Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, Kevin Rudd is a coal eating surrender monkey

Well, my prediction of the 10% +/- 5% emissions reduction target set by the Rudd Labor government for Australia was accurate. Sadly thought, the target is a ridiculous 5%.

Penny Wong's justification for this is "jobs".

But securing today’s 19C dirty jobs while NOT building the low pollution economy of tomorrow, or creating ANY green jobs is a shocking outcome.

And the Government will be giving $billions of our money to the worst polluters.

This is hardly a recipe for progress.

This is a joke, and its on us (the public) who are expected to pay for this nonsense. And we have no say in this - the government is hostage to industry and not representing the best interests of the Australian people.

I think we need a campaign of civil disobedience.

I am considering installing a few more panels and completely disconnecting from the grid. Labor is stuffing up the Feed In Tariff legislation at both state and national levels. No more of my money will go to coal fired power interests. And remember, buying Greenpower doesn't reduce emissions either. If you don't believe me, ask a retailer and see what they say.

I will refuse to pay for the Victorian desalination plant as we don’t use any Melbourne water - our 23,500 litres of tanks keeps us supplied.

Maybe I will also withold a proportion of my income tax that will be misdirected to the ludicrous fossil fool corporate welfare?

We need to stop carbon emissions, not reward them. The Rudd government's whitepaper is perverse.

Their own adviser, Ross Garnaut, now sidelined by the Rudd government, has strongly criticised the corporate welfare measures in the whitepaper.

Listen to all the weasel words from Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong about "per capita emissions".

It is really quite simple - are our emissions going down, and if so when?

The government's answer to this at present is "no", and "no commitment"

The so called, 5% reduction target is founded on the false pretence that Australia's greenhouse emissions did not rise from 1990 - 2000; hence the misleading claim that it makes little difference whether 1990 or 2000 is chosen as the base year. In fact Australia's real emissions rose by 18.98% in the 1990s (according to the AGO) but this fact is concealed by tricky carbon accounting introduced by the Howard government, which insisted on being the only developed country to include reduced land-clearing in its Kyoto calculations. This has become known as the "Australia Clause".

If Australia were to calculate its emissions on the same basis as all other developed countries this reduction of 5% relative to 2000 would actually be exposed as an increase in emissions of 13% relative to 1990. Kevin Rudd's top figure of a 15% reduction becomes an increase of 1%.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Will Kevin Rudd be a coal eating surrender monkey?

The Rudd Labor government is set to releases it's much awaited target for greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020. What will will it be?

We have some some clues.

Rudd said on The 7.30 Report last week.

The second point I would say is this: is that this Government is determined absolutely to get the balance right. We understand the need for decisive action on the environment long term. If we fail to act there, the economic and environmental consequences for Australia are horrendous, as they would be globally. Secondly, we intend, also, in framing our approach to the carbon pollution reduction scheme to be entirely mindful of the difficult economic circumstances Australia and the world is facing as well. And I’m sure when this is delivered, early next week, we’ll get attacked from the left, from the right, we’ll get attacked by various radical green groups saying that we haven’t gone far enough because we haven’t closed down the coal industry by next Thursday.

So the governments PR tactics in dealing with climate change are revealed:

1. Frame the debate so that anyone who says Rudd’s weak target is weak is “a member of a radical green group trying to close down the coal industry”

Like Governor David de Kretzer, Professor Karoly, Al Gore, Malcolm Fraser, Arnold Schwartzeneggor, Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon, Prince Charles and Rupert Murdoch etc?

2. Make a token gesture towards renewable energy

Kevin Rudd announced today that the government would "bring forward $500m funding for renewable energy".

But he and Peter Garrett will keep the class warfare going with the cap on the solar rebate, and allow the dog’s breakfast of mostly woeful state Clayton’s feed-in tariff legislation to proliferate.

Whenever I hear the world “balance” from the government, I get a shiver down my spine.

Balance the wishes of the coal eating rent seeking surrender monkeys against the probable loss of the Great Barrier Reef, 3m sea level rises, and ice free (and 5 degree hotter) summer Arctic and no more snow in Australia?

This is not balance, this is capitulation and gross negligence.

The target? My guess is Rudd will come up with a 2020 target of a reduction of 10% (+/-5) and may even be audacious/hypocritical enough to also announce a long-term “aspirational” non-binding target of limiting greenhouse gases to 450ppm.

When we need a 40% by 2020 target, and to reduce GHG from the current 380 to 350 or lower.

Al Gore hit the nail on the head in Poland:

"We can’t negotiate the facts. We can’t negotiate the truth about the situation. And for those who are too fearful to finish, it can be done and must be done. Make sure we succeed, . . . It is wrong for this generation to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every future generation."

And overseas:
  • European Union leaders in Brussels have juest set targets for EU greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 20 percent lower than 1990 levels by 2020.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger has set the following targets for California: 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, 80% below 1990 by 2050

The problem with Kevin Rudd's Labor government is that they are:

  • Not listening to the Australian people who want immediate reductions in emissions
  • Captive to big business and industry - delivering a weak ETS that won't reduce emissions
  • Playing russian roulette with our environment (reef, Kakadu, snow, water for major cities, bushfires)
  • Neglecting obvious energy efficiency opportunities that can immediately reduce emissions and save us money
  • Propping up our high emissions motor industry rather then legislating for a transition to clean electric cars
  • Allowing the ongoing destruction of Australia's native forests resulting in emissions of up to 1000 tonnes per hectare, rather then protecting them immediately
  • Deliberately ignoring the latest science that now indicates we are in a climate emergency (Hansen, etc)
  • Playing politics and looking for weak compromise solutions when we need emergency action on emission reductions to ensure a safe climate future.
  • Once again consigning Australia to being a climate laggard, not a global leader.
And of course Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are no better, and actually still even worse - they have more climate change denialists/delusionists in their ranks.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preliminary analysis of the 2008 Victorian transport plan

Well, the transport plan is now out. I have read the Overview and attended the last part of the GAMUT forum held to discuss it yesterday.

The plan has been issued from a political bunker. Again, politics is really not delivering what people want or what Melbourne needs.

From the “Message from the Ministers”:

The message has been heard loud and clear: Victorians want more trains and better roads, more transport choice in the suburbs and regions, to feel safe when travelling, and to protect the environment by investing more in public transport, cycling, walking, better urban planning and greener vehicle technology. This is what The Victorian Transport Plan delivers.

But it does not deliver this.

