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                    [post_date] => 2018-06-01 09:35:25
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30527" align="aligncenter" width="653"] Victoria's new fund will boost reuse of recyclables, says government.[/caption]

Local government and the waste industry welcome the Victorian Government’s new scheme to develop markets for recyclable waste but say more investment is needed. 

A new $2.5 million fund to boost research and development in recycling and develop new markets for recyclable waste will help stimulate a “circular economy” locally, according to Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy and environment minister.

The Andrews Government launched the fund on Tuesday in Craigieburn, in Melbourne’s north, where a major road builder is trialling an asphalt mix containing recyclables like plastic bags and glass.

Hume City Council partnered with assets and infrastructure provider Downer and resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group in what groups called an Australian-first trial.

Soft plastics and glass, toner from more than 4,500 used printer cartridges and 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were repurposed to create 250 tonnes of asphalt that will be used to construct a road in Craigieburn.

Minister D’Ambrosio said Downer received $67,000 from the new fund while Close the Loop received $40,000 for equipment to develop the plastic additive used in the asphalt mix.

https://twitter.com/LilyDAmbrosioMP/status/1001316335899430912

Dante Cremasco, Downer’s manager of road services, said the “sustainable, cost competitive road” has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation, making it last longer and better handle heavy vehicle traffic.

The company estimates that up to 15 per cent of asphalt could contain soft plastics and up to 10 million tonnes of recyclable waste could be diverted from landfill every year using the new approach.

'Important step'

Responding to the new fund, local experts said that developing markets for recyclables was an important part of advancing a circular economy agenda in Australia. [caption id="attachment_30529" align="alignright" width="144"] Damien Giurco[/caption] Damien Giurco, professor of resource futures at the University of Technology Sydney, said that China’s clampdown on accepting foreign waste had highlighted the need for Australia to develop its capacity in repurposing recyclables. “This is a really helpful step from Victoria,” he told Government News. “Leadership like this, albeit at a modest scale, is all part of enabling and supporting these industries, which are facing pressures, to think a bit more long-term." Research and development is an important part of the technological breakthroughs needed in Australia’s development and adoption of a circular economy, he said. “But so is having a policy setting married with that, to foster investment in infrastructure.”

Support is vital: industry

[caption id="attachment_30532" align="alignright" width="148"] Gayle Sloan[/caption] The waste and resource recovery industry, which has been calling for governments to stimulate on-shore processing of recyclables, welcomed the Victorian Government’s new fund. “It’s vital that our essential industry receives support and funding to develop end markets in Australia, as well as improve technology and capacity to process recyclables,” Gayle Sloan, chief executive of the Australian Waste Management Association, told Government News. “We know that by processing and re-manufacturing recyclables in Australia we create one job for every tonne. This is a great opportunity to restructure the Australian economy and create jobs that we need.”

