which are projected to be the highest on record. Stationary energy emissions, fugitive emissions and emissions from industrial processes are also all projected to increase. [post_title] => Emissions rising, Government ‘censors’ the data [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => emissions-rising-government-censors-data [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-12-11 09:59:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-12-10 22:59:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28757 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28710 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-12-04 15:42:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-04 04:42:06 [post_content] =>

Widespread public sector usage of electric vehicles (EVs) has moved a step closer after members of the Climate Action Roundtable signed an agreement to accelerate their implementation in government agencies. South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT, Adelaide and Hobart signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Electric Vehicle Council at a meeting in Adelaide on 1 December, agreeing to develop a plan to increase the share of EVs in their fleets and to consider how to use their combined market power to promote the public uptake of electric vehicles. They also agreed to coordinate the strategic planning and construction of infrastructure for EVs and to seek to align states’ standards and incentives. The roundtable also committed to continuing action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Climate Action Roundtable is a loose grouping of state governments and local councils who “have a common commitment to ambitious climate change action to meet the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, and to a just transition to low carbon societies.” All are working to achieve the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In July they signed the Climate Leadership Declaration to highlight the role states and territories can play in climate change action and the economic benefits it can deliver. “Transport is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change globally”, said South Australian Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter, who chaired the meeting. “Other major economies are moving away from petrol and diesel-fuelled engines. “It’s important that we are at the forefront of a transition to lower-emission vehicles in Australia – both to reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions, and to keep pace with global competitors. “States, territories and cities have an important role in increasing the uptake of electric vehicles as they control a number of the policies that can shift public perception and behaviour.” Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari said that the announcement was an “encouraging step forward for Australia, seeing state and local governments committing to work together to drive progress on zero emissions transport. “As the global market for electric vehicles grows exponentially, Australia has fallen behind. We need governments to take meaningful action to begin the process of transitioning our economy from imported oils, to transport run from domestically generated renewable energy. “I call on the remaining governments in Australia, particularly the Federal Government, to hear this call and join us in supporting a transition to a safer, healthier and cheaper road transport future.” The Climate Change Roundtable, in its communique after its February meeting in Cairns, agreed on three key areas of focus:
  • Energy efficient built environment, to be led by Australian Capital Territory
  • Partnership opportunities, to be led by Queensland.
  • The transition to renewable energy including energy storage and low emission vehicles, to be led by South Australia.
[post_title] => States and cities sign up for electric vehicle fleets [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => states-cities-sign-electric-vehicle-fleets [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-12-04 15:42:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-12-04 04:42:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28710 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28687 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-30 14:05:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-30 03:05:59 [post_content] =>