The issues I see are:

  • No meaningful public consultation process. The majority of public feedback from the Eddington report has been glossed over or ignored.
  • $20b is going to roads and freeways - this is well over half of the$38b total budget
  • No carbon accounting or analysis of carbon outputs per transport mode/journey
  • Ongoing development of the freeway network - through very sensitive green belts (the Greensborough Templestowe connection) - which is pure RACV/Roads lobby agenda
  • A secret process - even a lot of the Department of Transport were kept in the dark and only found out about its contents when it was released.
  • No long term goals set - passenger journeys by mode, carbon emissions reduction, access to public transport, km of bike paths, km of railway. If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it
  • No significant budget increase for bike paths and routes, and no specific commitments, despite the fact that more bikes were sold last year than cars in Australia. $100m over 3 years would have been barely adequate; they have committed to a paltry $100m over 10 years - this will just buy some paint for lane markings
  • The real net cost to the economy of roads is not measured by Treasury, yet they continue to claim that “public transport costs more” - when the reverse is the case
  • No acknowledgment that more roads and freeways equate to more cars. Remember CityLink was going to “solve all Melbourne’s transport needs for the future”? No the South Eastern freeway/carpark is being widened for the second time since ($2b)
  • Unclear need for the Footscray to Domain rail tunnel. The rail tunnel is supposed to “provide more capacity for future train lines to connect in” yet this is not supported by evidence, and none of these train lines are actually on the drawing board (e.g. Rowville, Doncaster). Connex wants the tunnel, not the people of Melbourne.
  • Safe seats suffer the impact. Road tunnels through Labor/Green marginal seats have been omitted, but tunnels through safe Labor seats (such as in the Footscray area) have not.
  • Melbourne's eastern suburbs have missed out. No Rowville or Doncaster rail lines. Monash University misses out on a desperately needed railway service. Increased capacity on the Belgrave and Lilydale lines is delayed until after 2021.
This is the same bad process as the government’s water strategy. They consult secretly with industry and big business behind close doors, ignore the wisdom and needs of the public, and launch a half baked reactive plan along with an expensive (full newspaper pages) advertising.

Overall, 3/10. At least it is not 95% roads as previous plans have been.

More detailed analysis to follow.

If you live in Melbourne, contact your local MP and ask him to represent your wants and needs.

You can also contribute to 2008 Victorian transport plan, a wiki article on Greenliviningpedia.org


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Please ask John Lenders to stop logging Brown Mountain

There is some scrutiny this week in the Victorian parliament of VicForest's activities.

If you have time, please send a letter by close of business Tuesday 9/12 to John Lenders as the Minister responsible. Feel free to use/edit the one below.

More information and photos on the tragic logging of Brown Mountain is available if you need it here.

Protest at Parliament against Brown Mountain old growth destruction

Recently logged Brown Mountain old growth Shining Gum - November 2008
Brown Mountain old growth Shining Gum - possibly now destroyed.

Regards, Peter


Minister John Lenders, MLC
Treasurer, Leader of the Government, Legislative Council
Level 4, 1 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne 3002

Dear Minister Lenders,

I am writing to express my strong disapproval of the logging of old growth forest in progress at Brown Mountain that VicForests has approved. This area of forest, designated as old growth forest by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, should be protected in accordance with Labor policy released in 2006.

The policy in question stated that:

"In addition to the Goolengook Block, a Labor Government will immediately protect remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting by including them in the National Parks and reserves system."

There are more than 50 trees over 300 years old in this area of forest, which is adjacent to Errinundra National Park. This forest also provide habitat for threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, the Spot Tailed Quoll, mainland Australia's largest marsupial carnivore, and the Long-footed Potoroo, Victoria's rarest marsupial. This forest provides water for the depleted Snowy River catchment.

This forest also stores over 1000 tonnes of carbon per hectare, much of which is released as carbon emissions when the forest is clear felled and burnt. Locals had also recently constructed East Gippsland's first old growth forest walk in this forest, which the Department of Sustainability and Environment confirmed during site visits. Much of this has now already been destroyed, which is jeopardising tourism in the region.

Your parliamentary website lists your interests as bushwalking, camping, cycling, swimming. All these activities would be enhanced if this Brown Mountain forest, and the rest of Victoria's remaining old growth forests were protected.

VicForest's reports indicate that over 80% of what is logged when these forests are destroyed ends up as low value woodchips. There is much greater long term economic gain for Victoria if this forest is protected, thereby realising its ecotourism potential and its role in carbon storage and water production.

Can you please instruct VicForests to immediately cease the logging of Brown Mountain and all other remaining old growth forest in Victoria?

Yours faithfully

Email address
Telephone number

Friday, December 05, 2008

Transport plans for Melbourne and sustainability

I am away for a bike race this weekend - the Tour of Bright.

I have just read about what is likely to be in the Brumby Government's transport plan due for release.

What a disappointment. It seems the government will avoid once again any signficant investment in public transport and keep building more unsustainable roads and freeways.

The bad
  • Eddington freeway - Port to CityLink (freight, road). It may be needed, but more trucks and cars rather than rail.
  • Western Ring Road freeway connection investigation - to ruin the green belt in Greensborough, Diamond Creek and Warrandyte. More Los Angeles style "freeways to everywhere".
  • Freeway bypass around Frankston - having just constructed the unneeded and poorly used Eastlink, we now need to "extend the freeway" so that the precitable bottleneck at Frankston is eased, to ensure profits for Eastlink.
The ordinary
  • A very expensive $8b rail tunnel connecting Caulfield to Footscray, but this is deferred. The cynical might say it will never be built. I am not convinced it is needed, or should be a priority. Underground rail is 20 times more expensive than on the ground rail.
The good
  • South Morang rail extension. Long overdue; if it happens it will be the first significant rail line to be built since 1930.
  • Tarneit Rail link to growing western suburbs.
  • NO Clifton Hill - Footscray road tunnel. It is not needed, would have been hugely expensive, and of course just encouraged more car use.
The missing
  • No proper inner city metro for Melbourne
  • No rail for Rowville and Monash University (promised for years)
  • No rail for Doncaster (promised for years)
  • No airport rail link (still thousands of cars and taxis every day, and hundreds of buses)
  • No rail (light or heavy) for Melbourne's recent boundary expansions just announced by the Victorian Government (West and North of Melbourne)
I give the Brumby Government about 2/10 for this myopic and half baked transport plan. It was doomed to not deliver given the very restricted "East West Needs Assesment" brief that Eddington was given.
And of course, there will be no consideration or measurement of carbon emissions for transport options - which will be much higher for road and freeways.
In summary, the Victorian Goverment's transport planning is a bad as their water management strategy. Ill considered, focused on industry lobby groups, and basically ignoring sustainable transport options that will improve Melbourne's liveability. Thumbs down.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My results for Cotham Ward, Boroondara Council election

I stood as an independent candidate for Cotham Ward in the Boroondara Council elections counted (by postal vote) and Saturday 29/11 and Sunday 30/11. Here is my campaign blog.

The results have been declared -


First preference votes

PERRYMAN, Benjie 814
BLOOM, David 2935
CAMPBELL, Peter 3229
BILA, Theo 2071


Votes after distribution

BLOOM, David 5113
CAMPBELL, Peter 3936

For more details see

Even though I got the highest primary vote (for which I am pleased) David Bloom (Liberal, works in David Davis' office) got elected by the preference flow from the other two.

It was actually quite close - if Bila got ahead of Bloom then I would have been elected. I think it is a very good sign that so many people in Cotham ward voted for a sustainable future!

I would like to thank those who helped with leaflets and scrutineering. I would also like to thank the many people in the ward who contacted me during the campaign about local issues, and for their encouragement.

Also, it was a good result for Des Benson to come second as the Greens candidate in Studley Ward.