Initiative welcome: councils

[caption id="attachment_29492" align="alignright" width="147"] Rob Spence[/caption] Rob Spence, CEO of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said that while the fund was modest “anything that gets invested in the development of new technology and advancing ideas is a good thing.” “We see this as a first step, and clearly we’d like to see more invested in the space. The right stimulants need to be there to move the market,” he told Government News. “You will get investors backing the technology if they think they can make a return from it. The incentives haven’t been there in the past, which is why all the product has been going overseas – you could make more money sending it overseas than converting it here. “We’ve been trying to advance this sort of work in the road construction space for a number of years without a lot of success so hopefully this project will kick things along,” Mr Spence said.
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[post_title] => Fund gives a boost to ‘circular economy’ [post_excerpt] => Local government and the waste industry welcome the Victorian Government’s new scheme to develop markets for recyclable waste but say more investment is needed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fund-gives-a-boost-to-circular-economy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-05 10:33:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-05 00:33:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30525 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => 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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[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 ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30125 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 10:13:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 00:13:34 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29552" align="aligncenter" width="564"] Ministers have agreed to boost Australia's domestic recycling industry. [/caption] Local government welcomes pledges to tackle waste but recycling industry says implementation detail and funding are missing. Federal and state governments have agreed to cut Australia’s supply of waste and boost onshore recycling capability in response to China’s restrictions on recyclables that have exacerbated long-running issues in the domestic recycling sector. At their meeting on Friday environment ministers also agreed to increase the demand for recyclable products in government procurement and purchasing. Ministers endorsed a target for 100 per cent of Australian packaging to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier to cut down on waste. Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said the Commonwealth would work with states and territory governments “to examine opportunities to further develop our recycling industry” to process the four per cent of recyclable waste that would have gone to China. To help stimulate a so-called circular economy, as advocated for by the waste and recycling industries, ministers agreed to “advocate, where appropriate, to increase the recyclable materials in goods purchased by governments, such as paper, road base and construction materials.” They also agreed to fast-track the development of new product stewardship schemes for photovoltaic solar panels and batteries and bring forward the review of Australia’s National Waste Policy to be completed within a year. David O’Loughlin, president of the Australian Local Government Association, praised the progress made at the meeting. “Effort from all three tiers of government will ensure that we get a solution that not just responds to this immediate crisis but provides a long-term sustainable outcome,” he said. Similarly the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) welcomed the commitments on packaging and increasing Australia’s recycling capacity. “This can only be achieved with further investment and the right policy settings by both Federal and State governments,” said Rob Spence, chief executive of MAV. “We also welcome the proposal for new initiatives to increase consumer awareness and education. Reducing the current contamination rates is critical for the future success of our recycling industry.” However, the recycling sector’s peak body said the ministers’ statement was lacking implementation detail and the necessary funding.  “The recycling industry welcomes commitments about ensuring recyclability of packaging products, buying recycled content products by governments, expanding domestic reprocessing capacity and developing a new national plan,” said Pete Shmigel, chief of the Australian Council on Recycling. “Today’s ministerial announcement lacks comprehensive targets for all measures, and consequences for underperformance, that make practice from theory. “Pro-recycling policy principles are welcome; pro-recycling positive action and investment is now to be expected," Mr Shmigel said. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, which the ministers have charged with leading work on the packaging target, said it was “one of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia.” “We will support more innovative packaging design, enhance consumer education, as well as bolster the re-use and the incorporation of recycled content within end markets,” said Brooke Donnelly, chief executive of APOC, which represents 950 companies.
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[post_title] => Mixed reaction to environment ministers’ recycling agreement [post_excerpt] => Local government welcomes new pledge to tackle waste but recycling industry says implementation detail and funding are missing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => mixed-reaction-to-environment-ministers-recycling-agreement [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-01 11:43:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-01 01:43:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30125 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => 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 ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29670 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-04-03 10:06:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-03 00:06:11 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29673" align="aligncenter" width="566"] Sydney Park Wetlands connects with community through weirs and paths.[/caption] The designers of Sydney Park’s wetlands, created on 40 hectares of former landfill, have again been recognised for their innovative approach. The success of City of Sydney’s landmark water re-use project in Sydney Park lies in its fusion of science and ecology with art, coupled with the council’s ability to curate the multidisciplinary team that designed it. That’s according to Mike Horne, director of Turf Design Studio, one of the landscape architects behind the project, which has won further acclaim after picking up a prestigious European prize this month. In partnership with City of Sydney, Turf Design Studio and Environmental Partnership led a multidisciplinary team of water engineering, public art, ecology, lighting and other specialists on the $11 million Sydney Park Water Re-Use Project. The project was awarded both the Civic Trust Award and The Special Award for Sustainability at Europe’s Civic Trust Awards. It’s been recognised for delivering unique parkland that integrates landfill remediation, recreation, enhanced biodiversity, civil infrastructure, and new urban water re-use systems. [caption id="attachment_29674" align="aligncenter" width="588"] The Sydney Park Water Re-Use Project[/caption] The project is City of Sydney’s largest stormwater re-use facility, harvesting 850 million litres of stormwater annually. It’s designed to reduce City of Sydney’s potable water demand by 10 per cent before 2030. The initiative has revitalised 40 hectares of former landfill site into wetlands, playgrounds, wildlife habitat, and recreational areas. Mr Horne said the project’s success lay in its unique, multidisciplinary fusion. “Turpin + Crawford Studio, Alluvium and Dragonfly Environmental brought verve and skill to the project. The City of Sydney also deserves recognition for its curatorial rigour and commitment to quality on behalf of the community,” he told Government News.