The City of Sydney, City of Darwin and Brisbane City Council have all joined the Cities Power Partnership, and initiative of the Climate Council to encourage Local Government Authorities to promote the use of clean energy. There are now 58 councils in the Partnership, representing 7 million people. “With almost 30 percent of the population now represented by local governments that are committed to renewable energy and emissions reduction, council action on climate is becoming a force to be reckoned with in Australia,” said Alix Pearce, Cities Power Partnership Director. “We have local governments ranging from our very largest metropolitan councils, such as City of Sydney and Brisbane, through to tiny rural shires joining the Cities Power Partnership. The local government race to renewables is well and truly on.” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “We have a long-term commitment to tackling climate change, and we’re accelerating our environmental actions because we know the next few years are crucial in determining whether global efforts can limit temperature rises to two degrees by 2070. “It’s only through working with businesses, residents and other levels of government that we can make the scale of change so urgently required – so I’m proud to join many other local governments around the nation in the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership.” The local governments represented in the Partnership run many renewable energy projects supporting diverse communities. Projects range from a solar bulk buy in the tiny Victorian rural shire Strathbogie, helping to lift residents out of energy poverty, through to the City of Sydney’s $10 million investment in renewables. Recent research shows that cities generate up to 70 percent of the emissions reductions needed to limit the impact of extreme climate change, which means the work that urban local governments are doping to combat climate is taking on increasing global importance. “Time and time again we’ve seen serious action from local government around the country to slash emissions and ramp up renewables,” said Professor Tim Flannery, chief councillor at the Climate Council. “Local councils are leading the way, with impressive projects across renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport that are keeping money in the community and reducing pollution.” Climate change and its effects are an increasingly important issue to local government. It is one of the top five priority issues for the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA, and many councils have introduced mitigation measures. “In Australia, local councils and communities have long been at the forefront of climate action, continuing their efforts, despite periods of instability and inaction at the state and federal climate policy level,” said professor Flannery. “In recent times, shires, towns and cities have stepped up their efforts and profile on climate change action both at home and internationally.” The Climate Council’s report on local government and climate change is available here. [post_title] => More councils sign up for climate action [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-sign-climate-action [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-30 14:05:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-30 03:05:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28687 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28627 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-27 09:26:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-26 22:26:55 [post_content] => Australia faces at least six more months without a national energy policy. The meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council deferred until April 2018 any decision on whether to adopt the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan. The states did not sign up for the NEG, but asked for more modelling, guaranteeing a continuation of the policy uncertainty which passes for Australia’s energy policy. South Australia, the state most opposed to the proposed NEG, asked for the modelling to also be conducted against the former Clean Energy Target and Emissions Intensity Scheme. It was supported by the ACT. That proposal was rejected, but the Government did agree to further modelling of the NEG by its new Energy Security Board (ESB). It will report back in April – six months away and after the South Australian election, due in March. Queensland was absent because of the state election the next day. Western Australian had little to say – it is not part of the National Electricity Market. That proposal for more modelling and deferred adoption was agreed by the other states, and in the Council’s Communique: “The Council will consider the design of the Guarantee following work undertaken by the ESB in April 2018. All jurisdictions will be involved in undertaking further analysis with the ESB. The ESB will consult with stakeholders through this process.” In other words, nothing happened. Malcolm Turnbull claimed a victory because the South Australia ACT proposal was defeated, and Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said it meant the states had agreed to the NEG. This assertation was rejected by the Victorian Labor Government, which says it has neither accepted nor rejected the NEG, but just wants to see more evidence that it will work. South Australia has now announced that it will commission its own modelling of the NEG’s effectiveness against alternative energy policies. SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said there had still been no explanation from the Commonwealth as to why a Clean Energy Target was no longer acceptable, and that a NEG would “stifle investment in renewables, keep dying, uneconomic coal power stations alive longer, and enriches the generators with the most market power.” He was scathing of the Council’s inaction. “If you truly believed the NEG was the best option to drive down power prices, why wouldn’t you agree for it to be compared against other mechanisms? The answer is that the NEG is in truth the third best option. That simply isn’t enough and can’t be supported by South Australia. “We have had no explanation from Josh Frydenberg or the ESB why the Clean Energy Target, which was recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, or an Emissions Intensity Scheme, previously supported by Malcolm Turnbull, is no longer being considered. “To proceed, the NEG would require unanimous support at COAG, so this policy is either years away, or won’t happen at all. What we want for South Australia is energy self-sufficiency, more competition from renewables and to break up the market power of the big gentailers [generators and retailers] created by the privatisation of the Electricity Trust of SA. A NEG would do nothing to achieve those goals.” [post_title] => COAG energy meeting kicks the can down the road [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => coag-energy-meeting-kicks-can-road [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:26:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-26 22:26:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28627 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30373 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-21 15:07:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-21 05:07:19 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30374" align="aligncenter" width="763"] Sunshine Coast is the first council to offset its electricity consumption thanks to its solar farm.[/caption] Local governments are increasingly adopting corporate emissions reduction targets but are challenged by a lack of resourcing, report finds. When Sunshine Coast Council flicked the switch on its solar farm last July it became the first local government in Australia to offset its entire electricity consumption across all its facilities and operations from renewables. Sunshine Coast Council says its striving to become Australia’s most sustainable region and the solar farm, which was recognised in the National Awards for Local Government last week, is a key of its plan to realise that vision. The solar farm, which is expected to provide $22 million in savings over 30 years, is among the initiatives highlighted in a new report canvassing how Australian councils are tackling climate change, as well as the barriers and challenges they face. The analysis, produced by think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, global network ICLEI and consultancy Ironbark Sustainability, also highlights Bundaberg Regional Council’s energy efficiency work with Bundaberg Airport, which has brought about a 15 per cent reduction in electricity costs year-on-year since 2015. Based on a survey of 98 local governments and a review of the websites of all 537 councils, the analysis found most councils had corporate emissions reduction strategies and/or policies, with energy audits of buildings and solar installations among the most common measures being adopted. The survey found 56 per cent of the councils had a corporate emissions reduction target and a further 25 per cent stated they intended to have one. Almost three quarters (72 per cent) had a corporate emissions baseline inventory while two thirds (64 per cent) had corporate emissions reduction strategies or plans in place. “Measures that had already been implemented to reduce corporate emissions included energy audits of large facilities (92 per cent), installing solar PV on council facilities (97 per cent) and upgrading lighting in council facilities (93 per cent)." The review of council websites found that half presented information addressing climate change while 48 per cent detailed actions focusing on reducing or saving energy. Some 42 per cent of all websites presented information about current strategies, actions or plans to reduce emissions. Most of the councils (70 per cent) reported working in partnership with local community organisations on energy initiatives and over half (53 per cent) worked with their state’s local government association. [caption id="attachment_30381" align="aligncenter" width="653"] Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson at the award winning Sunshine Coast Solar Farm[/caption]

Funding, resourcing among the barriers

The analysis found that a lack of funding and resourcing are the most significant barriers to reducing emissions in both corporate and community efforts. It found many councils had no official budget allocated to reduce emissions, and the scale of investment, related costs and emissions outcomes “are not well understood.” The report concludes that local government has a clear role in reducing corporate emissions and there is growing interest in reducing community emissions as well.  But it says state governments with their own emissions reduction targets will need to engage with local governments and the wider community to meet these goals. The report recommends that councils start or continue to set ambitious targets to reduce corporate emissions, measure corporate and community emissions and set community targets in collaboration with local stakeholders. It also calls on state and territory governments to legislate emissions reductions targets for maximum effect and support councils and communities to access annually updated corporate and community emissions inventories.
Related GN coverage: Climate change adaption: lessons from leading local governments 
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