I understand that the overall result for Council is that 4 out of 9 are Liberals (or sympathisers) so they don't quite have a majority - unless they elect a Liberal Mayor who will have a casting vote.

Also, apparently Brad Miles (Bellevue Ward), while not a Liberal, opposes the Darebin - Yarra bike link bridge, so the Council decision to support this is now likely to be reversed. Hopefully this won't happen.

The Hawthorn climate change debate and denialists

On November 19, 2008 I went to the " climate change debate" in Hawthorn, Melbourne, between Professor David Karoly (Climate Scientist and IPCC Lead Author) and William Kininmonth (former Meteorologist and head of Australia's National Climate Centre and notable climate change skeptic). The debate was organised by Leon Zembekis.

Leon Zembekis, the forum organiser

About 30% of the 200-odd audience were vocal skeptics/denialists, apparently there to hear their guru take down the brash scientist.

It seems to me that the skeptics demographic was oldish, often grey and/or balding, mostly male. They were quite affronted by much of what Karoly said. “Don’t insult our intelligence” was one taunt they shouted. They were spoiling for a shouting match.

Kininmonth basically said the earth is a bit warmer, but that it doesn’t matter, and that increasing CO2 won’t have any significant impact on climate change. He thinks were in the midst of a natural cycle, and that humans have no impact. His presentation was a wierd amalgam of unrelated observations, and contained several errors of interpretation, as David Karoly pointed out during the debate.

In question time I asked Kininmonth what he would say to his children and grand children if he was wrong on climate change, didn’t take action to address it (as he recommeneds) and in 2020 we lost the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu wetlands and snow in Australia.

There were howls and guffaws from the skeptics in the audience. He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he continued to talk about why CO2 doesn’t matter, why there really isn’t a problem, and why we cannot afford to give up our modern energy hungry lifestyles. I said he didn’t answer my question. He said he was “comfortable with talking to his children and grand children."

A Liberal Councillor present (who may also be a skeptic) later mentioned to a friend that “I had asked a leading question”. Well yes, it was hypothetical. . .

It seems to me that the skeptics are actually very scared of climate change. They have constructed their own reality in place of the one informed by scientific observation. When you challenge their alternative reality they react with fear, loathing and anger.

While there were clearly rent-a-skeptics in the crowd - word had got around they should be there - I think we will see similar reactions (albiet less extreme) in the wider community too. Our civilisation seems to be entering a time of stress and peril.

I think we need some real and effective leadership to handle this - and I don’t think the majority of our political leaders from both major parties are up to it.

Good on you Leon for organising this forum. It was very interesting to participate.

It will be interesting to see how the new Boroondara Council will take action on climate change, and whether they lead the community towards solutions.

David Karoly

William Kinninmonth

David Karoly with two forum attendees

David Karoly answering questions

Myself (2nd from left), David Karoly, Ian Enting and Leon chatting after the event.


Monday, November 24, 2008

We need sustainable water solutions

Water Minister Tim Holding's helpful suggestions of the things we can do as individuals to save water, such as shorter showers and voluntary water usage targets, are already embraced with enthusiasm by many Melbournians.

As an example, water usage at our Surrey Hills house is about 5 litres per person per day thanks to our water tanks, which have just been topped up by the welcome rain. These tanks have now kept our house supplied for 7 years, so I really wonder why the Government is spending our money on huge energy hungry engineering projects such as the desalination plant and the ill-considered north south pipeline when they are not needed.

These risky, expensive and environmentally damaging projects should be the last options considered rather than the first.

Melbourne needs to better utilise its water sources. Storm water capture, recycling and stopping logging in our water catchments are all much better options for saving our water and much more affordable, but they are currently overlooked by government.

Safeguarding our water supply is important to us all. Government has a key role in choosing and developing sustainable water strategies and projects - such as legislating for decent water tanks for all new houses, assisting local councils to build suburban storm water capture facilities, and recycling and reusing water rather than flushing it out and polluting the ocean at Gunnamatta.

One wonders when they will listen to what the public want.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

We need electric cars and we need them now

The Australian car industry is going the way of the American one - a headlong rush to extinction. With long term rises in oil prices inevitable, the days of large petrol and diesel powered vehicles are numbered.

Cars with electric drive trains produce 30% less carbon emissions than those powered by internal combustion engines - even taking into account the emissions from coal fired power stations to generate the electricity. They can also transition to being supplied by zero emissions electricity as supplies come on line. Plug in hybrids would be suitable for those requiring a longer range.

Yet, no major Australian manufacturer yet makes an electric car that would be suitable for the majority of short trips made every day in the city. There are less than 300 electric vehicles on Australian roads right now. Unfortunately, the $6.2 billion allocated by the Australian government to make the automotive industry more economically and environmentally sustainable is still focused on tinkering with making internal combustion engines more efficient and hybrids that still require petrol to operate.

This is a missed opportunity. We need electric cars to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, and we need them now.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brown Mountain old growth forest is being logged.

It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the shocking news that the wonderful old growth forest of Brown Mountain in East Gippsland is now being logged. There are more than 50 trees over 300 years old in this area of forest, which is adjacent to Errinundra National Park.

The Labor Party pledged during the 2006 State election that

"In addition to the Goolengook Block, a Labor Government will immediately protect remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting by including them in the National Parks and reserves system."

The Brumby Government has broken this promise. The bulldozers moved in last week.

When queried about this decision to destroy the old growth forest, the response from Premier Brumby’s office was

“since VicForests have moved the contractors in, there is nothing we can do”

It is worth noting that none of the forest areas specified for protection have actually been protected yet either, 2 years after the election. It seems that the Brumby government supports clearfelling old growth forest as "business as usual" despite the forest's critical role in storing carbon (over 1000 tonnes per hectare) and providing water for the depleted Snowy River catchment.

These forests also provide habitat for threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, the Spot Tailed Quoll, mainland Australia's largest marsupial carnivore, and the Long-footed Potoroo, Victoria's rarest marsupial.

Locals have recently constructed East Gippsland's first old growth forest walk in these forests, which the Department of Sustainability and Environment knows about.

Please Take Action

Brown Mountain needs everybody’s help.

Please email and/or brief all your networks, family and friends and have them contact the Premier’s office.

Call: 03 9651 5111
email: john.brumby@parliament.vic.gov.au
Please act immediately…..

In your calls and emails, simply express your opposition at the logging of old growth forests in absolute contravention of the Labor's commitment to protect old growth forests in East Gippsland.

More information and photos

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Will Labor stop logging Melbourne's water catchments?

I understand the Victorian Labor (ALP) State Conference this weekend considered the following motion:


Climate change is already well under way and consequently Victoria’s water supply is very seriously endangered in both rural and urban regions.

Despite this, logging continues unabated in what remains of our mountain ash forests and in the areas supposedly set aside as water catchment.

This is permitted to occur because of contracts with logging companies that have export commitments for wood chips that are sold to millers at ridiculously low prices (in the order of $8.50 per ton) i.e. the State is subsidizing the millers at the expense of our water supply.

