November 2014

Australia only second to US in G20 in propping up dying fossil fuel industry with billions

An international report, 'The Fossil Fuel bailout: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal exploration', shows the Abbott Government is giving the big mining companies billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.

"While the Abbott Government is confecting a budget crisis, it's giving away billions of dollars of taxpayer money to the big mining companies to destroy our land, water, Great Barrier Reef and climate," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.

"The report found Australia has the second highest level of subsidies for fossil fuels in the G20, after the US, at about $4 billion a year.

"This is despite Australia and other G20 countries agreeing five years ago to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Since making that commitment, Australia has played a spoiler role by arguing its subsidies are 'efficient'.

"It's not efficient for billions of Australians' taxpayer money to go into propping up the dying fossil fuel industry, stifling the transition we need to renewable energy.

"Thousands of Australians are locking the gate to the big mining companies to protect their land, water and climate, but the Abbott Government is using their taxes to give these multinational companies a free ride.

"We have safe, viable renewable alternatives but, with the Abbott Government pouring billions into the fossil fuel industry and threatening the renewable energy sector with uncertainty, the playing field is not fair.

"We have the potential to become a global leader in renewable energy, providing sustainable local jobs, and without sacrificing jobs in other industries like tourism and agriculture, as the coal industry does," Senator Waters said.

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Community pressures forces ALP to backflip on reef dumping

Community pressures forces ALP to backflip on reef dumping

The Australian Greens congratulate community campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which have brought about Labor’s change of policy on offshore dumping today.

“Finally Labor has realised that Australians will not accept dumping in our Reef, after Labor failed to refuse the Abbot Point dumping and approved the Gladstone Harbour dumping disaster when in government,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.

“Now it’s time for the Abbott Government to listen to community, international and scientific opposition and stop letting our Reef be treated as a dump ground for the big mining companies.

“If the Abbott Government doesn’t want the Reef to downgraded to ‘In Danger’ at the World Heritage Committee meeting next year, it must ban offshore dumping and reverse the Abbott Point dumping approval.

“Both Labor and the Abbott Government should support my bill in the federal Parliament to ban offshore dumping, including the Abbot Point dumping.

“Labor’s change of tune today follows years of sustained, passionate and colourful community protest against the Reef’s industrialisation.

“Congratulations to everyone who has stood up for our Great Barrier Reef and the sustainable industries it provides.

“Our Reef is too precious to lose and even with onshore disposal of dredge spoil we should not be shipping hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal out through this World Heritage Area, which will come back to bite it through climate change.

“While neither Labor nor the Coalition have ever refused a coal mine, the Greens will continue to put our Reef ahead of the big mining companies,” Senator Waters said.

Greens congratulate Douglas Shire on CSG ban

"This is wonderful news. It's excellent to see a local council in Queensland taking leadership to protect their community's land, water and climate from the big mining companies," Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.

"For such an incredibly biodiverse, unique area, which attracts so much tourism, coal seam gas would be disastrous for Douglas Shire.

"While it's excellent that the Douglas Shire Council is taking a stand, the Newman Government has never refused a coal or gas mine and surrounding areas are under threat from CSG proposals, including Mt Mulligan, a sacred Aboriginal site.

"I recently met with the Djungan people who explained how CSG would sacrifice their land, groundwater and sacred sites.

"The Greens are the only major party standing with communities against CSG and I am introducing a bill to the federal Parliament to give native title holders, landholders and local councils the right to say no to coal and unconventional mining," Senator Waters said.

Queensland Greens candidate for Barron River, Noel Castley-Wright, said: "This win is testament to all of the passionate community members and groups, such as CSG Free NQ, who have been standing up to the big mining companies to protect our region's environment, Aboriginal heritage, agriculture and tourism.

"What we need now is for surrounding councils, including Cairns and Mareeba, to follow the leadership of Douglas Shire and send a strong message to the big mining companies that we won't be rolling over to them like the Newman Government does.

"Our region's environment, cultural heritage and sustainable industries are too precious to lose for the sake of the private profits of big overseas mining companies," Mr Castley-Wright said.

Wasting water to waste electricity

All of last century’s ways of making electricity use vast amounts of water. That water would be better used in agriculture, as town water, or as free-flowing streams.

Coal, gas, and nuclear power plants all produce huge amounts of waste heat. In a picture of a power plant, all you see is the biggest part of it: the cooling tower. These towers don’t generate electricity. All they do is evaporate water to get rid of the giant amount of waste heat produced.

“Waste heat” is exactly that. When you burn coal you liberate a great deal of chemical energy, of which less than a third can be converted to electricity. Most of the energy in coal is immediately, unavoidably, forever wasted.

Worse than that, it takes a great deal of water to get rid of it. Coal-fired power plants waste huge amounts of water to help do the job they do best, which is wasting the energy in fossil fuels.

Queensland has had long, desperate droughts in the past, and we’ll have more in the future. Do we want the next drought to bring even greater conflict over water resources? Do you want to rely on politicians to decide whether we should have food, or town water, or electricity?

The water needed for agriculture and urban use is the same water obsolete power plants boil off as waste. We need to protect our extremely variable water supply for its valuable and productive uses. We need to stop wasting water to make electricity the way our grandparents did.

Solar and wind-generated electricity use no water at all. None.

We have world-class solar resources. Almost every household and business can now choose to supply most of its own electricity, at a cost lower than grid-supplied electricity will ever be able to match.

But Queensland’s LNP government remains committed to selling—excuse me, “leasing”—our coal-fired grid. To prop up the value of that decaying asset, the current government takes every possible step to delay and deter the installation of solar electricity systems.

Are you happy to spend ever more taxpayer money to prop up an expiring industry so it can carry on wasting water to deliver over-priced electricity? It’s time to think again.

Think it through. Vote Green.

LNP wanting to burn native forests for 'renewable' energy

The Greens have condemned the government's sanctioning of burning native forests for energy in their Direct Action program, with big business lining up to take advantage of taxpayer-funded handouts.

"Direct Action is a rort for big business, brought to you by Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer," said the Australian Greens spokesperson for Forests Senator Janet Rice.

"It will allow Tony Abbott's big business mates to cash in on destroying our native forests."

Since Direct Action passed the Senate in the dead of last night, companies have come out saying they have projects waiting to go. First in line is the burning of 'mill leftovers' for energy.

"The market for woodchips has collapsed, and Mr Abbott has responded by propping up his industry mates who had sent out the SOS signal from this dying industry," said Senator Rice.

"Ninety percent of the logs clearfelled from our forests end up as woodchips. These now appear destined to be classified as mill leftovers.

"Direct Action will allow trees from our native forests to be fed into forest furnaces for energy, which can then be claimed as 'renewable'.

"Forest furnace energy is far from renewable.

"This destruction of our native forests will be funded by taxpayers, will reduce our carbon stores and won't do anything to reduce our carbon emissions."