Project’s unique obstacles

[caption id="attachment_29717" align="alignright" width="169"] Mike Horne[/caption] Discussing the challenges involved in what was City of Sydney’s largest environmental project to date, Mr Horne said that as a former brickworks and then landfill site, the park’s existing ponds held promise but suffered from low rainfall and algae outbreaks. “Given the site’s magnitude, the team focused on water harvesting and re-use to ensure waterway health and to future-proof water supply for the site.” The project has enhanced circulation of water through the ponds and wetlands, diverting 840 mega litres per annum of local stormwater for treatment and re-use, renewing ecosystems and creating greener and more functional public amenity, he said. “The city also seized the opportunity to use what was essentially an infrastructure project as a vehicle to breathe new life into the park - as a vibrant recreation and environmental asset for Sydney,” said Mr Horne.   The Sydney Park Water Re-use Project competed with a field of UK and international entrants in the Civic Trust Awards, which celebrate exceptional architecture, urban design and public art projects globally. [caption id="attachment_29672" align="aligncenter" width="539"] The project has transformed the park, says Clover Moore.[/caption] The project has previously won the Australia Prize in Urban Design Award for Major Built Infrastructure and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ national infrastructure and NSW excellence awards. Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, said the design team had “transformed the park, literally bringing the wetlands and the story of water treatment to life in the park’s ecosystems and in the community’s imagination.” Through the chain of wetlands, connected by weirs, bridges, paths and stepping stones, the designers have created delightful places in the park’s landscape, connecting community and nature, she said.
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[post_title] => International acclaim for Sydney water re-use project [post_excerpt] => The designers of Sydney Park’s wetlands, created on 40 hectares of former landfill, have again been recognised for their innovative approach. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => international-acclaim-for-sydney-water-re-use-project [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-03 10:07:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-03 00:07:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29670 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29686 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-04-03 09:58:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-02 23:58:23 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29691" align="aligncenter" width="660"] The tool allows councils to monitor their adaption to climate change.[/caption] A group of councils in metropolitan Melbourne has collaborated to develop a framework that tracks their progress on climate change, writes Dr Susie Moloney. Local governments are often at the forefront of responding to climate change in developing risk assessments and mitigation and adaptation strategies. [caption id="attachment_29716" align="alignright" width="137"] Susie Moloney[/caption] They play a critical role in the process of planning for climate change and enabling their communities to adapt and thrive. In Australia, local government plans and strategies are emerging but the extent to which municipalities are planning effectively and delivering on outcomes is difficult to assess. While there are a number of frameworks for monitoring, evaluating and reporting climate change adaptation and resilience, very few have been implemented at the local scale.

Pioneering Melbourne collaboration

A group of councils in metropolitan Melbourne – the Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action, or WAGA – has collaborated to develop a framework to track how well they are adapting to climate change and to improve their resilience. The project funded from 2014-2017 included the development of the online portal How Well Are We Adapting which is currently being used by a number of councils in Melbourne’s west. The group was responding to a recognised need to track progress on adaptation plans and actions and have demonstrated significant leadership in creating this framework and online tool, which they hope other councils may adopt. The framework was created collaboratively in response to international experience and by engaging a range of council stakeholders across different departments. It includes regional baseline indicators, climate variables, regional vulnerability or resilience indicators and priority themes relevant to council service delivery. These themes include:
  • community wellbeing and emergency management
  • open space and water security
  • assets and infrastructure, and
  • planning, building and regulation.
The project focused on developing indicators for the first two themes with the other two currently a work in progress. Each theme includes four components:
  • service vulnerability or resilience
  • institutional capacity
  • resourcing and budgets, and
  • participation and awareness.