Given that Victoria now has plantation timber available to fulfil all our requirements for construction and for paper, it is clear that continuing to destroy the source of our water supply is an unsustainable practice.

Conference therefore resolves that it request the State Government to:

1. Immediately ban logging in all water catchment areas
2. Review forest management practice overall with the intent of transferring all logging activity to plantation timber.

Proposed by Upper Yarra branch October 2008

As I have mentioned in previous postings, it is past time that logging in Melbourne's water catchments must stop, because every drop counts.

I wait with interest and hope that the Brumby Labor government here in Victoria displays some real leadership on protecting our water supplies and our forests.


Still waiting for some "official information" on the outcome.

However, on the grapevine, I have heard that:
  • Labor factional heavyweights combined forces minutes before the motion went up and departed en masse, despite the fact Jennings was going to speak on the motion, so they were short on quorum. They did this to avoid voting on the motion - so much for "democracy" inside the ALP.
  • Joe Helper has apparently instigated some sort of investigation (a witch hunt?) into why the Upper Yarra ALP branch put this motion up. Seems like an attempt to silence any discussion on this very important issue.
  • Rob Mitchell is apparently undertaking the "investigation" even though he was so 'proudly green' in the last federal election, embracing of climate change and the necessary directives.
Looks like more "dirty deeds done dirt cheap".

By coincidence I was speaking with the Yarra Ranges Shire Mayor Tim Heenan today. He said that local sawmillers are getting virtually none of the timber from the logged catchments - it is all being sent for woodchips to the Paperlynx mill in Gippsland, and that there is a total of only 92 jobs associated with this catchment logging in the shire. So there is no longer local support for this logging in Warbuton.

In addition, this summer the Department of Sustainability and Environment plans to allow more logging in the picturesque Cement Creek catchment above Warbuton, which also contains the rainforest aerial walkway among ancient Myrtle Beech and old growth Mountain Ash forest.

Shame Brumby, shame. Every drop of water counts, with Melbourne's reservoirs now 70% empty near the start of Summer.

Perhaps DSE should be renamed to the Department of Clearfelling, Logging and Water Loss?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another letter to Minister Batchelor on his clayton's feed-in tariff

Here is a letter I have just sent to Peter Batchelor cc to Victorian Ministers and some other MPs on feed-in tariff legislation.

Feel free to use any or all of the content if you would like to write them an email (or letter) too.

It seems this legislation is about to go through the Victorian parliament!

Melissa Fyfe sums up the situation well in this article: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/solar-hopes-up-in-smoke-20081004-4twd.html?page=-1


Dear Minister Batchelor,

I have received a letter from the Department of Primary Industries (your ref: ME003562) in response to my three recent queries to you regarding the Brumby Government's proposed feed-in tariff legislation. Unfortunately, the letter does not answer any of the queries I have raised with you. It provides me with a summary of the proposed legislation and a "fact sheet" on it. I was not requesting further general information on this ill-considered legislation, my queries relate to specific issues concerning it, none of which have been addressed in the letter I received.

To reiterate, my previous questions, to which I still request answers from you, are listed below in bold.

1. When will your feed-in tariff legislation be introduced?
2. When can a copy of it be sent to me?
3. What is the purpose of the 2kW array size cap?
4. Why are you not able to model the tariff for gross metering similar to successful tariffs in place in Germany and elsewhere?
5. Why you have chosen to keep the economic modelling that you say your decisions were based on secret?
6. When can I meet with you to discuss these concerns?

My further questions to you are numbered in the text below:

I also note that the national RENEWABLE ENERGY (ELECTRICITY) AMENDMENT (FEED-IN-TARIFF) BILL 2008 being considered by the Australian Senate is framed around a gross metered tariff, in accordance with world best practice.

I also note that the Labor ACT feed-in tariff legislation pays on gross metering (the full production amount) and has a generous 10kW cap on array sizE.

7. Why is the Brumby government proceeding with a feed in tariff for Victoria that will be completely ineffective and conflicting with the proposed national legislation?

8. What is the Brumby government's target for domestic solar panel installation (in MW) for 2009 and 2010?

If your proposed feed-in tariff legislation proceeds it will simply not deliver any of the benefits you claim. The 2kW cap on array size means that residences will not be able to install a big enough array (e.g. 3 to 4 kW) to generate a significant net output so nobody will actually be paid the premium rate. In addition, all power generated should be paid the gross tariff as it is reducing the power that would otherwise be sourced from the coal-fired electricity on the grid.

It is not clear to me how you have constructed such abrogated legislation, hence my questions seeking clarification. If this legislation proceeds in its current form, it will soon be regarded as an enduring bad legacy of your government, and a missed opportunity for the people of Victoria.

By contrast, and gross feed in tariff with say a 10kW cap on array size would greatly boost installation of solar panels and green jobs associated with this, both of which will greatly benefit Victoria.

I am seeking an urgent response from you to my eight questions.

Peter Campbell
0409 417 504

My previous emails:
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 18:58:48 +1000
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 23:38:12 +1000
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 22:29:08 +1000
  • Subject: LETTER: Please introduce a feed in tariff Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:26:37 +1100

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Woodchips and water do not mix

Sign stating Armstrong Creek catchment is protected

I visited the Armstrong Creek water catchment near Cambarville on the road from Warbuton to Marysville in February this year to go for a short walk in the uninhabited Mountain Ash forest.

A sign on the gate leading into the catchment read “Designated Water Supply Catchment Area, Entry Prohibited, Offenders Prosecuted”. A representative from Melbourne Water sitting in a car behind the locked gate informed me that I was not allowed to enter. I asked him why access was denied to me when further down the track loggers with their trucks, bulldozers and chainsaws were busy clear felling forest within the catchment . He refused to answer my question.

Few people in Melbourne realise that their water catchments are being logged. When they find out they are surprised and concerned, especially when they learn that this logging is decreasing both the quality and quantity of water they provide to Melbourne.

Around 12% of the Melbourne's total forest catchment is available for logging and 340 hectares can be harvested each year. Clear felling occurs in five catchments which supply approximately 40% of Melbourne’s water needs.

It is a paradox that we can be arrested and fined for entering our closed water catchments but loggers have free rein to clear fell sections of them.

In May 2002, the Victorian Government released the “21st Century Melbourne: a WaterSmart City” report. The vast majority of public submissions for this study favoured stopping logging in all water supply catchment areas. The report contained a recommendation to “conduct a detailed and comprehensive investigation into the feasibility of establishing plantations to allow for the phasing out of logging in Melbourne’s water supply catchments”. The report further stated that “if plantation alternatives are confirmed feasible, an implementation plan to phase out logging from within the catchments should be prepared”.

Potential water savings from the gradual phasing out of logging in the Thomson catchment alone by 2020 were estimated in the report to provide an additional 20 gigalitres (20,000 ML) per year of water in 2050.

In June 2004, the government released another report titled “Securing Our Water Future Together” which stated that “Melbourne’s original water catchments are closed catchments, are managed as national parks and that logging will continue to be banned in those catchment areas”. This report also found that “improved water yields within catchments supplying water to Melbourne are important in securing Melbourne’s water supplies”. Actions identified for government included developing options to phase out logging in the water catchment areas, transition the wood supply to plantations, and assess the social and environmental benefits and costs of these options.

Fast forward to 2008 and our water catchments are still being logged, even though Melbourne's rainfall and dam levels have declined to historically low levels. Climate change has reduced autumn rainfall into water catchments by 40% across Victoria since 1950.

Logging in Armstrong Creek catchment, visible from Reefton Spur Rd

In April this year, after four years of delays and inaction, the government finally commenced meetings with stakeholders as part of the government’s Wood and Water Sustainability Assessment Project, which is supposed to address the actions identified in the 2002 and 2004 reports. I attended the first stakeholder meeting representing Environment East Gippsland.

However, during the meeting it became apparent that the government has no real intention of stopping logging in water catchments. The promised government reports on timber substitution and water studies were not available to us, even though they were specified as key inputs for the “sustainability assessment”.

Then the following bombshells were dropped:

  • The assessment was constrained to “work within existing government policy and ensure that current government log supply commitments are met from the catchments”.
  • Phasing out of logging was redefined as “phasing down logging”
  • None of the nine options presented to us included ending logging by 2010
  • The best option they could come up with to cease logging by 2030, by which time there will be original forest within the catchment areas left to log. Much of the Thompson catchment has been logged already.
  • The assessment or carbon storage was quite inadequate - only tree trunks would be counted, while the under story, tree roots, sub-soil life and humus were to be ignored.
All the environment groups present, including the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Central Highlands Alliance, stressed that community expectations were for logging in Melbourne's water catchments to cease by 2010. In support of this, twelve councils in greater Melbourne have now passed motions to stop logging in our water catchments.

However, we were informed that the 2010 exit option would be "assessed but not presented to government". I stated that this option must be properly considered as it would be the best outcome for our water supplies, and that we were not prepared to further participate in the consultation process with it excluded.

Unfortunately, the government has refused to act on our requests for the process to be improved in line with community expectations, so all environment groups except for one have now withdrawn from the Stakeholder Reference Group in protest.

We are greatly concerned that the government continues to favour sections of the logging and woodchip industry over protecting water supplies for Melbourne residents, even though over 80 per cent of the forest logged ends up as wood chips.

It appears the government is preparing to make an announcement in the run up to the next Victorian election that it will “protect our water catchments”, but only after the remaining high quality forests in them have been logged, and Melbourne's water supplies further reduced.

Protecting our water catchments from logging, combined with measures such as installing household water tanks and more recycling, could even negate the need for the proposed expensive and energy-hungry desalination plant and the pipeline from the water-starved Goulburn river.

Peter Campbell
Spokesperson for Environment East Gippsland


Monday, August 25, 2008

Water tanks use less energy than desalination

John Brumby and Tim Holding would do well to consider mandating rainwater tanks for new houses rather than building an energy guzzling desalination plant.

Our domestic water tanks have supplied over 95 per cent of the water for our Surrey Hills house since we installed them in 2001. Based on our experience, 600,000 households could save up to 160 gigalitres of water per year by using captured rainwater and reducing their daily consumption. The energy our pump uses would multiply to 140 kWh of energy per day for these same households. The proposed desalination plant would consume 15 times as much energy just to operate.

There would also be significant emissions associated with the construction of the plant, the pumping of water to Melbourne and waste decomposition and transport.

Domestic water tanks would be a much cheaper, more effective, more greenhouse friendly and more popular solution to meeting Melbourne's water needs than either the proposed desalination plant or the north south pipeline projects.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

The death of the Murray Lakes

I could not really believe reading today that Climate Change and Water Minister Penny Wong has written of the lower Murray Lakes. This is a monumental and catastrophic failing of our political system - which has now compromised our environment and water supplies to the point where irreversible damage has been done - and worse is to come.

At the same time, in today's newspapers Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden has given approval for the Brumby Government's "north south pipeline" - to take water from the Goulburn river (and hence the Murray Darling system) - even though there is no water there for them to take! If it was a comedy it would be funny. But they are serious!

89% of voters in the Heraldsun online poll on this topic:

Certainly oppose this lunacy.

On Q&A on ABC TV tonight, Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett defended the Rudd Government's manifestly inadequate emission reduction targets (60% by 2050) AND the north south pipeline "because Melbourne needs the water".

The best Garrett and Wong can do is claim they are better than the opposition - who are still basically stuck in climate change denial and rubbery non-commitments.

And the emissions trading scheme shows every sign of being ineffective in reducing carbon emissions - it is too complicated and won't price carbon enough to drive reductions.

We really need to get water, climate change and energy policy out of the political arena and in the hands of a taskforce who can really do something - before our politicians preside over the total collapse of our ecosystems, our climate and our economy.

Blaming the Howard government is just not good enough.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Submission to the Victorian Government’s “A Climate of Opportunity” Summit Paper

To: Climate Change Summit

Office of Climate Change
Department of Premier and Cabinet
1 Treasury Place
Melbourne Victoria 3000

From: Peter Campbell

To whom it may concern, I make the following submission to regarding the Victorian Government’s “A Climate of Opportunity” Summit Paper.

Background to climate change

Australia’s environment and economy is at great risk due to climate change. In particular, reduced rainfall levels and water supplies and sea level rises are very serious concerns.
Most of rural Victoria has severally depleted water supplies, and Melbourne itself has greatly reduced supplies with water storages at very low levels compared to previous years.
Hotter temperatures have also increased the incidence and severity of bushfires, which in turn can affect water supplies and rural production.

Setting goals for emissions reduction and target temperatures

The Victorian Government should specify goal of its climate change policy in the Green paper in terms of emissions reduction and target temperatures for stabilisation. The goal of climate change policy should be defined as avoiding dangerous climate change and returning to a safe climate.

Recently emerging scientific literature indicates that a 450 ppm CO2-e target is now inadequate to avoid dangerous climate change. A revised target for stabilisation should be set at 350 ppm CO2-e.

A maximum target temperate increase limit should be specified as 2 degrees Celsius, and the desirable maximum increase to be 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Setting targets for emissions reduction

The Green Paper should recommend targets for Victoria’s contribution towards avoiding dangerous climate change. The latest climate science indicates that these targets should be:
  • Ensure that greenhouse emissions commence falling by 2010
  • A legislated target to cut emissions by 60% by 2020 from 1990 levels, and that this be reviewed periodically to ensure it is consistent with the science

Encouraging new zero carbon emission industries

The Victorian Government has a good opportunity to attract zero and low carbon industries through policy mechanisms that drive uptake and deployment of clean and low carbon industries in Victoria. This will require additional mechanisms to supplement the existing Renewable Energy Target (VRET) and the upcoming Emissions Trading Scheme (CPRS). The Victorian Government should develop a ‘Green Industries’ strategy that identifies target industries for establishment and development in Victoria and also identifies the necessary policy support and workforce skill-base to attract these zero emissions clean energy industries to Victoria. A ‘Green Energy Institute’ should be established to focus on, promote and facilitate these opportunities.