Challenges identified  

The project highlighted that there were resourcing constraints for council officers given their pre-existing work commitments and insufficient work-planning. This was related to a lack of managerial support in some councils with other priorities seen to be more important. [caption id="attachment_29696" align="alignright" width="300"] The 'How well are we adapting' tool[/caption] There was also longer than expected timeframes involved in effectively engaging with internal council stakeholders, particularly from non-sustainability teams who may not be familiar with climate change or where it is not central to their work. The project also highlighted that an organisation’s capacity to commit to a process of data collection, monitoring, evaluation, learning and review requires political and senior management support and necessary resourcing.

Benefits of the approach

Participant councils recognised the value in using the framework and the indicators to inform decision making and improve processes around climate change adaptation. The councils were also able to thoroughly embed adaptation into their activities and found that data engaged senior managers by taking climate change adaptation from an abstract issue with ill-defined effects on service delivery to a tangible issue that directly impacted their work. The framework can also be used to monitor governance and compliance for adaptation against internal strategies and assist with state government legislative requirements. It also provides a platform to compare differences and identify what is working and what needs to be improved, and gives council staff a sense of ownership as something that has been designed by them and for their decision making. The co-production process involved in the project increased recognition of the need to adapt to climate change, and contributed to capacity building among council staff, particularly recognition of how climate change impacts affects their roles and responsibilities in local government. It also enables staff to shift their perspective toward longer term timeframes for decision making and a realisation there may be conflicting adaptation goals or trade-offs around potential solutions at local and regional scales. Staff also recognised the importance of progress rather than perfection when learning to respond and adapt to climate change impacts and that the framework could be a useful tool to inform the learning process. Dr Susie Moloney is a senior lecturer in the School of Global Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. She has written about the Melbourne collaboration for a chapter in the new book Resilience-Oriented Urban Planning.
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[post_title] => Climate change adaptation: lessons from leading local governments [post_excerpt] => A group of councils in metropolitan Melbourne has collaborated to develop a framework that tracks their progress on climate change, writes Dr Susie Moloney. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => climate-change-adaptation-lessons-from-leading-local-governments [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-04 08:55:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-03 22:55:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29686 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => 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 ) [7] => 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 ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29161 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-15 15:46:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-15 04:46:25 [post_content] =>