Ensuring the effectiveness of emissions trading

Public money should not be preferentially allocated to ongoing subsidies for fossil fuel energy industries. Exemptions from and compensation for the emissions trading scheme should not be granted to fossil fuel energy industries as this will distort and compromise the effectiveness of the scheme.

Establishing energy policies to complement emissions trading

The following policies to should be set to complement emissions trading:
  • Effective renewable energy targets
  • Effective feed-in tariffs
  • Stringent energy efficiency standards and planning controls
  • Strong residential and commercial building standards
  • Vehicle fuel efficiency standards
  • Reduced number of freight trips through improved efficiency and a shift to rail, and public transport investment will all be needed to complement emissions trading and reduce emissions.

Improved building regulations

The Victorian Government should develop a clear policy agenda to dramatically improve the energy and water efficiency of Victoria’s entire existing and future building stock. This will:
  • Require regulations and programs that will cover new and existing buildings of all types
  • Mandate 7 star efficiency for new residential and commercial buildings
  • Require regulations for fittings and appliances used within these buildings
  • Apply to both rental and freehold properties.
  • Require mandatory disclosure and performance standards for energy and water efficiency could be applied to all types of buildings at the point of sale or leasing.

Immediate emission reduction initiatives

To achieve a decrease in emission reductions from 2010 onwards, the Victorian government should introduce:
  • Mandatory capture of methane gas from Victorian landfills
  • An effective solar feed-in tariff (60 c/KWh paid on gross generation)
  • New energy efficiency targets for the commercial and industrial sectors preferably matching the household target of 10% emissions reductions by 2010).
Biodiversity conservation and catchment protection

In developing complementary measures for the agriculture, land use and forestry sectors, priority should be given to measures which have additional environmental benefits like biodiversity conservation or catchment protection.

A moratorium on new coal fired power stations

New coal fired power stations will increase carbon emissions significantly, therefore a 10 year moratorium on there construction is required, until near zero emissions technology is available for them.

Support for near zero emissions energy production

The Victorian Government should provide additional support and measures to provide adequate incentive for new generation to replace conventional brown coal generation such as additional support for gas or renewable energy projects that directly substitute for coal-fired generation.

Removal of subsidies for fossil fuel use

The Victorian Government should complete an inventory of State and Federal subsidies that exist for fossil fuel use and immediately remove State subsidies for fossil fuel use and redirect this public spending towards emissions reductions and adaptation programs.

Include transport in emissions trading and increase investment in public transport

The Victorian Government should support the inclusion of the transport sector in an emissions trading scheme, and should also greatly increase its investment in public transport. In particular, the rail public transport system needs to be extended to new and outer suburbs which have poor services.

Limiting public transport fare prices rises to less than CPI price increases would reduce the impact of rising fuel prices on households though may not assist households in areas that are not well serviced by public transport.

Cycling and walking infrastructure will also need significant investment. Commuter quality safe cycle routes are urgently required across Melbourne to facilitate the uptake of cycling.

Additionally the Victorian Government should actively pressure the Federal Government to introduce mandatory vehicle efficiency standards for all new vehicles sold in Australia to green our car fleet.

Use emissions trading revenue to shield low income households

The Victorian Government should ensure that a substantial proportion of revenue from emissions trading permit auctions is used to buffer the impact of rising energy costs for low income households. This could include:
  • A major energy efficiency program in low income households,
  • Increasing energy concessions
  • Introducing alternative pricing mechanisms for low income households.

New energy efficiency programs should be more targeted, focusing on geographic or demographic communities. With existing rebate programs participants are self-selecting which means that it is difficult to target resources to where they are most needed.

For example, the Warm Homes program in the UK worked at a local level to progressively improve the energy efficiency of every house in target neighbourhoods which meant that Government funds were spent where they were going to have most impact in easing the burden of rising fuel prices.

Improved information on emissions and resource use

Providing better real-time data about emissions and energy usage will assist efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Real time reporting on carbon emission and domestic household energy usage will focus energy efficiency opportunities and activities

Focus climate change adaptation on communities at risk

The State Government’s climate change adaptation strategy should identify communities and regions at risk both from climate change and from policy responses to climate change. These communities should be targeted for ‘Just Transitions’ programs; that is development of new industries and workforce training to ease the pain of transitioning out of polluting or unsustainable industries.

Allocate appropriate environmental flows to rivers All Victorian rivers should receive their full environmental flow allocations every year from 2009 to ensure their health, most of which have been greatly compromised by very low water flows to date. We need to reverse our management regimes so that we recognise that economic and community well-being is a product of healthy river systems and therefore that environmental water allocations should have priority over other uses so that our rivers continue to survive and in time thrive.

Protect biodiversity and habitat

A 10-fold increase in funding levels should be allocated to:
  • Help protect and restore Victoria’s habitat for future generations
  • Protection of existing native vegetation
  • Reconnection of fragmented bushland across the state through very large wildlife corridors
  • Increase resources for control of pests and weeds and for landholders to protect and enhance their wildlife habitat
  • Conduct strong science with publicly reported systematic long-term monitoring of the State’s biodiversity.
  • Protection of remaining high conservation value native forests and water catchments
Support local climate change action groups

The State Government should use existing networks and peak bodies to provide support for local community climate action groups by funding organizations and local government to support climate action groups across the state.

Victorian Climate Change Bill

The Victorian Climate Change Bill should:
  • Include annual emissions targets for Victoria to 2020
  • Drive greenhouse pollution reduction including extended energy efficiency targets across the commercial and industrial sectors
  • Set feed-in tariffs for renewable energy
  • Mandate methane gas capture at landfill sites.
  • Provide a mechanism by which all new major projects and all state government policy and investments are assessed for their impact on the State’s emissions with the assumption that new major projects will be required to demonstrate that they will reduce greenhouse pollution.
  • Ban new conventional coal-fired power stations
  • Set a standard for new fossil fuel generation of less than 0.4kg CO2- e/kW

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme falls short

Elected on a campaign promise of tackling climate change, Kevin Rudd's Labor government in Australia has released a preliminary greenpaper outlining the structure of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (an emissions trading scheme) for Australia.

Curiously, the greenpaper was released only days after the Garnaut draft on climate change, and it fails to meet several of Garnaut's key recommendations.

The significant problems are:
  • emission permits will be given away to the most polluting industries
  • cash payments will be given to coal fired power stations
  • fuel excise will be lowered to compensate for fuel price increases due to a carbon price
In addition, there are no commitments to reduce emission other than to meet the 60% reduction by 2050. No cap for emissions has yet been set, and no interim reduction targets are specified.

Unfortunately, this structure of the CPRS greatly compromises any real effect on reducing emissions.

The Federal opposition led by Brendan Nelson has an even worse policy position. They are arguing about delaying the start date for emissions trading (the CPRS) by pushing it out to 2011 or 2012. In a nutshell, they are just playing politics, and still have several "climate change denialists" within their ranks.

We need to write letters to all our elected politicians telling them it is just not good enough - we need emergency action to decarbonise our economy, not political games and weak ineffective schemes and policies that favour big polluters and don't reduce emissions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Eddington report submission - EWLNA

I welcome the opportunity to comment on the East-West Links Needs Assessment (EWLNA), as transport is an essential feature of the livability of Melbourne and one of the main areas that require urgent action as part of a coordinated response to climate change.

I preface my feedback with the observation that I believe more urgent and profound action needs to be taken to prevent the economic, social and ecological collapses being caused by climate change.

While the EWLNA has some proposals with merit, such as improvements to public transport and cross city cycle links, it overwhelmingly fails to tackle the massive and urgent problems of greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and the challenges introduced by peak oil.

The focus on public transport in the EWLNA is welcome, and I strongly support increased investment in public transport. However, the EWLNA is largely a “business as usual” document, based on outdated ideas, at a time where business as usual means climate catastrophe and remaining unprepared for continual increases in oil prices.

It is unfortunate that the EWLNA has no vision for a sustainable transport future for Melbourne and therefore fails as a document that the State Government should use to guide its actions and decisions.

Transport policy cannot assume a “business as usual” case. Transport policy development must lead to a drastic reduction in reliance on oil, and a massive, rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it should be one of the major aims of transport policy to achieve these outcomes – and with these outcomes improvements in the amenity of our suburbs will be created. This is the best way to ensure prosperity and livability into the future.

The key points of I make in this personal submission are:

  • The original scope of the EWLNA was too narrow – transport needs for Melbourne need to be considered as a whole rather than arbitrarily separated into segments and/or corridors.
  • The EWLNA’s “business as usual” approach to transport planning is flawed as it does not take climate change or peak oil into account.
  • I support an order of magnitude increase in public transport funding from the State and Federal governments, and I therefore broadly support the EWLNA recommendations that achieve this.
  • Given the narrow scope of the EWLNA, it is not clear whether the proposed rail tunnel would be the most effective rail infrastructure project. A broader study of opportunities for rail network improvements is required, taking into account the possibility of building railway lines to poorly serviced suburbs, a metro system for inner Melbourne, and a rail link to Melbourne Airport.
  • I oppose the construction of the proposed road tunnels or any new freeways – which history show us encourage more personal and freight road traffic which inevitably leads to increased road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Past transport studies and experience have shown that building freeways does not solve congestion, and they will in fact increase congestion in the long term.
  • The assumptions made to make up the EWLNA reference case with regard to oil prices, carbon pricing and road pricing are incorrect, and greatly exaggerate the case for supporting private car use and the road tunnel.
  • The EWLNA ignores the now apparent climate emergency we face and ignores the pressing need for us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from transport. Any new transport infrastructure or plan needs to have emissions reductions as a central aim.
  • The propensity for people to shift to public transport when high quality services are available is underestimated and the recommendations are consequently poorly targeted.
  • The recommendations in the EWLNA will result in a 1% modal shift from cars to public transport by 2031, in contradiction with the Brumby Government’s 11% shift (by 2020). We need a much more profound shift if we are to retain Melbourne’s liveability and reduce our emissions.
  • The EWLNA did not assess the modal efficiency of transport options with respect to carbon emissions or factor this into the recommendations made.
  • Shifting transport journeys from road trips to lower carbon emission options is compatible with Melbourne 2030 strategy goals, the Kyoto Protocol, and with our need to reduce Australia’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
The following assumptions made in the EWLNA reference case are flawed:
  • No real increase in fuel prices beyond 2006 (petrol prices have now risen to around $1.65 per litres and could be $2.00 or higher by the end of 2007)
  • No carbon price on transport emissions (which have now been flagged for inclusion in Australia’s carbon emissions trading scheme scheduled for introduction in 2010).
  • No road pricing before 2031 – which is likely to be introduced well before then
  • A gradual shift to hybrid cars will offset carbon emissions associated with increased motor vehicle usage. (A modal shift from cars to less carbon intensive transport such as rail and bicycles is required).
There is currently a transport crisis in Melbourne, with roads and freeways now suffering chronic traffic congestion. Rather than build the proposed road links, a cheaper, more effective alternative to the issues identified in the EWLNA is to upgrade and extend the public transport system, take move freight from road to rail, institute more efficient freight handling practices and introduce incentives for people to reduce car use.

The cross-city cycle connections recommended would greatly facilitate bicycle travel and make it safer within inner Melbourne. However, to be effective, these routes need to link with equivalent high quality and safe bicycle paths transecting adjacent suburbs. For example, there is currently no safe and efficient bicycle route through Hawthorn and Camberwell towards Box Hill.

Cycling is the most carbon-efficient form of medium distance personal transport. However, low safety and convenience factors are major barriers preventing people from cycling in urban areas.

The current Principal Bicycle Network needs to have routes added to connect with the proposed cross-city cycle connections. Integrated planning for cycle paths and routes is essential to get the best outcome. Improved safety at a local level is also crucial to enable safe access to the Principal Bicycle Network and to activity centres and public transport.


I hope that the State Government uses this opportunity to change course and focuses on shaping a transport system that will help us meet the challenges of climate change, peak oil and improving the amenity of our suburbs.

“Business as usual” transport planning and construction of freeways will cause us more pain in the future.

A sustainable future involves cutting emissions and creating a massive and permanent modal shift from cars to public transport, walking and cycling.

External link: CEN Eddington Report Submission

Friday, July 11, 2008

Labor's feed-in tariff can still be fixed

Below is the third letter I have sent to Peter Batchelor; so far he has not bothered to answer my first two. I don't think he will bother to answer this one either. So much for accountable government "for the people".

I have also sent copies to all members of John Brumby's Cabinet, as they participated in the decision to implement a Clayton's feed-in tariff in Victoria.

Dear Minister Batchelor,

I am disappointed to have still received no response from your office to my suggestions and questions regarding the government's proposed feed-in tariff legislation (included below).

It should now be apparent to you and the rest of Cabinet that your proposed legislation has had a very detrimental effect on the uptake of solar panels and therefore comprised Victoria's opportunity to become a leader in the installation and even manufacturing of solar panels. This in turn compromises Victoria's ability to meet both State VRET and Federal MRET requirements.

The 100K household income means test on the solar rebate introduced by Peter Garrett has further exacerbated this situation, to the point where solar installations have plummeted when the very opposite should be occurring.

Your stated concerns about impacts on low income households can be addressed by providing them with an appropriate concession.

Also please note that net metering in fact favours high income households where nobody is home consuming power during the day (when a net output can be generated) and actually discriminates against working families where a parent is at home with children using appliances such as washing machines, lighting and cooking - which prevents them generating net output.

In the interests of transparent and accountable government, could you please answer the following questions?

1. When will your feed-in tariff legislation be introduced?

2. When can a copy of it be sent to me?

3. What is the purpose of the 2kw array size cap?

4. Why are you not able to model the tariff for gross metering similar to successful tariffs in place in Germany and elsewhere?

5. Why you have chosen to keep the economic modelling that you say your decisions were based on secret?

6. When can I meet with you to discuss these concerns?

Brumby claims water tanks use more power than desalination

I have just send this letter in to Premier John Brumby. It will be interesting to read his answer, although I suspect I won't get one.