The current standoff over water allocations in the Murray Darlin Basin is as good an example as you could ever find of how Australia’s federal system is broken. The Murray Darling Basin Plan was supposed to be the epitome of how Australia’s states and territories could work with each other and the Federal Government for the good of all Australians. Instead it has descended into the infantile bickering and name-calling that seems to be the norm in public debate in Australia in the 21st century. Instead of evidence-based analysis and rational argument, we have partisan posturing and cherry picked facts. There is a real danger that the whole Murray Darling Basin rescue strategy will come crashing down, and that Australia’s agricultural heartland will be ruined. The issue is pretty simple, though many try to complicate it. At the bottom of the problem is the inescapable fact that there is a finite amount of water to go around, and that it must be allocated in such a way to satisfy as many stakeholders as possible, who unfortunately have competing and incompatible aims. Everybody wants as much water as they can get, but it is a zero sum game. Even with increase efficiencies (which is happening) and total transparency of usage (which is most definitely not happening), there would be problems. As it is, greed and stupidity and short-sightedness are winning out. Efforts to redress the balance and come up with a water allocation system that will disappoint the smallest number of people are failing. So, what are the facts? Fact: There is a finite amount of water. Efficiencies in its use are increasing, but rainfall will always be variable and climate change will probably make things more difficult. Fact: The river system needs a certain amount of water flowing through it to the sea top remain viable. There comes a point at which insufficient water causes silting, salination, the loss of animal’s habitats, and in extreme cases the drying up of the river altogether. Fact: Upstream users are taking more than they should. The big cotton growers in Queensland are simply selfish and greedy and don’t care about people downstream. They call any attempt to reduce even their legal allocation ‘extreme environmentalism’. Fact: The NSW Government has actively colluded in the theft of unmetered water by rogue farmers. A seniotr bureaucrat lost his job, but a continuing inquiry is turning into an exercise in obfuscation. Fact: The former Federal Water Minister and current Deputy Prime Minister, lately in the news for other reasons, told NSW farmers not to worry about the agreement, and that he would make sure they got aa much water as they wanted. This week in Federal Parliament the ALP voted for a Greens amendment to prevent the Federal Government reducing the amount of water being left in the river. By any measure it is the minimum need to keep the river healthy. The Government and the upriver farmers are crying foul – even though it is they who are trying to change the rules. Meanwhile the NSW Government has announced it will build a pipeline from the river to Broken Hill, bypassing that city’s natural water supply of the Menindee Lakes. It refuses to offer any business case, or to even meet with the city’s mayor and civic fathers to discuss the project. It is a god-awful mess. If ever anything in Australia was worthy of a Royal Commission, this is it. A couple of years ago I was involved in writing a book about Australia’s agricultural potential. I interviewed the head of the Murray Darlin Basin Authority and I did some research on the area’s importance to the country. This is what I wrote: “The Murray-Darling Basin is one of the largest river basins in the world. It covers just over a million square kilometres, or 14 per cent of Australia’s land area. That is around the same area as Spain and France combined. It is home to more than two million people. “Total river length is 77,000 km, including Australia’s three longest rivers. It includes virtually all of inland NSW and the entire northern half of Victoria. It takes in the Darling Downs and the Warrego in Queensland, and South Australia’s Riverland. At its eastern end is Canberra – Lake Burley Griffin is formed by the dammed Molonglo River, which flows into the Murrumbidgee, the Murray’s greatest tributary. “The Basin produces one third of Australia’s food supply. It contains 40 percent of Australia’s farms and 70 percent of its irrigated farmland. It produces almost all of Australia’s rice and cotton and two thirds of its grapes. More than half Australia’s fruit is grown in the Basin, and it is home to most of the country’s sheep.” And now it is all at risk. But don’t worry. The Government will fix it all.   [post_title] => Opinion – Murray Darling debacle shows the failure of federalism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-murray-darling-debacle-shows-failure-federalism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:06:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:06:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29161 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => 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 ) [10] => 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 ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28961 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-01-23 09:27:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-22 22:27:03 [post_content] =>

It didn’t take long. On Monday the Federal Government made a big deal out of investing $60 million over 18 months to “set in motion” a major research and development program for the restoration of the Great Barrier Reef. Within 24 hours the plan was attacked by environmentalists, marine scientists and the Greens as too little, too late, as window dressing, and for failing to even mention the main cause of the reef’s problems – climate change. First – what was announced?
  • $10.4 million for an “all-out assault” on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. This will allow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to increase the number of vessels targeting starfish from three to eight.
  • $36.6 million to further reduce pollution from water entering the Reef. “This builds on our success with farmers reducing soil erosion, improving on-farm nutrient management and restoring coastal and riparian vegetation in the Reef catchments.”
  • $4.9 million to put more field officers on the water, improving compliance, and providing early warning of further bleaching and delivering more reef and island management interventions.
“For the first time The Commonwealth will bring together key agencies to explore ways the Reef can best adapt to the changing environment to protect it for decades to come,” said the announcement. “As a critical national asset, the Reef protects Queensland’s coastal infrastructure, supports 64,000 jobs and provides $6.4 billion a year to the economy.” It also mentioned the Reef 2050 Plan, a $2 billion commitment announced in 2015 by the Federal and Queensland Governments as an “overarching framework” for protecting and managing the Reef until 2050, It was also tied in with one of the Government’s other hot button, science and innovation. “The specific science focus of the R&D funding is part of the Government’s broader focus on science, innovation and jobs and the central role they will play now and into the future. Innovation and science are key to future employment opportunities for Australians.” All worthy objectives – but not enough for the critics. The program to attack the crown-of-thorns starfish will spend more money on a program that has already been found to have been ineffective, said Dr Jon Brodie, a professorial fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. Even before the increased funding was announced, the crown-of-thorns program was under attack. Fairfax Media recently reported on research that found that the starfish infestations occurred in natural cycles, and that attempting to eradicate them one by one was not a viable solution. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) haves welcomed the funding boost but said the biggest problem the Reef faces was climate change, any mention of which was conspicuously absent from the Government’s announcement. "These methods will need to go hand in hand with greenhouse gas mitigation and conventional management" such as no-fish zones, said Paul Hardisty, AIMS CEO. “Boosting the Great Barrier Reef’s resilience so it can withstand the increasing pressures from climate change and other threats is more critical than ever,” said GBRMPA Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt. Predictably, the Greens were even more critical. Queensland Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett said the announcement was a “wasteful publicity stunt” designed to deflect attention from the main problems facing the Reef. “The real beneficiaries of this blatant publicity stunt are the fossil fuel giants and their Liberal Party mates, who will continue to go about their business as usual — certainly not the Reef or the public, who are footing million-dollar bills for wasteful projects that are doomed to fail,” the Cairns Post reported him as saying.   [post_title] => $60 million reef funding ‘will make little difference’ [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 60-million-reef-funding-will-make-little-difference [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-30 10:17:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-29 23:17:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28961 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28945 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-01-22 11:39:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-22 00:39:54 [post_content] =>