Premier Brumby,

You stated on ABC 774 radio on Thurday 26 June 2008 that "the proposed Wonthaggi desalination plant would use less power than equivalent rainwater tanks"

Can you please provide evidence for this claim?

Studies of water tanks have shown that they would use one fifth of the power of the desalination to supply the equivalent amount of water (150 gigalitres).

I have a power meter on our rainwater tank pump on our house so I will provide you with more empirical data on this next week to confirm this data.

Information about the plant and why rainwater tanks would be a better option is available in this article: http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Victorian_desalination_plant

I look forward to your timely response to this very important question.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Climate emergency rally in Melbourne

I attended the Climate Emergency Rally in Melbourne on Saturday 5 July 2008. It was a great event. Good speakers and calls for immediate action on climate change.

Here is a video of Bob Brown speaking at the rally:

And article with photos and more information about the rally is available on Greenlivingpedia here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Brumby Labor carbon fails carbon test

Peter Batchelor's announcement that the new brown coal-fired power station will proceed in the Latrobe Valley (Age 2/7) fails the simple critical test of "will this reduce our carbon emissions".

It will belch millions of tonnes more carbon dioxide into our increasingly hotter and drier world.

We need to be decommissioning coal-fired power stations and making major investments in proven zero emission renewable energy.

Link: Latrobe valley's new $750 million clean coal power station a step closer

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Brumby government has got it wrong on water

The Brumby government has announced their strategy for coping with the now chronic water shortage due to Victoria's greatly reduced rainfall.

Rainfall in the state has reduced 75% over the last ten years, which far exceeds the worst case predictions by the CSIRO when they modeled the effects of climate change.

It is therefore appropriate that the Victorian government take fairly urgent action to address this very serious issue that now impacts all Victorians. The question is, have they got the right strategies in place?

The government's Water Plan, also labeled as “Our Water Our Future” details the following key initiatives:

    1. A new desalination plant for Melbourne
    2. Modernising Victoria’s Food Bowl irrigation system to capture lost water for farms, the environment and Melbourne
    3. Expansion of Victoria’s Water Grid
    4. Upgrading Melbourne’s Eastern Treatment Plant to provide over 100 GL of recycled water in 2012 and assessing a range of alternative uses of this water
    5. Supporting new and existing water conservation programs for homes and industry.

    While elements of this plan seem reasonable, the projects arising out of it to date are highly questionable.

    The desalination plant

    The proposed desalination plant at Wonthaggi is supposed to provide 150 gigalitres of water per year – enough for one third of Melbourne's consumption. However, this plant will require 90 megawatts of power to run. This translates to 1 terawatt hour per year (1,000 gigawatt hours).

    The government has stated that they will source renewable energy for this, but there is significant risk that they won't be able to get enough.

    Premier John Brumby stated on ABC Radio 774 on 26 June 2008 that the desalination plant would cost less to install and use less energy than installing domestic rainwater tanks with electric pumps. The information he based this claim on appears to be incorrect. Calculations on domestic pumps supplying one million households indicated that they would only consume 365 gigawatt hours per year, less than half the amount required to power the desalination plant.

    More energy is also need to pump water from the desalination plant to Melbourne.

    Stopping logging in Melbourne's water catchments would yield about another 30 gigalitres per year.

    Modernising Victoria's irrigation system

    This $750 million project is part of a government water strategy, which would also modernise infrastructure in the region to save 225 billion litres of water now lost through evaporation, seepage and system inefficiencies.

    While replacing fixing leaks and water losses in irrigation infrastructure is a good thing, the Victorian government has announced a plan to pump water from the Goulburn River, which is in the water-deprived Murray Darling catchment, over the Great Dividing Range to Melbourne.

    The two glaring problems with this are:

    1. There is not enough water in the Goulburn River to take more out without critically endangering both the Goulburn and Murray Rivers.

    2. The water taken out, estimated to be 75 gigalitres, will be pumped over the Great Dividing Range to Melbourne, which will result in more carbon emissions

    Expansion of Victoria’s Water Grid

    The concept behind “expanding the water grid” is to provide interconnections between river systems and storages across the state of Victoria.

    The claimed benefits for this include:

    • Increase the security of water supplies by diversifying the sources of water available for communities connected by the Grid

    • Enable water to be traded more readily, by making it easier to transfer water to where it is most needed and valued

    • Increase the value of supply options (current and future) by increasing the flexibility and diversity of uses.
    • The expanded Victorian Water Grid will allow more water to be transferred between water systems.

    However, around 10,000km of expensive new pipeline is required to create this network.

    There are social equity issues with taking scarce water from rural areas to for Melbourne's domestic water supply.

    Environmental flows have not been provided to the Yarra River which flows through Melbourne, contrary to scientific recommendations and a previous government commitment. This environmental flow should be provided to ensure the health of the river.

    Carbon emissions are generated every time water pumped through a pipeline unless renewable energy is used for this.

    Upgrading Melbourne’s Eastern Treatment Plant to provide over 100 GL of recycled water in 2012 and assessing a range of alternative uses of this water

    This proposal is a good one. However, Melbourne produces around 320 GL of wastewater per year. Around 400ML per day is pumped out from Gunnamatta Beach outfall alone.

    The government should set a higher target for recycling water of at least 200GL, and eliminate ocean outfalls.

    Latrobe Valley power stations consume 140 billion litres (GL) of water per year, so recycled water could be used for this purpose rather than drinking water.

    Supporting new and existing water conservation programs for homes and industry

    This initiative is commendable. However, Melbourne's daily water usage is still quite high at 277 litres per person per day. A reduction to 150 litres per person per day is achievable, which would greatly reduce demand for water, and expensive new infrastructure to provide it.


    The Brumby government has embarked on an expensive plan to address Victoria's water shortage, with a particular focus on ensuring Melbourne's water supply, with some severe impacts on rural areas resulting. In particular, the loss of water from the ailing Goulburn River, and the building of an energy hungry and polluting desalination plant at Wonthaggi will have major impacts to these regions.

    The entire Murray Darling River is now at risk. Rather than taking more water from the Goulburn River, increased environmental flows should be provided to both the Goulburn and Murray rivers.

    The $4.9b spending on these water projects will be passed onto Victorian taxpayers, with water bills increasing by about 15% already in 2008. It is projected that water prices will double by 2012 to pay for these projects.

    Simple proven measures to increase water supply by protecting water catchments from logging are being ignored.

    Melbourne's water supply needs would be better and more cheaply met by:

    • reducing water consumption through increased efficiency measures

    • stopping logging in water catchments

    • major investment in domestic water tank systems, which have the added advantage of being installed incrementally

    • harvesting, storing and using more of the 450 GL of storm water Melbourne loses per year

    • recycling at least 200GL of sewerage per year and stopping ocean outfalls.

    These initiatives can be funded from recurrent spending at cheaper rates (10%) than funds for giant projects such as the proposed $3b desalination plant (20%) under a Public Private Partnership.

    The other worrying aspect of the government's water strategy is the apparent lack of supporting information on how their decisions were made, and grossly inadequate public consultation during its development.

    The water strategy has been delivered as a fait accompli by government; they are not showing any signs of investigating lower risk and cheaper, more distributed alternatives.