Australia’s premier alliance of conservation organisations has called the Federal Government’s new biodiversity strategy a weak and disappointing document which will do nothing to address concerns about reduction in biodiversity. The Government released a draft ‘Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030’ document just before Christmas. The 17 page report is intended to replace the much more detailed 102-page ‘Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2030’ report, released in October 2010. The Places You Love alliance has criticised the new report as “deeply inadequate and failing to address Australia’s crisis of dying wildlife and environmental destruction. The new national plan is weak to the point of being a global embarrassment and shirks Australia’s international obligations to halt the alarming loss of biodiversity.” The alliance represents Australia’s largest conservation groups, including the World Wildlike Fund (WWF), The Wilderness Society. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Greenpeace, and the Humane Society International (HSI). The 2010 strategy outlined ten national targets for conserving Australia’s vital and unique biodiversity. Analysis by HIS found that just one of these targets had been met, describing the lack of progress as: “disappointing to a point where both the targets and the processes for implementing them require major review.” The Places You Love alliance says the new strategy contains no measurable targets, no new funding, nor any other concrete commitments to save Australia’s precious natural world. “The draft strategy paints a distressing picture of disinterest,” said WWF’s Dr Martin Taylor. “It is completely lacking in substance and offers little to arrest the severe declines of Australian wildlife. “This strategy comes off the back of the government’s refusal to effectively enforce national laws to stop bulldozing of threatened species habitats, cuts to renewable energy, a failure to reduce carbon emissions, and attacks on the advocacy rights of charities.” HIS Australia’s Evan Quartermain echoed his criticisms. “Australia’s wildlife deserves better than this. Instead of addressing our failure to meet the previous strategy’s goals, the Government has served up simplistic and unmeasurable dot points that are an embarrassment on the global stage and fall far short of the international commitments to conserve biodiversity we have made at the United Nations. ACF’s James Trezise said: “Australians love our country’s precious wildlife. We rely on Australia’s biodiversity to provide us with clean air and water. It helps grow our food and enriches our lives with places for recreation and rest. And yet our natural world is under more stress than ever before. It is an indictment that the Turnbull Government’s response is a wafer-thin plan with no measurable targets, no new action, no laws or funding and which reads like a Year 10 school assignment.” The Places You Love alliance says Australia is among the 194 countries to have adopted international biodiversity rescue targets for this decade under the Convention on Biological Diversity. “But despite a review warning that the Federal Government has yet to implement the Convention targets in national policy with just two years left, the draft strategy still fails to put them in place. “The new national strategy also fails to address the Turnbull Government’s own 2016 State of the Environment report, which warned that Australia’s biodiversity is under increased threat and has, overall, continued to decline.” “The Turnbull Government has dropped any semblance of being concerned about Australia’s wildlife and vegetation with this supposed strategy for conservation,´ said The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe. “The government failed to meet nine out of ten pretty poor targets from the previous conservation strategy, and has dropped targets altogether in this plan so it doesn’t have any targets to meet next time. This lack of any real action will all but guarantee Australia continues to have the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet.”   [post_title] => Australia’s biodiversity strategy a ‘global embarrassment’ [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australias-biodiversity-strategy-global-embarrassment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-22 11:39:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-22 00:39:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28945 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => 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 ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30525 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 09:35:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-31 23:35:25 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30527" align="aligncenter" width="653"] Victoria's new fund will boost reuse of recyclables, says government.[/caption] Local government and the waste industry welcome the Victorian Government’s new scheme to develop markets for recyclable waste but say more investment is needed. A new $2.5 million fund to boost research and development in recycling and develop new markets for recyclable waste will help stimulate a “circular economy” locally, according to Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy and environment minister. The Andrews Government launched the fund on Tuesday in Craigieburn, in Melbourne’s north, where a major road builder is trialling an asphalt mix containing recyclables like plastic bags and glass. Hume City Council partnered with assets and infrastructure provider Downer and resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group in what groups called an Australian-first trial. Soft plastics and glass, toner from more than 4,500 used printer cartridges and 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were repurposed to create 250 tonnes of asphalt that will be used to construct a road in Craigieburn. Minister D’Ambrosio said Downer received $67,000 from the new fund while Close the Loop received $40,000 for equipment to develop the plastic additive used in the asphalt mix. https://twitter.com/LilyDAmbrosioMP/status/1001316335899430912 Dante Cremasco, Downer’s manager of road services, said the “sustainable, cost competitive road” has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation, making it last longer and better handle heavy vehicle traffic. The company estimates that up to 15 per cent of asphalt could contain soft plastics and up to 10 million tonnes of recyclable waste could be diverted from landfill every year using the new approach.

'Important step'

Responding to the new fund, local experts said that developing markets for recyclables was an important part of advancing a circular economy agenda in Australia. [caption id="attachment_30529" align="alignright" width="144"] Damien Giurco[/caption] Damien Giurco, professor of resource futures at the University of Technology Sydney, said that China’s clampdown on accepting foreign waste had highlighted the need for Australia to develop its capacity in repurposing recyclables. “This is a really helpful step from Victoria,” he told Government News. “Leadership like this, albeit at a modest scale, is all part of enabling and supporting these industries, which are facing pressures, to think a bit more long-term." Research and development is an important part of the technological breakthroughs needed in Australia’s development and adoption of a circular economy, he said. “But so is having a policy setting married with that, to foster investment in infrastructure.”

Support is vital: industry

[caption id="attachment_30532" align="alignright" width="148"] Gayle Sloan[/caption] The waste and resource recovery industry, which has been calling for governments to stimulate on-shore processing of recyclables, welcomed the Victorian Government’s new fund. “It’s vital that our essential industry receives support and funding to develop end markets in Australia, as well as improve technology and capacity to process recyclables,” Gayle Sloan, chief executive of the Australian Waste Management Association, told Government News. “We know that by processing and re-manufacturing recyclables in Australia we create one job for every tonne. This is a great opportunity to restructure the Australian economy and create jobs that we need.”

Initiative welcome: councils

[caption id="attachment_29492" align="alignright" width="147"] Rob Spence[/caption] Rob Spence, CEO of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said that while the fund was modest “anything that gets invested in the development of new technology and advancing ideas is a good thing.” “We see this as a first step, and clearly we’d like to see more invested in the space. The right stimulants need to be there to move the market,” he told Government News. “You will get investors backing the technology if they think they can make a return from it. The incentives haven’t been there in the past, which is why all the product has been going overseas – you could make more money sending it overseas than converting it here. “We’ve been trying to advance this sort of work in the road construction space for a number of years without a lot of success so hopefully this project will kick things along,” Mr Spence said.
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Sustainability

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